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Then & Now: Elton John
Elton John is without question, the world’s most outrageous & famous popstar. One of the top five selling acts of all time (just behind Elvis & the Beatles) he’s the only artist to emerge out of the introspective singer-songwriter era of the early 70s who’s managed to keep churning out hit after hit well into his fourth decade. To celebrate his 60th birthday, brand new album Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits was recently released ~ the first ever collection to gather all his biggest songs on a single CD. That’s an event that’s meant to be talked about; so that’s exactly why we’re here:

Elton John Then:
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on the 25th of March 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England, to a middle-class family; by four he was playing the piano, and at eleven won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. Dwight would join his first band Bluesology in 1961; and by 1965 the band started to back touring American soul and R&B musicians and soon became bluesman Long John Baldry’s supporting band. Frustrated with Baldry’s control of the band, Dwight moved on, and began auditioning for the likes of progressive rock acts like King Crimson (they would turn him down) before responding to an advertisement by Liberty Records.

Though he failed the Liberty audition, he was given a stack of lyrics of an unknown writer called Bernie Taupin, who had also replied to the ad and had left his songs with the label. Dwight began corresponding with him through mail, and by the time the two met six months later, Dwight had changed his name to Elton John, taking his first part from Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and his last from John Baldry.

Elton John: Shaper Of Pop Music
Elton John’s four-decade career has seldom run dry of Top 10 hits, whether they’re the radio staples of the 70s or the stage and screen anthems of his latter days. The Beatles as a group released their final single on the US charts at the end of May 1970. John would make his appearance on the same chart two months later. When John Lennon gave his first interview after the Beatles disbanded, he said that the only song on the charts that had captured his interest was that of John singing Your Song.

By the time Lennon finally met the ascending new artist, he was totally captivated with John’s voice. When John arrived off a plane in Los Angeles, Lennon knelt on the ground before him & chanted, “No, no, it’s him, it’s him, it’s Elton!” The young John was embarrassed as hell, and asked Lennon to get up off the floor, for he worshipped the Beatles and felt that he wasn’t worthy of such attention.

Elton John: Now
He’s the one pop star who’s redefined the meaning of the word perseverance; throughout his turbulent life, the man has overcome the pressures of being gay, drugs, alcohol and the loss of his closest friends (like designer Gianni Versace and Princess Diana) ~ all under the scrutiny of the media’s eye. His reward for making music amidst all this: among the many honours, he’s been knighted by the Queen, inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and was even recently mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize thanks to his AIDS related charity work.

You can read the rest of our feature Then & Now: Elton John in the April 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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