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Profile: Elton John

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Born:

Reginald Kenneth Dwight, March 25, 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, England

Genres:

Pop-rock, Rock and Roll, Singer-songwriter, Pop, Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Instruments:

Vocals, Piano

Contributions to music:

  • The most popular musical entertainer of the Seventies
  • His outrageously flamboyant stage costumes and energetic performances set a new standard for rock
  • The epitome of the early-Seventies singer-songwriter
  • A pop artist who graduated to arena rock effortlessly
  • Scored at least one Billboard Top 40 hit every year from 1970 to 1995
  • His 1997 remake of "Candle In The Wind" is the best-selling song of all time
  • One of the first rock stars to publicly out himself as gay

Early years:

Although the pudgy kid known as Reg Dwight had always considered music as a career, he spent most of the Sixties on the road with a band called Bluesology, serving merely as backup for several R&B acts of the period. In 1966, he answered an ad placed by Liberty Records and was given lyrics by a Londoner named Bernie Taupin. Dwight was so taken by Bernie's words that he wrote songs to each sheet of lyrics, although he wouldn't meet Taupin in person of six months. (Incredibly, they've continued writing in this way, combing their efforts separately, not writing in the same room, to this day.)

Success:

Before long, they found their songs being covered by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Three Dog Night. And although that success got the newly-named Elton John a record deal, it didn't produce immediate results: it was two years before he scored his own hit with 1970's "Your Song." A tremendously influential series of live performances proved that John -- who'd been a huge Jerry Lee Lewis fan -- could rock as hard as anyone, and before long his solo career was taking off both on stage and in the studio. When he moved into arena rock around the time of 1973's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, he graduated to superstar.

Later years:

Although he enjoyed phenomenal success in the early and mid-Seventies, Elton became personally and professionally burnt out by the time disco arrived, and his drug and alcohol use -- not to mention a shocking announcement of his bisexuality -- contributed to his downturn. But he kept having hits after his 1978 "retirement," and re-emerged in the Eighties as a wiser pop star. By the Nineties he had become an institution, and by putting his personal problems aside, managed to branch out into opera and film scoring. His latest venture, the "Red Piano" gigs in Las Vegas, finds him as popular as ever.

Other facts:

  • Began playing the piano at 3 and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at 11
  • Took his stage name from two British bluesmen, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry
  • Auditioned for King Crimson in the late Sixties
  • Plays piano on the Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"
  • Close friend John Lennon maintained that Elton's cover of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was better than the original
  • His 1975 hit "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" recounts his engagement to socialite Linda Woodrow and the near-suicide which led him to break it off
  • Wrote "Philadelphia Freedom" about Billie Jean King's tennis team of the same name

Awards/Honors:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994)
  • GRAMMY Awards (1986, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1998, 2003)
  • Academy Award (1991)
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992)
  • Kennedy Center Honors (2004)
  • Order of the British Empire (1998)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (6915 Hollywood Blvd.)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Crocodile Rock" (1973)
  • "Bennie And The Jets" (1974)
  • "Philadelphia Freedom" (1975)
  • "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (1975)
  • "Island Girl" (1975)
  • "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (1976)
  • "Candle In The Wind 1997" (1997)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Your Song" (1971)
  • "Honky Cat" (1972)
  • "Rocket Man" (1972)
  • "Daniel" (1973)
  • "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (1973)
  • "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (1974)
  • "The Bitch Is Back" (1974)
  • "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" (1975)
  • "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" (1976)
  • "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (1979)
  • "Little Jeannie" (1980)
  • "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" (1983)
  • "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" (1984)
  • "Nikita" (1986)
  • "Candle In The Wind (live)" (1987)
  • "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" (1988)
  • "The One" (1992)
  • "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" (1994)
#1 albums:
Pop:
  • Honky Chateau (1972)
  • Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player (1973)
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
  • Caribou (1974)
  • Greatest Hits (1974)
  • Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)
  • Rock Of The Westies (1975)
Other popular recordings: "Border Song," "Take Me To The Pilot," "Friends," "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," "Elderberry Wine," "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," "All The Girls Love Alice," "Pinball Wizard," "Step Into Christmas," "Grow Some Funk Of Your Own," "I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford)," "Ego," "Part-Time Love," "Song For Guy," "Victim Of Love," "Chloe," "Nobody Wins," "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," "Blue Eyes," "I'm Still Standing," "kiss The Bride," "Who Wears These Shoes?," "Wrap Her Up," "Heartache All Over The World," "A Word In Spanish," "Healing Hands," "Sacrifice," "You Gotta Love Someone," "The Last Song," "The Circle Of Life," "You Can Make History (Young Again)," "Something About The Way You Look Tonight," "I Want Love," "Are You Ready For Love"
Covered by: Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Sting, Bon Jovi, The Who, The Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips, Tina Turner, Hall & Oates, Rod Stewart, Oleta Adams, George Michael, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Collins, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Foo Fighters, Tori Amos, The Wedding Present, Billy Joel, Dream Theater, William Shatner, April Wine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sandy Denny, Fuel, The Shadows, Gloria Estefan, Cilla Black, Three Dog Night, Zakk Wylde, Ewan McGregor, Al Jarreau, Joe Cocker, Biz Markie, Billy Paul, Juice Newton, Flotsam and Jetsam, Ben Folds, Tim McGraw, Nickelback, W.A.S.P., Toto, Jimmy Cliff, Heart, William Hung, Neil Diamond, Andy Williams
Appears in the movies: "Tommy" (1975)
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