Elton John

March 25, 1947
  • Elton doesn't write lyrics, his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin usually takes care of that. They met through a want-ad in a British music trade paper, and someone at the publishing company where they both applied connected them, since Elton needed a lyricist and Bernie needed someone to write music. Taupin would deliver lyrics to John in bundles, and Elton would fit tunes to them. He wouldn't even ask Bernie what the songs were about, and Taupin claims that there are some songs Elton thinks are about him, but are actually about Bernie.
  • Before he was a solo artist, John was in Bluesology, a backing group for blues singers from America that toured England (like Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles). They were hired by Baldry in 1966 as his backing band; John co-produced an album of his in 1971.
  • His birth name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The name Elton comes from Elton Dean, a Bluesology sax player. John comes from Long John Baldry, a British R&B singer and founder of Blues Inc. In 1974, he made Elton Hercules John his legal name. Hercules was the name of the horse in the British comedy series Steptoe and Son, which he enjoyed. (Thanks, Vincent - Wales, UK) >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Vincent - Wales, UK
  • His talent was apparent at a young age: At 11, he won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
  • He was such a big fan of the Watford Football Club that he bought a controlling interest in the team, and in 1976 became chairman. At the time, they were a Fourth-Division club, but Elton's investments and shrewd moves got them to the First Division in 1982, a remarkable feat. He gave up his interest in the team later in the decade, but again took over as chairman in 1996, this time leading them from Third Division to Premier League (the rebranded First Division). He resigned in 2002 but continued his support; he was later named Honorary Life-President of the club.
  • Has played piano on records by many different artists including George Harrison, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr, the Hollies, and Bob Dylan.
  • A six-night run at the trendy Los Angeles club the Troubadour in August 1970 gave him a huge boost in America. After the first night, major newspapers published rave reviews, with the Chicago Sun Times declaring, "He was a major star before the end of his first set." His first hit came a few months later with "Your Song," which went to #8 in January 1971.
  • As a child, John didn't need glasses, but wore a pair anyway to look like Buddy Holly. Bad idea: They damaged his eyes so much that he was soon forced to wear them for real. (from The Buddy Holly Story by John Goldrosen)
  • After he topped a poll by Cadbury to find Britain's favorite personality, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London made a statue of Elton out of 227lbs (126kgs) of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate. He's the first solo rock star to get a wax portrait made by Madame Tussaud's. The Beatles were the first rock band. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adam - Wrexham, Wales
  • His 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirty Cowboy was first album to to debut at #1 on the US Albums chart (the Billboard 200). His album Rock of the Westies, released later in 1975, was the second.
  • He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 by Guns 'N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose, who calls John a major influence.
  • Taupin and John give a lot of their British royalties to AIDS charities. It's one of several things he has done for AIDS research. Others included auctioning off his record collection, hosting Oscar parties, and organizing an auction for a date with supermodel Cindy Crawford.
  • John was made an Officer of Arts and Letters by France, one of their highest distinctions.
  • He had his first sexual experience with a woman, Linda Woodrow, and in 1970, when Elton was 21, the couple were engaged. Elton abruptly ended the relationship after anguishing over it. According to his biographer Philip Norman, Elton even made a half-hearted suicide attempt around this time, putting his head in a gas oven, but leaving a window open and keeping the gas on low. The engagement is referenced in the song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."
  • In 1976 he admitted that he was bisexual, telling Rolling Stone: "I think everybody's bisexual to a certain degree. I don't think it's just me."

    Over the next few years, it became more clear that he was gay, especially when he released "Elton's Song" in 1981, which is about a schoolboy who has a crush on another boy. It was surprising then when in 1984, Elton married a woman: studio engineer Renate Blauel in 1984. They divorced in 1988 on amicable terms; Elton later admitted he was trying to please his mother and settle his "wild life." As the AIDS crisis came to bear, he became a gay activist. In 2005, he took part in a civil ceremony with partner David Furnish - gay marriage was not legal in England.
  • He was known for wearing outrageous costumes on stage, appearing in feathers, in a rhinestone-studded baseball uniform, as Mozart, even as Donald Duck. In 1988, he decided to purge as part of a lifestyle change. By then he had accumulated so many items that his mansion in Old Windsor, England looked like a glittery thrift store. He auctioned off about 2,000 items, including the boots he wore in Tommy, raising about $8 million.
  • He appeared as the Pinball Wizard in the film version of the Who's Tommy. After convincing Rod Stewart to turn down the role, he took it for himself and also asked if he could keep the large boots that he wore for the part. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adam - Wrexham, Wales
  • Elton married studio engineer Renate Blauel in 1984, surprising many people who thought he was gay. He was. They divorced four years later.
  • John characterizes 1989-1990 as the worst time period of his life. He had become close friends with AIDS victim Ryan White, who died in 1990; he had just gotten divorced, was addicted to cocaine, and had developed severe bulimia, gorging himself at meals so he could throw up and eat more.

    He didn't get better until his lover, Hugh Williams, convinced him to check into a hospital for treatment. When he emerged six months later, he was on the road to recovery. He kept a light schedule for the next year to focus on his health and maintain his sobriety, which he did.
  • Duets with Elton John that hit #1 on the Hot 100: "Bad Blood" (Neil Sedaka - EJ not credited), "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" (John Lennon - EJ not credited), "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (Elton John and Kiki Dee), "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (George Michael and Elton John), and also "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne and Friends (Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John).
  • He lost two close friends in the summer of 1997: Designer Gianni Versace, who was murdered on July 15, and Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car accident on August 31. At her funeral, he played "Candle In The Wind" with new lyrics written in tribute. This version was released as a single, with proceeds going to her memorial fund.
  • When he performed there for the 60th time on his 60th birthday, he set the record for the most performances at New York's Madison Square Garden. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Elton John is unwilling to wear a backstage pass, as the rider for The Elton John One Man Show reveals.
  • He ranks #1 in Billboard's 2011 list of the top Adult Contemporary Artists Of All Time. He had 16 #1 AC hits by the time the list was compiled. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • He composed his first five albums on a 1910 white upright piano, which was sold at a Dallas auction for $164,000 in 2004.
  • Elton is godfather to several celebrity children, including Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham (sons of David and Victoria Beckham), and Damian Charles (son of Elizabeth Hurley).
  • Elton married longtime partner David Furnish in 2014 after gay marriage became legal in England. Exactly nine years earlier, they were one of the first couples in the UK to form a civil partnership after the Civil Partnership Act came into effect.
  • The singer has two sons with Furnish (born via surrogate mother): Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, born in 2010, and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, born in 2013.
  • Elton had a long-standing feud with Madonna after he criticized her for lip-synching during a live performance in the early 2000s. After over a decade peppered with insults against the Material Girl, including calling her a "f--king fairground stripper" and asserting that her career was over, Elton apologized to the singer in 2013.
  • Elton John's "Million Dollar Piano" that he plays in concert features more than 60 LED video screens. It took Yamaha almost four years to make and weighs 220 stone.
  • In a 2000 court case between John and his former manager, it was revealed that Elton spent £293,000 on flowers over a 21-month span. On the stand, Elton simply explained, "Yes, I like flowers."
  • According to his biographer Philip Norman, Elton made a half-hearted suicide attempt when he was 21, sticking his head in a gas oven but leaving a window open and using a pillow to rest his head.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 18

  • David from Austin, TexasDee Murray claimed in a documentary that when they were recording Yellow Brick Road, Elton was so talented, he could tap out the melody for new song in about the time "it would take me to make a sandwich".
  • Jj from Washington, DcElton John is my favorite piano player besides Billy Joel. He did a great job with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", the duet with Kiki Dee. I can't really think of my favorite song by him because there are so many!!
  • Pianowizzy from Denver, Co*screamy, girly squeal* I LOVE ELTON JOHN!!! :P
    I have to admit, I feel pity for him sometimes. And for the rest of the time I'm so jealous of him that I cry. "Candle in the Wind 1997" is the song of Elton's that really makes me want to cry. "I'm Still Standing" and "Crocodile Rock" are some of his best songs. There's more that I want to say but I now can't remember. :( Anyway, @Tonnie: LOL!! Really? [at "He has been dubbed 'the little general'..."] I'm really like that! XD
  • Jimmy from Birmingham, Mielton is THE most influential artist. ever. no argument at all. he is the best. as a pianist myself, he is my hero. i'm almost getting tears in my eyes just writing this. no comparison at all. thank you for everything, elton.
  • Barry from New York, NyElton was one of the first artists to utilize synthesizers during the early years of the Moog. His debut album (1970) featured Diana Lewis who only played the Moog, and performs on two tracks "Last Episode at Hienton" and "The Cage." Diana came back in 1971 to play on the album track "Madman Across the Water" as well as "Rotten Peaches," but this time she was playing the ARP Synthesizer. After that Diana Lewis' keyboard wizardry was no longer used by Elton. I wonder where she is today?
  • Scott from Perth, Western Australia, AustraliaLexie of St.Louis,MO - its an excellent song isn't it. Elton made a bet with Lennon before the song was released. If the song went #1, Lennon would have to join Elton and the band at a concert in New York. Fair enough the song went #1 and Lennon joined them and sang three songs, "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" being one of them. It was the last performance Lennon was to do before being tragically murdered by a man who shall always remain nameless as far as I'm concerend. You should get a EJ DVD of Greatest Hits, One Night Only 2002 where Elton plays a Lennon song which is a fantastic homage to the man.
  • Lexie from St. Louis, MoI do not own a lot of Elton musik, but I really enjoy "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" with John Lennon. In that song, it is hard to tell which voice is which, the two's styles meshed so well in that song. Elton John is truly great, and both versions of "Candle in the Wind" are beutiful. Both Diana and Norma Gene (Marlyn Monroe) had tragic lives.
  • Amy from Grimshaw, CanadaIn my opinion elton john is the best he is still on top and always will be. He is the best!
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaI would just like to say that even though a lot of people I know aren't that into him, I truly believe that most of Elton John's songs are very inspired. I especially love his album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding in particular. That instrumental at the beginning prompted me to buy the album, and I'm very glad I did. Now I'm hooked on "This Song Has No Title". The words and music flow perfectly; I could not believe that the music and words were written separately, and yet they were. Bernie Taupin and Elton John were truly one of the great songwriting teams, I can't really think of any other with such a unique relationship on creating music. Anyway, I'm just here to pay tribute to one of my favorite singers ever. Thank you Elton John.
  • Rich from Elkins, WvMy early Elton John collection began on 45s and 8-tracks tapes... now they are on CDs. His music has been playing on the radio since I was in Jr High... When it comes to songwriting, Elton John and Bernie Taupin are right up there with Lennon and McCartney.
  • Don from Pittsburgh, Pa"Tumbleweed Connection" is my favorite album ever by John. The cd remaster has a 9 minute version of Madman across the Water featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. Unbelievable.
  • Angie from Wentzville, MoElton John has been in my life for a long,long time. Listen to HIGH FLYING BIRD or TINY DANCER.
    I am now doing a paper on him in school. I had to pick a 20th century genius.
  • Christine from Chicago, IlElton was the first non-athlete to be honored in New York's Madison Square Garden's Hall of Fame.
  • Christine from Chicago, IlOnce called himself a human dust bin because he likes to eat junk food.
  • Matthew from New York, NySomething else Elton does for AIDS research: All proceeds from all his singles and future singles go to AIDS charities. They say he has raised more money for charity than any other entertainer in history. It has been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Nate from Pelican Rapids, MnWhat I like about Elton is that he has stayed on top since he began. He has had hit singles on the charts consistently since 1970. Some artists are big for an era and then die, but true songwriters are determined by time.

    I agree, 'Ticking' is a wonderful song. He has many equally good ones that are rarely ever played. Oh yeah, and his Broadway show 'Aida' is awesome. Heard he's working on a new one.
  • Tonnie from Orig. Ca Living In Tn, TnElton John is, in my opinion, the greatest performer of our time. Taupin and John do not work together, say, on a piano bench. Each does his own work in separate rooms. I agree with Linda that "Tickin'" is a brilliant number.
    Another tidbit of information: Elton was born in Pinner, Middlesex England on March 25, 1947 to Stanley and Sheila Dwight. He met Bernie Taupin through an newspaper advert. He has been dubbed "the little general" due to his insistance on perfection (I guess when you're Elton, you can insist on pretty much anything you'd like!) The man's a true legend who's "Still Standing" after nearly four decades of some of the most brilliant, versatile, and moving music of all time.
    Respectfully Submitted,
    Tonnie Goddard Moon
    PlayitagainSam@aol.com
  • Linda from Baltimore, MdI have loved Elton John sinse i was 16 years old. I am 47 now. he can sing the most beautiful melodies. If you love Elton listen to TICKING on his CARIBOU cd. It will bring tears to your eyes. We love you Elton.
see more comments

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.