Several musicians have been known to take on an alternate persona as part of their art. David Bowie became Ziggy Stardust. Garth Brooks became Chris Gaines. Heck, Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan when he was trying to be Woody Guthrie. But other musicians have gone farther as to conceal their true identity by physically masking themselves whether it be with make-up or even an actual mask. Here’s a list of some of the biggest, the story of how they came to be and the reasons behind their facade.
Real Identity: Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter
Origin: “We did not choose to become robots,” Thomas Bangalter reportedly once said. “There was an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, and at exactly 9:09 a.m. on September 9, 1999, it exploded. When we regained consciousness, we discovered that we had become robots.” There you have it.
Reasons to Hide: Although the DJ duo rarely grants interviews, Bangalter has stated that the initial reason for the band’s anonymity was due to shyness. However, the band has also mentioned that they choose to conceal their identities in an effort to avoid compromising their personal lives and to keep the attention focused on the music.
Real Identity: Brian Carroll
Origin:Buckethead was raised by chickens, according to his official story. He lived in the coop with them on a farm run by evil owners. One day, the chickens scratched his face off, but Buckethead didn’t care. That just meant he got to wear a mask everyday like on Halloween. The Bucket came into his life when the evil farmers threw a bucket of fried chicken into the coop. Buckethead tried to put the poor chicken back together again, but he just couldn’t make it work. Of course the most logical thing to do then was to start wearing the bucket as a hat. Buckethead started playing guitar to add a soundtrack to the horror and sci-fi movies he would watch at the drive-in theater through the hole in the farm’s fence. The drive-in was too far away for him to hear. Now Buckethead travels the world playing his songs and informing the public about the terrible things his feathered friends are being subjected to in fast-food restaurants around the world.
Reasons to Hide: When asked about his mask by MTV News, Buckethead simply replied, “There is no mask.”
Real Identity: Joel Thomas Zimmerman
Origin: Zimmerman’s moniker was inspired a dead mouse (surprise) that he found in his computer one day. The story began circulating in chat rooms, and he was constantly referred to as “that dead mouse guy.” After that, Zimmerman changed his username to Deadmau5, using the number to shorten his handle for the chat room’s guidelines, and the name stuck.
Reasons to Hide: Deadmau5 doesn’t like being called a DJ. He feels that the term is highly-antiquated and an improper description of his approach to music. What better way to set yourself apart and prove that you’re different from the rest than by wearing a giant smiling mouse head that flashes lights to your beats?
Real Identity: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss
Origin: The makeup of each member of KISS is inspired by their individual personas. The Starchild is a hopeless romantic and starry-eyed lover. The Demon is a cynic with a dark sense of humor. The Space Ace is a reference to Frehley’s love of science fiction, and The Catman was inspired by the fact that Criss felt he had nine lives due to the rough Brooklyn neighborhood he grew up in.
Reasons to Hide: KISS started experimenting with makeup and costumes early in their career after being inspired by theatrical bands like the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper.
Real Identity: Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler
Origin: The mythology of ICP centers around the Dark Carnival), a type purgatory in which souls are sent to be evaluated based on their individual actions before they proceed to Heaven or Hell.
Reasons to Hide: Scary clown makeup is badass, right? Just ask any Juggalo.
Real Identity: Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton (Original Lineup)
Origin: Little is known about the Blue Man Group’s back story. However, sources tell us that they are blue, they don’t talk and they put on incredible performances involving music and art.
Reasons to Hide: Two words: Tobias Fünke
Real Identity: Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett
Origin: Murdoc Nicalls is the bassist and founder/leader of the Gorillaz. He recruited lead singer 2D after Murdoc was sentenced to 30,000 hours of community service as 2D’s caretaker for injuring him during an attempted robbery of the keyboard shop where 2D worked. Murdoc kidnapped Russel from Big Rick Black’s Music Shack to be the drummer for the Gorillaz, and Noodle arrived in a FedEx crate on the band’s doorstep after the group placed an ad for a lead guitarist in NME.
Reasons to Hide: Albarn and Hewlett originally came up with the idea for the Gorillaz in 1998 when they were watching MTV. The cartoon or “virtual” band was intended as a commentary on the lack of substance on the music-television network.
Real Identity: Sid Wilson, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, Chris Fehn, Jim Root, Craig Jones, Shawn Crahan, Mick Thomson, Corey Taylor
Origin: The original idea to wear masks was inspired by a clown mask that Crahan would often bring to rehearsals. The group decided to take the concept further by wearing matching jumpsuits during their performances as well. The jumpsuits, along with their numbered aliases, are intended as a commentary on the commercialism of the music business.
Reasons to Hide: Like Daft Punk, Slipknot attributes their use of masks as a way to divert the attention away from themselves onto the music. Yeah, terrifying costumes are a sure-fire way to be inconspicuous. “It’s our way of becoming more intimate with the music,” vocalist Corey Taylor told NY Rock. “It’s a way for us to become unconscious of who we are and what we do outside of music. It’s a way for us to kind of crawl inside it and be able to use it.”
Real Identity: Daniel Dumile
Origin: Before the release of the second album of Dumile’s group KMD, the band was dropped from their label, their album was shelved and Dumile’s bandmate and younger brother was killed. Shortly after, he left New York “recovering from his wounds” and swearing revenge “against the industry that so badly deformed him.” With the release of his debut album in 1999, MF Doom was born.
Reasons to Hide: As we know from DOOM’s infamous impostor performances, wearing a mask has its perks especially if you enjoy sitting back and letting someone else do all the work while you rake in the dolla-dolla bills, ya’ll. DOOM may want to consider finding a new mask to conceal himself from unhappy fans.
Real Identity: Dave Brockie, Cory Smoot, Mike Derks, Casey Orr, Brad Roberts
Origin: The Scumdogs of the Universe were an elite group of chaos warriors who wrought havoc all across the cosmos until they were banished to Earth for their crimes. Since then, GWAR has made it their mission to not only destroy the human race, but existence itself.
Reasons to Hide: GWAR was originally created to be the opening act for a band called Death Piggy. The idea was that GWAR (in actuality, the members of Death Piggy in costume) would perform an absurd barbaric set making Death Piggy look like a better band. As it turned out, the audience began coming to Death Piggy shows purely to see GWAR, only to leave before the headliner took the stage.