Top 10 Nicknames in Music

Script written by Q.V. Hough These are most memorable monikers of music. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Nicknames in Music. For this list, we'll be looking at iconic and memorable nicknames for musical artists who are otherwise known by their real names, meaning Slash and Flea are on the bench this time around. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris and radon548for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Nicknames in Music

These are most memorable monikers of music. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Nicknames in Music.

For this list, we'll be looking at iconic and memorable nicknames for musical artists who are otherwise known by their real names, meaning Slash and Flea are on the bench this time around. So is David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust as that is a character rather than a true nickname. Additionally, we are only looking at individuals rather than bands, meaning The Fab Four are also sitting this one out. Sorry, Ringo!

#10: “Slowhand” & “God”
Eric Clapton

In 1963, “The Crawdaddy Club” needed to replace their outgoing house band, “The Rolling Stones”. The Richmond venue soon settled on up and comers The Yardbirds, a band whose guitarist “Eric Clapton” had a propensity to cause the audience into doing a slow clap thanks to his string replacements in between songs. Given his already rapid yet smooth style - when he wasn't breaking stings - the club's owner combined the phenomenon and the young EC’s skills to give him the moniker “Slowhand,” either out of admiration, sarcasm or both. Of course, only a few years later, Clapton’s remarkable guitar skills led the public to grant him another nickname: God.

#9: “Queen of Soul”
Aretha Franklin

Following in the footsteps of Sam Cooke, this young gospel singer from Memphis took on the world of pop music in the early ‘60s. With the release of her Columbia debut, it was clear that Aretha Franklin was the obvious Queen of Soul. A nickname is one thing but it's quite another to be actually crowned in public, which is exactly what happened in 1968 when DJ Pervis Spann conducted a stage ceremony, making the nickname official. We’ve seen plenty of divas that like to remind of us their soul, but Aretha’s never had to talk smack. That's real power.

#8: “The Chairman of the Board”
Frank Sinatra

By 1960, Ol’ Blue Eyes had long been a King of Cool, but as the sensibilities of pop culture began to change, Frank Sinatra earned himself a new nickname: The Chairman of the Board. After all, he was, in fact, the man behind Reprise Records and the undeniable leader of The Rat Pack. Sinatra was both the ultimate crooner and an Academy Award-winning actor, so when a new school of cool emerged with JFK mingling with Marilyn Monroe, they already had someone as their leader of the pack, and it was the chairman of the board.

#7: “The Boss”
Bruce Springsteen

Whereas Frank Sinatra established his vocal skills in his native Hoboken, New Jersey, another blue-collar entertainer went the same route 30 years later along the Jersey shore. No, it wasn’t a life motto of “Gym, Tan, Laundry,” that led to the nickname, but rather Springsteen’s nighttime hustle as he organized payments for his band and spread the wealth. In other words, he took the bull by the horns, which made him “The Boss.” Okay, maybe Springsteen has never warmed up to the nickname, but hey – it’s not a bad one to have when everyone knows how “The Boss” gets down on stage.

#6: “The Godfather of Soul” & “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”
James Brown

By the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s, the man known as “Soul Brother Number One” had reached the pinnacle of success and even provided the score for the 1973 Blaxploitation film “Black Caesar.” And given his chaotic life and work schedule, it was obvious that James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, but he actually became known as “The Godfather of Soul” during this time, largely in part to the freewheeling ‘70s and the life accomplishments of the original gangster of funk. The nickname stuck, and you know James Brown didn’t mind the attention.

#5: “The Man in Black”
Johnny Cash

He was down and out in the late ‘60s due to heavy, heavy drug use, but this man experienced a rebirth of sorts and soon became friends with Bob Dylan, another music icon who was undergoing his own type of transformation. And so, it was in 1971 when Johnny Cash wrote “The Man in Black,” thus confirming his iconic nickname - however the image represented more than just rebellion. It was for the people, and all those unfortunate souls who lived a difficult life and weren’t quite connected with the blossoming counterculture movement. And of course, the look that came with it also looked good on stage.

#4: “Slim Shady”

In 1999, Eminem released his groundbreaking single “My Name Is,” yet a new MTV generation couldn’t quite figure out what the hell he was calling himself. And while many now consider Eminem a lyrical genius, his nickname was originally given to himself when he was hard at work - not in the studio, but on the toilet. Nobody questioned the name of his alter ego when Eminem hit it big, and after all, Dr. Dre executive produced his breakthrough album. Meanwhile, Slim Shady, as a nickname, has stuck with him through all these years. It rolls off the tongue rather easily, and Eminem certainly cashed in on his creation.

#3: “Prince of Darkness”
Ozzy Osbourne

As both an icon of hard rock and reality television, Ozzy Osbourne has influenced the world in a variety of mischievous ways, but let’s be clear: he’s not the first artist to be labeled the “Prince of Darkness.” The great blues musician Miles Davis was known as such, and even the “The Godfather” cinematographer Gordon Willis. However, it’s Ozzy that effectively captured the essence of John Milton’s famous phrase from “Paradise Lost” – in other words, the embodiment of evil – and by innovating the heavy metal genre both in the studio and on stage, Ozzy Osbourne fit the bill like no other.

#2: “King of Pop”
Michael Jackson

Given the international fame of Michael Jackson during the ‘80s, it only makes sense that he would ultimately be called “The King of Pop.” Well, how about this: it was MJ himself who demanded that MTV VJs refer to him by this title. Around the time when “Black or White” hit the airwaves, Michael Jackson came up with the idea that he needed a nickname like Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen, and thanks to his own efficient business plan, that’s exactly what he got. In fairness, there’s no other musician as deserving, so we’ll give MJ a break. He earned it.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Ox” & “Thunderfingers”
John Entwistle

John Bonham

“J-Hova” or “Hova”
Jay Z

“Queen of Pop”

“Lizard King”
Jim Morrison


#1: “The King (of Rock and Roll)”
Elvis Presley

It’s no secret that rock and roll was influenced by the blues. However, no other man embraced the crown for the genre quite like Elvis Presley. In the late ‘50s, he paved the way for rock as we know it, and though he would live a chaotic life, Elvis undoubtedly lived the life of a King - for better or for worse. No one can deny the influence of the Mississippi native, and over the course of more than 20 years, the King lived up to his famous title, even if he wasn’t always on top of the music industry.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite nickname in music? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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