Calvin Harris Changed His Name to Be "Racially Ambiguous"

“Learning that Calvin Harris is a stage name for a guy with an equally normal name is one thing. But then learning the reason is another.”

Jamie Lerner - Author

Apr. 9 2024, Published 8:52 a.m. ET

Calvin Harris at the 2024 BRIT Awards
Source: Getty Images

The truth has come out that Calvin Harris's wife, Vick Hope, is hilariously a Swiftie. Calvin and Taylor Swift may not have been able to make their relationship work, but it seems like Calvin might be reminded of his ex pretty frequently. But this also reminds us of Taylor’s 2016 iHeart Radio Awards speech in which she thanked “Adam” instead of Calvin. And that’s because Adam is actually Calvin Harris’s real name.

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Calvin changed his birth name, Adam Wiles, to a stage name in 2007 before releasing his first single. When Taylor reminded us of this in 2016, word spread about why Calvin changed his name. And now that he’s back in the zeitgeist, we need another reminder as to why Calvin decided that was a better name for himself as a DJ and music producer.

Calvin Harris changed his name to be more “racially ambiguous.”

When we look back on it now, changing one’s name to be more “racially ambiguous” isn’t necessarily a step in the right direction. But in 2007, how could a 22-year-old Scottish lad named Adam know he would blow up and become a household name?

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Calvin Harris and wife Vick Hope at the 2024 BRIT Awards
Source: Getty Images

He explained in a 2009 interview with Shortlist Magazine (via Capital Xtra): “My first single was more of a soul track, and I thought Calvin Harris sounded a bit more racially ambiguous. I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it." Calvin admitted that he wanted people to assume he wasn’t white just so that his music might seem more “authentic.”

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Calvin Harris at the 2009 BRIT Awards
Source: Getty Images

Nowadays, if Calvin said something like that, he might get canceled. As people relearn the real reason we now call Adam Calvin, they agree that it wasn’t the most politically correct move. Digital Spy wrote that he “exploited the racial ambiguity of his stage name” while another fan tweeted, “Learning that Calvin Harris is a stage name for a guy with an equally normal name is one thing. But then learning the reason is another.”

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Calvin Harris reportedly regrets changing his name.

Although the stage name worked out well for Calvin, he didn’t realize he would be stuck with it for the rest of his career, which would turn out to be a pretty impressive one. "No one calls me Calvin. It's horrible and it's not my name. You might as well be calling me Mr. Blobby,” he added at the time. "At the start of my career people were meeting me for the first time and I let it slide. It was sort of a nickname."

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But now, fans only know Adam as Calvin, and we often even forget that he’s also Scottish! Whenever he speaks at awards shows, audiences are reminded of his heritage (and the strong accent to go along with it). “It always blows my mind that Calvin Harris is Scottish. Like, I know. But it always surprises me. What a lovely accent he has,” one fan tweeted in 2019.

Nowadays, Calvin has tried to go back to his roots. He reportedly told Scottish radio station Clyde 1 that he regrets changing his name. In 2020, he toyed with a new stage name — Love Regenerator — perhaps to try to move away from the lore behind his more popular stage name. But no matter what he does, his legacy as Calvin Harris will probably overshadow any other name he comes up with.

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