The Boss (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce—who also goes by "The Doctor"—acquired his famous nickname long before he cut a rug with Courtney Cox. When he was still working the club circuit, Springsteen was often tasked with collecting his band's pay and distributing funds after the gig—hence the title. But Bruce revealed in a 2009 interview that he actually disliked the nickname. Go on and gasp. We're with you.
The Man in Black (Johnny Cash)
Cash's signature gloom also traces back to his early career, when he and the Tennessee Three chose all-black to stay within the means of their modest wardrobe budget. John's catalogue eventually matched the mood, too, with brooding ballads like "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Still Miss Someone." The silver lining in his life? Marrying June Carter in 1968.
The White Witch (Stevie Nicks)
Why wallow when you can sashay in an ivory cape? Nicks scored her nickname after releasing the bewitching ballad "Rhiannon" in 1975, leading many to believe that her ties to the fictional Welsh enchantress were real. Stevie's signature wardrobe didn't quell rumors either and, perhaps inevitably, "The White Witch" was born.
The Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
While Stevie Nicks took a more passive road to rock nicknamery, the late David Bowie relished crafting his own mystical aliases. The Thin White Duke surfaced with the release of his 1976 album "Station to Station"—three years after 1973's intergalactic introduction to alter-ego Ziggy Stardust. While Ziggy was partial to metallic flash, the Duke favored a monochromatic look. What can we say? Badassery comes in many forms.
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
In contrast with Bowie's opulence, Kenny kept things simple and sampled one of his greatest hits for his nickname. "The Gambler," which Rogers released in 1978, actually took a turn with a few artists (including Johnny Cash) before finding its match with Kenny—who has sold nearly 800,000 copies of the single to date. Spoiler: We're thinking he should continue to hold 'em.
The Possum (George Jones)
Sometimes a name is all in the face, as proven by Jones, who stumbled upon "The Possum" as an early crooner. "I had an album out with a side view of me with a crewcut," he told country music's The Boot in 2009. "I was very young, and my nose looked more turned up, and I've got little beady eyes, so I guess I did look like a possum! So they both laid into me and called me 'Possum' and it got everywhere. There was no way I could stop that, so [I thought] I'll just have to live with that!"
The Queen of Folk (Joan Baez)
Why merely play when you can picket? Though Baez's nickname touches on her skills as an as a songstress, her work transcends her time in the studio (where she has recorded over 30 albums, mind you). Leading the march for causes like environmental health and racial equality, Joan committed to life as a figurehead for nonviolent protest early in her career, armed only with good intentions and her signature guitar.
The Bard (Bob Dylan)
Though Dylan's list of nicknames seems never-ending—it includes Zimmy, Zimbo and The Voice of a Generation, to name a few—this is the one that reflects the pure poetry of such songs as "Visions of Johanna" and "Just Like a Woman."
Chairman of the Board (Frank Sinatra)
For the 1 percent of you who missed your music history lessons, The Voice—aka The Sultan of Swoon aka Ol' Blue Eyes aka Frank—also inherited his own collection of nicknames during his storied career. The most meaningful, however, surfaced after Sinatra started Reprise Records in 1960. Now owned by Warner Music Group, Frank's signature label showcased his abilities as an independent artist, a role he celebrated after many years of stifling legalities. Finally, he did it his way.
The Soundtrack King (Kenny Loggins)
Suddenly feel "the need for speed"? If you've been to the theater in the last 30 years, you've experienced "K-Log" (another great handle) in his element, contributing to movies like "Top Gun" and "Footloose." Kenny's first featured contribution, however, quite surprisingly traces back to the 1976 remake of "A Star Is Born"—the one with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
The Queen of Camp (Cher)
Cher earned her stripes as the Queen of Camp after unpacking her (seemingly unlimited) stash of bedazzles in the 1970s and '80s. Though some point to a rivalry with the equally glam Diana Ross, we'd like to think that nothing out-camps a custom headdress—or one of several leather getups.
The Pope of Mope (Morrissey)
How many rain clouds is too many rain clouds? A valid question for Morrissey, who can thank the London press for this nickname. To be fair, the former leading man of The Smiths—who was born Steven Patrick Morrissey—perfected the craft of proper sulking early in his career, penning tracks like "Suffer Little Children" and "The Queen Is Dead" with the skill of a consummate curmudgeon.
The High Priest of Soul (Ray Charles)
Where some may weep, Ray Charles turned his eyes to the heavenly riff and scored with hits like "Georgia on My Mind" and "Singing This Song For You." As a soul pioneer, he garnered a faithful following, even making a believer out of Frank Sinatra, who once called Ray "the only genius" working in modern music. If the robe fits, wear it.
Slowhand (Eric Clapton)
First coined by Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky, "Slowhand" surfaced after Clapton repeatedly replaced broken guitar strings onstage during live concerts, often leading to a "slow clap" from the audience to fill the awkward space between songs. In good humor, Clapton graciously embraced the tongue-in-cheek moniker and eventually named his best-selling 1977 album after it.
The King of Pop (Michael Jackson)
Would you expect anything less of the artist who bridged the gap between here and the moon? MJ's nickname pays homage to his contributions as a cross-cultural phenom, with revolutionary work in fashion and contemporary choreography. Toss in 13 Grammy Awards—and the beloved Bubbles the chimp—and you have a throne that is simply untouchable.
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