ELTON JOHN BIOGRAPHY

Elton John

Sir Elton Hercules John
(birth name Reginald Kenneth Dwight)

Born March 25, 1947 in Pinner, England

Raised in the UK, Elton John attended the Royal Academy of Music from 1958 to 1964 on a piano scholarship at age 11.  He dropped out just before final exams to pursue show business.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.  He was married in 1984 to Renate Blauel who was a sound engineer. They divorced 4 years later, he entered rehabilitation for drugs, alcohol and bulimia.  He afterward decided to not fight his emotions and took a male lover.  He was good friends with legend John Lennon and was Godson to Sean Ono Lennon, son of John and Yoko.  In 1997 he was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and he re-wrote and sang  "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to his friend Princess Lady Diana at her funeral, which was originally a tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

 

Elton John

 

 

One of the most commercially successful entertainers of the last 30 years, pop singer Elton John was born Reginald Dwight on March 25, 1947 to a middle-class family living in Pinner, England. His mother encouraged him to play piano as a toddler, and by age 11 Dwight won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music. While at school he performed with a succession of small-time rock bands, including the Corvettes, and the more successful R&B group Bluesology. Dropping out shortly before graduation, John toured England with Bluesology backing bigger-name blues performers; he also played piano in hotels and worked for a music publisher. In 1967 Dwight met lyricist Bernard Taupin through a newspaper ad, and the duo became a professional songwriting team for Dick James' new label DJM, cranking out up to 10 songs a day. Taking the stage name Elton "Hercules" John from the first names of Bluesology's vocalist Elton Dean and saxophonist "Long" John Baldry, Dwight embarked on a solo career in mid-1968, performing songs he had written with Taupin.

Working with producer Gus Dudgeon, John and Taupin released a new album for MCA Records in 1970, Elton John. Thanks to critical praise and the U.S. success of the Top 10 single "Your Song," John found himself quite popular in America, touring the country for the first time later that year. His 1971 follow-up, the concept album Tumbleweed Connection, was another big hit, reaching the Top 10. The prolific pair put together several more albums during 1971-72, culminating in 1972's Honky Chateau, John's first No. 1 album. Its big single, "Rocket Man," inaugurated a string of hits for the singer-pianist, who scored 16 consecutive Top 20 hits between late 1972 and mid-1976, releasing up to three albums a year. Hits like "The Bitch Is Back," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Bernie and the Jets," "Yellow Brick Road," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Crocodile Rock" became pop classics, turning Elton John into a bona fide superstar. He appeared on the cover of Time, performed for more than 100,000 people in Los Angeles, dueted with John Lennon in New York and appeared in the movie Tommy.

John's live shows became known for their flamboyance and energy -- the singer would appear on stage wearing feather boas, garish sunglasses, platform shoes, and multi-colored hair. 1975's Captain Fantastic became the first album ever to debut at No. 1. In 1977 John announced that he would no longer perform live, due to exhaustion, and would limit his record output. More importantly, he and Bernard Taupin ceased working together, with John bringing in other songwriters and Taupin penning lyrics for other artists. Elton John began a comeback tour in 1979, without his usual backup band. The extensive world tour passed through Russia, among other stops, making John the first Western artist to tour the Communist U.S.S.R.

In 1980 John and Taupin reunited for 21 at 33, spawning the Top 10 hit "Little Jeanie." Switching from MCA to Geffen, John continued releasing gold records, occasionally scoring hits like 1983's "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues" and 1984's "Sad Songs (Say So Much)," but moved from rock/pop to a more mellow adult contemporary sound. He also took an interest in AIDS research, befriending teenage AIDS victim Ryan White and forming the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1991; he also announced that he would donate all future royalties from his singles to AIDS charities.

John mounted another comeback with 1992's The One, which went double platinum. That same year he and Taupin signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappel Music for nearly $40 million. In 1994 Elton John scored his biggest hit in years with "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King soundtrack, winning five Grammy nominations and three Oscar nominations. That same year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Elton John released the album The Big Picture in September 1997. Earlier that month, he captured the hearts of millions when he sang a re-written version of "Candle in the Wind" at the funeral of Princess Diana. A recording of the song, released as "Candle in the Wind 1997" became the first single to outsell Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." All proceeds from the sale of the single were donated to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

In 2000, John played a two night stand at Madison Square Garden which was recorded for a live album, At Last -- One Night Only, released in November of the same year. His latest, Songs From The West Coast, came out in 2001.


 

In terms of sales and lasting popularity, Elton John was the biggest pop superstar of the early '70s. Initially marketed as a singer/songwriter, John soon revealed he could craft Beatlesque pop and pound out rockers with equal aplomb. He could dip into soul, disco, and country, as well as classic pop balladry and even progressive rock. His versatility, combined with his effortless melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and flamboyant stage shows made him the most popular recording artist of the '70s. Unlike many pop stars, John was able to sustain his popularity, charting a Top 40 single every single year from 1970 to 1996. During that time, he had temporary slumps in creativity and sales, as he fell out of favor with critics, had fights with his lyricist Bernie Taupin, and battled various addictions and public scandals. But through it all, John remained a remarkably popular artist and many of his songs — including "Your Song," "Rocket Man," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" — became contemporary pop standards.

 

 

 
 

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 Reginald Kenneth Dwight, 25 March 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, England. At the age of four, the young Dwight started taking piano lessons. This launched a talent that via the Royal Academy Of Music led him to become the most successful rock pianist in

the world, one of the richest men in Britain and one of the world's greatest rock stars. Dwight formed his first band Bluesology in the early 60s and turned professional in 1965 when they secured enough work backing touring American soul artists. Long John Baldry joined the band in 1966, which included Elton Dean on saxophone and Caleb Quaye on lead guitar. As the forceful Baldry became the leader, John became disillusioned with being a pub pianist and began to explore the possibilities of a music publishing contract. Following a meeting set up by Ray Williams of Liberty Records at Dick James Music, the shy Dwight first met Bernie Taupin, then an unknown writer from Lincolnshire. Realizing they had uncannily similar musical tastes they began to communicate by post only, and their first composition "Scarecrow" was completed. This undistinguished song was the first to bear the John/Taupin moniker; John had only recently adopted this name, having dispensed with Reg Dwight in favour of the more saleable title borrowed from the first names of his former colleagues Dean and Baldry.

In 1968 John and Taupin were signed by Dick James, formerly of Northern Songs, to be staff writers for his new company DJM Records at a salary of £10 per week. The songs were slow to take off, although Roger Cook released their "Skyline Pigeon" and Lulu sang "I've Been Loving You Too Long" as a potential entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. One hopes that John was not too depressed when he found that "Boom-Bang-A-Bang" was the song chosen in its place. While the critics liked his own single releases, none were selling. Only "Lady Samantha" came near to breaking the chart, which is all the more perplexing as it was an excellent, commercial-sounding record. In June 1969 Empty Sky was released, and John was still ignored, although the reviews were reasonably favourable. During the next few months he played on sessions with the Hollies (notably the piano on "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother") and made budget recordings for cover versions released in supermarkets.

Finally, his agonizingly long wait for recognition came the following year when Gus Dudgeon produced the outstanding Elton John. Among the tracks were "Border Song" and the classic "Your Song". The latter provided Elton John's first UK hit, reaching number 2, and announced the emergence of a major talent. The momentum was maintained with Tumbleweed Connection but the following soundtrack, Friends and the live 17-11-70 were major disappointments to his fans. These were minor setbacks, as over the next few years Elton John became a superstar. His concerts in America were legendary as he donned ridiculous outfits and outrageous spectacles. At one stage between 1972 and 1975 he had seven consecutive number 1 albums, variously spawning memorable hits including "Rocket Man", "Daniel", "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Candle In The Wind" and the powerful would-be suicide note, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight".

He was partly responsible for bringing John Lennon and Yoko Ono back together again in 1975, following the Madison Square Garden concert on 28 November 1974, and became Sean Lennon's godfather. In 1976 he topped the UK charts with a joyous duet with Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", and released further two million-selling albums, Here And There and Blue Moves. The phenomenal pattern continued as John courted most of the rock cognoscenti. Magazine articles peeking into his luxury home revealed an astonishing wardrobe, and a record collection so huge that he would never be able to listen to all of it. In 1977 John declared that he was retiring from music, and in 1979 Taupin moved to Los Angeles as the John/Taupin partnership went into abeyance. John started writing with pianist and bandleader Tony Osborne's son, Gary. The partnership produced few outstanding songs, however. The most memorable during that time was the solo instrumental "Song For Guy", a beautiful tribute to a Rocket Records motorcycle messenger killed in a road accident.

Elton John then entered an uncomfortable phase in his life; he remained one of pop's most newsworthy figures, openly admitting his bisexuality and personal insecurities about his weight and baldness. It was this vulnerability that made him such a popular personality. His consumerism even extended to rescuing his favourite football team, Watford. He purchased the club and invested money in it, and under his patronage their fortunes changed positively. His albums and sales during the early 80s were patchy, and only when he started working exclusively with Taupin again did his record sales pick up. The first renaissance album was Too Low For Zero in 1983, which scaled the charts along with the triumphant single "I'm Still Standing'. John ended the year in much better shape and married Renate Blauel the following February. During 1985 he appeared at Wham!"s farewell concert, and the following month he performed at the historic Live Aid concert, giving a particularly strong performance as one of rock's elder statesmen. He completed the year with another massive album, Ice On Fire. In January 1986 he and Taupin contested a lengthy court case for back royalties against DJM. However, the costs of the litigation were prohibitive and the victory at best pyrrhic. Towards the end of that year John collapsed onstage in Australia and entered an Australian hospital for throat surgery in January.

During this time the UK gutter press were having a field day, speculating on John's possible throat cancer and his rocky marriage. The press had their pound of flesh when it was announced that Renate and John had separated. In 1988 he released the excellent Reg Strikes Back and the fast-tempo boogie, "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That". Meanwhile, The Sun newspaper made serious allegations against the singer, which prompted a libel suit. Considering the upheavals in his personal life and regular sniping by the press John sounded in amazingly good form and was performing with the energy of his early 70s extravaganzas. In September, almost as if he were closing a chapter of his life, Elton auctioned at Sotheby's 2000 items of his personal memorabilia including his boa feathers, "Pinball Wizard" boots and hundreds of pairs of spectacles. In December 1988, John accepted a settlement (reputedly £1 million, although never confirmed) from The Sun, thus forestalling one of the most bitter legal disputes in pop history. He appeared a sober figure, now divorced, and concentrated on music, recording two more strong albums (Sleeping With The Past and The One).

In April 1991 the Sunday Times announced that John had entered the list of the top 200 wealthiest people in Britain. He added a further £300,000 to his account when he yet again took on the UK press and won, this time the Sunday Mirror, for an alleged incident with regard to bulimia. In 1993 an array of guest musicians appeared on John's Duets, including Bonnie Raitt, Paul Young, k.d. lang, Little Richard and George Michael. Five new songs by the artist (written with Tim Rice) graced the soundtrack to 1994's Disney blockbuster, The Lion King, the accompanying album reaching number 1 in the US charts. In 1995 John confronted the media and gave a series of brave and extremely frank confessional interviews with regard to his past. He confessed to sex, drugs, food and rock 'n' roll. Throughout the revelations he maintained a sense of humour and it paid him well. By confessing, his public seemed to warm further to him. He rewarded his fans with one of his best albums, Made In England, which scaled the charts throughout the world.

Elton John's career scaled new heights in September 1997 when, following the tragic death of his friend Diana, Princess Of Wales, he was asked by her family to sing at the funeral. This emotional moment was seen by an estimated 2 billion people. John's faultless performance in Westminster Abbey of a rewritten "Candle In The Wind" was entirely appropriate. Subsequently released as a charity record, it rapidly became the biggest-selling single of all time, overtaking Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". Buoyed by the publicity, John's 1997 album, The Big Picture, was another commercial success, and at the end of the year he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1999, John duetted with American country star LeAnn Rimes on "Written In The Stars', a UK number 10 single in March. The single was taken from an ambitious stage adaptation of Aida by John and Tim Rice, which was rather clumsily retitled Elaborate Lives: The Legend Of Aida. The two men teamed up again the following year, with composer Hans Zimmer, to create the soundtrack to DreamWorks animated adventure, The Road To El Dorado. His first studio album of the new millennium, Songs From The West Coast, was hailed as a return to the standards set by his classic early 70s material. In August 2003, he enjoyed a surprise UK number 1 single with a remix of 1979"s minor hit, "Are You Ready For Love".

With or without his now substantial wealth Elton John has kept the friendship and admiration of his friends and peers. He remains an outstanding songwriter and an underrated pianist, and together with the Beatles and Rolling Stones is Britain's most successful artist. He has ridden out all intrusions into his private life from the media with considerable dignity and has maintained enormous popularity. Above all he is still able to mock himself in down-to-earth fashion, aware of all his eccentricities

 

This is the original 1971 Georgia Straight interview introduction by Mike Quigley

We enter the Holiday Inn on Howe Street through its Southern-fried colonnade and up its Harlequin Romance staircase into the Columbia Room with its Christmas tree light candelabras. There we meet the Head Canadian Flack from MCA-Uni Records, who are throwing this little cocktail party-reception for Elton John. A stereo set on a table hums out Elton John Muzak, in contrast to the tinny string goop in the lobby outside.

Other radio people, promoters, photographers, newsmen, and assorted sycophants surf in and circulate. I meet one reporter, a friend I haven't seen since high school five years ago. I also run into deposed CKLG-FM jock Bob Ness, who remarks on the unfairness of my Laura Nyro review to the folksinger on the programme with her. A pant-suited woman from CHQM looks at me and says, "I don't believe I've met this gentleman". I look to a flack beside her. He's forgotten my name, so l introduce myself, which is the total extent of our conversation for the evening.

Elton John finally arrives, sporting a short-cropped Julius Caesar shag haircut, his Tumbleweed Connection sunglasses, yellow and green velveteen trousers, a white ruffled Liberace shirt with a blue serge-ish midicoat, white patent leather boots, and a large Donald Duck button on his right lapel. A cheap champagne glass of warm, flat Faisca is thrust into his hand.

Province reviewer Jeani Read, attired in buckskin hot pants and a matching midicoat, quickly nabs the Star and drags him off to a corner for a private interview. This gets the MCA-Uni flacks uptight. They want him to circulate among the forty or so people in the room, and then Meet The Press in a group session. They glide through the crowd, whispering, "Cool it, cool it."

Elton John finally works his way into the crowd after some polite edging from the flacks. I'm introduced to him and he says, "Oh, you're the guy who gave me shit," referring to my review of his Friends album and my remarks on the Agrodome. We rap about Penderecki, the Polish composer (the opening cello riff on Sixty Years On is taken from P's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and EJ's arranger, Paul Buckmaster is a "real Pen-derecki freak"). But I can sense the "lets-get-moving-cause-there's-all-these-other-people-for-him-to-meet" feeling from the flacks and his Agent Man, so we part for the moment.

I approach EJ's clean-shaven Agent Man when he's alone for a second. He's an older guy - in his forties, I'd say. He's outfitted in brown shoes, beige pants, a brown shirt with white stitching, a blue blazer with a silk handkerchief in the pocket, and a large ruby ring on his left little finger. After some introductory trivia, I ask him if it's possible for me to get in to see the show the following night.

He doesn't seem very interested. He tells me he's got no control over comps. He tells me to go and see the MCA-Uni flacks. Strange thing is they were the ones who referred me to HIM on this matter. They've had to lay out sixty-six odd bucks for tickets to see their own artist.

By then it's interview time, and the TV men with their blaringly bright lights get first crack. A reporter I know asks, "Is this going to be a disaster?" referring to the general disorganization.

Then another group of radio, newspaper, and rock magazine reporters sit down and rap with the Star. By this time I don't feel much like doing an interview, though the flacks keep asking me if McGrath and I would. So we sit down and wait and wait.

Roy Hennessey, uniformed in a flame-colored Harry Belafonte shirt and black pants, strolls over to where we're sitting. He says hello to me. He ignores McGrath. McGrath turns to me and J.B. Shayne and says, "Do you think we should tell him that Hallowe'en isn't till October?" Hennessey walks away.

Finally, it's our turn to talk. A flack says, "We'll cut in now because these guys have been going on too long." The Agent Man now addresses me by my first name, motioning me to come over into the other part of the divided room. I grab my tape recorder and McGrath, Tracey Hearst and I sit down and talk for a good thirty minutes.

It's not a very good interview, though. Elton John talks like a madman - I wouldn't have believe he could still have so much energy after all he's already gone through. But then, as he says, he's practically "immune" to these affairs by now.

We finish, and then the TV men say they want to shoot another short sequence. Elton John sits down at the grand piano in one corner of the room and plays "The Great Discovery." A baby appears out of somewhere and is placed as a prop atop the piano. The TV cameraman slinks around, capturring the impromptu event in a manner which suggests the opening sequence of Blow-Up, where Verushka was photographically fucked over by David Hemmings. The baby waves its arms and legs about. The TV lights beat down.

There's not much of an audience at this point. It's almost three hours since we arrived. When the song is over, and we're on our way, the Agent Man wanders through the dispersing crowd. He says, smiling for the second time this evening (the first being when he called us over to do the interview), "The song really fits - "The Greatest Discovery."


Rick: What do you think of all this (flack cocktail party routine).... doing this kind of stuff?

Elton: I'm used to it, believe me, I'm used to it. First time I came over to Los Angeles when it all sort of happened, as I said before I just met so many people like this... I'm immune to it now. I go through it all with all "Oh well, it must be done," and that's it. I really couldn't come down here and say fuck off... it's not me. We've been through this before, in the interview before, that if I was a Mick Jagger person I'd just come down here and tell everyone to piss off, but that's not me. I can't do it. They're a necessary evil, I think.

Rick: How much are we going to overlap here? What did you go through before?

Elton: We went through a variety of things. Television programs. How Bernie and I got together, which is a stock question on all these meetings.

Mike: So we won't ask you...

Elton: We just went through a lot of things. It was quite thorough. It was quite good actually. I just said I wish somebody would attack me, as I thought you might be a good person to attack me.

Mike: Oh really? Why?

 
Elton: Well, as I was saying... everyone's so nice to me, usually. A young college kid came into New York and I hadn't met him and I was doing this college thing and he said, "I think your music's rubbish," and I really quite appreciated that. We fought hammer and nail through the whole hour and a half that I spoke to him, and he ended up going out and buying a couple of my albums... no, it wasn't like that. People write about me in print but they never have the nerve to say it in front of my face. If they really have any genuine feelings, they should tell me, because I respect their points of view.

Mike: OK, on your latest album, which I reviewed this week...

Elton: Friends... it's not my latest album. It's a film soundtrack album which we contracted to do before Elton John was ever released. As a film soundtrack album, I think it's probably the best film soundtrack album ever released. Put that down in print.

Mike: (laughs) Do you think it represents you, though?

Elton: Yes... no, it represents what we had to write for the film. The whole story behind the film was they contracted us to do three songs. There's two bits in the film where they have a tape recorder sequence for 20 seconds or whatever it was, where everyone's leaping up and down, and a radio sequence for 30 seconds, and they said "You're going to have to write two songs that last for 20 and 30 seconds, and put them on the album." I thought well that's ridiculous. Bernie and I said, "We can't do that," so they said, "We want three songs - the title song". They were going to call the movie The Intimate Game, and Bernie and I said "No, we will not write any songs named for a movie, and we suggested Friends, so we'll settle for Friends." And we had to write another song, which was Michelle's Song. They wanted another song, which was to last a minute and ten. And for film writing, if they want a song that's a minute and ten seconds long, then you're supposed to write a song that's a minute and ten seconds long. You have to time it, and all this rubbish. So we all got together, and we were panicking like mad, and Bernie said write a song that's very short, and we did, and it was a minute and ten seconds long, and I don't know how, by the grace of God, that it was a minute and ten seconds. So that was Seasons. And then they said, "We want a soundtrack album," and I said, "That's awful," because there's very little music in the film. And we said "it's terrible, we've only got three songs." You can't put an album together with all that on. You know, with soundtrack albums, you get bits with motorcars that beep, and horses galloping. So we said, right, we're going to do this thing with the 20 and 30 second songs, then we'll write two songs and re-record the whole album. So we recorded the whole album once for the film, and then went back into our own studio which we always use studio and recorded the whole soundtrack album... so people would at least get a bit of value for their money. They get five songs instead of three and horses galloping. It was recorded and written in four weeks, in between the first song when I came to the States, which was a three-week promotional trip and my first major tour, so it was recorded in between September and October, in September in fact, as a soundtrack album... ah... the record company are promoting it as a new Elton John album, and kids will probably think it is a new Elton John album.

Mike: Especially since the Elton John name is bigger than the title of the film...

Elton: Yeah, which is pissing me off somewhat. That's 'cause the guy in London (who's a complete idiot) who runs Paramount Records, said that he said he wanted a really great sleeve. So the people that produced the film and made the film were really great -- it was independently produced film from Paramount -- they said right, and they took the Tumbleweed Connection sleeve up and said to this guy, "Isn't this great? Look, it's got a booklet. We'd like something like this for Friends." And like the guy who designed it, this friend of ours, said yeah, this is a great idea. And the guy said it was rubbish - the worst thing he'd ever seen, and he said "Wait till we come up - we'll come up with something that'll sweep this off the board." And they came up with that strawberry coloured rubbish. I suppose I can't blame the Paramount Record Company for putting my name on it in big letters, cause I would have probably done that... I don't know... I don't want to get into that anyway. It's not an Elton John album, believe me. The album was gold within three weeks, so that's... it's amusing; I'm knocked out, I'm very glad that it is a gold record. But it's not an Elton John album. We've got a live album coming out in three weeks,

Mike: Somebody said you wanted that to be coupled with Empty Sky.

Elton: Yeah, I did. I've had these hassles the past week. We've got two things that have been released in England - the live album and the Empty Sky, which hasn't come out here yet anywhere, and I wanted Empty Sky and the live album to come out for $5.98, both albums... the fact really is, that all my albums have gone up to $5.98, which I found out. So I wanted the live album to be a free album... you know, "Thank you very much, America, there's a free album - Empty Sky." And, of course, all the hierarchy that I'm concerned with said no. And I get so pissed off with fighting. Everyone had a different idea. They wanted the live album to come out in July, which would have been ludicrous, because so many people are importing it, it would have been dead. And other people wanted it not to come out at all (the live album). And some other people wanted Empty Sky to come out first. Aww, you wouldn't believe it. So we settled for Empty Sky not to come out yet, which is all right. They say that it's better for my "mystique" that it should remain on import. And the live album will come out in three weeks. And the live album is different that the one in England because its got a different mix and time. Much better mix and time. So that's the situation. I'm going to get criticized for that album, because everyone will say. "Oh, fuck, not another Elton John album!" But it has to come out now, because it has been released and people are playing it. So I'm just going to have to face the criticism. It's a bloody good live album. What decided for me that it was a good live album was the CSN&Y, which I was eagerly awaiting, and I thought it was a disaster...a total and utter disaster. I thought, "Well we can't go much more wrong than that". I hear that the CSN&Y live album is a gold record before it comes out... it's done two million dollars worth of sales. There's two or three really nice things on it, but I think it's an unmitigated disaster. I thought well, ours is so much better than that. It's not fair to point that out, but that's what decided that it really should come out. I don't know your opinion on the Crosby, Still, Nash & Young album is.

Mike: It hasn't come out here yet.

Elton: Noo...that's right, I went to a record shop today and I couldn't believe it. I said to the woman, "Have you got Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones? And she said yes, and then she said no, we've ordered some and they're coming in next week and she had only ordered ten of it. (laughs)

Mike: One of the things that bothered me, that I sort of hinted at in my review, was that I have a lot of respect for you as an artist, but there's also this thing about mystique...I mean, Rick and I were one of the first people in this area to hear your album because we got it from MCA in the States, before it was released here, and now there's a lot of, what you call hype, behind you. And what do you think of all this?

Elton: I know there's a lot of hype. I'm over in England and I'm not really aware of what's going on. I have somebody who's trying to control it, one person. There's hype, but there's hype with everybody. Record companies, believe me, no matter what record company you're with, they're going to try to hype you, because, really, all record companies are interested in is making money. We have a very good relationship with MCA, a really fantastic relationship. I'd rather be hyped in the way I am than to be hyped in the way that Warner-Reprise hype their artists. I think their ads are so hip they're actually revolting. And there's no new artists to break through on Warner Reprise Kinney Group Records, that I can think of in the last two or three years. I mean, they've just managed to break Gordon Lightfoot, which I thought was tremendous of them. I think that kind of hype is more revolting... I'd rather be saying, "Here is the great Elton John - buy him!" than, "Well, fellows... do a very clever advert". I'm not into that at all. It's just a very snobbish way of saying "We're trying to be hip" and most of the people at Warner Brothers aren't hip. I really don't mind. It's up to me to prove it, whether I'm worth it or not, or whatever it is. I mean, people have to decide for themselves. It's wrong for a person to decide that you're a hype just by listening to the adverts. They should go out and buy the records, discover whether you're a hype or not, or go and see you live. If then you've failed...if then they've seen or heard you and they think you're a hype, then that's fair enough - they've had a chance to listen to you. I don't think you can avoid it, can you? I mean, how can you possibly avoid being hyped? It's impossible. Some people don't get hyped enough, people like David Ackles, who could well be hyped as much as I've been. But once you're successful, they're going to try to get as much hype going as possible. And you have to live with that - it's a fact of life. Right?

Rick: Yeah...I'm just listening...trying to keep up with you. And asking you a question.

Elton: I'm glad we've had this opportunity to talk about this. (To Mike) I read your article last night, and I was very impressed by it. No, I really liked it... there was a review of Friends in Rock Magazine which took about twelve lines and really slated (sic) it, and it amused me... not amused me, but I'd quite like to meet the person who wrote that review and talk to him, because I get so bored with people saying, "Oh here we are Wonder-Dog of 1973." The whole magazine (Georgia Straight) was quite interesting... I read a lot of that sort of thing. "Mikey Muzak" quite amused me.

Mike: (laughs) That was a step down...it used to be Mikey Music...

Elton: I actually heard Your Song on Muzak the other day and it freaked me out. I thought to myself, you have arrived. But wait till The Supremes album gets to the shops. And Rolling Stone reviews that with my (unintelligible) but I really do like The Supremes and no one believes me.

Mike: I like Henry Mancini and nobody believes me...

Elton: You like Henry Mancini? I was on the Henry Mancini Show in America about four weeks ago. It was a Special. They just filmed a bit of me playing live...we have the same Agency, so, you know...

Tracey Lee: It's like Andy Williams...

Elton: Oh, Andy Williams is a joke. We were hanging around L.A. -- I wanted to get home, it was Christmas, and I wanted to get home. We hang around for a week, and we get a rehearsal every day, and they say, right, you do two numbers. We pre-record the backtrack, fine... and we do a big thing at the end which originally started by Andy Williams wanting to do Love The One You're With, which is OK by me, and it's going to be Mama Cass, me, Ray Charles and Andy Williams. Ray Charles didn't come -- I can't blame Ray Charles, he's probably been through all this before, he didn't come to any of the rehearsals, and he didn't want to sing Love The One You're With, so then it was gonna be My Sweet Lord, and he didn't want to sing that, they got down to Heaven Help Us All, and he didn't want to sing that, but they said it was that or nothing, so we all sang that. Ohhh, and they cut one of our numbers off. We spent all day and I did my Goodbye, Andy bit and they never showed it which was a real drag because I was quite good in it.

Tracey Lee: Didn't they show the one where you sang...

Elton: In England we saw with Heaven Help Us All, and Mama Cass stood in front of me, which was most annoying...I had no chance..that was my big moment....and Mama Cass just goes (makes elbowing move)

Tracey Lee: You were lucky you weren't there the night Ike and Tina were on and Andy Williams sung with her (laughs)

Elton: Oh, I've got a lot of respect for Andy...for a start, he was very nice to me...but he was really trying to think of all these...he was really more aware of things than I thought he was. He was reading off all these albums that he wanted to choose things off to sing, and the guy could still be singing...

Tracey Lee: Moon River...

Elton: On The Street Where You Live...and he does set himself up, which I like.

Mike: I think he produced the latest Everly Brothers album...

Elton: No. On the Barnaby label? No, those things are on the Warners label...

Mike: I'm sure he had something to do with that.

Elton: No, I mean, like, you could be a Tony Bennett... I've got no respect for people like Tony Bennett because they're just bores. Andy Williams has got a very pleasant voice. He sends himself up.

Tracey Lee: I don't really like him..

Elton: No, I wouldn't watch his show by choice, but the guy's aware, at least he's aware of what's going on. He's into modern music. He has a lot of quite good guests on his show..Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey...and me. (laughs) And that's my last and first time on the Andy Williams Show.

Mike: And how do you like Canada, Elton John?

Elton: I dunno. It was pissing with rain all day. The first thing I noticed was that the air was fresh. It really was. It was cold, but it's not like England. And Elizabeth is on the coins, isn't she. There you go. It seems English to me. That could change, yeah. But it does seem English to me, and I think that's nice. Some people in the hotel are English, and you get people saying (unintelligible)...because we get so many hassles travelling. No, I just had my hair cut. I had my hair cut cause it was in terrible condition. I was going to Hawaii and I was going to swim every day and it was long, really, down to there (gestures)

Mike: Well, Elton John, what's coming up for you in the way of albums?

Elton: I have a live one with Mae West coming out in four years time...if we can both get on the same microphone...she's put on a little weight. (laughs) There's a new album coming out, I hope...there's going to be this bloody live album...get that out of the way...and then there won't be anything from me for about six months. By that time we should have two albums ready. I still don't want there to be anything after the live album for a long time because I think people are going to criticize the live album coming out, and they are going to cut me up, and they are going to say its being rammed down their throats, and I'm getting fed up with it.

Mike: Is it being rammed down their throats as much in Britain as it is in North America?

Elton: It was...well, no...cause there's only one radio station. So you don't get it rammed down your throat so much, right? No, the English people sort of reacted to me after I was a success in North America. The albums both went zooming up the charts...the new one's come straight in at 20. They've been very nice to us over here and the English sort of reaction has been very understanding and we have more criticism...it's funny....you get criticized for different things over there than you do over here. The Friends album has got to be criticized more over here...but in England, it's got rave reviews. So you can't win in both territories. I don't mind. You can't please everybody. I never intended to try and please everybody. I can't believe this is happening anyways. I can't believe we've sold one million albums of Elton John. It seems ludicrious. Because at the time we made it...we were knocked out when it came into the British charts at 47...live is very strange...very strange...I don't think it's affected me as a person - I used to be equally outspoken... or the same sort of person I was before it happened. I've seen so much hype and I've had so much hype and I've had so many interviews that it's all really gotten over my head, and I've been able to handle it, because I'm sort of.... if I'd have been 17 years old and just fresh out of college, I would probably been sort of.... oh... I just don't want to think about it. So I ... what does it all mean? I'm quite happy the way things are. I'm happy just to make music...what a great ending...I'm just happy to make my music, he said, and we left him sitting there, crying. (all laugh) And tomorrow night it's going to be echoesville at the Agradome...

Mike: Agrodome...we did a fake commercial for the Agrodome once...it was something like: "Get together with the cows"...you know, it's a cow palace..

Elton: Yeah, they've got the plastic cows on it. Yeah, we've got a lighting man, because I think lighting is very important, and he said he just couldn't believe it...he went in there today and saw these eight-foot papier maché cows hanging from the ceiling, which I thought was very nice...that appeals to me very much.

Tracey Lee: Well, it's the place where they hold all the horse shows...

Elton: Yeah, cow palace...so we'll be playing with piles of horse manure

Tracey Lee: I went and saw Liberace there and they didn't even cover the floor and all these dolls in their spikey heel shoes were sinking three inches into the mud floors...

Elton: I like Liberace very much. He appeals to me.

Tracey Lee: It was one of the best concerts I ever attended...

Elton: He's just so outrageous. He's like a middle-aged Mick Jagger. It freaks me out. Well, what else? You must have some more questions.

Rick: Speaking about the music, you know ... with the last three albums (Quigley and I actually do have copies of Empty Sky), we've noticed that the piano work and the melody line and the rhythms are starting to repeat themselves, and we were wondering if it's just because you happen to do these albums in a relatively short time.

Elton: This is always amusing... "the melody line"... Such as what? I mean, this guy in Rock Magazine said Honey Roll sounds like Burn Down the Mission, which I thought was vaguely amusing - the guy should be put into an institution.

Rick: Well, you've got to admit that it's starting to. . . like, it might be because you've just got a heavily stylized way of playing and you pick it up really easily, therefore whenever you keep playing these things, the style comes out...it's very predominant. Your songs really remind me of each other.

Elton: Well, which ones?

Rick: Well, I don't know which ones offhand. That's what I mean about the style thing.

Mike: That's what I was sort of saying in my review...like, some of the songs in there reminded me of earlier things...and I wondered if you were going to branch out into something else like, you know, cut out the piano have some sort of orchestra or what...

Elton: No, well, you see none of these need an orchestra. They need a piano...like, we could have had piano on Love Song...(unintelligible) but some need piano more than others...

Rick: I was just wondering, the fact that it all did happen in a relatively short space of time. . .like if you were composing things all the time, instead of having earlier things already written, it would tend to. .

Elton: Well, all the new songs we've done are going to be on the next album. Elton John, Tumbleweed, all the songs on both albums were all written before the albums were recorded. We had two albums worth of stuff. And by the next album comes out, we'll have two albums worth of stuff. I can see that you must repeat yourself, in a way. A lot of people... I suppose I always defend myself, it's pretty natural. I know what you mean about the beat, a lot of our songs...

Mike: Like the dum-de-dum-de-dum (beginning of Your Song) riff happens a lot.

Elton: Well, I like that. But if you listen to a lot of Leon Russell's stuff, who's my idol, and I won't have a word said against him, a lot of his piano playing sounds similar. It's just a style you get into. I hope I can branch out... that's got me worried...

Mike: You're going to start playing (unintelligible) riffs next

Elton: It's just a style you get into... I copied Leon Russell, and that was it. I did. I heard the Delaney and Bonnie album on Elektra and I just went through the roof. I nearly retired at that point. I figured there wasn't much point in playing anymore. And the first time I ever met him, he was in the front row of the Troubadour in Los Angeles. It was the second night we were there and I thought awww...I was great until the last number and I saw this... this great bloody most incredible looking person in the world... and I saw him there and my knees went zzzippp!... and he invited me up to his house and I thought he's going to invite me up there and tie me to a chair and whip me and say "This is how to play the piano!"...and ohhh... I was really scared... and I've never been scared of meeting anyone... like I've met Dylan and everybody and I really haven't given a fuck... excuse me...

Mike: We'll cut that out.

Elton: Cut the french out, yeah... this is the western part of Canada...and I was petrified meeting him... but aww... he's so sweet...he's really great. A lot of people got the wrong idea... interviewers think he's a big, moody so-and-so because he doesn't say anything, but that's Leon. He just sits there and goes "Yeaoh". I grant you that some of the songs may sound the same, but if they do, that is very deceptive. I can't tell, because I never listen to my own recordings. Perhaps I should.

Mike: (FM announcer's voice) Tell me, Elton John, for all the classical fans out there... who are your favoutire classical composers?

Elton: Tchaikovsky and Sibelius

Mike: Are you being esoteric?

Elton: No, I really like Tchaikovsky... I'm very romantic as a rule... I like Tchaikovsky and (unintelligble) I'm not really into Mozart.. He's too twiddley... I like Bach... the only Bach I really like are his organ pieces.. you know..ta-dah!... if I really play, I like Tchaikovsky... and the only reason I said Tchaikovsky is because I've seen a film called The Music Lover which is about his life.. has it come here?

Mike: It's been here

Elton: It's the most amazing film I've ever seen... I've seen it about 8,000 times. The music is core. It's a drag that he's so popular because the music's really good. I mean, everyone's heard the 1812 and no one will now buy an 1812 record because it's the classical record that everybody has. But it's just amazing.

Mike: They played that here last night.

Elton: The 1812? Beautiful! Unbelievable. The guy was a genius. I like Stravinsky as well. I like lyrical composers and I think Sibelius and Stravinsky are really good. And I like Terry Riley, (unintelligible) John Cale...he's only ever had one album...(unintelligible)...I like Turkish street music, there's no end to what I like.. you put it on...there's a woman singer, an Indian singer called Subbalakshmi

Mike: How do you spell that?

Elton: S-u-bb-al-a-k-s-h-m-i. If you can get any of her albums -- there's about four -- she's amazing! You wouldn't believe it. You wouldn't think such things were possible with the human voice. And Dionne Warwick's good. There you go.

Mike: OK... I think we had better wrap this up very shortly...do you have any final questions, Tricky Rick?

Rick: No...

Elton: Tricky Rick?... you sound like a Top 40 DJ...

Mike: It is... we've got a thing called Radio H-Y-P-E

Rick: It's a mythical radio station and we're the two disc jockeys... AM and FM

Elton: (speaks fast) Tricky Rick..Tricky Rick...

Mike: The FM disc jockey talk like...(lowers voice, speaks very slowly) hmmm, well...hmmm... stoned...Elton John...far out... yeah

Elton: Yes, you're perfectly right... FM disc jockeys always speak like... (slows down)..."and now we have some Carole King..." (speeds up) "and that was Stevie Wonder...we can work it out...on the Boss Top 40...yeah, groovy"...

(we all do various voices)

Elton: And the FM ones always try to sound stoned... and you go and visit the radio stations and they're all 88 years old people with beards!

(all laugh)

Elton: It's all a laugh, isn't it? That's what it is .. a laugh... It's the best thing in the world. It's the greatest high in the whole world to just sit down and kill yourself laughing... God's natural high... apart from other things.


 


 

Elton John Awards/Milestones Page


Elton John Awards and Milestones

1970


Made U.S. debut at Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles; received national critical acclaim via
review from Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times.

Grammy nominations for Album of the Year (Elton John), Best New Artist; Best Contemporary
Vocal Performance, Male (Elton John).

1971

Elton John was the first act since the Beatles to have four albums in the American Top Ten
simultaneously.

Grammy nomination for Best Original Score (Friends, nominated with Bernie Taupin).

1972

7/15/72
Honky Chateau is the 1st of 7 consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LPs. Stayed on the charts for 5 straight
weeks.

10/30/72
Elton John gives a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II, making him the first rock 'n'
roller to be asked to appear in a royal variety performance since the Beatles in November 1963.

1973

Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Daniel.

2/10/73
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player is the 2nd of 7 consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LPs.

11/2/73
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the 3rd of 7 consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LPs.

1974

Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, Caribou; Record of the Year, "Don't Let the Sun Go
Down On Me"; Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Don't Let the Sun..."

4/8/74
"Bennie and the Jets" turns gold; the single becomes a major hit on the R&B charts as well.

7/13/74
Caribou is the 4th consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LP.

8/25/74
Elton John plays two sets on the first of three nights at Los Angeles's Troubadour to raise money for
UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute. The benefit show raises over $150,000 for the clinic, named for
the licensed ophthalmologist who runs it (and who, not coincidentally, is head of MCA, John's
label). His return to the Troubadour carries special weight for Elton: Five years ago to the day, he
began a week-long stint there that helped establish his superstar status in America.

11/23/74
Elton John - Greatest Hits is the 5th of 7 consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LPs. This album is the most
successful Greatest Hits album to date and stayed on the charts for 11 weeks.

11/28/74
Elton John made John Lennon promise that if his "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" hit Number
One, he would join Elton on stage for a Madison Square Garden appearance. "Whatever" did, and
Lennon does, accompanying Elton on "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," "Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds," and "I Saw Her Standing There."

1975

Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; Best
PopVocal Performance, Male, Captain Fantastic.

6/7/75
Elton John's album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is the 6th consecutive U.S. #1
Pop LP.

8/25-26/75
Elton John plays two soldout dates at Dodger Stadium. Decked out in a sequined Dodgers uniform,
John is first rocker to perform in the ballpark since the Beatles in 1966.

11/8/75
Rock of the Westies is the 7th consecutive U.S. #1 Pop LP.

1976

Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, "Don't Go Breaking My
Heart" (nominated with Kiki Dee).

3/7/76
A likeness of Elton John is put on display at London's Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. He is the
first rock figure so accorded the honor since the Beatles were first immortalized in wax in March of
1964.

1977

10/1/77
Elton John becomes the first rock 'n' roller to be honored in New York City's Madison Square
Garden Hall of Fame.

11/3/77
During a concert at the Empire Pool in London, Elton John announces that he is retiring from live
performances. He will be good to his word for fifteen months.

1979

Grammy nomination for Best Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance, Male, "Mama Can't Buy You
Love."

2/3/79
Elton John resumes touring after his 15-month semiretirement with a concert in Sweden.

5/1/79
Elton John becomes first pop music star to perform in Israel.

5/29/79
Elton John becomes first Western solo pop performer to tour Russia.

1980

An estimated 400,000 fans turn out for a free Elton John concert in New York's Central Park; later,
concert is broadcast on Home Box Office.

1982

Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Blue Eyes"; Video of the Year,
"Visions."

1984

Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Restless."

1986

Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group with Vocal, "That's What
Friends Are For" (nominated with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder).

1987

Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Candle in the
Wind" (live).

1988

Elton and Bernie are inducted into the National Songwriters Hall of Fame.

1991

Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition, "Basque."

1992

As of 1992 (January) Elton John has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is listed among
the all-time Top 10 Artists who have had the greatest success in the U.S. Billboard charts.

1/92
Dee Murray, John's original bass player, dies after an 8-year battle with cancer.

3/92
Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, The One; Best Pop Vocal
Performance, Duo or Group, "Don't Let the Sun..." (nominated with George Michael).

8/92
Elton returns to Dodger Stadium for 2 soldout appearances with Eric Clapton; first appearance at
ballpark since 1975.

10/92
Elton announces that beginning with release of "The One" single, all his singles' sales will go to
fund AIDS research and education.

11/92
Warner Chappell signs Elton John and Bernie Taupin to biggest deal in publishing history.

12/92
Elton John establishes Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) to fund direct care services and AIDS
prevention education.

1993

2/93
Elton receives first RIAA multiplatinum award for "The One" (RIAA platinum certification began
in 1984).

3/93
For 23 years Elvis Presley propelled hits into the Top 40, a record- setting performance that has
never been surpassed until now. With the hit "Simple Life" from his current double platinum album,
The One, Elton John breaks Elvis's long-standing record with 24 consecutive years of Top 40 hits.

3/93
Another 7 albums are certified platinum and 6 albums are certified multiplatinum. One of those, a
1974 Greatest Hits package, hits the 10 million mark.

3/93
First Annual Academy Awards Viewing to Benefit Elton John AIDS Foundation raises $150,000.

4/93
Coca-Cola Awards: Honors Elton with the Georgia Community Award for his work in the fight
against AIDS. He also receives award for Outstanding Adult Contemporary Single.

6/93
France makes Elton an "Officer of Arts & Letters", France's highest distinction of the arts.

7/93
Sotheby's auctions off Elton John's album & singles' collection with all proceeds benefiting AIDS
charities. Auction raises $273,000.

9/93
First Annual "Smash Hits with Elton John and Billie Jean King" (and host of World
TEAM TENNIS players) raises $400,000 for Elton John AIDS Foundation.

10/93
R&R names Elton John #1 A/C artist of past 20 years. His 38 chart records top all other artists, as
do his 14 #1's.

11/93
Entertainment Weekly names Goodbye Yellow Brick Road one of the Top 100 Greatest CDs.

1994

1/94
Elton John is inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

5/94
ASCAP names Elton John & Bernie Taupin Songwriters of the Year.

6/6/94
"Can You Feel The Love Tonight," from The Lion King, goes #1 on the R&R & Billboard A/C
charts, making this Elton's 25th consecutive year with a Top 40 hit.

6/24/94
Lion King (Disney animated feature) premieres with 5 songs written by Elton John & Tim Rice.
Features hit "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." The Lion King movie had an astounding first
weekend in wide release, taking No. 1 at the box office, delighting audiences of over 10 million
people.

7/94
Elton John teams for first time with Billy Joel for 21-date soldout stadium tour titled "Summer of
1994." Dates for Giant Stadium sell out in record-breaking time, surpassing both Bruce Springsteen
and The Rolling Stones shows, which previously held the record.

8/25/94
Second Annual "Smash Hits" World TEAMTENNIS Tournament in Boston with Elton John and
Billie Jean King to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

1995

1/19/95
Elton John receives "Commitment to Life" Award from APLA (AIDS Project Los Angeles).
Co-honorees are Tom Hanks and Ron Meyer.

1/21/95
Elton John and Tim Rice receive the Golden Globe Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture for
"Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from the #1 film and soundtrack, The Lion King.

1/28/95
Elton John and Ray Cooper, with special guest Sting, perform the first New York benefit for Elton
John AIDS Foundation. Dinner, auction, and concert raises $1 million for Foundation.

3/1/95
Elton John receives first artist-oriented Grammy Award in history of his career for Best Pop Vocal
Performance for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight."

3/20-21/95
Made in England, Elton's first album on newly formed Rocket Records (distributed by Island), is
released today.

For the first time in their 25-year songwriting relationship, Elton John and Bernie Taupin appear at
in-store autograph signing at famous Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to usher
in release of Made in England. From midnight to 4:00 a.m. the legendary duo signed more than
2,000 autographs and shook hands with all 3,000+ fans who attended event.

3/26/95
John Reid and Jeffrey Katzenberg host birthday party for Elton John's 48th birthday. Event will be
one of last parties at legendary Chasen's restaurant in Hollywood.

3/27/95
Elton John and Tim Rice win an Oscar for Best Song from a Motion Picture for "Can You Feel The
Love Tonight" from The Lion King. It marks Elton's first Oscar.

Third Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party to Benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation takes
place at Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Sponsored by Cartier, with special contributions from
Curtco Media Group & CES, event nets more than $200,000 for the EJAF to fund direct care
services & AIDS prevention education.

3/30/95
The Elton John Limited Edition Spectacles from Oliver Peoples premieres worldwide. Net profits
from the Spectacles will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and will raise more than $200,000
for the charity.

5/08/95
Elton receives The Polar Music Prize presented by the King of Sweden. This is the musical
equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

9/13/95
Third Annual World TEAMTENNIS All-Star "Smash Hits" with Billie Jean King and Elton John
takes place in Chicago. Event benefits Elton John AIDS Foundation and features all-star line-up of
players, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Martina Navratilova.

1996

1/01/96
Elton John is awarded the title Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

6/03/96
Elton John has an Elton's Closet sale in Atlanta. Within eight days after the grand opening on
June 3, 1996, all clothes were gone. More than 0.5 million dollars were raised for the Elton John
AIDS Foundation.

9/12/96
Fourth Annual World TEAMTENNIS All-Star "Smash Hits" with Billie Jean King and Elton John
takes place in Houston. Event benefits Elton John AIDS Foundation and features all-star line-up of
players, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Martina Navratilova.

11/02/96
Elton receives the viewers choice award for Most Fashionable Artist at the VH-1 Fashion
and music awards.

11/??/96
Elton receives Songwriter of the Year award from the Performing Arts Society. Believe,
Blessed, and Made In England also win awards.

11/23/96
The LA Gay & Lesbian Center bestows its highest honors to Elton John during its 25th
Anniversary Ball at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Elton John receives the
Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award for championing gay and lesbian
equality and "his unending support of people living with AIDS".

1997

03/25/97
Elton turns 50 and has huge costumed birthday bash. The party actually took place on 04/06.

09/06/97
Elton sings new version of Candle In the Wind at Princess Diana's Funeral. Records Candle in
in the Wind 97 on the same day. It is released as a b-side to Something About the Way You Look
Tonight. The single tops the charts all over the world and goes on to be the highest selling single in history.

10/01/97
Elton and Bernie Celebrate 30 years of writing songs together. Billboard dedicates it's largest issue ever to the duo.
11/17/97
Elton receives the Care USA Oliver Kiss International Humanitarian Award in Atlanta, GA.


 

 

quote
 


"I think people should be free to engage in any sexual practices they choose; they should draw the line at goats though."
-Elton John

 

biography
 


Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England, to a middle-class family. His love for music began at an early age. When he was only four years old, he followed his mother's advice and began taking piano lessons. His natural talent eventually shone through, and Dwight won a scholarship with the Royal Academy of Music at age 11.

While there, Dwight played with a couple of small rock bands like the Corvettes and Bluesology, but his dream of becoming a star led him to drop out of school shortly before graduation. He then embarked on a British tour with his Bluesology band mates and played the piano in different hotels.

the meeting of a lifetime

Although his success thus far was modest at best, Dwight's professional life changed dramatically after his meeting with lyricist Bernard Taupin.

Dwight was becoming increasingly frustrated with the direction his band was headed and began looking for another group to join. Both he and Bernie answered an ad in the paper by Liberty Records, who were looking for new talent.

The two quickly realized that they shared the same musical tastes and began writing songs together, though at first they only communicated by mail. By the time they actually met six months later, Dwight had adopted the stage name, Elton "Hercules" John, which he got by using the first names of his Bluesology mates, Elton Dean and John Baldry.

John and Taupin were hired by producer Dick James to become staff songwriters for DJM records. Things got off to a slow start from there, as many of Elton's first singles -- along with his first album, Empty Sky -- went largely unnoticed.

things took off

Elton John's quest for recognition came to an end with the release of his self-titled sophomore album. Featuring the classic "Your Song," which became a hit in the US and UK, fans and critics alike became spellbound by this up-and-coming talent and songwriting team.

The momentum was maintained with the release of Tumbleweed Connection and Elton John was on his way to becoming a worldwide superstar.

John began touring in America in what became legendary shows, sporting outlandish costumes and giving electrifying performances.

dominating the charts

Sales continued to climb and between 1972 and 1975; John released 16 consecutive Top 20 hits, including "Bennie and the Jets," "Yellow Brick Road," and "Crocodile Rock," most of which have gone on to become pop classics.

As if worldwide success wasn't enough, he was also featured on the cover of Time and in 1974, performed on stage at Madison Square Garden with John Lennon (Elton John later became godfather to Sean Lennon).

John was now a rich man and the press had a field day digging into his private life, examining his wealth and his equally enormous purchases.

elton's ups and downs

In 1977, Elton's rigorous lifestyle caught up with him and citing exhaustion, announced that he would be taking a touring hiatus and limiting the production of music. His ties with Taupin were also severed and the two eventually called it quits.

Though John made a comeback in 1979 (and became the first Western artist to perform in the Communist U.S.S.R.), the Elton/Taupin breakup affected the sales of his releases. It wasn't until they joined efforts again for 1981's 21 At 33 that John became successful again. The album contained the smash hit "Little Jeannie" and John had solidified his position as a pop icon.

But the '80s were a tumultuous time for Elton: a cocaine and alcohol addiction, his marriage to sound engineer Renate Blauel in 1984, throat surgery, and a court battle with DJM over royalties all took center stage, despite pumping out hits like "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues."

1988 was a turning point in Elton John's life. It was then that he divorced his wife, opened up about his homosexuality, settled his legal disputes, and in the two years that followed, battled his addictions and bulimia. He also auctioned off thousands of his personal items, making the occasion symbolic in so many ways.

the roaring '90s

Elton John witnessed somewhat of a resurgence with the release of 1992's The One, which went double platinum. He also established the Elton John AIDS foundation in 1991, and announced that royalties would be donated to the cause.

1994 was a banner year; not only was he inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, but it was the year he and Tim Rice collaborated on the Lion King soundtrack, a blockbuster album which netted Elton an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," as well as a Grammy for Best Male Pop Performance.

All eyes were on Elton in 1997. Following the death of his close friend, designer Gianni Versace, in July, he grieved the loss of yet another close companion, Princess Diana. He sang a rewritten version of his "Candle in the Wind" to an estimated two billion people and gave a flawless performance. The record became the biggest-selling single of all-time, overtaking Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."

That same year, Elton's The Big Picture became yet another commercial success and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

By the start of the new millennium, Elton had collaborated with Tim Rice for the soundtrack of the successful Broadway musical (Aida), received the Legends Award at the 1999 Grammy Awards, and released yet another album (2001's Songs From the West Coast), with music that reflected his earlier styles.

Elton John continues to fight for his charitable causes

and shows no signs of slowing down

 

 

Rock 'n' roll legends like Sir Elton John come around but once in a lifetime. His ability to write music that transcends time is perhaps his greatest talent and that, along with his universal appeal, helped to lay the groundwork for a stellar career.

John exhibits a certain class and professionalism rarely seen among today's music royalty. From the time he burst onto the scene in the early '70s, he, along with long-time collaborator, Bernie Taupin, has written and produced some of the finest tracks, both in pop and rock ("Daniel" and "Yellow Brick Road," to name but a few). His prevalent desire for perfection ensures that many, if not all, of his recordings will forever be regarded as masterpieces.

As if a brilliant music career wasn't enough, John has also dabbled in film, both in front of the camera (appearing in Tommy) and behind the scenes (performing songs for Disney's The Lion King and The Road to El Dorado). Add to that a Tony Award-winning smash (Aida), for which he provided the soundtrack, along with former collaborator Tim Rice, and John is about as accomplished as they get.

Such success has been both a blessing and an obstacle for John. His enormous wealth and popularity have given him the leverage he needs to tackle charitable issues, but all the while he has endured public scrutiny over his finances, no-nonsense personality, and artistic decisions (most recently his support of Eminem).

But there is more to Elton John than music and money. His fight against AIDS through the Elton John AIDS Foundation has and continues to raise millions of dollars for charities in the US, the UK, Australia, and Africa since its inception in 1991. Whether it's an auction or a banquet, John uses his celebrity in any way he can to make a difference while setting a good example in the process.

And when he isn't fighting for a cause, he's redefining the meaning of the word "perseverance." Throughout his turbulent life, John has overcome drugs, alcohol, the pressures of being openly gay, and the loss of some of his closest friends (Gianni Versace and Princess Diana, a couple of months later), all under the scrutiny of the public eye. But through both the good times and the bad, he has always carried himself with class.

Elton John is a true performer, one who has forever changed the face of music.  

 
 

personality & talent
 

 


Elton John is a perfectionist. He knows how to hit the right notes and refuses to settle for anything less.

Such talent and dedication is likely what has kept him firmly ensconced at the top of music's summit these last 30+ years.

But for every wink and smile to one of his fans, there's a temper tantrum, fight, or a butting of heads. This is, after all, the man who wasn't afraid to give Tina Turner a piece of his mind after she apparently offered him a few pointers on his piano-playing during rehearsals for VH1's Divas Live Concert in 1999.

There are some who may see Elton John's in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is approach as a shameful power trip by a spoiled celebrity. But we admire his brutal honesty, his candid, uncensored approach toward Hollywood, and his high expectations when it comes to music. He wants nothing but the best for himself and his fans, and we can't really fault him for that.

 

woman magnetism
 

 


He may be gay, but that doesn't mean women don't appreciate what he has to offer.

Elton John deserves a high ranking in this area because he can communicate to women in ways most men can only dream. Common among many adult contemporary artists, Elton's ballads have the ability to melt women's hearts, a gift that goes much further than anything remotely sexual.

And you can't disregard his natural charm; he has a jolly presence about him and confidence that most women wish their men had.

 

accomplishments & fame
 

 


It goes without saying that there aren't many artists who are as famous as Elton John or as talented, thus putting him head and shoulders above the rest. But for the sake of dishing out the facts, here are just some of the reasons why Elton is a star.

He has practically had a Top 40 single every year from 1970 to 1996. He has eight Grammy Awards under his belt (including the Grammy Legend Award for lifetime achievement), an Oscar for Best Original Song, countless number one singles, and the accomplishment of over 110 million records sold, including the best-selling single in history.

But more importantly, he has won the adoration of millions across the globe. Even more impressive is that he has done so while never really losing momentum. While there have been some speed bumps along the way, the mere fact that John is still at the top of his game three decades later says a lot about his abilities as an artist.

Elton John seems to have found the formula for success and his future looks just as promising as his past and present.

 

coolness factor
 

 


Elton is still cool after having celebrated more than 50 birthdays. Rather than be one of those rigid, uptight men who look down upon today's pop culture, John embraces the sounds and styles of today's younger talent.

Whether he's singing praises of Mary J. Blige or performing at the Grammys with Eminem, John isn't afraid to collaborate with visions far different than his own. He keeps an open mind when it comes to music, be it rap or hip-hop, and is always encouraging of new artists and fresh talent.

On a more frivolous note, he also knows how to throw a good party, albeit for a good cause. His post-Oscar bashes have become legendary, bringing out Hollywood's A-list year after year for the fight against AIDS.

Add to that a hip wardrobe and stylish sunglasses, and we've got ourselves one cool dude indeed.

 

personal style
 

 


If you don't know Elton John for his music, you'd surely know him for his ultra-hip, oft-wacky wardrobe. His closets are probably the most impressive rooms in his homes, and for good reason -- we can write a book on his clothes alone.

His sunglasses, which come in all shapes and colors, must take up a few drawers, and we're just getting started.

No one has sported as many suits as Elton, especially not in as many colors and patterns. And in the earlier years of his career, when he appeared on stage in his lavish costumes complete with feather boa and wig, there stood a man who wasn't afraid to take fashion risks when it came to commanding the attention of his fans.

While he may be more subdued these days, you can still spot him going against the mainstream and donning a rainbow of color; a perfect match for such a colorful personality.