John Legend Reveals the Real Story Behind His Stage Name

During an interview with Jimmy Fallon, John Legend, née John Stephens, shared how he got his legendary stage name.

By Mona Thomas Mar 02, 2021 1:54 PMTags
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Wait, John Legend isn't his real name?

That's right! During the March 1 episode of The Tonight Show, the EGOT winner told the true story as to how John Roger Stevens, his birth name, became a "Legend."

"It was a nickname that some friends started calling me in the studio, just guys that I was collaborating with," he explained to host Jimmy Fallon. "The first guy to call me that was J. Ivy. He's a spoken-word artist from Chicago.

As John explained to Jimmy, he met J. Ivy through Kanye West.

He went on to add, "We were all in the studio together. He just started calling me ‘The Legend' because he thought I sounded like one of our old-school soul legends. And it just caught on with our little group of friends and then they were like, ‘We should call you John Legend.' And it just really was in our little circle."

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Celebs' Real Names

John recalled Kanye referring to him as "John Legend" on a mixtape that he released and immediately the name just spread and stuck. "At some point, I had to decide, ‘Am I going to stick with John Stephens—which I was perfectly fine with, I wasn't looking for a stage name—or am I going to go with this more audacious name and call myself a legend before I even have a record deal?'"

And it looks like his decision was legendary.

During the episode, the singer and host duo also performed a duet together titled "March Again" to the tune of Beauty and the Beast, reminding everyone we are now a year into self-quarantine amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"There goes my neighbor with his dog, like always, was just a puppy, now full-grown," Jimmy sang as he got out of bed. "Every single day on Zoom. When it's over time to move, the next part of my couch."

Viewers then see John in bed, as he sang, "Oh, isn't this amazing? Wasn't it just March 2020. I've forgotten what time means. And I haven't waxed my chest since quarantine week three."

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