Elton John is considered as one of the greatest artists of all time. The singer has released hundreds of songs, with a good many of them becoming legendary classics.
Alongside songwriter Bernie Taupin, Elton John has more than 35 gold albums and 25 platinum albums to his name. Furthermore, he’s had 30 consecutive US Top 40 hits and sold more than 250 million records worldwide.
However, time takes its toll on us all, and that includes Elton. Soon to embark on his last ever world tour, things haven’t been easy of late for the singer. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, John played a concert in New Zealand, only to broke down in tears in the middle of it.
So, what happened?
Many artists and bands have seen themselves achieve musical stardom over the years. A select few have been able to become world icons in their chosen genre.
Yet there are very few, if any, that have reached the levels of Elton John.
Elton John – worldwide superstar
The singer from England took the world by storm as he grew into a world class entertainer in the late 1960s. And since then, he hasn’t slowed down one bit.
His extraordinary life story was made into a film, Rocketman, and many of his wonderful songs will live on forever. Elton’s music encompasses a unique blend of several genres, and his pop and rock styles turned him to an icon in almost all parts of the world. Not only that, but he always had verve and extra spice in his live performances, showing off several crazy looks over the years.
It’s easy to say, his life’s legacy will be forever remembered and cherished.
So how did a young boy from the outskirts of London become a worldwide superstar? This is the story of Elton John – and how he’s fought a major health battle the last number of years.
Elton John – early life
Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947 in Pinner, England. At an early age, Elton was enchanted by music, and he taught himself to play the piano at age 4. When his talent was recognized, he went on to earn a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
At the same time as he loved music, relationships at home made things a little bit more complicated. He and his father clashed several times about what Elton was going to do in the future, as the talented boy himself wanted to move into pop and rock and roll.
“As a child, I got approval and love when I sang at family gatherings or weddings, and I felt safe and happy. Then I came off stage and, again, I had to deal with what was going on in my life,” Elton John told CBC.
Elton explained that his childhood was very conservative. In a piece for The Guardian, he explained how his complicated relationship with his father actually made him seek way new ways to listen to music. And in the end, it probably helped him move forward towards stardom.
“My dad was in the RAF so he was away from home a lot, and when he got back, he tried to impose new rules about everything: how I ate, how I dressed. That would set Mum off. I got the feeling they were staying together because of me, which just made things more miserable,” John wrote.
Start of music career
“The best way to escape it was to shut myself in my bedroom with my record collection and my comics, and drift off into an imaginary world, fantasizing that I was Little Richard or Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis. I made my peace with it all years ago.
“They divorced when I was 13, both remarried, which I was happy about, although my relationship with both of them was always tricky. I was closer to Mum than Dad, but there were long periods when we didn’t speak. And my childhood is one thing I’m still sensitive about.”
At 17, Elton John dropped out of school to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. He performed with a group named Bluesology.
Then, in 1967, his life would change forever. John saw an ad in a local newspaper for Liberty Records, and upon a visit, it turned out that another person had also been invited to the record company. That person was Bernie Taupin – it wasn’t long before the two started working together.
Elton John said he only could play music, but not write lyrics. Taupin – who was 16 at the time – could only write lyrics. As you can probably guess, this transpired to be the perfect match!
In the beginning however, Bernie admitted he was in awe of Elton.
Elton John – Bernie Taupin
“I was the quintessential country bumpkin and he was sophisticated,” he told Daily Mail. “He lived in London and played in clubs! So he looked out for me. He was like a big brother.”
Still to this day, Bernie and Elton are great friends.
“Bernie lives in California and I live in England most of the time, so we don’t see each other very often, but I can honestly say that in the last three or four years, we’ve gotten closer and closer because of his family, and my family, and the children,” John said in 2019.
“You know, we’re in a wonderful, contented place.”
Bernie and Elton began creating music together – and it was pure magic. The partnership became legendary.
On his self-tiled 1970s album, Elton John got his big major hit with Your Song. In the years that followed, he released smash hits such as Crocodile Rock, Island Girl, Bennie and the Jets, as well as the celebrated albums Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973 and Rock fo the Westies in 1975.
Not only did Elton John became famous for his great mix of rock and roll and pop music, but his live performances became more and more eccentric. Elton himself was celebrated for the way he would dress up in different costumes with his iconic huge glasses.
“I could dress how I wanted”
“I wasn’t a sex symbol like Bowie, Marc Bolan, or Freddie Mercury,” he said according to LIFE Elton John. “So I dressed more on the humorous side, because if I was going to be stuck at the piano for two hours, I was going to make people look at me. “
The costumes and theater-like performances became a huge part of who Elton John was on stage. In the end, it also helped him grow in a bigger way than one might expect.
“Suddenly, I could dress how I wanted,” he said. “I could do what I wanted for the first time in my life.”
During the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Elton continued his journey towards legendary status. Alongside Bernie Taupin, he released more major hits, including songs such as I’m Still Standing, Nikita, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Nikita, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues and Candle In The Wind.
When Princess Diana passed away, Bernie also rewrote the lyrics for her funeral, during which Elton John performed inside the church.
Elton and Taupin then worked together on the 1994 film soundtrack The Lion King, through which Elton won an Academy Award with Can You Feel the Love Tonight. He won another Oscar in 2020 for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song), following the film Rocketman about his life.
Elton John – pneumonia diagnosis
The list of awards won by Elton is long. He’s won five Grammy Awards and received another 34 nominations. In total, he’s sold more than 250 million records worldwide and has 35 gold albums and 25 platinum albums to his name, as well as 30 consecutive US Top 40 hits.
Still to this day, Elton has continued creating music and bringing joy to people all around the world. His earlier hits have transformed into legendary songs, but now, he is approaching the end of his touring days.
In January of 2018, Elton announced his final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road. The plan was for him tour the world for three years, before retiring from performing for good.
In February of 2020, John performed in the city of Auckland, New Zealand. However, the show made worldwide news when Elton left the stage in the middle of a song.
In the middle of his set, Elton appeared to lose his voice. In a video from the show, he was visibly upset, covering his face with his hands as he broke down in tears and leant towards his piano. He was forced to cancel the show.
“I’ve just completely lost my voice. I can’t sing,” Elton told the crowd. “I’ve got to go. I’m sorry.”
New health update
Elton was helped off stage as the audience gave him an ovation. Earlier during the show, the celebrated singer revealed that he’d been diagnosed with walking pneumonia.
It’s a type of lung infection, often caused by bacteria or viruses, according to BBC. It’s less severe than other types of pneumonia, and most people that are diagnosed with it don’t require medical attention. Symptoms can, according to the BBC, be compared to those of a bad cold, including a sore throat, headache and chest pain.
COVID-19 then had to put large parts of the tour on hold, though Elton is set to continue in 2022. Just like millions of people around the world, the iconic singer has spent plenty of time at home during the pandemic.
At 74, he’s used his time wisely, working out and staying healthy.
“During lockdown I’ve really gotten fit. I’ve walked in the pool, I’ve played tennis,” he told People.
“I just wanted to come out the other side not overweight and feeling that when I go back on tour I’m going to be the fittest I’ve ever been.”
“Get yourself together”
Since the start of the year, Elton’s walked 42 miles in the swimming pool. A lot of the motivation has come from his family, who push him to stay healthy.
“It’s all come down, again, to what do you want for the rest of your life? I have two kids I want to see and be around as much as possible,” John said of his sons Elijah and Zachary.
“So in that case, Elton, get yourself together, do what you’re told, and you’ll see the benefits of it. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Elton John will forever be a true music legend. His legacy will live for all time – and we are so grateful for all he’s done.
Thank you for all the wonderful music, Elton. We wish you all the best on the last legs of your world tour.
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