John Legend realizes his stage name is “presumptuous.”
Way back when, John Legend and Kanye West used to be good friends. But a few years ago, the two had a falling out, and recently Legend has been discussing with various outlets why exactly they parted ways.
But the bad blood hasn’t stopped Legend from giving credit where credit is due. In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Legend said that he wouldn’t have his stage name if it weren’t for Ye and the poet J. Ivy.
Scott Gries/Getty Images
The “All Of Me” singer, whose real name is John Stephens, said that it was West and Ivy who encouraged him to adopt Legend as a surname before he dropped his debut album Get Lifted in 2004. “(J. Ivy) started calling me the Legend,” recalled the soul singer, “because I reminded him of some of the artists we grew up listening to, and he heard the ancestors in my voice. That morphed into John Legend, and he and Kanye and a bunch of the other people around us were, like, ‘Man, that’s a stage name, John. You should go with that!'”
Apparently, Legend was a bit hesitant to adopt the moniker. He thought the name was “rather presumptuous,” and he “had already been performing around New York and Philly as John Stephens.” “I was selling my CDs on my Web site, john-stephens[dot]com,” he added. At first, Legend remained just a nickname, but eventually Kanye began introducing him by the name to everyone they met, and so it started to stick.
“I was, like, ‘F**k, how am I going to tell people to call me John Legend? I don’t even have a record deal yet! What if I’m a flop? I’m just going to bet on myself and spend all my energy trying to live up to this lofty stage name,'” Legend remembered. “And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”