The Real Names of These Country Music Stars Might Surprise You
What’s in a name? Everything, apparently. Fresh off the heels of Billy Ray Cyrus’ recent announcement that he’s legally changing his name to “Cyrus” on August 25 (his birthday), the “Achy Breaky Heart” singer is joining an elite group of “formerly known as” artists, much to country music fans’ chagrin. He’s certainly not the first musician to drop part of the name their mama gave them, or invent a completely new one. Other country favorites, such as Randy Travis, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Maggie Rose, have all switched their stage names in the middle of their flourishing careers. So that got us thinking: Just who else in country music has changed their autograph in the name of show business? Here, 18 country music legends who either made a few tweaks to their real name or adopted a fresh moniker (here’s looking at you, Shania!) for something more star worthy and memorable. One thing’s for sure, Faith Hill by any other name just doesn’t sound quite as good.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley, she was the first solo female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The "Walkin' After Midnight" singer took husband Gerald Cline's surname as her stage name and shortened Patterson to "Patsy."
The country singer, songwriter, and actor was born Randy Bruce Traywick. Before changing his name to Randy Travis, he also went by the name Randy Ray. It looks like he ended up making the right decision after all.
Faith Hill is one half of country music’s most powerful (and adorable) couples. But she was born Audrey Faith Perry before the world tours, awards, and platinum albums. The last name as we know it today comes from the surname of her first husband, Dan Hill.
Much like his wife Faith, Tim McGraw also had a moniker change. Raised as Samuel Timothy Smith, he changed his last name at 11 years old, upon discovering the identity of his real father, baseball pitcher “Tug” McGraw. In addition, he shortened Timothy to Tim.
Shania Twain's real name is—wait for it—Eilleen Regina Edwards. She took the surname Twain from her stepfather, but the origin of Shania still remains a mystery.
It’s a little known fact that the famous Judd daughter and sister was actually named Christina Claire Ciminella. She legally changed her last name to Judd before becoming Wynonna. The idea for Wynonna is credited to Ray Benson, lead singer of the band Asleep At The Wheel, who mentioned Winona, Arizona, in the song “Route 66.”
Known for the greatest country duets ever recorded with legendary singer Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty’s real name was Harold Lloyd Jenkins.
Not only was the country superstar born as Troyal Garth Brooks, but he also changed his name mid-career. Does Chris Gaines ring a bell? Yeah, didn't think so.
Hank Williams, Sr.
The country crooner and Alabama native we all remember today was actually born Hiram King Williams.
Hank Williams, Jr.
Which makes his son, Hank Williams, Jr., not a “junior” at all. The "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" singer’s real name is Randall Hank Williams.
Rascall Flatts lead singer Gary LeVox was actually born Gary Wayne Vernon, Jr. We’re not exactly sure where the fancy stage name comes from, but it certainly does roll off the tongue.
Jason Aldine Williams was forced to change his name because it was already taken by famous basketball player Jason Williams. So Jason Aldean’s new stage name is more of a spell change than a complete switch-a-roo.
You know him for the popular hit "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," but did you also know that John Denver was actually named Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.? Probably wise he changed it.
The South Georgia favorite and “Play it Again” singer was born Thomas Luther Bryan.
There doesn’t seem to be a specific reason behind his decision to legally change his name from Donald Eugene Lytle to Johnny Paycheck, other than the fact that he didn’t like it. Whatever the reason, we couldn’t imagine remembering him as anything other than Mr. Paycheck.
When Terri Clark was born, she was named Terri Lynn Sauson. But, just before she released her debut album in 1995, she changed it to Terri Clark.
No surprise here, but Kid Rock isn’t the singer's government name. Born Robert James Richie, it’s been rumored that he adopted the moniker because when he was a DJ at parties, the crowd would sometimes say, “that white kid rock.”
Leon Eric Brooks III got his unusual name of “Kix,” supposedly because his feet kept the beat going while in his mama’s belly.