19 Very Strange Stories Behind Celebs' Very Phony Stage Names

·7 min read

Plenty of celebrities go by stage names to distinguish themselves from performers with similar names or to make themselves stand out in general. Sometimes the stories behind their stage names are fairly simple, such as using a family member's surname or a nickname, but other times, the stories get pretty wild.

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Here are 19 truly weird stories behind celebrities' stage names:

1.After her beloved dog Iggy survived a near-death experience, Iggy Azalea got a necklace with his name on it to honor him, and as more and more people asked if it was her name on the necklace, she decided to adopt it as her stage name.

Iggy performing

Her grandfather, who had a theory about how many syllables a stage name should have, encouraged her to add a last name. She told Vevo that she chose "Azalea" because "that is a street name that [her] mom and family live on."

Her real name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly.

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2.Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable "love symbol" — which is the shape of the guitar in the picture below — as an act of rebellion against his record label, which refused to let him release new music when it was ready and held him in a tight, burdensome contract.

"Purple Rain" singer holding a guitar in the shape of the combination of the man and woman symbols

In a press release at the time, he said, "Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing took to promote all of the music I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros."

He described his new name as "an unpronounceable symbol whose meaning has not been identified. It's all about thinking in new ways, tuning [in to] a new free-quency."

However, after the contract with Warner Bros. Studios expired in 2000, he ditched the symbol and went back to using "Prince."

His real name is Prince Rogers Nelson. He was named after the stage name his jazz musician father used while performing in the Prince Rogers Trio.

Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

3.When Doja Cat began rapping, she "was heavily addicted to weed and weed culture," and she thought the word "doja" — which means "weed," according to Urban Dictionary — "sounds like a girl’s name."

Doja Cat performing

The cat part came from her love of cats "in every aspect," she told Dazed.

Her real name is Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini.

Rick Kern / WireImage / Getty Images

4.Fish earned his nickname from spending too much time in the bathtub.

The singer Fish performing onstage

His real name is Derek William Dick.

Andrea Friedrich / Redferns / Getty Images

5.People used to tell Whoopi Goldberg she was "like a whoopee cushion" because of the way she would fart onstage.

"The View" host smiling and clasping her hands together

She told the New York Times, "When you’re performing onstage, you never really have time to go into the bathroom and close the door. So if you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go."

"Goldberg" is an homage to her Jewish heritage. She told the Jewish Chronicle, "My mother did not name me Whoopi, but Goldberg is my name; it's part of my family, part of my heritage. Just like being Black."

Her real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson.

Jenny Anderson / ABC via Getty Images

6.Joan Fontaine was working as a chauffeur for her sister, actor Olivia de Havilland, when a Warner Bros. Studios employee offered to help her break into acting, but their mother insisted that "two de Havillands on the marquee would be too many, so [Joan] had to leave Olivia’s distinguished name for her and...took [her] stepfather’s name.”

"Rebecca" actor

Her real name was Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland.

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7.Machine Gun Kelly named himself after a well-known mobster from the Prohibition Era, George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes.

MGK posing in a suit with matching nail polish

The name is also supposed to reflect the "rapid fire" flow of his lyrics.

His real name is Colson Baker.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

8.Meat Loaf "was born bright red," so when he was only 4 days old, his dad told the doctor, " I want you to name my son there ― because he looks like 9½ pounds of ground chuck. I want you to put a name tag on the front of that plastic crib and it say ‘Meat’ on it."

Meat Loaf wearing a black leather jacket

The nickname stuck. The second part came about when he was playing football in eighth grade and accidentally stepped on the foot of a coach, who screamed, "Get off my foot, you hunk of meatloaf!"

He was born Marvin Lee Aday, but he legally changed his first name to Michael in 1984 because he was bullied over the name Marvin as a kid.

Bruce Glikas / Bruce Glikas / WireImage / Getty Images

9.When Post Malone was 14, he put his real name into a "random rap name generator" and decided to stick with the results.

Post Malone holding awards and sticking his tongue out

His real name is Austin Richard Post.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

10.When Megan Thee Stallion was a teenager, "older guys would always be like, 'Oh, you a stallion,'" so she made it her Twitter name, which morphed into her stage name.

Megan Thee Stallion performing onstage

She told Houstonia, "I finally had to ask, like, is that a good thing? Everybody pretty much took it and ran with it."

Her real name is Megan Pete.

Jim Bennett / FilmMagic / Getty Images

11.When Alice Cooper and his then-bandmates found out that another group was going by "the Nazz," they changed their band name to sound as if they "were somebody’s aunt," and after people kept assuming the band's name was also the singer's, he adopted it as a stage name.

Alice Cooper singing into a microphone

He told the Shreveport Times, "At that point, I legally changed my name to Alice Cooper. It was a total outrage at the time. Now it’s a household name."

He was born Vincent Damon Furnier.

Jeff Hahne / Getty Images

12.When Yungblud was first with his manager, he was their youngest client, so the entire team started calling him "young blood."

Yungblud on the red carpet

His real name is Dominic Richard Harrison.

Rodin Eckenroth / WireImage / Getty Images

13.Eight-year-old Queen Latifah found the name Latifah (which, according to the singer, means "delicate and very kind") while flipping through a book of Arabic names, and she decided to combine it with "Queen" because the contrast between the two represented her personality.

Queen Latifah stands on the red carpet with her hand on her hip

She told People magazine, "That’s the story of my life. I think that’s the wonderful thing about a woman. We can be strong, but then we can be soft and kind and sensitive.”

Her real name is Dana Elaine Owens.

Aaron J. Thornton / Getty Images

14.When he was 16, LL Cool J chose a name that stood for "Ladies Love Cool James" — which "was completely wishful thinking" at the time.

LL Cool J standing in a hallway with sunglasses on

He told The Early Show that he and his high school friend Playboy Mikey D were "just hoping for the best" when they chose their stage names.

His real name is James Todd Smith.

Paras Griffin / Getty Images

15.Back in her Myspace days, Saweetie used a nickname from her grandmother on her profile — and it stuck.

Saweetie on the red carpet in a strapless outfit and with long nails and her hand on hip

She told Teen Vogue, "I had a lot of friends on there. I was extremely social. A lot of people knew me as Saweetie, and it kind of just stuck.”

Her real name is Diamonté Quiava Valentin Harper.

Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for iHeartMedia

16.Lil Yachty's name was a consequence of his status as the "baby" of the group during his time in Yacht Club.

Lil Yachty performing onstage with a backward cap

He told Hot 97, "They were all older than me. I was kind of the baby."

His real name is Miles Parks McCollum.

Rich Fury / Getty Images

17.When Bow Wow was 6, he climbed onstage with Snoop Dogg and started rapping, and Snoop, impressed with his rap skills, took him to LA and nicknamed him "Lil Bow Wow."

Bow Wow in a Toxic bomber jacket and knee-length shorts

He told MTV, "I didn't like it; he did. Since everybody had dog names, it kinda just flowed. I was like, 'Well, OK, that's fine,' and I just kept that name ever since. I ain't gonna change it."

His real name is Shad Gregory Moss.

Prince Williams / WireImage / Getty Images

18.While Sid Vicious was playing with John Lydon's pet hamster Sid, the rodent bit him, so he exclaimed, "Sid is really vicious!"

Sid Vicious onstage

His real name was John Simon Ritchie.

Jorgen Angel / Redferns / Getty Images

19.And finally, while Sting was performing with the Phoenix Jazzmen, he often wore a yellow-and-black striped sweater, so one of his bandmates nicknamed him after a bee.

Sting performing onstage

His real name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner.

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