Historicity of music | How a memorable name like Engelbert Humperdinck can be synonymous with success | Music
The formula for success in the entertainment world is to be talented, to be good looking, and most importantly, to have a memorable name.
All in all, fans won’t remember a common, mundane name, like “X” bassist John Doe or English rock band “The Smiths,” any more than they’ll forget an interesting, mundane nickname. quirky, like Engelbert Humperdinck, Panic! At the disco or the Insane Clown Posse.
Nevertheless, being remembered by fans is in the ear – or rather, the brain – of the viewer. For example, here are some names of groups that I will compose on the spot: The Urban Squirrels, The Shards and Za-Bada-Zeezee. Which do you like and remember the best?
Well, here are some other weird band names that made him famous: Pink Floyd, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Hoobastank, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Goo Goo Dolls and Radiohead.
“Go figure it out.” Hey wait – that would be another great band name!
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Some other examples include “Captain Beefheart”, whose real name was Don Van Vliet, “Dr. John” (Mac Rebennack) and Robert Zimmerman, who started calling himself “Bob Dylan” while attending the University of Minnesota around 1960.
By the way, “Engelbert Humperdinck” is the memorable stage name chosen by Arnold Dorsey, rather simple. It did pretty well, as the British pop singer has sold over 140 million records.
Other artists with interesting nicknames include Black Sabbath bassist Terence “Geezer” Butler, Ernest “Chubby Checker” Evans, and the two “Fats” Domino and Waller.
Should we consider a few others?
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones are known as “The Glimmer Twins”. Country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn is “the coal miner’s daughter.”
1950s rock and roll singer-pianist Jerry Lee Lewis was known as “Killer”, which was also the name of three different bands, 13 movies, a few card games, a 1971 Alice Cooper album and a song from “Kiss”.
Back to the Rolling Stones, who for years billed themselves as “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.” And everyone knows that “The Fab Four” refers to The Beatles.
There are many more nicknames or honorifics.
Composer and trumpeter WC Handy introduced himself as the “father of the blues”. Louis Armstrong was known as “Satchmo”, clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman as the “King of Swing”, and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald as the “First Lady of Song”.
Mentioned two weeks ago in the discussion of one-word artist names was the flamboyant Liberace, known as “Mr. Showmanship.”
A New York disc jockey tagged singer Mel Torme “The Velvet Fog”, and singer-actor Frank Sinatra was dubbed “Ol’ Blue Eyes” and the “chairman of the board”.
Bill Monroe, originally from Kentucky, was called the “father of bluegrass”. Johnny Cash, of course, was “the man in black.”
Many musical artists have tried to make themselves known as the “king of rock and roll”. But for me, there is only one, and his name was Elvis Presley.
Hail St. Louis-area native Chuck Berry as the “Father of Rock and Roll.”
Dick Dale – who also played piano and trumpet – was widely known as the “King of the Surf Guitar”, which was also the name of his second album, in 1963.
There are several notable names in the pop music genre, such as Christina Aguilera, the “Princess of Pop”, and the late Michael Jackson, who was the “King of Pop”.
Was there a “Queen of Pop?” You could say it was Madonna, sometimes also known as “The Material Girl”.
Jennifer Lopez is known by the shortened version of her name, “J-Lo”, and Beyoncé Knowles is sometimes referred to as “Queen Bey”.
There is no doubt that James Brown was the “godfather of soul”. Likewise, with her powerful vocal delivery on classic songs like “Respect” and “Think”, Aretha Franklin was the “Queen of Soul”.
Singer and poet Jim Morrison of The Doors was sometimes referred to as “The Lizard King”, and Vincent Furnier is known as “Alice Cooper”.
At 76, having played in bands like The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos before his successful solo career, Eric Clapton’s nickname is “Slowhand”.
It’s hard to believe that “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen, is 72 and still going strong. Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford, aka “The Metal God”, is 70.
Led Zeppelin drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham was only 32 when, in 1980, he died of pulmonary edema, possibly due to alcohol poisoning.
Let’s also remember that your humble narrator’s stage name is “Grateful Gary”, due to his expertise in Grateful Dead music!
As a footnote, nicknames were also given to fans of certain groups, such as “Beatlemaniacs” by The Beatles and “Parrotheads” by Jimmy Buffett.
The aforementioned Insane Clown Posse calls its fans “Juggalos”, and followers of Ed Sheeran are known by the amusing nickname “Sheerios”.
Singer, songwriter, musician and actress Stefani Germanotta, better known as “Lady Gaga”, calls her fans “Little Monsters”.
My favorite, of course, is the name given to Grateful Dead fans – we’re known as “Deadheads!”
Gary Gibula is a SIU alumnus, musician, writer, editor and author of the Music Historicity Columns. He can be reached at [email protected]