Alter Egos

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Alter egos have been a very prominent part of music for the last many decades. Many artists
create alternate versions of themselves which allow them to project more than what they could
by themselves. Some artists go as far as to create multiple alter egos, David Bowie, for
instance, had at least 5 different personalities which all went by different names and had
different characteristics and appearances.
But why do artists create these alter egos in the first place? We can’t know for sure but we can
definitely speculate. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this article.
The way I see it, an alter ego is a great way for artists to create without restrictions. For
example, The Beatles created the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in order to create
more freely than they could as The Beatles. This alter ego allowed them to let go of their own
identities and make music that maybe they wouldn’t have made otherwise.
It’s also possible that artists create alter egos to show a part of themselves which wouldn’t fit in
with their existing image.
Some artists create alter egos in order to promote films/shows they’ve been in. For example,
Miley Cyrus used to perform under alter ego Hannah Montana for a few years before shedding
the character.
Some musicians use alter egos as characters to better express the music. The band Ghost ,for
instance, is fronted by the character Papa Emeritus who keeps changing with every new album.
Now some could argue that this example is actually a stage name and not an alter ego but the
way I see it Tobias Forge is playing a character which is not himself so I am counting it as an
alter ego for the sake of this article.
Now, it is also important to know that certain alter egos can become extremely prevalent and
start to influence the artist negatively. For example, The Thin White Duke alter ego of David
Bowie nearly destroyed him. According to those close to him, Bowie started behaving in ways
which were very unlike him. He eventually had to kill off the character in order to start being
himself again.
While the subject of alter egos is extremely fascinating we can never truly know or understand
why artists create them. Maybe it allows them to escape into a different world and be a different
person which in turn leads to more freely composed music. Sometimes artists use alter egos to
explore the different aspects and depths of their creativity.
Whatever the case, alter egos have been a part of the history of music for decades and will
most probably exist for as long as humans create art.

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