Whatever happened to baby Moon Unit Zappa?

Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are calling their daughter Apple, following the celebrity tradition for unusual names. Cahal Milmo reports on how the children cope

When Frank asked his 12-year-old daughter whether she would like a diaphragm and her own flat to have sex with boys, it was just one more unconventional moment for a child named after an astronomical measurement.

Name: Moon Unit (Parents: Frank and Gail Zappa)

When Frank asked his 12-year-old daughter whether she would like a diaphragm and her own flat to have sex with boys, it was just one more unconventional moment for a child named after an astronomical measurement.

Moon Unit, along with her fellow siblings Ahmet, Diva and Dweezil, was one of the first in the modern era to shoulder the burden of their rock star parents' taste in outlandish monikers.

She is also one of the few who has spoken freely about what she sees as the damaging effects of an alternative 1970s upbringing ranging from a strange name to the freedom to do anything she wished.

Speaking after the publication of her first novel four years ago, she said: "In my house, it was a free zone. It was a be-yourself zone. We had slumber parties - but you could have sex in the house if you wanted.

"I was offered a diaphragm at age 12, but I didn't know what it was for. In my 20s, I realised not everyone knew what it sounded like when their parents had sex."

By the age of 18, Moon Unit was in therapy and has since frequently complained of the problems created by being the offspring of a famous mother or father.

Psychotherapists say one of the most common problems for these children is coping with the expectation that they have the same talent and personality as their celebrity parent.

Moon Unit said: "Professionally, having a famous dad has been nightmarish - a total hindrance. Because there's an association with my family. People think I'm wacky and they already think that before I walk in the room.

"I didn't have any motivation and the result was misery," she said. "I spent hours locked away in my room. I was a complete hermit.

"I really wanted to be a nun, but I'd already had sex and I hadn't been raised with any religion, so I knew that was out of the question. The problem was that my parents didn't even notice."

Now aged 36, Moon Unit - who prefers to be called Moon - is a successful actress, comedian, sculptor and writer. She lives in Los Angeles.

Her husband, musician Paul Doucette, said: "Her name has been part of pop culture ever since she was born. It was a news story when she was born that this crazy rock star guy named his kid Moon Unit. She is used to it. She has had it her whole life."

Name: Zowie (Parents: David and Angie Bowie)

Despite his pedigree in rebellion, Zowie Bowie, the eldest son of rock legend David and his first wife Angie, wasted little time in consigning to history the rock'n'roll name given to him at his birth in 1971.

While at Gordonstoun, the Scottish public school attended by Prince Charles, Bowie Junior had changed his first name to Joe.

Zowie, Bowie experts say, is the male version of Zoe, derived from the Greek for life. After Zowie's birth, his father, then known as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust, wrote a song dedicated to him called "Kooks".

Not content with escaping his father's taste for rhyming names, Joe also reverted to the original family surname of Jones.

Apparently revelling in his anonymity as Joe Jones, he gained seven O Levels at Gordonstoun before taking A levels in London and doing a degree in philosophy at Ohio.

Jones reportedly had ambitions to become an academic. But he has since pursued more creative avenues.

Three years ago, residents of Clerkenwell, north London, found themselves sharing their area with a young student sporting a sheepskin jacket, a wispy beard and the name Duncan Jones. It was Zowie (aka Joe, aka Duncan) who had moved to London from Manhattan to follow a three-year course at the International Film School in Covent Garden.

Name: Rolan Bolan (Parents: Marc Bolan (and Gloria Jones)

His father was the androgynous permed icon of glam rock and proto-punk whose life was cut short by a tree on Barnes Common at the age of 29.

When Marc Bolan, the lead singer of T Rex, died in that car crash in 1977, his son, Rolan, was not yet two years old. Unsurprisingly, he has few memories of his father. But Rolan's life has in many ways been shaped by the man who, according to rock legend, chose his son's alliterative as part of a pact with David Bowie when he called his child Zowie.

Unlike Zowie, Rolan saw no reason to baulk at his comedic name. "It gave me a sense of humour," he says. "If people laughed, I laughed with them. It was the name my dad gave me and it will do for me."

It is not a name that gave Rolan access to his father's millions, though. Due to an overseas trust fund set up by Marc Bolan before he met Rolan's mother, Gloria Jones, who was driving the Mini in which the pop star died, his son has been denied the royalties from hits such as "Life's An Elevator" or "20th Century Boy".

Rolan, now 29, has vowed to try to unravel the trust, saying he wants to "protect my father's memory in a dignified way".

But he has also insisted he wants to make his own way in life. Rolan was raised in his mother's native California and did not see any footage of his father until he was 18.

"I remember spending my second birthday in the hospital with mum and, although nobody said 'your dad's dead', somehow I just seemed to know," he said four years ago.

Despite his mother's reluctance to buy him a guitar as child, Rolan has ended up as a musician after periods as a jewellery store worker and a model for Tommy Hilfiger.

Name: Fifi Trixibelle (Parents: Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)

As one quarter of perhaps the four most exotically named siblings of recent times, the eldest daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates has often found herself the subject of sly derision for her name and, since her mother's death, mawkish sympathy.

Along with her sisters, Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie, and her half-sister Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (the daughter of Ms Yates and INXS singer Michael Hutchence), Fifi's childhood was played out against a backdrop of a bitter divorce and her mother's struggle with drugs and eventual suicide in 2000.

Ms Yates is said to have chosen her daughters' ethereal names as part of her desire to give them the sort of fairytale upbringing that she would have craved for herself. Sadly, it was a wish that has not been reflected in reality.

When Fifi found herself arrested for being drunk and incapable after a marathon drinking session two years ago, parts of the media eagerly leapt upon her embarrassment as proof of yet another celebrity wild child driven off the rails by parental fame and tragedy.

In a magazine interview in 2001, Sir Bob described Fifi as a "great companion, fantastic fun, a gorgeous girl, though the most like in me in that she can also be uncooperative and surly. She walks like me, scowls at people like I do, is iconoclastic to a fault."

According to those who know her, Fifi, 21, is a remarkably level-headed, if occasionally boisterous, young woman despite her difficult childhood.

Her parents' marriage dissolved into a public slanging match when she was 12. She attended Bedgebury, the £5,000-a-term private school in Kent, and later taught in a progressive Montessori school.

She has since dedicated herself to a cosy family existence - albeit with a few appearances on London's party circuit.

Name: China 'god' Slick (Parents: Grace Slick and Paul Kantner)

When Grace Slick, the lead singer of 1970s band Jefferson Airplane, was asked by a nurse for the name of her newborn daughter, her answer was: "god. We spell it with a small 'g' because we want her to be humble." It was a joke. Instead, she merely named her child after the world's most populous country.

Name: Brooklyn Beckham (Parents: David and Victoria Beckham)

Brooklyn, now five, was named after the New York borough where he was conceived. News that Posh was pregnant in 2002 sparked speculation that they would choose another name by geography. But when asked why Romeo, David said: "It's just a name we love."

Names: Daisy Boo Oliver (Parents: Jamie and Jools Oliver)

Jamie Oliver proved that strange names were not the unique preserve of pop stars and footballers when he announced the birth of his second child last year. The celebrity chef, whose first daughter is called Poppy Honey, explained that Boo was in fact the nickname of his wife, Jools.

Name: Dandelion Pallenberg (Parents: Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards)

The daughter of Rolling Stones' paramour Anita Pallenberg and guitarist Keith Richards was born into a relationship which declined into heroin. Dandelion later changed her name to Angela, became teetotal and married a joiner.

Name: Tallulah Willis (Parents: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore)

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis named their first two daughters Rumer, an early 20th-century English novelist, and Scout, the narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird). They were due to name the third after blues musician Muddy Walters but changed their minds to call her Tallulah after the moll in Bugsy Malone).

Name: Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q Hewson (Parents: Bono and Ali Hewson)

The U2 singer Bono's third child was nameless for five days before his six-barrelled monicker was revealed. The Q refers to Quincy Jones, a friend of Bono, while Guggi comes from a member of the Virgin Prunes.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before