Not many people could get away with changing their name to an unpronounceable symbol — but Prince wasn’t your average superstar.
Dubbed “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” after he branded himself with the Love Symbol, the “Purple Rain” singer previously revealed he wasn’t behind the famous moniker that followed him for a decade.
In a 1999 interview with Larry King, the pop icon, who died suddenly on April 21 in his home, confirmed that the nickname was, in fact, a media invention.
“That came up through people’s problem with, mainly the media’s problem, not having a pronunciation for the symbol,” he said. “So they had to come up with something I guess.”
So why did he decide to ditch his birth name?
“I had searched deep within my heart and spirit, and I wanted to make a change and move to a new plateau in my life,” he shared at the time. “One of the ways I did that was to change my name. It sort of divorced me from my past and all the hangups that go along with it.”
One of those major hangups was the 57-year-old’s 1993 legal battle with his record label, Warner Bros., who legally owned and trademarked his name as well as all the music he created under it.
“I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name,” he publicly stated. “The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name.”
He took up his real name again in 2000 after he was freed from his contract. Watch part of that interview in the video below!