“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” – Sir Elton John, CBE
Elton John is an English singer, pianist, and composer. In his five-decade career Elton John has sold more than 300 million records. Here are our favourite Elton John facts!
33. Sir Platinum.
Sir Elton John has achieved 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums. He’s sold more than 250 million records worldwide and holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time.
32. Born to be.
Elton was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England.
Sir Elton Hercules John on March 25, 1947
31. A rose by any other name…
When he changed his name from Reginald Dwight, he chose “Elton John” to pay tribute to vocalist Long John Baldry and saxophonist Elton Dean. For a middle name, he picked Hercules. He chose the middle name “Hercules” not after the hero of mythology, but after the horse named Hercules on the British sitcom Steptoe and Son (1962).
30. Quack, quack.
These days, John’s stage attire leans toward elegant suits, but in the early years of his career, he wore flashy costumes. He took to stage decked out in feathers, rhinestones, glasses that spelled out his name in lights, and even dressed as the Statue of Liberty and Donald Duck on several occasions.
29. Britain and their impossibly cool titles.
Elton is often formally referred to as Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE. The “CBE” denotes “Commander of the Order of the British Empire.” This is the third highest rank in Britain’s Order of Chivalry.
28. A few times on stage.
Over the five decades since his career began in 1969, Elton has played more than 3,500 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.
27. Ain’t nothing but a hound dog…
Elton is the third most successful artist in the history of the American charts, behind only Elvis Presley and The Beatles. He has had 56 top 40 singles in the United States, a total second only to Elvis Presley.
26. Rocking and rolling… right out of the education system.
At the age of 11, he was awarded a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. He quit just before graduation to pursue a rock career.
25. Can you feel the love tonight?
The Lion King stage musical, which Elton wrote the music for, was named the highest-grossing production in theater or cinema history.
24. Back in the USSR!
In 1979, Elton was the first Western rock star to perform in the USSR. For many Russians, it was the first time they had seen a rich westerner. Believing we all dressed and acted this way, the gaudy Russian luxury industry was born.
23. That’s “Sir” Elton, thank you very much.
Elton John was awarded Knighthood of the British Empire in 1998 for his services to music and fundraising for AIDS charities.
22. Your candle burned out before your legend ever will.
In 1997, following the death of Princess Diana, Elton performed a new version of “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral. The solemn performance move many already-distraught attendees to tears. The YouTube video of Elton singing at the funeral has been viewed more than 26 million times.
21. In solemn memory.
Elton was extremely close with the late rock singer Freddie Mercury. When Freddie was dying of Aids in the early 1990s, one of the final things he did was buy Elton John a gift: a painting by one of Elton’s favourite artists. Sir Elton wrote about his friendship with Freddie in a moving, deeply personal letter.
An excerpt form the letter:
“As Freddie deteriorated in the late 1980s and early ’90s, 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.”
20. Big bucks for charity.
He decided that all profits from his singles would be donated to AIDS charities and formed the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The foundation has become one of the world’s largest non-profit AIDS organizations, raising more than $300 million in support of worthy projects in 55 countries around the world.
19. Imagine Lennon and Elton on one stage.
In 1974, during one of Elton’s concerts at Madison Square Garden, John Lennon joined him on stage to perform three songs. This was part of a bet. Elton had bet Lennon that if the song “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” went to #1, he would join Elton on stage.
Occurring six years prior to his assassination, this was Lennon’s last on-stage performance. Elton’s song “Empty Garden” is a tribute to John Lennon.
18. A little help from Stevie!
Stevie Wonder played harmonica on his song “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”.
17. Famous cameos.
In 1995, Elton covered The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” for the film Tommy. In the film, he is shown performing the song while playing a pinball machine integrated with a miniature piano keyboard.
16. The Godfather.
Elton has a few famous godchildren, including Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He’s also the godfather of Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham, the children of David and Victoria Beckham.
Elton started wearing glasses to copy one of his idols, Buddy Holly. After a while, his eyes adjusted to the lenses and he’s needed to wear glasses ever since.
14. Sorry, Elton!
Auditioned for the lead vocalist spot in the band King Crimson but was turned down.
13. Take that, Madonna!
Sir Elton John and Madonna have famously quarrelled over the years. The feud began in 2004 while Elton accepted his award for best classic songwriter. An excerpt 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.”
12. Keeping pace.
In 1999, he had a pacemaker fitted to correct an irregular heartbeat following an episode of angina on an airplane. An insider said he was “anxious but calm” as he was driven to the hospital in a Bentley and greeted by three staff members.
11. Life and love.
Registered his civil partnership with long-term partner David Furnish at Windsor Town Hall on December 21, 2005, the first day that civil unions between homosexuals were legal in England and Wales. In December 2014, they married following the legalization of homosexual marriage earlier in the year. Their wedding was attended by the likes of Lulu, Kate Bush, Gary Barlow, Ed Sheeran, David Beckham, David Walliams and Elizabeth Hurley.
10. Supporter of Hillary.
Raised $2.5m for Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign with a concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
9. Big, big bucks for Elton.
Elton has a net worth of $480 million, making him the second richest singer in UK, behind Paul McCartney.
8, A few pairs of shades…
Elton owns over a thousand pairs of glasses. Elton and his glasses often hit the headlines and in 2013 when he denied claims that he had hired a separate hotel room to store his spectacles.
7. The cost of abuse.
In 1987, Elton underwent laser surgery to remove nodules on his vocal chords in Australia. This followed a televised concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra where his voice sounded noticeably rough. In 2004, he admitted this problem had been caused by drug abuse, including marijuana.
6. A drunken quarrel.
In September 2008, Elton and Lilly Allen co-hosted a prestigious GQ award show. 23-year-old Lilly, decked out in an extravagant Dolce and Gabbana ballgown, drank champagne throughout the evening and soon began slurring words and ad-libbing. Eventually, Elton John quipped, “What? Are you going to have another drink?” The comment resulted in an obscenity-filled back and forth that made headlines around the globe.
5. A few awards…
He’s won so many awards that we almost skipped this fact because we thought the list was too long to read. Feel free to skip this list and just accept that Elton John is a legend.
- 1973-2000: 12 Ivor Novello Awards
- 1973-2000: 11 Grammy nominations
- 1986, 1991, 1994, 1997, and 2000: 5 Grammy wins
- 1991: Best British Male Artist BRIT Award
- 1992: Songwriters Hall of Fame (with Bernie Taupin)
- 1992: Officer of Arts & Letters (France)
- 1993: induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- 1994: Polar Music Prize
- 1995: Oscar for Best Music, Original Song, The Lion King
- 1995: MusiCares Person of the Year
- 2000: Kennedy Center Honor
- 2001: Grammy legends Award
- 2002: Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music
- 2004: Billboard Magazine Legend of Live Award
- 2004: Fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters and Composers
- 2006: Songwriters Hall of Fame Johnny Mercer Award (with Bernie Taupin)
- 2013: BRITs Icon Award
- 2013: Rockefeller Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2013: Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative Leadership Award
In October 1975, John became the 1,662nd person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
4. Usually doesn’t write his own lyrics.
Most of Elton’s famous songs were written with lyricist Bernie Taupin, who Elton met after both failed an audition for Liberty Records. Elton John usually does all the musical composition for their collaborations.
Bernie Taupin and Elton john.
3. Get the snipers!
Rod Stewart and Elton John have a fierce rivalry. Elton John once hired a sniper to shoot down balloons that Rod Stewart had launched into the sky to promote a concert. When Rod put up a huge banner for his “Blondes Have More Fun Tour,” Elton put a banner on a building across the street that said, “But Brunettes Make More Money.”
2. The infidelity scandal.
In 2016, Sir Elton secured the court-ordered injunction that barred British media from mentioning his or his partner’s (Furnish) name. The action came after several media outlets published that he had been the victim of infidelity. Allegedly, his partner was having a long-term affair with British businessman Daniel Laurence. Sir Elton and his husband have an open marriage, meaning that even if reports of the extramarital relationship were substantiated, it wouldn’t necessarily mean Furnish broke Elton’s trust.
1. Goodbye, Monroe.
Elton John’s Candle in the Wind tribute to the late Princess Diana, which became the second best-selling single of all time, was originally written about Marilyn Monroe.
Next Article: 42 Classic Facts about Marilyn Monroe.
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