After more than 50 years on the road, the global icon Elton John is finally considering retirement from a long and successful career. Before the fashion trailblazer takes the stage for the last time, here are some interesting facts about the famed musician that you never knew before. Enjoy!
Aside from his songs, Elton is known as a fashion icon. His unique style consists largely of sequence, baseball uniforms, and bedazzled glasses. Though today Elton is choosing to lean more towards snazzy suits, he certainly made an impact in the fashion world with his bold taste.
He has even dressed up as the beloved Disney character Donald Duck. This photo was taken during John’s performance in New York City’s Central Park in September, 1980. Maybe he wanted to blend into the park’s scenery?
Simply put, John has been extremely successful in the music industry, topping the American charts as the third most successful artist in history. Elvis Presley and The Beatles take the top spots, but John is not far behind. He has had 56 top 40 singles in the United States, second only to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
John and the King actually met, but it wasn’t a magical encounter like John had hoped. Elton looked into the eyes of Elvis and felt that there was “nothing there”. John’s mother was there when the two stars met, and both could tell that Elvis was in a drug haze. Judging from his looks, John’s mother predicted that he would be dead in about six months.
It has been 50 years since John’s career began in 1969. During that time, Elton has performed in a lot of shows, to say the least. John has played in more than 3,000 concerts in over 80 countries. This means that if you played a concert every day, it would take you almost ten years to catch up.
After more than half a century on the road, the global icon has finally announced his plans for retirement. His final tour called ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ kicked off in the U.S. on September 8, 2018. The tour will consist of more than 300 shows before reaching its conclusion in 2021.
Hard to believe it but there was a time when Elton John . . . well, wasn’t even Elton John. His birth name was Reginald Dwight. John eventually changed it to “Elton John” as a way of paying tribute to vocalist Long John Baldry and saxophonist Elton Dean.
For a middle name, he wanted to go simpler and decided on the name “Hercules”. He didn’t name it after the mythological hero, but after the horse named Hercules on the British sitcom Steptoe and Son (1962).
Elton John is no rookie when it comes to success. Over his long career, John has achieved 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s sold more than 250 million records worldwide and holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time.
With all the success, it is no wonder that Elton has a net worth of $480 million, making him the second richest singer in the UK, behind Paul McCartney.
“Candle in the Wind” was a song originally written about Marilyn Monroe, who died 11 years before the release. Bernie Taupin, who worked alongside John on the lyrics and music, stated the song is “the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life”. For this reason, this song has had a tremendous impact, touching many lives.
One of the lives it touched was actually royalty. This song was later revised and performed at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, and moved many of the attendees to tears. The video of Elton singing at the funeral was posted on YouTube and viewed over 26 million times.
When it comes to giving back, Elton John is eager to lend a hand, especially for victims of the AIDS disease. He would later form the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which focuses on treatment and research for the disease. John has also decided that all profits from his singles would be donated to the charity.
Today, the foundation has become one of the world’s largest non-profit AIDS organizations, raising more than $300 million in support of projects in 55 countries around the world.
Fame and fortune can gain you a lot of attention, but it takes a person with a big heart to be trusted with someone’s children. Well, over the years John has been trusted as godfather to some pretty famous kids.
One of his celebrity godchildren is Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He is also godfather of Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham, children of David and Victoria Beckham.
One of the things that Elton John is known for is his unique fashion sense, especially his key feature – his glasses. John first started to wear glasses as a way to copy one of his idols, Buddy Holly, adding his own glitter flare.
As a result of constantly wearing glasses, his eyes eventually adjusted to the lenses, and he’s needed to wear glasses ever since. With John reportedly owning a thousand pair of glasses – we think that he’ll be just fine.
John auditioned for the lead vocalist in the band King Crimson but was turned down. He was originally hired to sing on the sessions but Robert Fripp (bandleader-guitarist), after hearing his first album, said, “His style didn’t seem right for Crimson and the album was poor, so I canceled the sessions.”
Thankfully, rejection didn’t stop John. In 1969, John’s debut album, Empty Sky, was released. In 1970, John achieved his first hit single “Your Song”, from his second album, Elton John, reached the top ten in the UK and the US, beginning the long and successful road that awaited John.
Elton has a bold personality and can be pretty vocal. Sometimes this can rub other people the wrong way, especially other celebrities. One of John’s infamous feuds has been with the American singer Madonna.
The feud began in 2004 after John accepted the award for best classic songwriter. An expert from his speech: “Madonna, best live act? [Redacted] off! Since when has lip-syncing been live? Sorry about that, but I think everyone who lip-syncs on stage in public when you pay like 75 quid to see them should be shot. Thank you very much. That’s me off her Christmas card list, but do I give a toss? No.”
The first day that civil unions between homosexuals were legal in England, John and his long-term partner David Furnish registered their civil partnership at Windsor Town Hall on December 21, 2005. Likewise, when England legalized homosexual marriage in 2014, the two married shortly after.
Even though they are now officially married, it doesn’t mean that troubles haven’t left them. In 2016, an infidelity scandal surrounded Furnish, who was reportedly having a long-term affair with businessman Daniel Laurence. However, even if the reports were substantiated, John and Furnish have an open relationship, so it wouldn’t necessarily mean that he cheated.
Have you ever wondered how Elton John has managed writing so many hit songs? Well, the truth is that he has had a little help over the years from his friend, Bernie Taupin. Guess even major stars like John needs help every now and then.
The two met after they both were rejected at Liberty Records. Since their failure, they have united to make one dynamite team, with John usually doing all the musical compositions for their collaborations. Together they have collaborated on more than 30 albums.
Elton John has many titles, but during formal occasions he is often referred to as Sit Elton Hercules John, CBE. The “CBE” stands for “Commander of the Order of the British Empire”, which is the third highest rank in Britain’s Order of Chivalry.
His prestige doesn’t stop there. In 1998, John was awarded knighthood of the British Empire, particularly for his services to music and work in fundraising for AIDS charities.
John had an extremely close relationship with rock singer Freddie Mercury. Even as he was dying from Aids, Mercury spent his time thinking about his friend. One of the last things he did was give John a gift – a painting from on of John’s favorite artists. John wrote a deeply moving letter about his and Freddie’s friendship.
An Excerpt from the letter: ”As Freddie deteriorated in the late 1980s and early 90’s, it was almost too much to bear. It broke my heart to see this absolute light unto the world ravaged by AIDS. By the end, his body was covered with Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions. He was almost blind. He was too weak to even stand. By all rights, Freddie should have spent those final days concerned only with his own comfort. But that wasn’t who he was.”
In 1979, Elton became the first Western rock star to perform in the USSR. His performance was one of the first signs of the Communists authorities’ emerging tolerance towards the West, which was significant especially since this was during the Cold War.
For many Russians, John was the first Westerner that they had ever seen. Thinking that all Westerners dressed like John and acted like him, the gaudy Russian luxury industry was created.
One of Elton’s most memorable and successful contribution to musical theater is his work in The Lion King, which he wrote the music for. To this day, it remains the highest-grossing production in theater or cinema history.
While working on the music, lyricist Tim Rice was reportedly stunned by how fast John was able to put music to his words. Their efforts were rewarded by an Academy Award nomination, but lost to “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, which is from the same movie and was also written by Tim Rice and composed and sung by John.
Not only is John one of the most iconic musicians of all time, he is also one of the most gifted. John is known for his talent on the piano, but what many don’t know is that he started learning the piano at the age of three and taught himself until the age of seven.
It was clear early on that John was special, which is why he was awarded a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. He accepted but quit before graduation, choosing instead to pursue a career in rock.
Besides his glasses, another thing that John cherishes is his pianos. He currently has 5 9-foot-long Yamaha grand pianos. He takes different ones on various legs of his world tours. Elton takes great pride in his pianos, and relies only on Yamaha for his trademark instrument.
Elton loves his pianos so much that he played a Yamaha piano that took four years to build and cost a million dollars. Elton called it blossom, after Jazz singer Blossom Dearie. Other pianos that he has named include Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Winifred.
Could you imagine having the music legend Elton John play at your wedding? This dream can become a reality. That is, of course, if you have $1 million dollars lying around. In 2010, radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh’s, paid this amount to have the famed musician at his reception.
But don’t worry, the money is going to a good cause. Everything that is earned during these events are donated to the Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, which is the performer’s charity that is devoted to funding and researching treatment for the disease.