It’s not uncommon for stars to create a snappier new moniker as they ascend to fame. As their careers progress, some opt to stay with their stage names while others return to their real ones. And some don’t get to pick their own persona at all–classic rock icon John Mellencamp, for example, had to use one selected by his manager and later fought to reclaim his given name.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite star-selected names and the stories behind them:
“Maybe I’ll retire from being The Weeknd, or maybe I’ll just give him a break,” he said.
He told fans why he doesn’t go by Abel Tesfaye on a Reddit Q&A.
“I hated my name at the time,” he said, adding that he just thought The Weeknd “sounded cool.”
And as for the spelling? He said he switched that up after noticing that a Canadian band already went by “the weekend.”
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga has been returning to her roots lately. She brought her middle name front and center last year when she named her current album and tour Joanne after her late aunt.
The singer, whose stage name famously emerged from an autocorrect fail involving the Queen song Radio Gaga, also has plans to go by her real name in her first film role. She’ll be listed as Stefani Germanotta in the credits for the remake of A Star Is Born, which hits theaters next year.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
The Rock seems unsure about exactly what he wants to go by, since people call him both pretty interchangeably. And in his initial run with the WWE, he went by Rocky Maivia, which came from his father Rocky Johnson and his grandfather Peter Maivia, he told Los Angeles Times. He later shortened it to “The Rock.”
He has also referred to himself as “The People’s Champion” in honor of Muhammad Ali, who gave him permission to do so, he told SportsCenter and Numbers Never Lie.
Whichever name he uses, it hasn’t hurt his bottom line. Last summer, Forbes named him Hollywood’s highest-paid actor.
This is one of the few celebrity stage names that actually sounds like a real name. His name is really Adam Wiles, which many fans discovered when his then-girlfriend Taylor Swift thanked him in her acceptance speech at the 2016 iHeart Radio Awards. So why not Wiles?
Harris wanted a more “racially ambiguous” name, he told Shortlist in 2009, according to Digital Spy.
“I thought people might not know if I was black or not,” he said, referencing his first single, which he called “a soul track.” Interesting.
Lorde’s real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor. So where did Lorde come from?
“I wanted a name that was really strong and had this grandeur to it,” she told ABC News Radio. “I didn’t feel that my birth name was anything special.”
She did add, though, that she prefers Ella. Luckily, pals like Taylor Swift, who wished her a happy birthday using her real name last year, already know that.
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