What’s in a name? Everything if you’re a rock star. Majority of people are born with boring, everyday names - unless, of course, you’re born to a 20th century celebrity, in which case your name is a fruit, Disney character, or another entry from the MeSoUnique dictionary. In order to be larger-than-life celebrities, these rockers opted for a larger-than-life name.
Here’s a rundown of rockers with some of the best names that their mamas don't call them by.
Marilyn Manson (Brian Hugh Warner) The artist formerly known as Brian Hugh Warner came up with his stage name by combing the names of 2 infamous icons from the 1960s: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. He chose the 2 celebs because he wanted to have the “fakest stage name of all” to reflect the phoniness of show business. Well played, Brian.
Axl Rose (William Bruce Rose, Jr.) Before his name was synonymous with rock star douchebaggery, Axl Rose was called William Bruce Rose, Jr. The name we’ve all come to love and loathe him by came from the name of one of the first bands he was in when he first moved to Los Angeles: AXL. Of course, there is that whole anagram story…
Elvis Costello (Declan Patrick MacManus) Declan MacManus may sound like the name of a capo from the Westies, but it’s actually the birth name of post-punk rock god Elvis Costello. Costello took his name from his musician father’s stage name (Day Costello) and Elvis Presley.
Cat Power (Charlyn Marie Marshall) Cat Power sounds like the slogan of a felinist wanting to empower kitties everywhere, but really the indie rocker’s stage name came from a guy wearing a Caterpillar trucker cap. Power was part of a band that needed a name for their first show, and after seeing a man in a “Cat Diesel Power” hat, she knew she found the name. Though she ended up moving to New York a couple years after, the name stuck and she’s been Cat Power ever since.
Slash (Saul Hudson) Back in the 70s, when someone said “Better call Saul,” they were talking about Saul Hudson. Slash got his nickname from family friend and actor Seymour Cassel, who started calling him the name due to the fact that he was always in a hurry and never in one place for a long period of time.
Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) Iggy Pop has long been called the Godfather of Punk, but his real name sounds like the name of an 80-year-old Russian history professor. After serving as the drummer for The Iguanas, Mr. Osterberg officially became Iggy. The “Pop” came after a friend of the Stooges, Jimmy Pop, lost all his hair, including his eyebrows, prompting Iggy to shave off his eyebrows in tribute and consequently being dubbed Iggy Pop.
Joe Strummer (John Graham Mellor) John Graham Mellor sure doesn’t sound like the name of the frontman of one of the original punk bands, so it’s no surprise that he changed his name. Before he was Joe Strummer, though, he went by Woody Mellor, in honor of folk legend Woody Guthrie. He used this moniker during his time with the 101’ers and a couple years before the Clash was born, changed his name to Joe Strummer. The “Joe” was to signify that he was nothing special, just a “regular joe,” and the “Strummer” pertained to his rather lackluster rhythm guitar skills.
The Cramps: Lux Interior (Erick Lee Purkhiser) & Poison Ivy (Kristy Marlana Wallace) “Hi, my name is Lux Interior and this is my wife, Poison Ivy.” Few people get to drop opening lines like that, but the 2 permanent members of psychobilly pioneers the Cramps were an exception. Interior not surprisingly took his name from an old car commercial, while Ivy (who also went by Ivy Rorschach) stated the name had come to her in a dream.
Brody Dalle (Bree Joanna Alice Robinson) With a name like Bree Joanna Alice Robinson, you’re either going to become a Type A debutante who looks up to Paris Hilton, or you’re going to drop every part of your name and become one of the most hardcore lead singers of a punk rock band. Luckily for the world, Bree Robinson opted for the latter and changed her name to Brody. Before she adopted her last name from crazy/badass French actress Beatrice Dalle, however, she was known as Brody Armstrong (aka Tim Armstrong’s wife). A Rolling Stone tongue-makeout session with Josh Homme later, Brody Armstrong officially became Brody Dalle.
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie) Born John Simon Ritchie, Sid Vicious went on to personify the defining aspects of punk rock – rebellion, attitude, and safety pins. The story of the Sex Pistols is one of abrupt fame coupled with an even speedier decline, and Vicious’ scandalous life and tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen made for a punk rock fairytale, where there’s no such thing as a happy ending. The best part of all this, though, is that the dude was named after a hamster. After being bit by Johnny Rotten’s fuzzy, lovable hamster Sid, the then-John Ritchie said, “Sid is really vicious!,” and Rotten decided that a star was born.
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.