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John, Sir Elton Hercules (25th March 1947-Present)

He is a singer-songwriter, pianist and producer born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex.  His father had been a trumpeter with the band called Bob Miller and the Milkmen and he and his mother were avid record buyers.

He started to play the piano when he was three and his parents had recognised his talent by the time he was four.  He received a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Music and his Subprofessor once said, “upon the boy’s entrance to the Academy, she played him a four-page piece by Handel which he promptly played back like a grammaphone record.”  He still attended Grammar School at this time and gained notoriety by playing like Jerry Lee Lewis at school functions, rather than the classical music he had been studying at the Academy.

He became a pianist at a local pub and he and his friends formed the band Bluesology.   At this time he had started to wear glasses like Buddy Holly, who had been his idol. By the mid-1960s the band were backing many of the touring American musicians such as Patti Labelle and The Isley Brothers and in 1966 they became the support band for Long John Baldry.

He was unsuccessful in an attempt to become the lead vocalist for King Crimson so answered an advert for Liberty Records, which was also answered by the lyricist Bernie Taupin, and after the A&R manager passed the lyrics to him he put the music to them.  They released their first single “Scarecrow” in 1967 but did not meet for the first time until six months after that.   During those months Reginald Dwight became Elton John in homage to Long John Baldry and the Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean.

The Taupin/John release was the beginning of a winning collaboration that is still in existence to this day after beginning their partnership as staff writers for Liberty records and contributing songs that were sung by Lulu and Roger Cook and even an entry to the Eurovosion song contest.

Elton John also worked as a session pianist and backing singer and could be heard on many single releases such as The Hollies “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, several of The Scaffold singles and on many compilation LPs such as Top of the Pops releases that were not sung by the original artists.

In 1969 he released his first LP Empty Sky , which did not draw much attention, and the single “Lady Samantha”.  The 1970s soon came around and this decade would be the making of his and Bernie Taupin’s career, starting with his album Elton John, released in 1970.  After scratching the surface of the charts in the US with “Border Song” he was catapulted into the limelight when “Your Song” reached the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.

After having once again appeared as a pianist and backing singer on the English 1970 World Cup song “Back Home” he released Tumbleweed Connection which once again rode high up the UK and US charts and started him on the trend of releasing two albums per year as well as seeing him making his own outlandish fashion statements and sporting hundreds of different pairs of glasses.

The ensuing years you see the release of Madman Across the Water, with the theme from the soundtrack of the movie FriendsHonky Chateau which would feature the hits “Rocket Man” and “Honky Cat”, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player featuring “Crocodile Rock”, his first US No. 1 single, and “Daniel”, the highly acclaimed Goodbye Yellow Brick Road that produced several memorable hits including the ever-popular “Candle in the Wind”, Caribou which featured “The Bitch is Back” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy which gave us “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”, Rock of the Westies, Here and There and Blue Moves.

In 1974 he formed his own label Rocket Records, signing up artists such as Kiki Dee, Blue and Neil Sedaka, and often appearing as a backing keyboard player and vocalist for them.  He collaborated with John Lennon on his covers of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “One Day at a Time”. John Lennon would then feature him on his “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” and in his last live performance at Madison Square Garden.

In 1975 he appeared in the rock opera Tommy where he performed as the “Pinball Wizard” and released the single with that title.  In 1977 he announced that he wasn’t going to perform anymore and he release just one album a year.  He and Bernie Taupin went their separate ways and he kept himself much to the confines of his mansions in an almost hermit-like existence, with just visits to watch Watford Football Club, of who he would later become the owner.

However, in 1979 he and Bernie Taupin got back together and he saw success once more with “Little Jeannie”.  Not until 1983 did he see that same success when he released the album Too Low for Zero, which would produce further hits and he would be seen regularly at many charity concerts and on charity single releases such as “That’s What Friends Are For” as well as establishing the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Throughout his career he has never stopped producing albums and singles and has six albums named in the Rolling Stone 2003 “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.  After the death of Princess Diana in 1997 he performed at her funeral and re-released “Candle in the Wind” with slightly changed lyrics and this would become the biggest and fastest selling single of all time.  He has never performed this version again and he says never will, as it would lessen the significance of it.  He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

Using many pseudonyms including Tripe, Redget Buntovan, Dinah Card, Rockaday Johnny and Nancy Treadlight he has worked with numerous artists over the years that include Paul Carrack, Tamy Wynette, Sting, Rick Wakeman, George Michael, Dusty Springfield, Bruce Johnston, Kiki Dee, Carl and Brian Wilson, Toni Tennille, David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Sanborn, Stevie Wonder, Nik Kershaw, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Don Henley, Little Richard, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Young and Gladys Knight.

As well as being an extremely successful multi-award winning artist with 5 Grammy Awards, an Oscar, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he has edged into music for the film industry in collaboration with the lyricist Tim Rice and they have seen success in the scores for The Lion King, The Road to El Dorado and the productions of Aida, Billy Elliott the Musical and Lestat the Musical.

Blue recordings
Capture Your Heart (Hugh Nicholson)

Here he is performing his “Philadelphia Freedom”…