Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

It occurred to me the other day that there are more than just a few country music artists who go by their middle name. Instead of going by their given first name, these stars went “deeper.” It’s interesting how many of these artists have chosen (or their parent’s chose) to be known by their middle name. Revealed: The real first names of 14 country stars.

Do you think Luke Bryan would have been as successful if he were known by his given first name, Thomas? Probably, but for some of these singers, it’s hard to imagine their REAL names on marguees, in lights, or on billboards. We could have been listening to music from Frederick, Margaret and Kenneth, instead of these star-studded names.

So here they are. Revealed: The real first names of 14 country stars.




  • Luke Bryan

    Born: Thomas Luther Bryan

    The story goes, (according to Luke was teased with the nickname “Lex Luther” as a kid. To put an end to the teasing he started using the nickname Luke. And the rest is country music history. Can you picture an announcing welcoming this artist to stage, saying…”Ladies and Gentleman,” please welcome one of country’s biggest stars, Tom Bryan!” Doesn’t have that spark.


  • Tim McGraw

    Born: Samuel Timothy McGraw

    Growing up he was known as Tim Smith. He was raised by his step father, Horace Smith, who Tim thought was his birth father, until he found his birth certificate, when he was 11 years old. That’s when he discoved his biological father was Major League Baseball star, Tug McGraw. It’ wasn’t until Tim was 18 that he changed his name and formed a relationship with his birth father, becoming  Tim McGraw. Just think, he could have been Sam Smith.



  • Faith Hill

    Born: Audrey Faith Perry

    Faith never used her first name, but she liked it enough to pass it on to her youngest daughter, who was born in 2001. Just think she and her husband could have been Sam and Audrey. I wonder if they use those names checking into hotel rooms.

  • Garth Brooks

    Born: Troyal Garth Brooks

    Garth was named after his father, Troyal Raymond Brooks. It’s likely he went by Garth to avoid confusion.

  • Dierks Bentley

    Born: Frederick Dierks Bentley

    “And the award goes to… Frederick Bentley!” Can you imagine? Dierks is such a different, cool name that just fits his personality.”Dierks told Glamour, “My whole family goes by their middle name—my sister, my brother. So from day one, I’ve always been called Dierks. My mom was really upset when I named my son properly. I told her that his first name was actually going to be his first name!”

  • Hank Williams Jr

    Born: Randall Hank Williams

    Hank Jr. was actually named after his dad’s nickname. His father, the legendary Hank Williams, was born Hiram King Williams. He was given the nickname, Hank, and clearly liked it enough to pass it on.

  • Eric Church

    Born: Kenneth Eric Church

    It’s another case of son being named after his father, and changing it, likely to avoid confusion in the house. Eric’s dad’s name is Ken. Not only did they live together, but they used to work together! That could’ve very confusing with the same name.  Church worked with his father at Clayton Marcus, a furniture upholstery company where his father was president.

  • LeAnn Rimes

    Born: Margaret LeAnn Rimes

    And to think, she could’ve been Maggie Rimes…

  • Shay Mooney (Dan + Shay)

    Born: James Shay Mooney

  • Travis Tritt

    Born: James Travis Tritt

    Named after his father, as is common, his family immediately called him Travis. Plus who doesn’t love a name with alliteration.



  • Elle King

    Born: Tanner Elle Schneider

    King uses her mother’s surname to distinguish her career and identity from her father’s (Comedian Rob Schneider). “People know who my dad is,” she told ABC News, “but I think that my voice and my music speaks for itself: that I am my own person.” As to why she goes by Elle and not Tanner, it’s anybody’s guess, but likely just preference.

  • Randy Houser

    Born: Shawn Randolph Houser

  • Walker Hayes

    Born: Charles Edgar Walker Hayes

    Walker’s late father’s name was Charles Edgar Hayes. With 2 middle names, Walker certainly had choices as to what he wanted people to call him. Walker just works.

  • Tyler Childers

    Born: Timothy Tyler Childers

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