Bach, A to Z: famous people who aren’t

In recent posts I talked about where certain names came from. Today it’s: Where did people (with names) come from, or disappear to?

JS Bach isn’t the only musical composer with that last name. There’s CPE Bach, GH Bach, JC Bach, JCF Bach, S Bach, WF Bach, and PDQ Bach. Wait a minute, “PDQ” Bach? Nope. PDQ Bach is really Johann Schickele, a living American composer and parodist who produces comedy music albums featuring music he writes under that pseudonym.

PDQ isn’t the only pseudonym in the music biz. There’s the world famous blues musician, Mckinley Morganfield. Never heard of him? That’s because he went by a name his grandmother called him as a boy, Muddy Waters. And don’t think for a minute that when Bo Diddley was born his mother said, “I’m gonna name this kid ‘Bo Diddley?'” He started out life as Ellas Otha Bates. Adopted and raised by a relative whose name was McDaniel, he became Ellas McDaniel. He later created the stage name, Bo Diddley, a southern black slang term meaning “nothing at all.”

Nanker Phelge, composer of early Rolling Stones songs, including Play With Fire, Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man, and Little by Little, must be collecting some nice royalty checks these days, eh? Not exactly. Turns out Nanker’s not a person. More accurately, it’s five persons. The name is contrived, standing for all five original members of the Rolling Stones, collectively. “Phelge” is a surname borrowed from a friend of the Stones, Jimmy Phelge; “Nanker” was a humorous facial contortion often affected by the late Brian Jones.

Name adaptations aren’t confined to the music business. 19th Century French feminist and novelist, Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, wrote under the masculine pseudonym George Sand. The Bronte sisters, famous for Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and many other novels, wrote under masculine pen names: Emily was Ellis Bell, Charlotte was Currer Bell, and Anne was Acton Bell.

Then there are are cultural icons, like Alfred E. Newman. Oops, nope, sorry, he really does exist.

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One Comment on “Bach, A to Z: famous people who aren’t”

  1. Joseph Belle-Isle Says:

    Alfred E. Neuman is not only real and alive he ran for the Presidency and won. Under many different masculine pseudonyms.


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