The Real Names of Rock and Pop Icons

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As a teenager, Saul Hudson, the performer best known as the lead guitarist for Guns ‘N Roses, was nicknamed Slash by his friend’s father — actor Seymour Cassel — because he was always hustling and never stopped to chat. With a name like Slash, it’s no wonder why this rock legend uses a stage name. (Here are 25 of the strangest band names and where they came from.)

It is not uncommon for musicians to use stage names. Whether they choose to go by their first name (such as Prince, Adele, or Madonna) or to change their name entirely to something like Elvis Costello or Iggy Azalea, many rock and pop stars utilize a unique and memorable moniker when they perform. (Speaking of unique names, here are the most popular never-seen-before names in 2020.)

24/7 Tempo has compiled the birth names of 60 rock and pop stars who are better known by their stage names. Many of these artists have kept their first names but chosen a catchier last name for the stage. Some of these stars, including Lorde and Macklemore, are still known by their birth names to friends and family.

To determine the birth names of numerous rock and pop stars, 24/7 Tempo consulted lists published on several music and general interest sites, including Rolling Stone, CapitalFM, Ultimate Classic Rock, Classic Bands, and Cosmopolitan, verifying information wherever possible on the artists’ own sites. Information on each artist’s biggest song and both its peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and its number of weeks on the chart came from Billboard.

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