Elton John biography
BORN: March 25, 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, England
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 ppopular 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 SSong,“ „Rocket Man,“ „Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,“ and „Don_t Let the Sun Go Down On Me“ — became contemporary pop standards.
The son of a former Royal Air Force trumpeter, Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947. Dwight bbegan playing piano at the age of four, and when he was 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. After studying for six years, he left school with the intention of breaking into the music business. In 1961, he joined his first band, Bluesology, and divided his time between playing with the group, giving solo concerts at a local hotel, and running errands for a London publishing house. By 1965, Bluesology were backing touring American soul and R&B musicians like Major Lance, Doris Troy and the Bluebells.
In 1966, Bluesology became Long John Baldry_s supporting band, and began touring cabarets throughout England. Dwight became frustrated with Baldry_s control of the band and began searching for other ggroups to join. He failed his lead vocalist auditions both King Crimson and Gentle Giant before responding to an advertisement by Liberty Records. Though he failed his Liberty audition, he was given a stack of lyrics Bernie Taupin, who had also replied to the ad, had left with the label. Dwight wrote music for Taupin_s lyrics and began corresponding with him through mail. By the time the two met six months later, Dwight had changed his name to Elton John, ttaking his first name from Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and his last from John Baldry.
John and Taupin were hired by Dick James to become staff songwriters at his fledgling DJM in 1968. The pair collaborated at a rapid rate, with Taupin submitting batches of lyrics — he often wrote a song an hour — every few weeks. John would then write music without changing the words, sometimes completing the songs in under a half hour. Over the next two years, the duo wrote songs for pop singers like Roger Cook and Lulu. In the meantime, John recorded cover versions of current hits for budget labels to be sold in supermarkets.
By the summer of 1968, he had begun recording singles for release under his own name. Usually, these songs were more rock and radio-oriented than the tunes he and Taupin were giving to other vocalists, yet neither of his early singles for Phillips, „I_ve Been Loving You Too Long“ and „Lady Samantha,“ sold well. In June of 1969, he released his debut album for DJM, Empty Sky, which received fair reviews, but no sales.
For his second album, John and Taupin hired producer Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster, wwho contributed grandiose string charts to Elton John. Released in the summer of 1970, Elton John began to make inroads in America, where it was appeared on MCA_s Uni subsidiary. In August, he gave his first American concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, which received enthusiastic reviews, as well as praise from Quincy Jones and Leon Russell. Throughout the fall, Elton John continued to climb the charts on the strength of the Top 10 single, „Your Song.“
John followed it quickly in February 1971 with the concept album Tumbleweed Connection, which received heavy airplay on album-oriented radio in the US, helping it climb into the Top 10. The rapid release of Tumbleweed Connection established a pattern of frequent releases that John maintained throughout his career. In 1971, he released the live 11-17-70 and the Friends soundtrack, before releasing Madman Across the Water late in the year. Madman Across the Water was successful, but John achieved stardom with the followup, 1972_s Honky Chateau. Recorded with his touring band — bassist Dee Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone — and featuring the hit singles „Rocket Man“ and „Honky Cat,“ Honky Chateau became his first American number one album, spending ffive weeks at the top of the charts.
Between 1972 and 1976, Elton John and Bernie Taupin_s hit-making machine was virtually unstoppable. „Rocket Man“ began a four-year streak of 16 Top 20 hits in a row; out of those 16 — including „Crocodile Rock,“ „Daniel,“ „Bennie and the Jets,“ „The Bitch Is Back“ and „Philadelphia Freedom“ — only one, the FM hit „Saturday Night_s Alright for Fighting,“ failed to reach the Top Ten. Honky Chateau began a streak of seven consecutive number one albums — 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) — that all went platinum. John founded Rocket, a record label distributed by MCA, in 1973 in order to sign and produce acts like Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee.
John didn_t become a Rocket recording artist himself, choosing to stay with MCA for a record-breaking eight million dollar contract in 1974. Later in 1974, he co-wrote John Lennon_s number one comeback single, „Whatever Gets You Through the Night,“ and he persuaded Lennon to join him onstage at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day
1974; it would prove to be Lennon_s last live performance. The following year, Captain Fantastic became the first album to enter the American charts at number one. After its release, he revamped his band, which now featured Johnstone, Quaye, Roger Pope, Ray Cooper and bassist Kenny Passarelli; Rock of the Westies was the first album to feature this lineup.
Throughout the mid-_70s, John_s concerts were enormously popular, as were his singles and albums, and he continued to record and perform aat a rapid pace until 1976. That year, he revealed in an interview in Rolling Stone that he was bisexual; he would later admit that the confession was a compromise, since he was afraid to reveal that he was homosexual. Many fans reacted negatively to John_s bisexuality, and his audience began to shrink somewhat in the late _70s. The decline in his record sales was also due to his exhaustion. After 1976, John cut his performance schedule drastically, announcing that hhe was retiring from live performances in 1977 and started recording only one album a year.
His relationship with Taupin became strained following the release of 1976_s double-album Blue Moves, ...