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Also Known As: Sir Elton John, Elton Hercules John, Reginald Kenneth Dwight Died:
Born: March 25, 1947 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: composer, pianist, singer, music producer, producer, actor, soccer team owner, philanthropist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The most flamboyant performer since Liberace, singer-songwriter Elton John arguably fashioned one of the greatest careers in the history of popular music. Since the songwriter first charted with the ballad "Your Song" in 1970, hardly a year passed without one of his tunes charting on Billboard's Top 40. Elvis Presley may have burned brighter faster with 10 No. 1 singles in 1956-57, but John's hit-making streak - beginning with "Rocket Man" and ending with "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" - of 16 Top 20 hits in a row (of those, only "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" failed to make it to the Top 10) from 1972-76 made him to the 1970s what Presley had been to the 1950s, and The Beatles to the 1960s. In 1971, John became the first act since The Beatles to have four albums on the American Top 10 simultaneously, beginning with 1972's Honky Chateau. Ultimately, he achieved the rate feat of releasing seven consecutive No. 1 albums. Some industry calculations estimated that his music once accounted for as much as three percent of annual sales worldwide. While drug and alcohol abuse dulled the hit-making apparatus throughout the hazy 1980s, the celebrated singer, composer and piano player remained a...

The most flamboyant performer since Liberace, singer-songwriter Elton John arguably fashioned one of the greatest careers in the history of popular music. Since the songwriter first charted with the ballad "Your Song" in 1970, hardly a year passed without one of his tunes charting on Billboard's Top 40. Elvis Presley may have burned brighter faster with 10 No. 1 singles in 1956-57, but John's hit-making streak - beginning with "Rocket Man" and ending with "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" - of 16 Top 20 hits in a row (of those, only "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" failed to make it to the Top 10) from 1972-76 made him to the 1970s what Presley had been to the 1950s, and The Beatles to the 1960s. In 1971, John became the first act since The Beatles to have four albums on the American Top 10 simultaneously, beginning with 1972's Honky Chateau. Ultimately, he achieved the rate feat of releasing seven consecutive No. 1 albums. Some industry calculations estimated that his music once accounted for as much as three percent of annual sales worldwide. While drug and alcohol abuse dulled the hit-making apparatus throughout the hazy 1980s, the celebrated singer, composer and piano player remained a formidable live draw, appearing in elaborate stage shows wearing outrageous costumes and equally absurd eyewear. After emerging clean and sober from rehab in 1990, John widened the scope of his artistry and philanthropy to become a mainstay on Broadway and animated musical features, as well as one of the world's most outspoken advocates for AIDS research. With his knighthood, bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998, John's legacy as true entertainment royalty was secured.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Sellebrity (2012)
2.
 Union, The (2011)
3.
4.
 LennonNYC (2010)
5.
 BrĂ¼no (2009)
7.
8.
 Naqoyqatsi (2002)
9.
 Country Bears, The (2002) Himself
10.
 Road to El Dorado, The (2000) Narrator
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began playing piano at the age of three
1958:
Won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11
:
Landed a night job playing piano at the nearby Northwood Hills pub
1964:
Formed Bluesology with friends; played as a backup band for visiting American soul singers such as Patti LaBelle and Billy Stewart
1966:
Bluesology was hired as musician Long John Baldry's supporting band and began touring cabarets in England
:
Adopted 'John' as his last name from Long John Baldry after touring with him for two years
:
Adopted first name 'Elton' from his band's saxophonist Elton Dean
:
Auditioned unsuccessfully for Liberty Records (the scouts liked his performance but disliked his material)
1967:
Met and began collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin; hired by music publisher Dick James as house writers for 10 pounds per week; duo spent two years collaborating with Taupin on easy listening tunes, while also recording contemporary hits for budget labels including Music for Pleasure and Marble Arch
1968:
First John-Taupin single recorded by John, "I've Been Loving You"
1969:
Recorded first album, <i>Empty Sky</i> (released in the U.S. in 1975)
1970:
U.S. debut performance at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles, CA
1970:
Released first album in the U.S., <i>Elton John</i>
1971:
Co-produced an album by Baldry
1971:
First film credit, composing (with Taupin) and performing soundtrack music for the British romantic melodrama "Friends"
1971:
Made U.S. television debut appearance on the syndicated variety special "Monsanto Presents Mancini"
1972:
Released first No. 1 album, <i>Honky Chateau</i>
1972:
First single to hit No. 1, "Crocodile Rock"
1972:
Formed his own MCA distributed label, Rocket
1973:
Released hit double album <i>Goodbye Yellow Brick Road</i>, which contained the Marilyn Monroe tribute song "Candle in the Wind"
1974:
Joined John Lennon in the studio to record Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night"; Lennon returned the favor, providing guitar work on John's cover of "Lucy in the Sky in Diamonds"
1974:
Performed with Lennon on stage at NYC's Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day to perform (Lennon's final appearance on any stage)
1975:
Made feature acting debut as the Pinball Wizard in Ken Russell's "Tommy"; film based on The Who's rock opera
1975:
Recorded the semi-autobiographical song "Somebody Saved My Life Tonight," referring to his suicide attempt two weeks before his scheduled wedding to heiress Linda Woodrow
1975:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (November)
1976:
Publicly announced his bisexuality in a <i>Rolling Stone</i> interview; later announced his was gay in the early 1990s
1977:
Headlined ABC concert special "Elton John: In Concert"
1977:
Announced he was retiring from performing
1978:
Recorded first album without lyrics by Taupin, <i>A Single Man</i>
1979:
Returned to the singles chart with "Mama Can't Buy You Love"
1979:
Became the first Western solo pop performer to tour in both the Soviet Union and Israel
1979:
Starred in feature concert film "To Russia...With Elton"
1980:
Re-teamed with Taupin to write songs for the albums <i>21 at 33</i> and <i>The Fox</i>
1980:
Performed before an estimated audience of 400,000 at a free concert in NYC's Central Park
1982:
Mourned the loss of John Lennon with hit "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)"
1982:
Performed the Lennon tribute at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show; joined on stage by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon
1983:
Returned to the charts with hit album <i>Too Low For Zero</i>, which included "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
1985:
Collaborated with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on "That's What Friends Are For" to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research
1988:
Inducted into the National Songwriter Hall of Fame with longtime collaborator Taupin
1992:
Announced profits from all his singles would go to fight against AIDS virus, beginning with "The One"
1992:
Formed the Elton John AIDS Foundation to fund direct care services and AIDS prevention programs
1993:
Performed for President Clinton at "An American Reunion: The 52nd Presidential Inaugural Gala"
1994:
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
1994:
With lyricist Tim Rice, wrote five original songs for the Disney animated feature "The Lion King"; three were nominated for Academy Awards
1995:
Relaunched Rocket Records
:
Formed Rocket Pictures with partners Polly Steele and David Furnish
1997:
Performed a specially re-written (by Taupin) version of "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales; released as a single with proceeds going to charities patronized by the princess
1997:
With Tim Rice, wrote new songs for the stage musical version of "The Lion King"; shared Tony nomination for Best Original Score
1998:
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on February 24 for his contribution to music and his fundraising for AIDS
1998:
Appeared as himself in "Spice World"
1998:
With Rice, wrote the score for the stage musical "Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida"; premiered in Atlanta
1999:
Debuted as executive producer of "Women Talking Dirty," the first film from Rocket Pictures; also composed original music
2000:
Composed (with Rice) the score for the DreamWorks animated feature "The Road to El Dorado"; also narrated the film
2000:
Received a Tony Award for "Aida," the re-worked version of "Elaborate Lives"
2001:
Courted controversy by performing a duet with rapper Eminem on the telecast of the Grammy Awards
2001:
Released album, <i>Songs From The West Coast</i>
2003:
With lyricist Taupin, wrote "The Heart of Every Girl" for the drama feature "Mona Lisa Smile"; earned a Best Original Song Golden Globe nomination
2004:
Began multi-year engagement titled "The Red Piano" at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV
2005:
Performed at the Live 8 concert at Hyde Park in London
2005:
Composed music for a West End Theatre production of "Billy Elliot the Musical"
2006:
Re-teamed with Taupin for "Lestat: The Musical," based on the Anne Rice vampire novels; was slammed by the critics and closed shortly after
2006:
Collaborated with Taupin for a sequel to <i>Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy</i> (1975) titled <i>The Captain & The Kid</i>
2008:
Ranked the most successful male solo artist on "The <i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists"; also ranked third overall behind The Beatles and Madonna
2009:
Earned a Tony Award nomination when "Billy Elliot the Musical" moved to Broadway
2010:
Earned a Grammy nomination for his collaboration with Leon Russell for "If It Wasn't For Bad"
2011:
Composed music for the animated feature "Gnomeo & Juliet"; film also featured his classic songs such as "Rocket Man" (1972) and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (1976)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Pinner County Grammar School: -
Royal Academy of Music: - 1958 - 1964

Notes

"I sustained my success because I was always pretty good live, but I wasn't very happy with some of the work I did. How could I be? I wasn't there half the time, mentally or physically. All I cared about was coming offstage and finding out where the cocaine was. The first five years of my career weren't like that; you could see the innocence, the spark in my eyes."---Elton John on how his addictions compromised his professionalism, to Richard Corliss in Time, March 13, 1995.

"Somebody asked me the other day, 'What are you most proud of in your career?' And I said, 'The fact that Bernie [Taupin] and I love each other more now than we've ever done, and the fact that we're still writing wonderful songs together when we've been working together twenty-eight years. He came to me from Lincolnshire with the smallest suitcase you've ever seen. In the first few years we lived in my parents' apartment, in the bunk beds, which will stay with us forever. He was the brother I never had. He was the first man I ever fell in love with. But it was never a sexual thing at all. He was the person, the friend I had wanted all my life."---John to Ingrid Sischy in Interview, April 1995.

"I love promiscuity, but why should I sabotage my life? Every performer has that self-destruct element somewhere inside. I'd love to have a glass of red wine, but why should I destroy my life just for that? My career is still there; I have a great art collection, a fabulous relationship. But if I were to go and fuck one boy and take one line of coke or one drink, my whole life would be in ruins."---John quoted in Rolling Stone, July 10-24, 1997.

"I looked like Jabba the Hut. I had lost my sense of values completely. When you do drugs you get lazy and become a slovenly person. And you feel terrible shame. And you know you're being a pig; your whole life is a web of lies and deceit. You're always covering your tracks. You think people don't know you're trying to hide what you're doing, but of course they know. I was going downhill at an alarming rate. I couldn't afford to go on much longer, but I don't know if I could have had the honesty or humility to do something about it on my own. Most people need a little kick."---John talking about the time before he entered rehab, to Leslie Bennets in Vanity Fair, November 1997.

"Some people aren't as driven as I am. Sitting around doing nothing doesn't appeal to me. The thing that saved my life was that I worked. No matter what shape I was in, I still managed to perform and make records. I love to tour. The greatest thing in the world is to get onstage. Some nights you feel wonderful and it just doesn't happen. Other nights you've got a headache, but it just goes away. It has always been an escape for me to be performing. I think most performers are seeking attention, seeking approval. The tragedy is when you don't know how to be offstage."---John in Vanity Fair, November 1997.

"My first royal meeting was a dinner with Princess Margaret at a restaurant. A friend of mine, Bryan Forbes, took us to dinner with her. It was in Hampstead, and I felt like I didn't know which fork went with what knife, and I was terrified. John Reid and I both went. And then I got invited to Royal Lodge, Windsor, which is just across the road from my house. I played the piano and did the Highland Fling with the Queen Mother, and had a brilliant time. I've had a few occasions in my life when I've thought, God, I was born on the cow sloughs in Pinner, and here I am in these surroundings."

"At Prince Andrew's twenty-first birthday party, the music segued from 'Hound Dog' to 'Rock Around the Clock', and Her Majesty asked us if she could join us, which I thought was amazing. I said, 'Of course you can, you're the queen.'"---John quoted in Interview, January 1998.

"I'm getting more ornery as I get older, so I don't care what I say."---Elton John at the 2000 GLAAD media awards

"I think every artist has five years - I had a five-year spurt from '70 to '75 - where you're just on that roller-coaster ride and you can't do anything wrong. I was intelligent enough to know that that would not always happen... My records sell about 4 million copies around the world, which is very well, thank you very much."---Elton John talking about how his albums don't sell like they used to to EW, November 5, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
John Reid. Accountant, former manager. Born c. 1950; John lost his virginity to Reid at the age of 23; lived together for five years; reportedly mismanaged the singer's assets; fired by John in 1999; during a 2000 lawsuit, John apologized for implying Reid had a criminal past.
companion:
Linda Woodrow. Pickled-onion heiress; their engagement so panicked John that he put his head in the oven shortly before the wedding.
wife:
Renate Blauel. Sound engineer. German; married on February 14, 1984; divorced on November 18, 1988.
companion:
Hugh Williams. Real-estate broker. Atlanta-based; persuaded John to join him in rehab in 1989.
companion:
John Scott. Another Atlantian; now runs the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
companion:
David Furnish. Filmmaker. Born c. 1963; Canadian; together from 1993; left his job as an account director at Ogilvy & Mather to make a documentary about John called "Tantrums & Tiaras", which aired on Cinemax in 1997; a partner in John's Rocket Pictures.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Stanley Dwight. Milkman, RAF flight lieutenant. Played lead trumpet in a dance-band; died c. 1992.
mother:
Sheila Farebrother. Divorced John's father when he was 15 and remarried.
step-father:
Fred Farebrother.
godson:
Sean Ono Lennon. Son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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