Sir Elton John has been in the music industry for more than fifty years. Being an icon himself, he has released some of the most iconic songs in history. With the release of his biopic Rocketman, it’s high time the younger generation appreciate the legend that is Elton John.
He’s not really Elton John
Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight but he legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John in 1972. The names he chose were inspired by his favorite Blues legends Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. “Hercules,” on the other hand was from a horse of the same name from the British sitcom Steptoe and Son.
Sir Elton John CBE
Sir Elton John was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995, then was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998. He was honored for his contribution in music and his charity work, in particular his fight against AIDS in the LGBT community.
Elton John AIDS Foundation
Elton John has always been involved in AIDS charities. However, the death of his close friend Freddie Mercury prompted him to found his charity, the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He also hosts the Academy Award Party and the White Tie & Tiara Ball to raise funds for his foundation. Both of these parties are high profile, attended by Hollywood royalties and by members of the British royal family.
He was a piano prodigy
Sir Elton John was a child prodigy. He could play the piano by ear at the age of 3. It probably did not come as a surprise for his family since his mother and grandmother were also musically inclined. His grandmother would play the piano while he sat on her knees. He was enrolled to piano lessons years later, and the rest is history.
Studied at the Royal Academy of Music
He got a junior scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. However, he quit just before his graduation to pursue his career. His teachers regard him as a gifted student, but not a diligent one. In fact, Elton John himself said of his studies “I kind of resented going to the Academy. I was one of those children who could just about get away without practicing and still pass, scrape through the grades.”
Has a 50-year professional relationship with Bernie Taupin
Bernie Taupin is an award-winning lyricist who has collaborated with Elton John for more than 50 years. They have written John’s hits together, including “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Taupin writes the lyrics, and John writes the music. What is amazing is that the two claim to have never had a fight despite their long relationship.
An all-out performer
In his fifty-year career, Sir Elton John has held 3,500 concerts in over 80 countries. It should be remembered that each of John’s performances are over-the-top—and he’s done that more than 3,500 times in the last fifty years. That is a testament to how much rock fans love him, and how dedicated he is to his craft.
Music that transcends borders
In the midst of the Cold War in 1979, Sir Elton John played eight concerts in the USSR. He is the first Western rock artist to be allowed to perform in the USSR. At this time, John was already open about his bisexuality.
Became openly gay in 1988
Even for someone so powerful and flamboyant, coming to terms with one’s sexuality was a challenge. Possibly owing to the attitude of the time, Elton John did not open up about his personal life until 1976. In an interview with the Rolling Stone magazine, John opened up about being bisexual. However, he came out as a gay man in 1988. In another interview with the magazine, John stated that he was “comfortable being gay.” He is currently married to John Furnish, a filmmaker. The two have two sons, Zachary and Elijah.
Performed with John Lennon
John Lennon and Elton John released a song “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” in 1974. Elton John challenged John Lennon to join him on stage should their song hit #1. Naturally, it did, and Lennon joined John in one of his concerts at Madison Square Garden in 1974. This performance was dubbed as the last major on-stage performance of Lennon, six years before his assassination.