This week, on March 25, 1947, Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Pinner, England. You’ll know him best as Elton John.
Here’s 20 things you might not know about the Rocket Man…
- Elton began playing piano at the age of three.
- Elton’s parents weren’t married until he was six years old. Before then, he stayed with his mum’s parents.
- Elton’s dad was in the Royal Air Force. He didn’t like the idea of his son pursuing music and tried to convince him to become a banker instead.
- You can see the influence of Elton’s strict dad any time the singer performs. He once said that his wild stage costumes are his way of expressing himself after being so restricted as a kid.
- Elton’s talents were recognised at a young age and as an 11-year-old, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. There, he impressed teachers by playing back a four-page piece by Handel after hearing it just once.
- Elton attended the school and enjoyed playing classical music and singing in the choir, but otherwise he wasn’t a great student. He once stated that since he was able to get good grades without practicing, he skipped classes and rode around on the subway instead.
- As a 15-year-old, John became a piano player at a nearby pub. He went by the name Reggie and played popular standards.
- As a teenager, Elton lived with his mum and her second husband in an apartment building. There, he wrote some of his early iconic songs. He kept on living there until he had four albums simultaneously in the Top 40 in America.
- At 17, Elton formed a band called Bluesology. They did pretty well and backed the likes of The Isley Brothers and Patti LaBelle.
- Elton created his stage name in honor of Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and singer Long John Baldry.
- Elton met his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, in 1967 after they both answered an ad in NME for work at Liberty Records. The A&R manager gave Elton a stack of lyrics Bernie wrote and the singer penned music for them then mailed them back to Bernie, starting their decades-long relationship.
- Elton and Bernie would go on to become successful songwriters for other artists, taking less than 90 minutes to churn out easy-listening songs.
- Before he hit it big, Elton was a session musician. He played piano on The Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
- Elton has had more than 50 hits in the Top 40. His first was 1968’s “Your Song.”
- Elton’s biggest-selling single is “Candle in the Wind.” He wrote it as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe in 1973, but changed it and re-released it in 1997 to honour Princess Diana following her death. It’s since sold more than 33-million copies.
- John made a name for himself in Hollywood and on Broadway too. He wrote the music for the 1994 Disney movie The Lion King, which went on to become a Broadway musical – the highest-grossing Broadway musical of all time, bringing in more than one-billion dollars. Elton also did the music for the stage productions of Aida, Lestat and Billy Elliot.
- Elton often sports glasses and he once revealed that he owns 250-thousand pairs of them.
- Elton doesn’t own a mobile phone.
- Elton appears in The Who’s 1975 film adaptation of Tommy as The Pinball Wizard.
- Elton is very close to the coveted EGOT. He’s won Grammys, an Oscar and a Tony but the Emmy has remained elusive.
Happy birthday Elton!