Elizabeth Woolridge Grant. Could be just another name, except that it’s the given name of the superstar who now goes by the alias Lana Del Rey. She rose up in the downtown New York music scene at the same time as Lady Gaga, and Del Rey continues to shock and delight with her Americana-tinged songs and her sultry, pouty presence. Here are 50 facts about Lana Del Rey.
1. Lady of the Lake
Lana Del Rey—whose real, very ladylike-sounding name is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant—was born in Manhattan but grew up in Lake Placid, New York. She went by the very snappy Lizzy Grant in her beginnings as a performer.
2. Moby Dick
Del Rey went on one date with electronic artist Moby in 2006, when she was still going by Lizzy Grant. Moby described their date—in precise detail—in his published memoirs. Del Rey doesn’t seem as impressed by their brief interaction, saying she doesn’t know how he even remembers their date. Ouch.
3. Bird Songs
Del Rey describes her album Norman F—ing Rockwell as “California-centric” and a “bird’s-eye view” of politics, art, the universe, and the cult of celebrity. Then, of course, there’s that “Kanye West is blonde and gone” lyric getting a hummingbird-like amount of buzz.
4. Jail Time
I’m talking incarnation—not incarceration. Prior to reinventing herself as Lana Del Rey, Lizzy released an album, Sirens, under the moniker of “May Jailer.”
5. Wheeling and Dealing
Lana Del Rey secured new management in 2010 and they bought out her deal with 5 Points records, arranging a more lucrative joint deal with the far more prestigious Interscope and Polydor record labels.
6. Ray for a Day
When Del Rey first assumed her current alias, she went by Lana Del Ray. That lasted about a hot second before it morphed into Lana Del Rey. Her record company at the time was apparently mighty ticked off by the Ray to Rey switch. They must’ve made some heavy investments in Del Ray promotional materials!
7. Made in Miami
Lana Del Rey said her current alias came to her during frequent visits to Spanish-speaking friends in Miami. She thought the name sounded glamorous and gorgeous in Spanish.
8. My Little Pony
In the pageant of aliases, she crowned herself Lana Del Rey. But Del Rey also performed for some time under the stage name Sparkle Jump Rope Queen. I think My Little Pony Double Dutch must have been taken.
9. A Faded Rose
In 2012, the rumor mill was swirling that Del Rey had hooked up with faded front man Axl Rose of Guns ‘n Roses (GNR). Del Rey fueled the speculation for sure, wearing GNR t-shirts to gigs and even recording a tune called “Axl Rose Husband.” GNR guitarist DJ Ashba shot the rumors down saying that Rose, who is 23 years old than Del Rey, enjoyed hanging with “cool people,” and it was just “buddy” status between Rose and Del Rey.
10. Good Luck Chuck
Del Rey has a sister named Caroline H. Grant. Caroline goes by “Chuck” and she’s a talented photographer and a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. Chuck has handled various promotional photo shoots for Del Rey. Chuck even cameoed in Del Rey’s video for Ride, along with a whack of scary dudes from a real Hell’s Angels biker gang.
11. Chuck ‘n Charlie
Okay, this dinner table sounds confusing. In addition to a younger sister who goes by Chuck, Del Rey has a younger brother who seems content to go by his given name, Charlie.
12. A Oui from the French Judge
Del Rey’s video for Born to Die was shot at the Palace of Fontainebleau in France, an awe-inspiring château formerly used by seven centuries of French nobility. It was the first time any production company had received a yes to film there and Del Rey was granted a massive budget for the video.
13. Rent a Kitty
Besides Del Rey, the most striking “stars” of the Born to Die video are the tigers who flank her in shots filmed at the Palace. Del Rey has insinuated that a good chunk of the “generous budget” she received to shoot the video was eaten up to rent the animals because as she said, “tigers don’t come cheap.”
14. Keep the Catnip Handy
Del Rey said she was never allowed to be alone with a tiger on the set of her Born to Die video for “obvious reasons.” She also called it a “special experience.” Generally, not being mauled kind of is.
15. Domain Games
Lizzy Grant’s family sure has a flair for names. Her father Rob Grant is an internet entrepreneur who amassed a fortune by investing in “domain names.”
16. More Troll Attacks
In a social media world overpopulated by trolls made braver by anonymity, Del Rey has suffered more untrue attacks than most celebs. She’s constantly being taken to task online by trolls questioning her authenticity, her looks, and her artistry. Del Rey has called it “completely crazy”.
17. Daddy’s Roll
Del Rey and her record labels have been forced to deny again and again internet rumors that her career was bankrolled by her wealthy father. David Nichtern, one of Del Rey’s former label bosses, called the dad rumor a “bunch of crap.”
18. Eff Everything
Del Rey’s favorite word is a certain expletive. Hint: it rhymes with her sister’s nickname.
19. Musical Mafioso
According to Del Rey, her manager gets the cred for labeling Del Rey’s look as “Gangster Nancy Sinatra.” The manager dropped the idea in a meeting and Del Rey has said “it stuck like glue”.
20. Thank You, Next
Del Rey signed with the talent wing of Next Model Management in January 2012.
21. Tinseltown Angst
Someone unidentified has nicknamed Del Rey’s genre as “Hollywood Sadcore.”
22. Hope She’s a Leftie
On her left hand, Del Rey has the word “paradise” tattooed, and an “M” in honor of her grandmother Madeleine. On her right hand, her tattoo reads “trust no one.” I say go left.
23. Feeling the Kurt
Del Rey said watching Kurt Cobain on MTV when she was 11 years old just slayed her. She thought he was “the most beautiful person” she’d ever seen, and she related to him right away.
24. Kimye’s Wedding Singer
Lana Del Rey performed three songs at the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
25. Trailer Park Philosophizing
After dropping out of metaphysics and philosophy at Fordham University, Del Rey signed a record deal with a label called 5 Points. She used her album advance to buy a trailer in a New Jersey trailer park. Del Rey said she wanted no part of mainstream society at the time, preferring the “white trash element” lifestyle.
26. Reaching Out
The album Del Rey made with the 5 Points label was shelved and she refocused on what was most important to her. It led Del Rey into community service and she dedicated much of her time to rehab and outreach for homeless youth.
27. A Lo-Fi Phenom
Del Rey hit the mainstream in 2011 when her grainy video for “Video Games” went viral on YouTube. The low budget production was especially captivating and Del Rey admitted that was because the song wasn’t meant to be a single. Of all her songs at that time, “Video Games” was her favorite.
28. When They Go Low…So Did She
Del Rey has a higher vocal register than she lets on. When she was starting out, she believed that people weren’t taking her seriously, so she started to sing lower thinking it made her stand out.
29. Space Girl
With her diverse musical and literary influences from Elton John and Bob Dylan to Henry Miller and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as her keenness to stretch creative boundaries, critics have referred to Del Rey’s artistic arena as her “multiverse.” As far as the universe that the rest of us inhabit, Del Rey has admitted to a fascination with SpaceX, Tesla, and “intergalactic possibilities.”
30. Let’s Get Metaphysical
Del Rey majored in metaphysics at Fordham University in New York. Turns out she wasn’t stellar with math, so she dropped out.
31. A Lesson in Self-Defense
Del Rey complained that a reporter named Tim Jonze took a quote from a 2014 interview she did with him completely out of context—and made it quite macabre. Del Rey had been discussing her idols including Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. Not only did Jonze write that Del Rey wished she was “dead already,” he made that shocking quote his headline.
The resulting backlash online forced Del Rey to start recording every interaction with journalists, making her suspicious of media manipulation.
32. Who You Calling a Soccer Fan?
Del Rey is a huge fan of UK football—her teams are Liverpool in the English Premier League, and Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.
33. Escape from Reality
Del Rey loves reality television. Apparently Mob Wives and The Real Housewives of New Jersey are among her favorite shows.
34. God Needs to Friend Her
Del Rey’s past lyrics seem to indicate a religious cynicism, with lines like, “Me and God, we don’t get along.” But apparently, Del Rey is quite religious and identifies as Catholic.
35. Angel Sings
Lana Del Rey might not want to be called an angel these days, but she apparently sang like one in the church choir as a kid.
36. Head Spinning Influences
Del Rey’s childhood musical influences are nothing if not bizarrely diverse. She names Kurt Cobain and Britney Spears as her two biggest inspirations. Talk about musical whiplash.
37. Quite the Discography
Del Rey’s musical efforts have generally been met with critical and commercial success. She’s topped the charts in many countries and garnered multiple Grammy nominations as well as a Golden Globe nomination for her theme for the film Big Eyes. Her sixth studio album, called “Norman F—ing Rockwell” was released to widespread commercial and critical success.
38. If She Says So
In 2019, Del Rey teamed up with Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus on a commercially successful single titled “Don’t Call Me Angel.”
39. Lizzy Loner
Del Rey apparently had difficulties keeping friends as a teenager and young adult.
40. Death Overwhelmed Her
Del Rey has said that she was obsessed with mortality from a young age. It factored heavily in her feelings of loneliness and anxiousness. As Del Rey put it, she had a “philosophical crisis” and she couldn’t comprehend that everyone is mortal. Her resulting unhappiness made her act out in negative ways and it contributed to her drinking problem as a teen.
41. Waiting for It
After her graduation from boarding school, Del Rey decided not to go to university right away. She lived for a year with her uncle and aunt on Long Island waitressing to earn her keep.
42. Six Chords and a Million Tunes
While she lived with her aunt and uncle on Long Island, Del Rey’s uncle taught her to play guitar. As Del Rey put it, she realized she could probably write a “million tunes [with just] six chords.” Soon after, Del Rey started performing in the underground scene around Brooklyn as Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena, and the aforementioned Sparkle Jump Rope Queen.
43. The Great White Rey
Interviewers have asked Del Rey if she’s interested in making movies. She’s replied that she’s working on a Broadway musical that she may get finished in two or three years.
44. Isolation = Sadness
Del Rey has explained the sober mood of her Born to Die release. She had moved to London England for two years while writing the album and the isolation she felt not knowing anyone really affected the tone of her songwriting.
45. Living Room Lightness
Del Rey says that she records in her living room now. Not is it only more comfortable, but it’s also less stressful than her earlier recording experiences.
46. No Hope Lost
Seems like Lana “Hollywood Sadcore” Del Rey is toying with positivity in her newer material. She sings, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have” in one of her songs, but she adds that she definitely has it.
47. The Rehab State of Connecticut
Del Rey was sent to a boarding school in Connecticut at 15 years old, but this was no random Facts of Life episode. It was more like a stint in rehab. It was meant to curb a drinking problem. When Del Rey thinks of “not drinking forever” now, it scares her. But she’s grateful for the “miracles” that have happened and that have gotten her on the right path.
48. Tested by Trolls
Del Rey has stayed sober for more than a decade but she’s admitted that a “lack of respect from some quarters”—by that, she means internet trolls—have tempted her to “get sloshed” again.
49. All That Gaga
Del Rey and Lady Gaga broke into the New York City downtown music scene at the same time. Gaga’s manager Bob Leone took an interest in Del Rey. He gifted her with a scholarship for a songwriting course and put her on the Monday night lineup at a place called The Cutting Room. Del Rey has said that she played a couple of shows that also featured Gaga on the bill, but that they never met.
50. Diss or That
Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Germanotta. Del Rey played shows with Gaga on the New York City downtown music circuit, but said that they never met in person. That might be a good thing, since an early leaked song of Del Rey’s called “So Legit” contains a cryptic and pointed lyric: “Stefani, you suck.”
Del Rey has written it off as a “misunderstanding” …but however you take it, it’s still quite the diss.