Artists come and go, but Elton John has for 40 years distilled countless hits from the cross-breeding mash of blues, country, soul, rock and pop. People recognize those unforgettable melodies all around the world.
Having first studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Reginald Dwight started as a professional pianist in Bluesology in the early 60’s. The vocalist was the raspy-voiced Long John Baldry, while sax was handled by Elton Dean, who later went on to the Soft Machine. From their names Elton fashioned his stage name.
In 1967 he was introduced to lyricist Bernie Taupin. Their chemistry worked so well that soon they were writing songs for many pop singers at DJM. When Elton’s eponymous second album, featuring the now classic Your Song, came out in 1970, their collective skills had reached such a level that they could finish a song in two hours. During the following six years they turned out an incredible amount of 14 highly successful albums, like Tumbleweed Connection, Mad Man Across The Water, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Caribou. Then their collaboration was put on hold for a few years, only to go on again from 1980 onwards. Their tribute to Elton’s good friend Princess Diana, Candle In The Wind, sold over 33 million units.
While Sir Elton – he got the title in 1998 – has kept recording at a steady pace, he also plays live a lot. In 2009 he performed 92 times and his Red Piano Show proved so popular in Las Vegas that after three years it was re-booked for a long period, 241 gigs all together. Last year Elton and Bernie made a joint album, The Union, with the former’s long time idol, Leon Russell. It brought the criminally forgotten American back to the limelight, deservedly so.