Elton John To meet Wikipedia's quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. Please discuss this issue on the talk page, or replace this tag with a more specific message. Editing help is available. This article has been tagged since January 2006. Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born 25 March 1947) is a British pop/rock singer, composer, and pianist, and is one of the most successful solo artists in popular music history. Though best-known in contemporary times for his successful 1997 re-release of "Candle In The Wind", his recording and performing career has spanned over four decades. His flamboyant fashion sense, on-stage showmanship, and public struggles with his private life have combined with his talent to make him a legend to his many fans around the world.
John was one of the dominant commercial forces in the rock world during the 1970s, racking up a string of seven consecutive #1 records on the U.S. album charts. His piano-based sound has helped keep that instrument relevant in a guitar-oriented genre. He has maintained a public presence in the fight against AIDS, and has had renewed moments of commercial triumph, such as his defiant hit "I'm Still Standing" and his award-winning work on the popular animated film The Lion King.
Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, England, the son of Squadron Leader Stanley Dwight, RAF, and his wife, Sheila Dwight. Reginald was raised primarily by his mother and other female relatives, and saw little of his father as a boy. Stanley and Sheila divorced in 1962, when Reginald was 15.
Reginald began playing the piano when he was four. Something of a child prodigy, he was able to play by ear any melody he heard on the radio or phonograph. At 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. He stayed at the Academy for six years, leaving before graduation to focus on his professional music.
In 1960, Reginald and some of his friends formed a band called the "Corvettes", which evolved into "Bluesology". By the mid-1960s, "Bluesology" was backing touring American soul and R&B musicians like the Isley Brothers, Major Lance, Doris Troy, and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. In 1966 the band became musician Long John Baldry's supporting band and began touring cabarets with him throughout England. Reginald left soon after, as Baldry's control had increased. After failing lead vocalist auditions for both "King Crimson" and "Gentle Giant", Reginald answered an advertisement in the New Musical Express placed by Ray Williams then the young A&R manager for Liberty Records. There, Ray gave him lyrics written by Bernie Taupin who had answered the same ad. Reginald wrote music for the lyrics, and then mailed it to Taupin. Thus began a partnership that continues to this day. When they met six months later, Reginald had changed his name to "Elton John", by deed poll, in homage to Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. In 1967 the first Elton John/Bernie Taupin song, Scarecrow, was recorded.
Elton and Bernie, now partners, joined Dick James's DJM Records as staff songwriters in 1968, and over the next two years, wrote songs for pop singers like Roger Cook and "Lulu", while also recording their own songs. Taupin would write a batch of lyrics in under an hour, and give it to John who would write music for them in half an hour, disposing of the lyrics if he couldn't come up with anything quickly.
In June 1969, Elton John released Empty Sky, his first album, for DJM. Despite good reviews, it failed to click with the record buying public.