9 celebrities who changed their names during their careers

  • The majority of singers who have changed their stage names in a big publicity stunt end up changing them back.
  • In one of the well-known pop star moves in history, Prince became The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
  • Christina Aguilera was known as Xtina when she tried to create an edgier persona.

The number of celebrities who have changed their real names is really, really long. Some change their names for good – Lady Gaga wasn’t born Lady Gaga and Emma Stone’s real name is Emily. But some change them for publicity or a new image, and then change them back.

All of these celebrities changed their stage names when they already had established name during their career – and then changed them back.


Snoop Dogg became Snoop Lion to release a new album.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunchCalvin Cordozar Bradus Jr. aka Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., changed his name to Snoop Lion in 2012 in order to release his Rastafarian-inspired reggae album. He gained recognition with earlier albums, Doggystyle, The Doggfather, and Dogumentary.

He changed to Snoop Lion and the Jungle for 2012’s “Reincarnated.” He went back to Snoop Dogg for his 2015 album, “Bush.”


In one of the well-known pop star moves in history, Prince became The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/ Prince EstatePrince created his own symbol.

In anticipation of his 1993 album, Prince changed his stage name to a customised symbol, the Love Symbol, which needed to be sent to journalists on a floppy disc, so they could write about him.

When spoken or written without the use of the symbol, Prince was referred to as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. The symbol is a hybrid of the astrological male and female symbols with a nod to the Christian cross. When the artist’s contract with Warner Bros. expired in 2000, he went back to being known as just Prince.


The stage name of Sean Combs has had many remixes.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty ImagesSean Combs aka P. Diddy aka Diddy aka Puff Daddy aka Brother Love.

His most recent name changes are to Brother Love, or Love, which he retracted, and then retracted that retraction on Jimmy Kimmel.CNN chronicles his first stage name as Puffy, and then the long list of changes includes P. Diddy, Diddy, Puff Daddy, and even Swag. One the constant changes, the musician says “I’ve had different name changes because I only just grew up in a neighbourhood where everybody had nicknames.”


John Mellencamp has dissociated himself from “Cougar.”

Bryan Wawzenek at Ultimate Classic Rock, reported that MainMan management, who employed David Bowie and Lou Reed, wasn’t a fan of John’s last name. An associate told Seventeen magazine, “We wanted something uniquely American, something hot and wild… Johnny Indiana was one of our choices, Puma, Mustang – but nothing was as hot as Cougar!”

Mellencamp agreed, but after his moniker, Johnny Cougar’s album flopped, he broke through in 1982 with John Cougar. In 1983, he added his last name to be John Cougar Mellencamp, but it wasn’t until 1991 he went by John Mellencamp.


Country star Garth Brooks changed his name to Chris Gaines for a rock’n’roll flop.

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesGarth Brooks aka Chris Gaines.

The best-selling artists of the 1990s announced a slew of mismatched projects in 1999, including professional baseball run, a Christmas album, and the most infamous being his one-off rock record as fictional Australian rocker Chris Gaines. The angsty post-grunge rock persona wasn’t quite a parody, so it didn’t land with critics or fans, according to Stereogum.


Christina Aguilera was known as Xtina when she tried to create an edgier persona.

Stuart Mostyn/Redferns /Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Harper’s BazaarXtina, Christina Aguilera.

Pitted against Britney Spears for the role of the pop princess in the late ’90s and early ’00s, Christina Aguilera changed her stage name to Xtina when she debuted her single “Dirrty” in 2002. The name change came with new facial piercings and more revealing outfits, cementing her as the bad girl of pop. In the same year, she released, “Beautiful,” showing off the more emotional side of her cleverly-titled album, “Stripped.”


In Jennifer Lopez’s early career, she was known as J.Lo.

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesJ. Lo is still a popular nickname.

After the success of the pop singer’s first album, she titled her second album “J.Lo,” turning her fan nickname into her professional name to be relevant in the music industry. However, she was gaining popularity in the film industry, with hits like “Monster-in-Law” and “Maid in Manhattan,” so she went back to Jennifer Lopez. Also known as “Jenny from the Block,” J.Lo is still an incredibly popular nickname for the actress/singer/reality TV show host.


Folk singer Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam.

Jim Spellman/WireImageSteven Georgiou aka Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam aka Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

British singer Steven Georgiou went by Cat Stevens when he debuted his folk tunes in the 1970s. After a brush with death in 1976, his brother gifted him a copy of the Quran and he converted to Islam. He changed his name to Yusuf Islam and retired from his musical canon in 1978.

In the 21st century, under the name Yusuf, he released new music. According to the New Yorker, he now bills himself as Yusuf/Cat Stevens, and does a mix of old and new songs at his concerts.


Mos Def now goes by Yasiin Bey.

David McNew/Getty ImagesDante Terrell Smith aka Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey.

Born Dante Terrell Smith, actor and hip-hop legend Mos Def told GQ about the name change in 2012. “I began to fear that Mos Def was being treated as a product, not a person, so I’ve been going by Yasiin since ’99. At first, it was just for friends and family, but now I’m declaring it openly.”

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