Real Names: 21 questions and a list for reference

Real names, or birth names, are a regular feature of quizzes. A question on Pop Master earlier today asked the following: “What is the original shared surname of both Cliff Richard and Gary Numan?” I have been meaning to write something about this topic for a while, and that question has prompted me to draft this piece. The answer is Webb. Cliff Richard’s real name (Harry Webb) was one of the first to come to my attention, along with the real names of other long-established pop-stars Elton John (Reg Dwight) and Lulu (Marie Lawrie).

The subject of Real Names comes up regularly on Pop Master and there have been enough difficult questions over the years to make me wary of them. Sometimes the answers are straightforward thanks to the musical clues. The Danish singer Sannie Charlotte Carlson is probably an unfamiliar name to you, but if you hear her 1994 #1 “Saturday Night” you might recall that she is better known as Whigfield. Similarly Ray Burns might not ring any bells, but his 1982 chart-topping version of “Happy Talk” could remind you that he usually goes by the name of Captain Sensible.

In the absence of musical clues, questions about real names can be made more or less straightforward depending on how you phrase them. For example, “What is Rihanna’s real name?” is something that most people would be unable to guess. Alternatively, “How is the singer Robin Fenty better known?” would give more people a chance. You could at least guess the name of a famous singer. To make the question easier you could ask, “Robin Fenty is the real name of which Barbados-born singer?” And finally, if you wanted to give everyone the best possible chance of getting it right, you could ask, “Robin Fenty is the real name of which Barbados-born singer, whose hits include Umbrella, Take a Bow and Diamonds?” Regular quizzers will know that the answer to any question involving “Barbados-born singer” is always Rihanna, just as “Canadian rapper” generally refers to Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) and “Canadian pop-star” is usually Justin Bieber. Just to clarify, Barbados-born singer Rihanna’s full name is Robin Rihanna Fenty.

The following 21 questions about Real Names have been gathered from a variety of sources from the last year or so, including “The Chase”, “Pointless” and “Eggheads”, but mostly Pop Master. There are a few of my own thrown in as well. The answers appear immediately afterwards. At the end of this piece is a list of real names which I plan to add to in the months ahead.

Questions about Real Names

  1. How is singer Elaine Bookbinder better known? Her hits include “Pearl’s a singer” and “Lilac Wine”.
  2. Vincent Furnier is the real name of which rock star?
  3. Born Joseph Yule Junior in 1920, which film actor starred as Andy Hardy in a series of Hollywood films?
  4. Liverpool-born Ronald Wycherly recorded hits such as “Halfway to Paradise” and “Last night was made for love” using what name?
  5. How are the Jamaican reggae duo John Taylor and Everton Bonner better known? They had a UK #1 with “Twist and Shout” in 1994.
  6. Kimberly Jones is real name of which American rapper?
  7. Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans published books (including “Middlemarch” and “Silas Marner”) using what pseudonym?
  8. How is singer Pauline Matthews better known?
  9. What name did Irish singer Rosemary Brown use when she won the Eurovision song contest in 1970?
  10. David Cornwell is the real name of which bestselling author of spy novels?
  11. By what 4-letter name is singer Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong, usually known?
  12. What is the real name of the artist who performs as Foxes?
  13. Marion Mitchell Morrison is the real name of which Hollywood actor?
  14. Disco diva Gloria Fowles found fame using what name?
  15. How is singer Yvette Marie Stevens usually known? She had a UK #1 with “I feel for you” in 1984.
  16. How is the actor born Maurice Micklewhite in 1933 better known?
  17. Rita Crudgington is the real name of which member of Eurovision-winning British band Bucks Fizz?
  18. What is rapper Jay-Z’s original name?
  19. Ruth Elizabeth Davis was the full name of which Oscar-winning actress?
  20. How is Trinidad-born singer and rapper Onika Tanya Maraj better known?
  21. Brazilian World Cup winning footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento found fame using what more familiar name?


  1. Elkie Brooks
  2. Alice Cooper
  3. Mickey Rooney
  4. Billy Fury
  5. Chaka Demus and Pliers
  6. Lil’ Kim
  7. George Eliot
  8. Kiki Dee
  9. Dana
  10. John le Carré
  11. Dido
  12. Louisa Allen [This was a question on an edition of “Pointless Celebrities”, and 3 of the 100 people who were asked the question knew the answer.]
  13. John Wayne
  14. Gloria Gaynor
  15. Chaka Khan
  16. Michael Caine
  17. Cheryl Baker
  18. Shawn Carter
  19. Bette Davis
  20. Nicki Minaj
  21. Pelé


A List of Real Names, for reference

Real Name Better known as Famous as
Elaine Bookbinder Elkie Brooks British singer
Vincent Furnier Alice Cooper American rock star
Joseph Yule Junior Mickey Rooney Hollywood actor
Ronald Wycherly Billy Fury British singer
John Taylor and Everton Bonner Chaka Demus and Pliers Jamaican reggae duo
Kimberly Jones Lil’ Kim American rapper
Mary Ann Evans George Eliot Victorian novelist
Pauline Matthews Kiki Dee British singer
Rosemary Brown Dana Irish Eurovision-winning singer
David Cornwell John le Carré British author of spy novels
Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong Dido British singer
Louisa Allen Foxes British singer
Marion Mitchell Morrison John Wayne Hollywood actor
Gloria Fowles Gloria Gaynor Disco diva
Yvette Marie Stevens Chaka Khan American singer
Maurice Micklewhite Michael Caine British actor
Rita Crudgington Cheryl Baker British singer
Shawn Carter Jay-Z American rapper
Ruth Elizabeth Davis Bette Davis Hollywood actress
Onika Tanya Maraj Nicki Minaj Trinidad-born singer and rapper
Harry Webb Cliff Richard British Singer
Elton John Elton John British Singer and songwriter
Marie Lawrie Lulu Scottish Singer
Robin Fenty Rihanna Barbados-born singer
Aubrey Graham Drake Canadian rapper
Graham McPherson Suggs British singer with Madness
Ray Burns Captain Sensible British singer, member of punk band The Damned
Edson Arantes do Nascimento Pele Brazilian footballer
Susan Janet Ballion Siouxsie Sioux British punk singer
John Lydon Johnny Rotten British punk singer
Sannie Charlotte Carlson Whigfield Danish singer





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