Back in December, 1999, Larry King landed an interview with Prince — who at that point had changed his name to a symbol.
“I had to search deep within my heart and spirit,” the singer told King of his decision to make the change. “And I wanted to make a change and move to a new plateau in my life. And, one of the ways in which I did that was to change my name. It sort of divorced me from the past and all of the hangups that go along with it.”
Prince famously clashed with his label Warner Bros. Records over his musical direction and output. The record company wanted to reign in Prince’s rapid production pace, but Prince wasn’t having it.
So he did what only an artist of his caliber would do — he drew a “line in the sand,” according to a Vanity Fair article.
When journalists started referring to him as “The Artist Formerly Know As…,” the singer wasn’t happy. Later in the King interview, the anchor confirms the alternative name as a “media creation.”
“That came up through people’s problems with — mainly the media’s problem — with not having a pronunciation for the symbol,” Prince said. “So they had to come up with something I guess.”