There were two great eras of rock and roll pseudonyms. The later one was sustained mostly by punk bands, and featured names like Johnny Rotten and Rat Scabies and Poly Styrene and a whole handful of Ramones. The earlier one probably ended with Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, but it featured names like Bobby Day and Bo Diddley and Del Shannon and Frankie Ford and, perhaps the most influential, not so much in music but in sheer nomenclature, was the late Troy Shondell, born Gary Wayne Schelton in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Shondell would have only one big hit, but it was a monster:
Sourced from Shondell’s official YouTube channel, this is (mostly) the original 1961 version, cut for infinitesimal Gaye Records, then issued on Goldcrest, a regional label distributed by Liberty; when it started gaining traction, Liberty reissued it themselves and watched it spend four months on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6. I say “mostly” because the guitar solo in the middle was clumsily overdubbed long after the fact; the record as released had a piano break and nothing more.
Shondell’s last release for Liberty was “Na-Ne-No,” a Lloyd Price cover produced by Phil Spector, no less; after it went nowhere, he decamped for Nashville, where he cut a few sides for the TRX label, of which only “Let’s Go All the Way” managed to Bubble Under the Hot 100. The money, Shondell decided, was better on the publishing side, though he’d occasionally cut a side for the hell of it. The last one I know of, from 1981, was a cover of John Sebastian’s “Lovin’ You”.
In late 1964, a band from Illinois took the name The Shon-Dels, and self-released one single before changing their name to the Ides of March. An entirely different group of Shondels assembled in Winnipeg about the same time. But neither would be quite as successful as Tommy James’ Shondells from Michigan, originally the Tornadoes (not to be confused with Joe Meek’s British instrumental group), who would not be a factor on the charts until “Hanky Panky” in 1965, by which time they’d broken up. (James went on tour to support the record, and hired a bar band to be the new Shondells.)
As for Troy Shondell himself, he toured in 2001 in a show called “The Masters of Rock and Roll,” featuring some other wonderfully named guys like Ronnie Dove and Jimmy Clanton. He died last week of complications from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, two names that aren’t so wonderful.