Feb 062013

Once and For All February continues with the goal of determining—once and for allRock’s Greatest Stage Name! This topic was suggested by Townsman cdm. As with all Once and For All February threads over the coming weeks, polls will be kept open through the rest of the month. Then, we will have determined—once and for all—all kinds of stuff that causes rock fanatics to yell at each other in a crowded bar.

No further arguments will be accepted, so plead your case in this thread!

The nominees and the RTH People’s Poll for Rock’s Greatest Stage name follow…after the jump!

Rat Scabies. I’m still not sure I remember what “scabies” is, but I’ve looked it up a half dozen times since first hearing the stage name of The Damned drummer born Christopher Millar. Coupled with the first name “Rat,” young Mr. Millar devised punk rock’s most punk stage name. It’s fantastic. Say it aloud a few times: Rat Scabies. Going into this discussion, that’s got to be the favorite. At least that’s what I thought until topic sponsor cdm sent me his thoughts on this quest and the following objection to that particular nominee:

The crucial element in my evaluation is that the name has to suit the person’s image in the context of the band’s style. Points off for if the name is over the top in an unthought out way. Hence, I’ve never liked Rat Scabies because I felt he was trying too hard (but I could understand why some would think the name deserves a place). For me, the greatest stage name could be Joe Strummer, because it’s so simple and direct…

I agree with everything cdm says, as I’m sure you do, except for his blanket dismissal of Rat Scabies. If any punk band went out of its way to try to hard it was The Damned. Rat’s stage name is appropriate. Rat stays.

A Man Called Rat.

A Man Called Rat.

Joe Strummer. The former John Mellor perfectly fits cdm’s criteria, displaying a rudimentary musical, man-of-the-people persona. Don’t forget, before he became Joe Strummer he performed in the 101’ers as “Woody.” Weird, too, how we’ve already got a Millar and a Mellor. I should add Tom Verlaine (neé Thomas Miller) to the list of nominees to string out these coincidental constructions, but I won’t. Tom Verlaine did show good taste in his choice of stage name.

Strumming, what else?

Strumming, what else?

Snakefinger. What single-name stage name is better than Snakefinger? The selection committee says “None other!” Did you really think Slash or Bono would capture this position? The name makes you squirm, doesn’t it? And it sounds like a superpower the ideal guitarist should possess—much more than a “Slowhand.” Sorry, parents of Phillip Charles Lithman, we agree with your son’s decision to ditch his birth name for a musical career collaborating with The Residents.



Ringo Starr. There were plenty of rock stage names before Ringo Starr, but only Richard Starkey grabbed the brass ring and declared himself to be what so many who enter the entertainment world hope to be. “Ringo” is such a cool first name. Townsman Andyr‘s childhood dog was named Ringo, although I don’t think his parents named the pooch after the Beatles’ drummer.

Ringo wants your vote - once and for all!

Ringo wants your vote – once and for all!

Ariel Bender. For years I figured Mott the Hoople guitarist Ariel Bender just happened to have that amazing name for real. It seems too good to be fake. Even after I learned his real name was the pretty cool Luther Grosvenor I couldn’t shake the image of a Mr. and Mrs. Bender holding their newborn son aloft and declaring him “Ariel!”

He who shall be called Ariel!

He who shall be called Ariel!

Also for your consideration: Magic Dick, Lux Interior, and Palmyra Delran.

Because debate and voting on this topic is likely to be so heated we are including an “Other” candidate in the poll, who may be discussed and then voted on through the Comments for this thread. Please vote “Other” only if you plan on suggesting your nominee for discussion.

Choose one!

Choose one!

Shockingly, if you were thinking of adding him as a write-in candidate, hard rock producer Bob Rock does not go by a stage name. His surname is actually “Rock.” He will surely qualify in the future thread to determineonce and for all—Rock’s Most Appropriate Birth Name.

What is Rock's Greatest Stage Name?

  • Ringo Starr (24%, 9 Votes)
  • Joe Strummer (16%, 6 Votes)
  • Other, whose name I will add for consideration in the thread. (11%, 4 Votes)
  • Lux Interior (11%, 4 Votes)
  • Rat Scabies (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Ariel Bender (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Magic Dick (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Palmyra Delran (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Snakefinger (5%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

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  26 Responses to “Once and For All: What Is Rock’s Greatest Stage Name?”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    All WRONG, as usual. The winner in this category is obviously Magic Dick.

  2. machinery

    C’mon! No Lux Interior??

    My personal favorite, coming from NJ and seeing her a few times: Palmyra Delran.

    No one beats that name!!! No one!!!!

  3. STRONG write-in candidates! Keep them coming. I’m going to add these first 3 to the poll.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Bram Tchaikovsky is an artist I’ve never heard whose name I still appreciate. Ditto Captain Sensible.

  5. I believe the selection committee ruled out anyone whose stage name is a title: no Captain Sensible, no Captain Beefheart, no The Captain. Maybe someone else with a title for a first name will qualify, but not those 3.

    You’ve never heard Bram Tchaikovsky’s “Girl of My Dreams”? Where the hell were you living in the late-’70s, Swaziland?

  6. cliff sovinsanity

    Handsome Dick Manitoba and if that one isn’t good enough how about Ari Up.

  7. Suburban kid

    There’s some good ones on there.

    I’m partial to Wreckless Eric.

  8. Ha! Palmyra Delran works in a limited geographical range.

    I think that the stage name has to be so good that people know the real name but are compelled to use the stage name. And that describes only Ringo & Iggy Pop.

  9. Re: Scabies, Strummer, and Verlaine: Their actual names were Millar, Mellor, and Miller? Huh.

  10. Would have made a great law firm-style supergroup.

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    Poly Styrene is another name I can get behind.

  12. cliff sovinsanity

    That’s a good one, ’cause it describes his ‘tude.

  13. alexmagic

    Gotta give this some more thought, but some other write-in possibilities: Muddy Waters, Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Sly Stone, Adam Ant, Joe Tex.

    Worst: The Captain, who willingly gave up the totally badass name Daryl Dragon.

  14. Some great suggestions above. I also like Freddie Mercury and The Big Figure.

    Didn’t Declan McManus once go by Napoleon Dynamite? Or was that just a character in a song?

  15. Sting, Pigpen, Crocus Behemoth…

  16. Mine is G.Love from Phila. PA.
    Gee I love his name.

  17. 2000 Man

    You had to have heard Bram. He was in The Motors, too.

  18. Suburban kid

    Tory Crimes, Johnny Cash, Billy Zoom, John Doe, Nick Knox, Smiley Culture, Tricky, Billy Childish, Darby Crash, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf

  19. Pam Ballam…she was the first drummer for The Cramps. Great name for a chick drummer!
    But how ’bout the God awful name of Pat Smear…guitarist, Nirvana/Foo Fighters.

  20. I don’t really like the Germs and I’m ambivalent about Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, but I think that name is awesome.

  21. diskojoe

    How about Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee & Tommy Ramone?

  22. jeangray

    “Girl of My Dreams” only reached #37 on the Billboard PoP charts. Not exactly well known in my estimation.

  23. jeangray

    Too many other nominations. You may have to go back to the drawing board on the voting options.

  24. Just to add to Mott’s forays into gender, so to speak, bending, but isn’t Bender also a popular British epithet for one who practices The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name?

  25. I forgot about Sir Horace Gentleman from the Specials. Not better than Joe Strummer in my book but pretty damn good.

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