Elton John is one of the most popular and influential entertainers of the late 20th century. He is known for his distinctive voice, flamboyant style, and catchy songs that span various genres and styles. But how old is he, and what are some highlights of his long and successful career?
Early life and musical beginnings
Elton John was born on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England. His birth name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight, and he was a child prodigy on the piano. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at 11, where he studied for five years. After discovering rhythm and blues, he developed a passion for pop music and joined a blues band called Bluesology in 1962. He later changed his name to Elton John, inspired by two members of Bluesology: saxophonist Elton Dean and singer Long John Baldry.
In 1967, he met his major songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, after both responded to an advertisement in a trade magazine. They began writing songs for other artists, and John also worked as a session musician. In 1969, he released his debut album, Empty Sky, which received little attention. However, his second album, Elton John (1970), was a breakthrough success, especially in the US, where his first hit single “Your Song” reached the top 10.
Rise to stardom and peak of popularity.
John’s popularity soared in the 1970s when he released a string of chart-topping albums and singles that showcased his versatility and creativity. He fused rock, pop, glam, soul, country, and disco elements into a unique and appealing sound that appealed to a broad audience. Some of his most famous albums from this period include Honky Château (1972), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), Caribou (1974), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975), and Rock of the Westies (1975). He also collaborated with artists such as John Lennon, Kiki Dee, Neil Sedaka, and The Who.
John was also known for his extravagant and colorful stage persona, often involving elaborate costumes, glasses, and props. He performed in sold-out concerts worldwide and became one of the most successful live acts ever. He also ventured into film and theatre, composing music for The Lion King (1994), Aida (1998), and Billy Elliot the Musical (2005), among others.
Personal struggles and comeback
Despite his immense fame and fortune, John faced many personal challenges. He struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, bulimia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Elton John also faced legal disputes with his former managers and record labels over royalties and contracts. He came out as bisexual in 1976 and later as gay in 1988. Elton John married Renate Blauel in 1984, but they divorced four years later. He faced public criticism and backlash for his sexual orientation and lifestyle choices.
However, John overcame his difficulties and made a comeback in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He became sober in 1990 and focused more on his music and philanthropy. Elton John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, which has raised over £300 million since its inception to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs worldwide. He also became more involved in social causes such as animal rights, environmentalism, human rights, and peace.
He continued to release new albums and singles that were well-received by critics and fans alike. Some of his notable works from this period include Sleeping with the Past (1989), The One (1992), Made in England (1995), Songs from the West Coast (2001), Peachtree Road (2004), The Diving Board (2013), and Wonderful Crazy Night (2016). He also collaborated with younger artists such as Eminem, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, and Dua Lipa.
Current status and legacy
As of September 2023, Elton John is 76 years old. He has been married to David Furnish since 2014, after entering a civil partnership in 2005. They have two sons: Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John (born in 2010) and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John (born in 2013). They live in Windsor, England.
John announced his retirement from touring in 2018 after performing for more than 50 years. He embarked on a farewell tour called Farewell Yellow Brick Road (2018–2023), which became the highest-grossing concert tour ever. He also released his autobiography Me in 2019, which became a bestseller. His life and career were dramatized in the 2019 biopic Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton as John.
John is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential musicians ever. He has sold more than 300 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists in history. Elton John has won numerous awards and honors, including five Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, a Disney Legends Award, and a Kennedy Center Honor. HElton John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his services to music and charitable causes. Elton John is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the UK Music Hall of Fame.
John has inspired and influenced many artists across genres and generations, such as Adele, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Elton John, Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, and U2. He has also been praised for his courage and activism for LGBTQ+ rights and AIDS awareness. His peers and fans widely admire and respect him for his talent, generosity, and resilience. He is a living legend and a musical icon.