A Rose By Any Other Name...Part 1
Posted April 6, 2012 by gail
It all started when I turned 18 and set out on my own as a musician. Having rubbed elbows with once famous, very old entertainers in my very first job out of high school, (bussing tables at the only NIGHT CLUB in Warren, Michigan ~ The Golden Coach), I was advised by many of the old school entertainers that my last name did not quite roll off the tounge. That if I was going to dive into the entertainment world, I should do so with "A Stage" name. It didn't seem to be an issue with Englebert Humperdink, or that Limonjello guy...just sayin'. Now mind you these were entertainers, movie stars, and rock stars of the 40's, 50's and 60's. (that would be the 19..40's, 50's, and 60's). People who were in the December of their careers such as Johnny Ray, Bobby Vinton, Lanie Kazan, Chubby Checkers, Bobby Rydel, Al Martino, Nelson Sardelli, The Gaylords...(who??) That's not important, my point is that these and many other entertainers I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting aquainted with whilest I was serving them and bussing their tables and bringing them hot or cold beverages into their dressing rooms... all had the same advice. Change your last name. I loved watching their old movies, and listened to their music, they were in fact very famous in their heyday, so they must know what they are talking about. So, I went on a search for the perfect Stage Name.
I tried quite few names on for size, before I came to the perfect one. Gail Glass, no... Gail Michaels, uhah... well needless to say after many attempts of last name experimentation, I came across the perfect name while watching a Richard Prior movie... Donovan, Randy Donovan, she was a lady of the evening... but I liked that last name...so I became Gail Donavan. Hmmmm I liked it ... it liked me. Donovan didn't grab me, I needed to change it up a bit , the name needed to be a little different cuz well, I was different. So instead of Donovan, I spelled it with an "a" in the middle, Donavan, I had seen that in the yellow pages once, it was a real name. Unfortunately Donavan with an "a" in the middle was a difficult concept for some people to grasp; everyone wanted to put an 'O' in the middle of it instead of an 'A'. It bugged me, so I took it a step further... I made it a point to show people it was an "A" in the middle of my name NOT an "O" Gail DonAvan. There, now people would get it right, right? Wrong! Now they started pronouncing it wrong... Don A van. I mean really!? I tried to ignore it and politely correct them. I didn't give up, it was the name I wasn't born to have but, the name that was born to have me. I had a new alter identity, I was Gail DonAvan, and I was happy.
Then one day I got married, and the name thing got a little complicated. I don't know how some women do it. I liked being married with my husbands last name, but I had a rough time letting go of my very special stage name. So I wore it for quite a few years after I got married, but it also seemed strange when I would go out with my hubby to see friends in a band and they asked me to come up and sing...introducing me as Gail Engling. Well that just sounded funny. Gail Engling didn't sing, she was a wife and a home schooling mother. Gail DonAvan on the other hand was the musician, the singer/songwriter, a performer, the entertainer. I don't know it just sounded wrong. But there it was anyway.
The stage name also served a higher purpose, PROTECTION, when some strange male fan would want to get to "friendly", I couldn't be tracked cuz well Gail DonAvan didn't really exist. This was way before the internet allowed people into any nook and cranny of your life and you could remain somewhat mysterious and anonymous. Until I had the brilliant idea one day to turn Gail DonAvan in to a DBA. I was totally oblivious to the fact one could find out who I really was and where I really lived and come and FIND me. It has happened where I got a few a letters from some unknown fan who knew exactly where to send the letter, what would keep him from driving up into my driveway uninvited? So my days as Gail DonAvan slowly faded into the sunset, with me kicking and whimpering about it all the way. Never the less it was time to give up the ghost so to speak.
Next time ~ A Rose By Any Other Name: part 2 ~ Who Am I...see you next time!