• This should be obvious, but even rock gods have families and personal lives. Suzi Quatro’s name at birth was Susan Kay Quatro. The name “Quatro” actually came from when her paternal grandfather immigrated to the United States, and an American immigration official changed her grandfather’s name — Quattrocchi — because he thought it was too hard to pronounce. Suzi’s parents were an Italian father and a Hungarian mother, and Suzi says, “Mom always said to me that they were ‘paprika and garlic — boy, oh boy, what a mix!’” Suzi performed her rock and roll while wearing a leather jumpsuit — a sexy outfit that helped many teenaged boys get through puberty — and her mother once told her that her music was “very nice, but do you have to stand with your legs so far apart?”
• The name “Ramones” comes from a pseudonym that Paul McCarthy used while traveling: Paul Ramone. Of course, there’s more to the story of the name than that. Founding member Tommy Ramone points out, “It sounded tough. Like the streets of the city. Yet it also sounded ridiculous, like a joke. It was like something absurd yet dangerous. It really struck you.” Tommy was instrumental in creating the Ramones’ uniform — torn blue jeans, tennis shoes, T-shirts, leather jackets — and he insisted that each band member change his professional name to Ramone. By the way, Tommy was born Tamas Erdelyi in Hungary. He once watched a movie in Hungary about the “decadent west.” It featured a soundtrack with “animalistic” music from America, and Tomas fell in love with rock ’n’ roll.
• Eleanora Fagan was born on April 7, 1915, in Baltimore, Maryland. Later, her mother, Sadie Fagan, married her father, Clarence Holiday, and Eleanora Fagan became Eleanora Holiday. As a youngster, she admired film star Billie Dove, and so she began calling herself Billie Holiday. As a young woman, she started singing and waiting tables at clubs where the other women would pick up their tips with their thighs. Billie declined to do that, and the other women taunted, “Look at her — she thinks she’s a lady.” Billie then became known as “Lady.” After Billie become a well-known jazz singer, saxophonist Lester Young shortened her last name, using only its last syllable, and so Eleanora Fagan, aka Billie Holiday, became known as “Lady Day.”
• When the teenaged Lou Reed started riding a motorcycle with a guitar on his back and a sneer on his face, his parents forced him to undergo a series of shock treatments before he started his senior year in high school. The shock treatments erased many memories and strengthened his desire to shock his parents. He once brought home a nice Jewish girl whom his parents loved. A year later, the nice Jewish girl was still his girlfriend, but her new name was “Miss Trash,” and she dressed like her name. Mr. Reed, of course, was a founding member of the Velvet Underground and recorded the music he wanted to record, not the music he thought would be popular.
• Rap musicians sometimes “sample” the works of other musicians — that is, they will take bits and pieces from someone else’s song and use it in their own music. For a while, this was not a problem, but when rap became big business, suddenly the musicians whose works had been sampled wanted a cut of the profits and so rap musicians had to get permission or clearance to sample the works of other musicians. Biz Markie found this out the hard way. He had sampled Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally,” without permission, and a court ordered his company to remove the album with the offending sample from the marketplace. Fortunately, Mr. Markie bounced back. A few years later, he released another, legally unoffending album, which he wittily titled All Samples Cleared.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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