When we speak about Elton John we are talking about a music phenomenon and an enormous celebrity with an appeal reaching across the years and across the generations to make him one of the most easily recognisable faces in the music business anywhere in the world.
One of the most special things about Elton is his sheer versatility. He is a performer who has wowed audiences everywhere, he is one of the world’s most successful composers together with his lyricist partner Bernie Taupin, he has achieved prominence in areas as varied as the fortunes of Watford FC where he twice served as Chairman and is currently President and his work for AIDS research and for his championship of LGBT needs.
There are so many highlights it is hard to know just where to start. Elton and Bernie have worked on more than 30 albums, all of which have achieved enormous sales. In his career spanning five decades (and showing no signs of slowing up) Elton has sold more than 300 million records, with more than fifty Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 Top 10, four No. 2 and nine No. 1. For no fewer than 31 consecutive years dating from 1970, he had at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100.
Called upon at a few days’ notice following the death of Princess Diana, he rewrote his song that had been dedicated to the memory of Marilyn Monroe “Candle in the Wind” in tribute to his friend and admirer Diana. This new version, which was beamed to an enormous global audience at her funeral service in London’s Westminster Abbey ended up selling more than 33 million copies worldwide and is reckoned to be the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts.
Over such a long and successful career it is no surprise that the awards marking his immense talent and achievement have been many and frequent. Elton has been the recipient of five Grammy awards, five Brit awards including two for making an Outstanding Contribution to Music and the first Brits Icon for his “lasting impact on British culture”. In addition he has collected an Academy Award, a Golden Globes award, a Disney Legends award and the Kennedy Centre Honours. His influence as a songwriter, composer and rock musician have been widely and formally acknowledged. He received an OBE and subsequently a knighthood from HM Queen Elizabeth for his services to music and charitable causes. Apart from Princess Diana’s funeral, he played at the Party in the Palace in 2002 and ten years’ later featured in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace.
Fans will continue to argue about his greatest songs and it is hard to argue with well-loved hits such as “Rocket Man”. “Crocodile Rock”, “I’m Still Standing” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Discussions will continue as to the peak of his output but there is no doubt that the boy who began life as Reginald Dwight in 1947 in a London suburb has influenced so many peoples’ lives for the better. If you have a chance to see an exceptional creative artist at work, grab it while you can.
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