50 mysterious pseudonyms adopted by your favourite bands

Who? An irksome phrase commonly asked under NME's social media posts but in the case of these guys, you'd be right to wonder.

Next time you see a listing for Spaniel, Spaniel, Lombard and Razzcocks, we’d suggest you pay a little more attention…

50. Bernard Shakey aka Neil Young

Nothing shaky about this pseudonym. Neil Young takes on the glamorous appellation Bernard Shakey when he gets into the director’s chair. He’s made a number of Crazy Horse concert features under the name.

49. Rabbi Joseph Gordon aka Julian Cope


Julian Cope is a titan of rock folklore, and it’ll come as a surprise to precisely nobody that he has on occasion assumed a character or two. You can grab a vinyl copy of ‘Competition’ by Rabbi Joseph Gordon from about a tenner online from record specialists if you’re feeling flush.

48. The Garden Wall aka Genesis

Prog rockers Genesis dispensed with the unspectacular name The Garden Wall back in the late 60’s, though they revived it for a secret gig at the London Marquee in 1982.

47. Queef Latina aka Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters have been missing in action for a while now. If you’re walking past a drinking establishment and catch the excellent spoonerism Queef Latina written on the board outside, then they may well be hiding inside. They used it for a secret show in 2008 and, with a name like that, one hopes they’ll use it again.

46. Naz Nomad And The Nightmares aka The Damned

The Damned proved they were fans of alliteration when they played a secret gig as Naz Nomad And The Nightmares.


45. Nathaniel Merriweather aka Dan The Automator

If Dan The Automator wasn’t sobriquet enough, Daniel M. Nakamura – the American hip hop producer – also works under the alias Nathaniel Merriweather in his and Mike Patton’s group Lovage. He also uses the name for another project,Handsome Boy Modelling School. Confused? You should be.

44. Julian Plenti aka Interpol’s Paul Banks

Paul Banks from Interpol became Julian Plenti on his first solo album. You’ll have to ask him why.

43. Parkay Quarts aka Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts once teamed up with PC Worship, calling themselves PCPC. The NYC rockers are no strangers to name alteration: they mysteriously called themselves Parkay Quarts at some European shows and even released 2014’s ‘Content Nausea’ under the name, perhaps in the hope they wouldn’t be mixed up with flooring salesrooms.

42. Celia And The Mutations aka The Stranglers

Punk legends The Stranglers once backed their manager’s protege Celia Collin under the name Celia And The Mutations. Their single ‘Round & Round’ is fairly collectible.

41. The Ill Herbs aka Public Access TV

There was a time not so long ago when a Public Access TV gig would have been secret anyway. Not anymore. They recently turned out as The Ill Herbs.

40. The Andmoreagains aka Love and Arthur Lee

Love and Arthur Lee delighted fans when they played the London Borderline in 2003 as The Andmoreagains. Graham Coxon even turned up to help on ‘Singing Cowboy’, undeterred by Lee introducing him as “Gram Caxan!”

39. Hooks For Hands aka Kaiser Chiefs

Back in 2007, the Kaiser Chiefs played some clandestine shows as the topically (at the time) named Hooks For Hands.

38. MC Honky aka Eels’ Mark ‘E’ Everett

Mark “E” Everett of Eels proved what a funtastic guy he could be when he put out the ‘I Am the Messiah’ LP under the name MC Honky. Or at least we think it was him (he never came clean).

37. Passengers aka U2

Before their PopMart tour, U2 repackaged themselves as Passengers with a certain Brian Eno on board. They recorded the album ‘Original Soundtracks 1’, with most of the tracks inspired by imaginary films. There hasn’t been an ‘Original Soundtracks 2’

36. Wet Wet Wet Wet/ Malkovich Malkovich aka Circa Waves

Circa Waves have performed under the rather hilarious Wet Wet Wet Wet, and also Malkovich Malkovich, which just goes to say that if a band is worth naming, it’s worth naming many times over with the same word.

35. Dr J Jones and the Interns aka Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have been known as the Toxic Twins for most of their career, even though they’ve both been clean for two decades. The whole band also once played a secret gig as Dr J Jones and the Interns.

34. The Lemmys aka Metallica

Metallica called themselves The Lemmys when they played Lemmy’s 50th birthday party at Whiskey A-Go-Go in west Hollywood in 1995.

33. Lee Rude And The Velcro Underpants aka The Las

When The La’s returned from a two year absence in 2011 with a secret gig at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, Lee Mavers billed the band as Lee Rude And The Velcro Underpants.

32. The Nerk Twins aka Lennon and McCartney

Lennon and McCartney played their only ever gig as a double act at the Fox and Hounds in Caversham in 1960. Billed as the Nerk Twins, they didn’t exactly need to change their name back then, as none of the three drinkers in the pub that night knew who they were.

31. The Black Hands aka Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand kept up their historical associations with the Archduke they took their name from when they played a secret gig not so long ago as The Black Hands: the secret society the Serbian assassin Gavrilo Princip was mixed up in when he pulled the gun on the Austrian royal.

30. The Tuss aka Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin has assumed so many identities that some he probably doesn’t even realise are him himself. Take The Tuss for instance, a name so arcane that you’ll only get the meaning if you’ve ever spent any time in West Cornwall. It means “erection” if you wanted to know, and it’s considered quite rude down there, too.

29. Fate Of Nations aka Robert Plant

Robert Plant is a more refined character than he was back in his wild Led Zep days (not hard). In 1992 he played a secret show as Fate Of Nations at a boozer in Fulham. He didn’t have to look far for inspiration, it was the name of his forthcoming album at the time.

28. The Lash aka The Clash

The Clash dropped the ‘c’ to become The Lash in 1983 when they recorded ‘House of the Ju Ju Queen’ with cabaret singer and notorious madam Janie Jones, who received a prison sentence in the 70’s for control of solicitation.

27. Earthbound aka The Prodigy

To counter accusations of selling out after The Prodigy had become super famous in the early 90’s, the Braintree big beat specialists put out a white label only release of ‘One Love’ as Earthbound, named after Liam Howlett’s studio of the same name.

26. Kreayshawn Of Moody aka Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey played a secret gig at Grasslands in New York as Kreayshawn Of Moody in 2011, and as usual the internet went into meltdown complaining about the fact it wasn’t her real name etc etc…

25. Jaggy Snake aka Biffy Clyro

The problem with assuming a name for a secret gig when you’re Biffy Clyro is that any name you could possibly think of is going to be better than your actual working name. Take Jaggy Snake, the name they assumed for a clandestine Reading Festival warm-up.

24. The Four Skins aka Motley Crue

Mötley Crüe played secret gigs as The Four Skins. No need to do a joke here, job done.

23. The Glimmer Twins aka Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The partnership of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is one of the best known in rock. Perhaps fed up with seeing it everywhere for the last 50 years, they call themselves the Glimmer Twins now and again when they take on production duties to add a bit of variety.

22. John’s Boys aka The Jam

If you thought the name The Jam was generic, then how about when they played as John’s Boys? It’s a good job Weller puts more effort into his songs than his does his nomenclature.

21 The Golden Triangle Municipal Funk Band aka Kevin Spacey aka Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker

Kevin Parker’s awkwardly-titled side project Kevin Spacey (he’s called Kevin and the music is spacey, get it?) assumed another name when they played their second only gig recently. They played under the moniker The Golden Triangle Municipal Funk Band.


20. l’Angelo Misterioso aka George Harrison

George Harrison co-wrote the song ‘Badge’ with his chum Eric Clapton, but had to appear as the enigmatically-named guitarist l’Angelo Misterioso when he played guitar on the track for contractual reasons. He’s also penned liner notes as the more prosaic Arthur Wax.

19. The Death Ramps aka Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys are fond of adopting the alias The Death Ramps, especially when playing with pals Miles Kane and Richard Hawley.

18. Iron Fist & the Hordes of Hell aka Motorhead

Motörhead themselves were apparently bound by contractual obligations way back in the late 70’s, so appeared as Iron Fist & the Hordes of Hell. Because nobody would have guessed it was Motörhead with a name like that.

17. The Reflektors aka Arcade Fire

Little known minions The Reflektors were to play an innocuous show in November 2013 which nobody was meant to know about, but Win Butler the dope gave his band an alias that sounded very much like Arcade Fire’s forthcoming fourth album, ‘Reflektor’. Suddenly it was the hottest ticket in town. Doh.

16. Sisi BakBak aka Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke can be secretive now and again to keep things interesting for himself, and rumour was rife recently that he was behind the Sisi BakBak alias that remixed the SBTRKT track ‘Hold On’.

15. The Holy Shits! aka Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters played a secret gig recently as the Holy Shits!, warming up for the release of ‘Sonic Highways’. This summer’s Glastonbury set probably won’t be so low key.

14. The Obtainers aka The Cure

Robert Smith has been known to get involved in a side project or two, including The Creatures with Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie. In 1980, The Cure put out a single featuring the band’s unknown friend Frank Bell on vocals (as well as vocal’s from Bob’s sister), pressing up 100 copies only as The Obtainers.

13. Larry Lurex aka Freddie Mercury

While Queen were recording their first album, Freddie Mercury was borrowed by the producer Robin Geoffrey Cable for a one off single for EMI in which he attempted to recreate his own Phil Spector-inspired Wall of Sound. The name Freddie took for the project? Larry Lurex. The name was apparently inspired by Gary Glitter.

12. Bingo Hand Job aka REM

REM were old hands at calling themselves hilarious nom-de-plumes for hush-hush shows back in the day, and none came more hilarious than Bingo Hand Job, a name they called themselves when they played London’s The Borderline in 1991.

11. The Entire Population Of Hackney aka Iron Maiden

Any old iron, any old iron, any any any old iron? No, not just any old iron but Iron Maiden, one of the biggest metal bands ever. The Irons have performed as Charlotte And The Harlots, and more confusingly they once played a secret gig as The Entire Population Of Hackney.

10. Venison aka The Strokes

Would you go and see a band called Venison at Camden’s Dingwalls? Probably not. What if you knew it was really The Strokes pretending to be a called Venison? Yes? Well good luck getting into that one.

9. Country Hams/ Percy Thrillington/ Bernard Webb aka Paul McCartney

As one of the most famous men on the planet, Paul McCartney loves to bask in the shadow of a secret identity. He’s recorded as Country Hams, Percy Thrillington, and he even wrote songs as Bernard Webb in the 60’s to see if he’d get found out or not. He did.

8. Darren Spooner aka Jarvis Cocker

When Jarvis Cocker left Pulp he decided to throw himself into the character Darren Spooner, an itinerant club singer in the band Relaxed Muscle, dubbed ‘the young sound of Doncaster’. It was a hoot and didn’t sell many records, which was probably Jarvis’ intention.

7. Alexander Nevermind aka Prince

In the late 80’s Prince used to play small gigs in Minnesota under the name Alexander Nevermind, which was no doubt cut short when Nirvana arrived on the scene and stole the surname for their own purposes. The purple pimpernel of pop assumed so many different identities that we would be here all day listing them.


6. The Cockroaches aka The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones warmed-up for shows in Paris and London a few years ago under the name The Cockroaches. It’s nice to see they’re still self-aware.

5. Dave Jay aka David Bowie

David Bowie isn’t a man afraid to take on other identities – his career is littered with them. Even when he wasn’t famous he was doing it. In 1962, when he was playing with the struggling working pub band The Konrads, he decided he would henceforth go by the name of Dave Jay. We’re thankful he had a rethink on that one..


4. Melvin Giganticus And The Turd Burglars aka Led Zepellin

Back in 1979, a year before John Bonham died, Led Zeppelin performed a gig as the charmingly named Melvin Giganticus And The Turd Burglars.

3. Gums & Noses/ Spaniel, Spaniel, Lombard And Razzocks aka The Libertines

The Libertines have played under a number of nom-de-guerres, most notably Gums And Noses, and even better, Spaniel, Spaniel, Lombard And Razzocks, which sounds like the worst law firm ever.

2. Tax Exiles/ The Spots aka The Sex Pistols

When The Sex Pistols became the most notorious band in Britain they were actually banned from venues all over the country, so they cunningly went under the pseudonym The Spots. They also tried on the Tax Exiles for size for a bit too.

1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band aka The Beatles

No gallery featuring bands with aliases could be complete without The Beatles as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the grandaddies of all pop alter-egoism. Oddly the secret got out about this one.