How did Dr. Luke get his nickname? Is he a real doctor?

30th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards held at the Dolby Ballroom, Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, California. Pictured: Dr Luke Ref: SPL528299 170413 Picture by: Celebrity Monitor / Splash News Splash News and Pictures Los Angeles: 310-821-2666 New York: 212-619-2666 London: 870-934-2666

Dr. Luke’s nickname has been the source of both confusion and controversy in light of Kesha’s lawsuit against the 42-year-old songwriter and producer. Though he’s written some of the best-known pop songs of the past thirteen years, Dr. Luke has been on the receiving end of a firestorm of criticism in recent months, due to allegations that he sexually, verbally, and emotionally abused Kesha.

Dr. Luke’s real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald; he was born in Rhode Island to Polish parents. Before becoming a huge success in the music industry, his biggest claim to fame was playing guitar in the Saturday Night Live house band from 1997 to 2007. He garnered industry attention while still a member of the SNL band, thanks to his work producing songs for Arrested Development and Nappy Roots, and for working with Mos Def. (It was actually Mos Def who came up with Dr. Luke’s nickname; more on that in a moment.)

To give you some idea of the string of hits Dr. Luke either wrote or co-wrote–and why he charges a six-figure fee per song–here’s a very partial list of his work:

“Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” by Kelly Clarkson
“Who Knew,” by Pink
“Girlfriend,” by Avril Lavigne
“About You Now,” by the Sugababes
“I Kissed A Girl” and “California Gurls,” by Katy Perry
“Circus,” by Britany Spears
“Right Round,” by Flo Rida
“Party in the U.S.A.” and “Wrecking Ball,” by Miley Cyrus
“Only,” by Nicki Minaj
“Take It Off” and “Your Love Is My Drug,” by Kesha

In fact, it’s because of his success as a producer and his prolific songwriting that Dr. Luke’s nickname first gained notoriety. Until a string of profiles following his Billboard “Songwriter of the Year” award in 2010, it was widely believed–among industry insiders–that Dr. Luke’s nickname came for a certain drug cocktail he allegedly created. As the New Yorker put it in its own exposé, “Legend has it…that the name derives from his mixing of Adderall and Ritalin with [Coca-Cola] and MDMA to create the perfect studio cocktail [for] working through the night.”

According to Lukasz himself, though, the reality is far simpler and less exotic. In the same profile, he explained:


I would tell people my name was Kasz, and no one could get it. And, like, why have a weird name you have to explain all the time? So, one day in the studio, Mos Def just said, ‘Nah, man, your name’s not Kasz. It’s Dr. Luke, man,’ and it stuck….The truth is, I don’t even like ‘Dr. Luke.’ I mean, I can’t change it now, but if I could I’d think of a cooler name.


(It’s worth pointing out that one of Dr. Luke’s publishing companies is called Kasz Money Publishing.)

The banal reality of Dr. Luke’s nickname has since been confirmed in a Washington Post article on the intricacies of he and Kesha’s legal battle. “Although Dr. Luke has admitted to being a marijuana dealer in the past,” the paper states, “he says the nickname was bestowed on him by rapper Mos Def during a studio recording session, and has nothing to do with dispensing drugs.”


(Photo credits: Dr. Luke’s nickname via Celebrity Monitor /

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