John Legend Performs Live in the Studio During His Stern Show Debut

Grammy winner sits for a wide-ranging interview and covers a Bruce Springsteen classic on piano

August 19, 2013

John Legend joined the Stern Show on Tuesday ahead of the release of his fourth studio album, “Love in the Future.” The Grammy-winning musician sat with Howard for a career-spanning interview and even performed a few songs live on the air.

Legend began at the beginning, revealing he first started playing the piano around the tender age of four. He admitted to Howard he probably could’ve been considered a child prodigy but attributed much of his accelerated development to constant practice and working with a music teacher.

John also revealed he was a gifted student in school who scored high on the SATs and attended the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university. It was there he said his music career really took off. He was singing a cappella in college and eventually connected with Fugees singer turned solo superstar Lauryn Hill, who was at the time putting together her now-seminal debut project “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

John revealed he played a few songs for her after they met, including a Stevie Wonder cover, and impressed her so much he wound up scoring a pianist gig on one of her tracks. This was before he adopted a stage name, however, so on the album Legend will forever be credited as John R. Stephens.

Later, John opened up about his friendship with celebrities like Kanye West, admitted he regretted not writing an acceptance speech for his first televised Grammy win, and spoke all about his engagement to supermodel Chrissy Teigen, to whom his new album is dedicated.

John also sat down at the piano and performed two tracks live on the Stern Show, including his brand-new single “All of Me” and a uniquely arranged cover of the Bruce Springsteen mega-hit “Dancing in the Dark.”

Of the latter, Legend revealed the inspiration came from Roots phenom and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” star Questlove, who had called up Legend and pitched him an idea for “Springsteen Week” on Jimmy’s show. While Legend was initially nervous that playing one of the Boss’s more well-known songs might be considered a faux pas with Bruce’s super fans, the unique arrangement Questlove conjured up sealed the deal.

“So, we did it and it was crickets from the Springsteen camp,” John told Howard.” I was hoping I would hear something from Bruce, like, ‘Yo, you did a good job, man. Awesome work mangling my song.’”

A few months later, however, Bruce penned a letter to John. In it he revealed that not only did he enjoy John’s cover of “Dancing in the Dark” but he liked it so much he hoped John might sing it at an upcoming tribute event, “A MusiCares Tribute to Bruce Springsteen.”

Check out John Legend performing “Dancing in the Dark” live in the Stern Show studio (above).