"The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star!" - Elton John
Elton John - The Rocket Man
One of the greatest singer-songwriters of the world, Elton John transformed himself from a shy British teenager to the flamboyant stage performer that could hold a stadium crowd with just him and his piano. The real beauty of his music lies in his sense of melody and the chemistry with his song writing partner Bernie Taupin. At his core it was his gospel influenced piano which is the lead instrument and not a part of the rhythm section. And his tenor voice singing over it.
One Man Industry!
The global success of his music and relentless tours has seen Elton John become a global legend. His single "Candle in the Wind 97" written for Lady Diana is biggest selling single of all times with 37 million copies sold. Almost 250 million in album sales world wide, Elton John has also been the voice of the gay and lesbian community of the world. His AIDS charity has raised over 100 million dollars and hosts an annual post show Oscar party that raised money for his charity.
Born Reginald Kennel Dwight in Middlesex and it was around the age of 17 when he left school to pursue a career in music. By 1964, after performing in Hotel bars in London, Elton started his own band Bluesology. But it was his correspondence with Bernie Taupin which was initiated by Ray Williams that changed rock music forever. The Elton John/Bernie Taupin song writing partnership is considered one of the greatest ever. Initially writing song for other artists; by 1969 Elton John released his first album Empty Sky. It was not a huge seller but got the ball rolling. But it was his second self-titled album which gave Elton John his first big hit in the single "Your Song". His shows inspired from the Jerry Lee Lewis style of exaggerated movements while playing the piano took to new levels of showmanship.
Go Reggie Go!
As the songwriting team started to evolve they were able to create enough music for at least two albums in one year. "Madman Across the Water" and "Tumbleweed Connection" came in 1971, cementing Elton John's status as they new pop sensation. But it was "Honky Chateau" in 1972 that gave him his first US No.1 and the song "The Rocket Man". The 1973 "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" was an instant classic and reached no.1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Elton John was now one of the biggest live acts in the US, Europe and his home country in UK.
In 1975 john released his true masterpiece "Captain Fantastic and Brown Dirt Cowboy", the concept album had the songwriting duo writing about them; taking on the title characters, and it spoke about the early struggle. The real gem was "Someone saved my Life Tonight" a song about the break up of his un-happy marriage. The song and the album would be a turning point of his personal life. A memorable Wembley stadium show had Elton out on bizarre outfits during his performance. It was his 70s tours which would give Elton John phenomenal success, selling out us arenas and stadiums. It was also his fashion sense that saw him dress up like Donald Duck, Mozart and Statue of Liberty. Elton John had a charismatic presence as both the clown and the rock star!
The next few years would see a slight little decline in sales and his temporary retirement from performing. His drug use made his personal life spiral out of control
Hi next big hit album would be 1983's "Too Low for Zero" and 1989's "Sleeping with the Past" which had the global smash "Sacrifice"
During the 80s John went through a low point in his personal life as his alcohol and drug abuse took control of his life. Checking into rehab in 1990, he was able to regain his creativity and passion to fight for the Aids/HIV disease. In 1992, the albums "The One" feature a somber song about a father's love of his young son dying of Aids. It was his collaboration with Tim Rice to record music for the animation film "The Lion King" saw a massive rise again. The album was a global smash and Elton John went to win an Oscar. The album has sold an astonishing 15 million copies. A knighthood and CBE followed shortly.
The 90s Resurgence
"Made in England" in 1995 was not a commercial hit and in 1997 he sang with altered lyrics to Candle in the Wind at the funeral of Lady Diana. The next few years would see more tours including a co-headlining tour with Billy Joel and a residency as Caesars Palace for three years. His last few albums have tried to capture past glory most notably "Songs from the West Coast" in 2001 and "The Captain & the Kid"
His concert tours, which he calls as his "escape", ensure his lasting legacy and impact. Elton John's contribution to rock is undeniable, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee remains on the most endearing rock artist of all times
Did you know that...
- ...John Lennon's last ever concert was as a special guest for Elton John's gig at Madison Square Garden
- ...Elton John appeared on the iconic animation series The Simpsons by singing a version of Your Song called Apu's Song
- ...Elton John appeared with Eminem in a historic performance of the song "Stan" at the Grammy Awards