10 Musicians With Amazing Alter Egos

Pop stars are known for pushing musical boundaries. But what happens when they push their creativity all the way into a different persona?

We explore some of music’s most memorable alter egos and how they affected the careers of their counterparts.

Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana

In 2006, Miley Cyrus propelled to fame in the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, a series about a teen with a double life as a pop star. Cyrus was able to flex her acting and singing chops on the show, allowing her to release records while still under contract as an actress.

[Photo Credit: Splash News]

Damon Albarn as Murdoc of the Gorillaz

Blur frontman Damon Albarn conceived of the animated band Gorillaz with illustrator Jamie Hewlett in 1998. The two wanted the act to be a commentary on media images in music, and eventually went on to sell millions of records with tracks like “Clint Eastwood,” “19-2000,” and “Feel Good Inc.”

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy Stardust’s Christlike, glam rock persona helped catapult David Bowie into music stardom. Ziggy was prominently featured on 1973’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album, telling the story of an alien coming to Earth a few years before the apocalypse. The Starman achieves fame, but his message of love gets lost when he experiences human excess and he dies as his followers turn on him.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Lady Gaga as Jo Calderone

At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Lady Gaga showed up in drag as a James Dean-era greaser named Jo Calderone. Gaga kept the gag up all night, performing and presenting an award in the Calderone persona.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Prince as Love Symbol #2

Seeking more control of his musical output and unable to get out of his Warner Bros. contract, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993. Informally, he became The Artist Formerly Known As Prince until 2000, when he went back to good old-fashioned Prince.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Big Boi as Sir Lucious Left Foot

Outkast’s Big Boi released his LP Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, in 2010. Sir Lucious was conceptualized as a more mature, yet still thoroughly funky, counterpart to Big Boi.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Nicki Minaj as Harajuku Barbie

Nicki Minaj’s Harajuku Barbie allows the rapper to show off her playful femininity while still ripping records with her raw lyrics. The Barbie persona has almost become indistinguishable from Minaj, as the rapper frequently evokes the alter ego with her eye-popping fashion choices.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Shock G as Humpty Hump

Oakland hip hop group Digital Underground had their biggest hit, “The Humpty Dance,” in 1990. The song featured Humpty Hump, an alter ego of frontman Shock G. The group actually created a fake bio for Humpty, attributing his prosthetic nose to an accident with a fryer.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Beyonce as Sasha Fierce

Beyonce’s 2008 LP I Am…Sasha Fierce was an exploration of the singer’s creativity as she challenged herself to explore different musical genres. Sasha Fierce served as Beyonce’s on-stage persona and the smash single “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” exemplified the alter ego’s forthright, sexy style. In 2010, Beyonce let go of Sasha Fierce, saying she no longer needed a second persona.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines

Country star Garth Brooks began conceptualizing a film called The Lamb, about a popular rock musician named Chris Gaines who soon became disaffected by fame. Brooks released an album in the Gaines persona in 1999, met with confusion by fans. Though the LP yielded a hit single, Gaines soon faded into obscurity.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia]