The most famous musical alter egos

13 April 2019, 19:00 | Updated: 11 June 2019, 18:48

David Bowie was the greatest practitioner of the musical alter ego... but he wasn't the only one. Radio X takes a look at the others.

  1. David Bowie - Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and The Thin White Duke

    Dubbed as one of the most iconic rock stars in music history, David Bowie was the ultimate style and musical chameleon. Whether delighting fans as Ziggy Stardust or keeping us on our toes us as the Thin White Duke, Bowie's creations and personas to this day remain some of the most memorable in Rock N' Roll. We celebrate the legacy Ziggy Stardust left behind with some of the best alter egos around

    Guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, David Bowie and drummer Mick Woodmansey of 'Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' pose for a portrait in November 1972 in London, England
    Guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, David Bowie and drummer Mick Woodmansey of 'Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' pose for a portrait in November 1972 in London, England. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  2. Bono - The Fly, Mirrorball Man and MacPhisto

    During U2's 1992-3 the Zoo TV Tour, Bono unleashed three alter egos in The Fly, Mirrorball Man and MacPhisto. The Fly saw Bono clad in all leather, while Mirror Ball Man wore a shining silver lamé suit with matching shoes and cowboy hat. MacPhisto wore a shiny gold suit with gold platform shoes, pale make-up, lipstick, and devil's horns atop his head. Bono's performances and the Zoo TV Tour as a whole, marked a change in stadium concerts in terms of scale and production.

    Bono of U2 performs on stage on the Zooropa Tour at Kuip on May 10th 1993 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
    Bono of U2 performs on stage on the Zooropa Tour at Kuip on May 10th 1993 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Picture: Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images
  3. Eminem - Slim Shady

    John Lennon may have been a Beatles star and huge icon, but Dr Winston O'Boogie gave John Lennon his only solo US No.1 during his lifetime. Recorded with Elton John, the Rocket Man bet Lennon the song would top the charts. Fulfilling the terms of his bet, Lennon performed the song at Elton John's Thanksgiving performance at Madison Square Garden.

    Eminem
    Eminem. Picture: Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty Images
  4. Prince - Camille, Symbol

    Camille was the name Prince gave his high-pitched sped up, female-sounding vocals. An album in this style of the same name was due to be released in 1986, but was cancelled weeks before it was scheduled. You can still find Camille though, as most of the tracks were incorporated onto his Sign O' The Times album. He also wrote The Bangles' Just Another Manic Monday under the name Christopher and was a symbol from 1993-2000. We settled for calling him "the artist formerly known as Prince".

    Prince on Stage in Detroit for His Birthday, 1985
    Prince on Stage in Detroit for His Birthday, 1985. Picture: Bill Marino/Sygma via Getty Images
  5. Green Day - The Foxboro Hot Tubs

    Foxboro Hot Tubs is a garage rock side project featuring all three members of Green Day and Kevin Preston of Prima Donna. Billie Joe Armstrong and Jason White go by the names Reverend Strychnine Twitch and Frosco Lee, while Tre Cool keeps his own established pseudonym.

    Green Day
    Green Day. Picture: Frank Maddocks/Warner Bros Press
  6. Morrissey - Ann Coates

    Our favourite Manchester bard is known best as Morrissey or Moz, but he took on a fair few characters during the creative process and is credited as Ann Coates on Bigmouth Strikes Again. Uber fan forums also connect the characters Shridan Whiteside, Eddie Riff, Terence Stomp, Whores in Retirement, Stoney Hando and Knuckle Duster to The Smiths frontman.

    Morrissey in 1984
    Morrissey in 1984. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images
  7. Paul McCartney - The Fireman

    Macca is one half of The Fireman, alongside Youth (Martin Glover). The electronic duo remained anonymous until 2008, unvieling their names shortly after the release of their first album.

    Paul McCartney in 1998
    Paul McCartney in 1998. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images
  8. Jarvis Cocker - Darren Spooner

    Goulish zombie/skeleton-man, Darren Spooner, was the alter ego the Pulp frontman took on for his side project Relaxed Muscle.

    Jarvis Cocker of Pulp
    Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Picture: Eamonn McCabe/Redferns/Getty Images
  9. Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme - Boots Electric and Carlo Von Sexron

    Boots Electric and Carlo Von Sexron are the duo's ostentatious alter-egos in Eagles Of Death Metal.

    Eagles Of Death Metal
    Eagles Of Death Metal. Picture: Hayley Madden/Redferns/Getty images
  10. Neil Young - Bernard Shakey

    He may have been Neil Young on the stage, but behind the camera, he was Bernard Shakey, and responsible for directing the likes of Journey Through The Past (1974), Rust Never Sleeps (1979) and Greendale (2003).

    Neil Young
    Neil Young. Picture: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images
  11. Charles Thompson - Black Francis

    Following a long line of Charles Thompsons, Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV probably couldn't wait to take on the role of Black Francis when playing in the Pixies.

    Black Francis (aka Frank Black, Charles Thompson), London, United Kingdom, 1993.
    Black Francis (aka Frank Black, Charles Thompson), London, United Kingdom, 1993. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
  12. Interpol's Paul Banks - Julian Plenti

    The Interpol frontman released a solo album in 2009 called Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper. Julian - taken from the singer's lesser-known middle name, now very much stays that way, since he now prefers to record his solo material under Paul Banks.

    Paul Banks of Interpol poses for a portrait wearing sunglasses and typing at a typewriter on October 29, 2002 in Los Angeles, California.
    Paul Banks of Interpol poses for a portrait wearing sunglasses and typing at a typewriter on October 29, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Wendy Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
  13. Jim Morrison - Mr Mojo Risin

    The Doors frontman gave himself the moniker Mr. Mojo Risin, which is an anagram of his name. A reference to this name pops up at the end of The Doors track L.A. Woman.

    Jim Morrison of The Doors, 1968
    Jim Morrison of The Doors, 1968. Picture: ADN-Bildarchiv/ullstein bild via Getty Images
  14. Supergrass - The Hotrats

    Two thirds of Supergrass, Gaz Coombes and Danney Goffey showed their sense of humour when they formed The Hotrats... who were a Supergrass cover band.

    Group portrait of Supergrass, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1996. L-R Danny Goffey, Gaz Coombes and Mick Quinn.
    Group portrait of Supergrass, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1996. L-R Danny Goffey, Gaz Coombes and Mick Quinn. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images