Sir Elton John
An average pianist with a flair for song-writing, a complex about his hair, a penchant for coke and rent boys, and tendency for hissy fits, is how some might describe Sir Elton John, but not us here at You2UK.com. Sir Elton has certainly lived the rock-n-roll lifestyle, tinkling the ivories of anyone within reach during the raucous Seventies - partying with the likes of David Bowie and Gary Glitter, losing all his hair in the process; marrying a trophy wife (if the trophy was for simply taking part); and nearly winning a trophy as the chairman of Watford F.C. Yes the pint-sized pianist from Pinner, has had it all, done them all, and notched up a few hit records along the way.
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25th March, 1947, into a musical family, young Elton won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. John attended the Academy for five years, during which time his parents broke up and divorced, with his mother remarrying to a painter and decorator who was a good stepfather to the budding musician. They moved into a small apartment in Pinner, where Elton continued to live right up until he had four hit albums at the same time in the Top 40.
As he embarked on a career in the music industry, Reginald Kenneth Dwight strangely felt the need to change his name to Elton Hercules John, as he formed a band called Bluesology that went to tour with the likes of the Isley Brothers, Patty LaBelle, and Doris Troy. In the mid-Sixties, John answered an ad from Liberty Records in the New Musical Express. They gave John a pile of lyrics by an artist called Bernie Taupin; John put music to the words, and one of music’s most successful and enduring partnerships was formed.
John and Taupin enjoyed moderate success, but they really took the world of pop by storm in 1972 when they topped the US album charts with Honkey Chateau – including the songs Rocket Man, and Honkey Cat – before following it up in 1973 with the hugely successful Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player – including Crocodile Rock, and Daniel. John and Taupin crowned their musical apogee with the double-album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
The hits rolled on, and it looked as though the short, fat and balding pop star could do no wrong, until that is, he admitted to being bisexual in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Despite the passing of free love in the ‘swinging’ Sixties, and the gregarious sexual appetites of adults in the Seventies, where anyone who was anyone had herpes, the public were still a bit edgy at the idea of homosexuality. John announced his retirement from performing in 1976, and threw his energies into his chairmanship of Watford Football Club.
1979 saw John and Taupin reunited again and the hits once again began to roll off the record presses. In 1983 the hit album Too Low for Zero was released, and was followed up in 1984 by his surprise marriage to Renate Blauel, a sound engineer from Germany. Unsurprisingly, the marriage didn’t last.
The Nineties began for Elton with checking into rehab to curb his rampant alcoholism, coke addiction and bulimia. It would also be the decade in which he would throw himself into work for AIDS research, whilst coming fully out of the closet, into a world that was now ready to accept him for who really was. In 1997 John played a reworked version of Candle in the Wind, at the funeral of Princess Diana. He was knighted soon after – the crowning glory for a raging queen, who was now the undisputed king of celebrity, to whom stars would run to for advice when their careers came to blows with their personal lives. George Michael, Robbie Williams, and the Beckhams, are just some of the A-list names to have sought Sir Elton’s counsel.
Now in his sixties, and living with his civil partner, David Furnish, in a mansion in Windsor, Buckinghamshire, Sir Elton John still courts controversy. One thing is for sure, we haven’t heard the last of Sir Elton John, with his famously outrageous garden parties, continued musical output, and strings of rumours that follow him wherever he goes.
Some might call Sir Elton, misunderstood, but most of his problems stemmed from coming to the fore in a time when he couldn’t really be who he wanted be. Sir Elton John is not a flawed genius, he is a genius - with a talent for reinventing himself. It is for these reasons that the flamboyant king of pop finds himself in You2UK.com’s pantheon of Great Britons.