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Howie D Reveals How His Stage Name Almost Kept Him From Being in the Backstreet Boys [EXCLUSIVE]

Howie D
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

Howie D almost wasn’t a Backstreet Boy. And it was all because of his stage name.

When we spoke to the Backstreet Boys singer (full name: Howard Dwaine Dorough) this week, we asked him some pretty serious questions, like how he found his voice in the band, if the tension within the group almost kept them from making their last record, and the origin of his nickname. You know, all of the hard-hitting topics. But we couldn’t believe it when he told us that he almost wasn’t in the group — and it was all because of his stage name. (More on that below).

Since we couldn’t let another day pass us by without knowing if the “D” in “Howie D” comes from his middle or last name, we asked the BSB singer, straight-up.

Laughing, he told us, “I’ve always kind of taken it as my last name,” joking, “It should be Howie Double D or something.”

“When I was in high school, I was in this choir that had a bunch of guys and a bunch of girls. I remember one of the girls — she was a little bit older than me — going, ‘Howie D! Howie D!'” he explained, imitating his friend. “I’m like, ‘That’s funny, that’s funny.'”

But it was actually Howie’s stage name that had the bigger impact on his life — and almost kept him from being in the Backstreet Boys at all.

“When the group first started, believe it or not, I had a stage name: Tony Denetti,” Howie told us. “I was gonna do a little bit of acting and stuff like that up in New York and I had a manager who said Howard Dorough was just too formal of a name.”

Taking his manager’s suggestion, Howie auditioned for the Backstreet Boys under his stage name, Tony Denetti.

“When I first auditioned for the group I had my pictures with that name on it. They told me they were going to audition a little bit more, and then two months went by and I didn’t hear anything,” he explained, telling us that he assumed he didn’t get a place in the band.

“Then I had an agent who asked me to go out for [the same] group, and at the time, I’m like, ‘I think I’ve already done this. I don’t want to embarrass myself by going out for this same thing — they must have just not liked me,'” he remembered. “Finally, I said, ‘Alright, I’ll go for it.’ I went to this place and I got so lost — I was 45 minutes late — that I almost turned around… but something told me to go a little bit further.”

And that’s when it happened.

“I actually found the place and they were like, ‘Tony! Oh my God, we lost your picture. We were trying to find a Tony Denetti in the phone book,'” Howie recalled. (Remember, kids: This was the ’90s — a time before the prevalence of cell phones and the Internet.)

Since they couldn’t get in contact with him — the stage name was completely made up, after all — “it almost cost me this life-changing career moment in my life,” Howie revealed. Let us speak on behalf of the entire BSB fandom when we say: THANK GOD YOU WENT BACK, HOWIE.

After the whole stage name fiasco/near life-altering disaster, Howie knew he needed to change up his moniker.

“I said, ‘Alright, well I can’t go back to Howard Dorough,’ cause I did feel like that was a little too formal,” he recalled, “So I said, ‘Well, how ’bout this name Howie D, my friends used to call me this.’ And they said, ‘Let’s do it!’ and that’s how it all came about.”

There you have it, folks. Backstreet Boys mystery: Solved.

Be sure to keep it here on PopCrush for even more exclusive content from our interview with Howie D, including how he may be partially responsible for the creation of ‘N Sync and his advice to young boy bands like One Direction.

See What Backstreet Boys + More Artists Looked Like When They Released Their First Albums

Next: Howie D Talks the BSB Documentary - Exclusive

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