Everyone wants to have a name that defines them, and rock stars are no different. Thus, many of them create new ones to make their professional personas more exciting and representative.
Obviously, most musicians merely adopt their secondary moniker for publicized purposes, symbolically becoming someone else for their art without actually replacing who they used to be. Every so often, though, they’ll go a step further by making the change in a court of law.
Case in point: the 10 rockers on this list. Whether they did it before or after finding fame, their stage names are indeed legally sanctioned.
10 Rockers Who Legally Adopted Their Stage Names
You may recognize Vincent Furnier, Frank Ferrana and others by more popular names.
Queen’s Freddie Mercury
That vow necessitated a revised designation, and just as Queen were beginning, Mercury – who’d already switched his forename to Freddie – felt so inspired by a lyric to their song “My Fairy King” (Mother Mercury / Look what they’ve done to me) that he modified his surname, too. Reportedly, he was singing about his mother.
That said, she chose “Jett” because it fit the rock star persona she was going for (which also involved “black leather, black eyeliner, and a black shag haircut [modeled] after American rocker Suzi Quatro”). By the time The Runaways disbanded and she started the Blackhearts in the early ‘80s, she’d lawfully become Jett to fully celebrate her triumphant identity.
W. Axl Rose
Former Hollywood Rose guitarist Chris Weber clarifies, “Axl called the name of the band AXL and then slowly but surely, he wanted to take on that name for himself. . . . Then he reinvented himself.” When it was time for G N’ R to sign with Geffen in 1986, he rightfully became W. Axl Rose.
Obviously, he named his breakout band – White Zombie – after Lugosi’s 1932 genre classic, yet he was credited as Rob “Dirt” Straker on their first two LPs: Soul-Crusher and Make Them Die Slowly. With 1989’s God of Thunder EP, though, he converted to Rob Zombie, and in 1996, he got it licitly documented.
Of course, Furnier had ostensibly become Alice, too (in multiple ways), and after the group broke up, he decided to lawfully keep the title in order to avoid judicial issues with the release of his debut solo album, 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare. To date, he says, only Keith Richards calls him Vince.
He continues, “So I changed my name to Nikki Sixx legally and said, ‘I’m moving forward.’ . . . I actually did manifest a new life.”
However, he eventually decided that he needed a fresh approach musically and visually, so he opted to look for new opportunities while reimagining himself. Part of that meant taking on the name of Whitehorse’s singer, Micki Mars, and advertising himself as a “loud, rude, aggressive guitarist.”
In a now-unavailable 2018 YouTube video titled “Gene & Paul losing weight and changing their names for marketing reasons,” Stanley asserts that he was influenced by Paul McCartney and Paul Rodgers, and that circa 1974 (when Kiss’ debut LP came out), he made the moniker legal.
The rumor was that he did it out of spite for Warner Bros. and he reverted back to Prince in 2000.