The other day Elton John’s classic “Your Song” went through my head. Actively following it through, old emotions arose.
Not quite as close to childhood as the Beatles, Elton was more about adolescence for me. A very precious time and my memory of the sheer beauty and 70s-style arrangement of the tune made my eyes tear up a bit.
Today, it’s time to revise my entry for Elton John from Think Free, which is slowly but steadily migrating to earthpages.org.
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Sir Elton John (1947- ) is a British pop music superstar.
Elton John’s original name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight. Born in Pinner, Middlesex, Reginald played songs by ear on the piano at the age of 4 and took formal training at the Royal Academy of Music when 11.
As Elton John, his collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin flowered in the 1970s with chart-toppers like ‘Your Song’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Daniel’, ‘Honky Cat’, ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.’
With a keen interest in Rugby, Elton at one time owned a British football club, eventually selling his shares to become its Life President.
Elton apparently began life as a shy person. Most biographers say his glamorous 1970s stage image compensated for his sensitivity. Others suggest he was hiding behind various – at that time outlandish – costumes and wigs while battling drug addiction.
Likely both factors came into play. Elton apparently came close to suicide, at which time the journeyman musician Long John Baldry convinced him to quit drugs (‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight”).
After achieving international stardom, Elton came out as bisexual, a public revelation that hurt his career for a while. Despite scathing comments from the ravenous press, he kept making albums. These didn’t really soar commercial or artistically until his 1992 comeback album The One, which followed a bestselling 1991 remake of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” recorded live with George Michael.
After that, Elton’s 1994 soundtrack for Disney’s The Lion King sparked the Academy Award-winning hit “Can You See The Love Tonight” and it became clear that Elton was riding a second wave of superstardom.
His 1997 remake of ‘Candle in the Wind’, performed with revised lyrics at Princess Diana’s funeral, was the largest selling single in history one month after its release (The original 1973 song was inspired by Marilyn Monroe).
Elton remains in the spotlight as an artist and icon for what many see as sexual liberation, particularly since his much-publicized same-sex marriage to his long-time companion, Toronto-born David Furnish. Like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, Elton was knighted by Elizabeth II, the Queen of England in 1998 for “services to music and charitable services.”
Funnily enough, while Elizabeth is the Supreme Governor of the Anglican Church, Elton has shown marked distaste for organized religion.
More recently, Sir Elton John seems comfortable not having his new singles on the top 10 charts. He says his approach to making records is more about an album concept instead of going for a hit. In other words, a slow burn instead of fireworks.
The 2019 musical film Rocketman is based on Elton’s early life and his professional relationship with the gifted lyricist Bernie Taupin. Worldwide, the movie grossed about five times its original production cost of $40 million.