As you can see, the above 1973 version of I CAN HEAR MUSIC was credited to a singer called Larry Lurex
but in fact that name was a pseudonym for the late Freddie Mercury.
(The single was released here on the Anthem label).
Over the years, there’ve been many other instances when established artists
in popular music have, for various reasons, either recorded and/or performed under more than one name.
In some cases, musicians changed their professional names to great commercial effect
early in their careers. For example, success eluded British-based ballad singer Gerry Dorsey
until he changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck.
Certain songwriters also adopted alternative names, sometimes (but not always) in
order to allow them to sign concurrently with more than one performance rights company
or to sign with a music publisher that was separate from a firm with whom
they were already contracted.
Many rock and pop groups started out under different names from those with
which they achieved notoriety but the following alphabetical list concentrates
on vintage solo artists and songwriters whoadopted pseudonyms or aliases.
This list is very selective and only includes a mere fraction
of artists who fit into this category.
Before launching his Tijuana Brass instrumental group, trumpeter
Herb Alpert recorded some vocal singles under the name Dore Alpert.
Herb Alpert and fellow record executive/label founder Lou Adler co-wrote the
1960 Sam Cooke hit WONDERFUL WORLD using the collective name ‘Barbara Campbell’.
British TV personalities Ant & Dec successfully recorded in the 90’s as
P.J. & Duncan namedafter characters they played on a TV series.
On R&B singer LaVern Baker’s very first record in 1950, she was billed as Little Miss Sharecropper.
In addition to being arranger/conductor on Adam Faith’s string of UK hits and recording his own
John Barry Seven instrumental hits, trumpeter/bandleader/film composer John Barry was credited as
Johnny Prendy (John’s given name was Prendergast), the musical director on
the 1960 UK hit BE MINE by Lance Fortune.
R&B songwriter/producer Bert Berns wrote under the name Bert Russell and also
briefly recorded as Russell Byrd. When singer/songwriter Otis Blackwell co-authored the
Little Willie John/Peggy Lee standard FEVER, he used the name of his stepfather, John Davenport.
David Bowie’s early bands included Davie Jones & The King Bees,
The Manish Boys and Davy Jones & The Lower Third.
Country singer/songwriter/guitarist Garth Brooks briefly recorded as Chris Gaines.
Orchestra leader Lou Busch recorded piano instrumentals as Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr.
British comedian/singer Max Bygraves wrote songs under the name of Roy Irwin
including one of his biggest UK hits YOU NEED HANDS which Max recorded in 1958;
the song was successfully covered here by Eydie Gorme the same year.
Girl vocal group The Chiffons released two singles as The Four Pennies.In 1984,
British singer/songwriter/producer Elvis Costello
released a single titled PEACE IN OUR TIME on which he was billed
as The Imposter.
An early Bobby Darin recording was issued crediting the artist as The Ding Dongs.
Under the name Tyran Carlo, Roquel ‘Billy’ Davis co-wrote hit songs with his friend
Berry Gordy for Jackie Wilson including LONELY TEARDROPS and TO BE LOVED.
Prior to singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon’s initial releases,
she had recorded under various names including Jackie Dee.
Singer Marcella Detroit was previously known as Marcy Levy under which name she
co-wrote the 1978 Eric Clapton hit LAY DOWN SALLY.
In ’92, she charted as one-half of the duo Shakespears Sister
along with founding member of Bananarama, Siobhan Fahey.
Producer/songwriter Luther Dixon was credited as Barney Williams on the 1962 Shirelles
hit BABY IT’S YOU, the song he co-authored with Burt Bacharach and Mack David.
Atlantic Records’ co-founder Ahmet Ertegun wrote songs using the pseudonym Nugetre
which is his second name in reverse.
Together, The Everly Brothers wrote I’M NOT ANGRY
but credited it to the single name Jimmy Howard on the B-side of
their 1962 smash CRYING IN THE RAIN.
In the early part of his career, blues singer/guitarist/songwriter John Lee Hooker
recorded under various pseudonyms including Johnny Lee and John Lee Booker.
Singer/songwriter/producer Isaac Hayes briefly wrote under the name Ed Lee.
Former Motown songwriters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland
wrote BAND OF GOLD and GIVE ME JUST A LITTLE MORE TIME under the names
Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne.
As an artist in his own right, Lamont had first recorded as Lamont Anthony.
Pianist Dick Hyman also recorded as Knuckles O’Toole.
On various Rolling Stones records, production credit was to
The Glimmer Twins, a collective pseudonym for Mick Jagger & Keith Richards.
When jazz trumpeter/bandleader Harry James recorded I CAN’T BEGIN TO TELL YOU
with his Orchestra on Columbia in 1946, his wife, movie star Betty Grable,
provided the vocal but she was credited on the label as Ruth Haag.
Singer David Johansen of punk-rock band The New York Dolls
later cut solo records under the name Buster Poindexter.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin were once credited as writers Ann Orson and Carte Blanche.
Country singer/songwriter George Jones once recorded as Thumper Jones.
Soul singer Ben E. King used his wife’s name, Betty Nelson, when he co-wrote the 1962 hit
DON’T PLAY THAT SONG (YOU LIED) with Ahmet Ertegun.
Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller occasionally used the name Elmo Glick as a songwriter pseudonym
for the two of them. ‘Elmo’ was derived from the name of bluesman Elmore James and ‘Glick’
from the fictitious Sammy Glick character in Budd Schulberg’s novel “What Makes Sammy Run?”.
When John Lennon provided backing vocals and guitar on Elton John’s 1974 version of
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, he was credited on the label as Dr. Winston O’Boogie.
Songwriter John D. Loudermilk’s first success as an artist was
SITTIN’ IN THE BALCONY (in 1957) for which he was named Johnny Dee.
Brtitish singer/songwriter/producer Nick Lowe recorded novelty singles
in the 70’s under the pseudonyms Tartan Horde and The Disco Bros.
Paul McCartney wrote Peter & Gordon’s
1960 hit WOMAN using the name Bernard Webb.
Graham Nash, Allan Clarke & Tony Hicks of The Hollies wrote songs collectively
for their group under the pseudonym L. Ransford, the name of Graham’s grandfather.
Jerry Naylor of The Crickets and lounge singer Vikki Carr
cut a duet single on Liberty in ’62 as Danny & Gwen.
Syd Nathan, the founder/owner of King and Queen Records
put his name on various songs released on his labels, usually using the pseudonym Lois Mann.
Guitarist/songwriter Richard Podolor (who produced records by Three Dog Night)
recorded as an artist himself under the name Richie Allen.
Prince wrote and produced songs under the names
Alexander Nevermind, Joey Coco and Jamie Starr.
Songwriter/producer Jerry Ragovoy wrote not just under his own name
but also as Norman Meade on such songs as TIME IS ON MY SIDE.
Singer/songwriter/pianist Mac Rebennack recorded under that name
but also more famously as Dr. John aka Dr. John The Night Tripper.
Rockabilly & country singer/songwriter/pianist Charlie Rich
issued a single in 1960 as Bobby Sheridan.
Duke Records’ owner Don Robey used the name Deadric Malone
to credit R&B songs, many of which he didn’t write.
The Rolling Stones collectively used the name Nanker Phelge
for various of their early compositions.
Songwriter/record label owner Leon René wrote the Bobby Day/Michael Jackson hit
ROCKIN’ ROBIN using the pseudonym Jimmie Thomas.
In the 1970’s, rock singer/songwriter/pianist Leon Russell cut some country recordings
under his alter-ego Hank Wilson and released them on his own Shelter label.
Record producer and engineer Norman Smith wrote and recorded songs under the name
Hurricane Smith; his biggest success was OH BABE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? in 1972.
Songwriter Eddie Snyder co-wrote STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT and SPANISH EYES
not under his own name but used his singing wife’s professional name Kay Rogers as a pseudonym.
He also co-authored A HUNDRED POUNDS OF CLAY along with Stanley Kahan
who wrote under the name Bob Elgin.
Record producer/songwriter Phil Spector once issued an instrumental single under the name Phil Harvey.
Singer Jo Stafford was credited as Cinderella G. Stump when she contributed a vocal to
Red Ingle & The Natural Seven’s 1947 novelty single TEMPTATION (Tim-Tayshun).
Successful 1970’s British rocker Alvin Stardust had initially recorded there
in the 60’s as Shane Fenton with his group The Fentones.
R&B musician/songwriter Jesse Stone
wrote SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL
under the name Charles Calhoun.
Singer/songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint wrote many of his
arly songs under his mother’smaiden name, Naomi Neville.
R&B singer/guitarist/pianist Ike Turner wrote a few songs using Eki Renrut,
a palindrome of his regular name. He even recorded briefly as Icky Renrut.
Blues singer Joe Turner wrote songs under his wife’s name, Lou Willie Turner.
Songwriter Ben Weisman also wrote songs using his wife’s name: Bunny Warren.
Soul singer/songwriter/producer Barry White’s first single was released under the name Lee Barry.
Hank Williams also recorded as Luke The Drifter.
Blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson was credited as Big Skol
when he played harmonica onRoland Kirk’s “Kirk In Copenhagen” live set in ’63.
Arranger/conductor/pianist Jimmy ‘The Wiz’ Wisner recorded his 1961 instrumental hit
ASIA MINOR under the name Kokomo.
In ‘68, Stevie Wonder cut an LP of harmonica instrumentals
led by his version of theBacharach/David movie theme ALFIE; rather than use his regular moniker,
the album was billed as by Eivets Rednow which is Stevie Wonder spelled backwards.
Singer/songwriter Syreeta successfully recorded duets with Billy Preston
but her first release was a solo single under the name Rita Wright.
“The Door To Yesterday” will not be published for the next two weeks but will return on October 7.
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