Monday, July 28, 2008

Naming Names

I've been thinking about musical nicknames lately, and how just to earn a nickname seems to require some sort of legendary stature in the field. It's not like baseball, where scrubs like Tarzan Joe Wallis and Shooty Babbitt can carry around great handles. You've practically gotta be James Brown to get a great nickname as a musician.

So I decided to compile a little dictionary of nicknames, and of course I could use your help. I'm talking about full-blown epithets here, not weak sauce like "Keef" or "Moonie." Here's a handful:

The King: Elvis Presley
The Killer: Jerry Lee Lewis
The Genius: Ray Charles
The Godfather of Soul: James Brown
The Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin
The Man in Black: Johnny Cash
The Tycoon of Teen: Phil Spector
The Big O: Roy Orbison
The Bard of Hibbing: Bob Dylan
Van the Man: Van Morrison
The Twelve-Year-Old Genius: Stevie Wonder
The Thin White Duke: David Bowie
The Boss: Bruce Springsteen
Slowhand: Eric Clapton
The Ox: John Entwistle
The Motor City Madman: Ted Nugent
Little Miss Dynamite: Brenda Lee
The Paul McCartney of Cleveland: Eric Carmen

Who else? I'm sure there must be plenty. Consider this a homework assignment, since I'm traveling for most of the next two weeks, and posting may be sporadic. It's kind of a shame, because we've been setting records here, with over 500 hits each of the past two days after an apparently very popular jazz site linked to my Hiram Bullock obit. Let's hope we don't lose that momentum.

Guest posts are always welcome, by the way. Send them c/o the author.


Parker said...

Here are a few additions:

Bonzo: John Henry Bonham, drummer Led Zepplin
(not weak sauce here)
Okie from Muscogee: Merle Haggard

Prince of Pop: Michael Jackson

MJN said...

The Lizard King: Jim Morrison
The Pearl: Janis Joplin
Stevie "Guitar" Miller
Master of the Telecaster: Albert Collins

It's tough to come up with someone from the Cenozoic Era.

Mark Lerner said...

The King of Pop (Michael Jackson)

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (Prince)

Also, that glyph for Prince might count.

"The Singing Brakeman" (Jimmie Rodgers)

Is "Okie from Muscogee" really a nickname for Merle? Seems to me it's just a song title (and of course, he's not from Oklahoma, but then neither is John Entwistle an ox)

Is "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" also a nickname for JB, or is that just my imagination?

Satchmo. Actually, I think once this gets opened up to jazz, there'll be no end to it.

Mark Lerner said...

Sorry, some more:
"The Texas Troubadour," Ernest Tubb

"The King of Western Swing" Bob Wills

(So many kings!)

"No-Show Jones" George Jones

T. Nawrocki said...

The Jesus of Cool: Nick Lowe.

The Material Girl: Madonna.

MJN said...

Van the Man is also known as the Belfast Cowboy.

Mark Lerner said...

"Ol' Blue Eyes" aka "The Chairman of the Board" aka "The Voice": Frank.

Mark Lerner said...

And Mel Torme, the Velvet Fog. Which I never really got.

Pike said...

I've heard The Police referred to as "The Thin Blue Line."

Mark Lerner said...

The Silver Fox: Charlie Rich

Pike said...

Crosby. "Der Bingle." (Hey, "der" is "the.")

Robbie Diamond said...

John Mellencamp: The Cougar
Freddy Mercury: The Godfather of Galileos
Dennis De Young: Kilroy
Bob Dylan: Terry, Timmy, Bobby, Zimmy, Ray Jay, Ray, Captain Kidd
Paul Simon: Al
Mick Jagger: Lucifer
Ronnie Van Zandt: Mr. Breeze
Donald Fagen: Deacon Blue
Steve Miller: Maurice
Whitney Houston: Not Susan

MJN said...

Ringo: Richard Starkey

Sometimes we miss the most obvious choices.

T. Nawrocki said...

Rivers Cuomo: Jonas

Gavin said...

Also "Wepeel" from the same song.

Debbie Harry: Anytime

Kinky Paprika said...

I remember reading that John Mellencamp used to revel in the nickname "Little Bastard."

Apparently someone from his record label called him that (not to his face, I don't think), and he took to it.

Speaking of diminutives, let's not forget Little Steven (Van Zandt), formerly Miami Steve.

Or how about Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, snazz guitarist-turned-nuclear defense analyst?

robbie diamond said...

many LOLs here... Jonas... Anytime... Skunk!

Tony Bennett: Irresponsible
Otis Redding: Mr. Pitiful
Dion: The Wanderer
Alice In Chains: The Rooster
John or Paul--fight it out, you two: The Walrus
Sammy Davis Jr.: The Candy Man, although Jerry Garcia claimed this one too. Fortunately the two men never met, or there would been a very slow and awkward fistfight.
Snow Miser: Mr. White Christmas, Mr. Snow, Mr. Icicle, Mr. Ten Below
Heat Miser: Mr. Green Christmas, Mr. Sun, Mr. Heat Blister, Mr. 101
Gene Simmons: Dr. Love
Courtney: Miss World

Anonymous said...

Johnny Griffin: 'Little Giant'

Anonymous said...

Scott 'Ragtime' Joplin
Joe 'King' Oliver
Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll Morton' LaMenthe
Gertrude 'Ma Rainey' Nix Pridgett
Charles 'Buddy' Bolden
Luckyeth 'Lucky' Roberts
Thomas 'Fats' Waller
Willie 'The Lion' Smith
Louis 'Satchelmouth' Armstrong
William "Count" Basie
Edward "Duke" Ellington
Ben 'The Brute' or 'Frog 'Webster
John Coltrane 'Trane'
John 'Dizzy' Gilliespie
Charlie 'Bird' Parker
McKinley 'Kenny' Dorham
Miles 'King of Cool' Davies
Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis
Julian 'Cannonball' Aderley
Oscar 'Maharaja of the keyboard' or 'O.P.' Peterson
Jeff 'Tain' Watts
Donald 'Duck' Harrison

robbie diamond said...

B.B. King: King of the Blues
Steven Tyler: Lord of the Thighs
Paul Stanley: King of the Night Time World
Gene Chandler: Duke of Earl
Roger Miller: King of the Road
Pam Tillis: Cleopatra, Queen of Denial
Lil Kim: The Queen Bee
Adam Ant: King of the Wild Frontier
Run-DMC: Kings of Rock
Sting: King of Pain
Sir Mix-A-Lot: Chief Booty-Knocka
John Phillips: Wolf King of L.A.
PJ Harvey: King of the World
Whitney: Queen of the Night
Michael Flatley: Lord of the Dance
Brenda and Eddie: King and Queen of the Prom

T. Nawrocki said...

Are we really ready to call Heat Miser a rock star? Snow Miser, I'll grant you.


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Hi Tom / OPC,

On behalf of Exile Productions and Exile Publishing, many thanks for plugging Van Morrison and, for your readers’ info, up-to-the-minute news on Van’s latest album - Keep It Simple - and 2008 shows is, of course, available on and and, for a limited period, you can still see Van's exclusive BBC sessions at . We’re also pleased to announce that an increasing archive of exclusive film footage of Van Morrison performances has now been made available for fans on Exile’s official YouTube channel at .

Thanks again for your plug and, as MJN also mentioned, Van's other nickname is The Belfast Cowboy.