Singer Sananda Maitreya – better known by his former stage name Terence Trent D’Arby – has said he had to get rid of his previous identity because “it was that or death”.

Maitreya, who changed his name several years ago, has also spoken about the demise of his musical career after a strong start in the late 1980s and his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The 55-year-old music star told The Guardian that he “had no choice” over changing his name.

Terence Trent D'ArbyTerence Trent D’Arby in 1988 (PA Archive/PA)

“People ask: ‘Why did you change your name?’ When you have a psyche that’s no longer functional, you petition another psyche,” he said.

“You either die – you kill yourself – or you think: ‘No, I’ve got more to do.’

“I was always Sananda Maitreya and he (D’Arby) was assigned the role of this other form, which he performed until they pulled the plug on him.”

Maitreya, who was born Terence Trent Howard, added: “They didn’t pull the plug on Sananda; they pulled the plug on that particular script and psyche.”

Of his time away from the limelight, he said: “I guess I stayed away because I didn’t want to face it.

“The PTSD can strike at any time and you have to deal with it. I can’t blame drugs, I can’t blame alcohol. The dude didn’t just change his name to be clever.

“It was that or death.”

Thirty years after the release of his incredibly successful debut album Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby, which included singles Sign Your Name, Wishing Well and If You Let Me Stay, Maitreya is releasing new album Prometheus & Pandora, his eighth under his current name.

His debut reached number one in the UK charts and number four in the US, and helped catapult him but his second record Neither Fish Nor Flesh only peaked at 12 in the UK and 61 in the US following its release in 1989.

Asked if he might have recorded a second volume to his first album to avoid the “breakdown” he endured, he said: “No.

“More than likely that would have accelerated my death.”