Little Walter

His name was Walter. He was little*. That’s all I got.

(*His given name was Marion, and for all I know he was, a la Randy Newman, six feet tall.)

John Lee Hooker

On the list of things I can be mad at my parents about, one of them is that they didn’t give me a cool first name like “Zakiya.” On the other hand, they didn’t give me an embarrassing last name like “Hooker,” so I guess it all evens out.

John Lee Hooker AllMusic page

Howlin’ Wolf

As blues nicknames go, I still think “McKinley Morganfield” to “Muddy Waters” was the Best. Business Decision. Ever. But “Chester Arthur Barnett” to “Howlin’ Wolf” is a close second. On a related note: On the list of “presidents I want to name my son after,” who picks Chester Alan Arthur? (Yes, that’s actually where his given name comes from.)

Howlin’ Wolf AllMusic page

Charlie Musselwhite

Things you learn as a music junkie blogger, part infinity: Blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite is white! Too bad there wasn’t a clue, like in his name or something …

Charlie Musselwhite AllMusic page

Buddy Guy

Though it’s certainly catchier than “George,” if your last name is “Guy” and you choose “Buddy” as your stage name—that’s a sign you’re not trying very hard.

Buddy Guy AllMusic page

Alberta Hunter

In round 2 I will do a fair amount of apologizing for acts I can’t believe I left out of round 1. And with that in mind … Alberta Hunter.

Alberta Hunter AllMusic page

Taj Mahal

In my next other life (clearly, I am planning to have a lot of them), I want a badass name like “Taj Mahal.” I figure, this one isn’t even Indian, so my odds are pretty good.

Taj Mahal AllMusic page

Robert Johnson

The devil may have gotten Johnson’s, but clearly the real winners from that deal are anyone who loves music that comes from the soul. Pretty much every artist and genre that gets a list on this blog (except the prog rockers and, you know, Madonna) can trace their lineage back to this one man and his guitar. To be honest, I think the devil got shafted.

Robert Johnson AllMusic

Muddy Waters

Best. Stage name. Ever. And when you consider he was born McKinley Morganfield—Smartest. Business decision. Ever.

Muddy Waters AllMusic page

Lead Belly

I’d like to pretend I’m all badass and know a lot about Lead Belly … but mama taught me it wasn’t nice to tell lies. I do know he wrote “Goodnight Irene,” which … Irene? Did Lead Belly really hang around women named Irene? I picture a (very white) character in a 40s high-society rom-com starring Cary Grant.

Lead Belly AllMusic page