Alternate Name: Reginald Dwight
(Officially changed his name on December 8, 1971)
Born: March 25, 1947
Birth Place: Pinner, Middlesex, EnglandGenre
RockStyle: Rock & RollSinger-Songwriter
Elton John was the single most successful pop artist of the '70s, and he continued to score hits for decades after his initial reign of popularity. Born Reginald Dwight in Pinner, England, he showed an early aptitude for the piano and received classical training, winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. But after six years he turned to pop music, and struggled as a songwriter, sideman, and member of unsuccessful groups for the rest of the '60s. During this period, he hooked up with lyricist Bernie Taupin through a newspaper advertisement, and the two were signed as songwriters to publisher Dick James, who was to have a tremendous impact on John's early career. A debut album sponsored by James, Empty Sky, flopped in 1969, but in 1970, with the album Elton John and the single "Your Song," Elton John took off, scoring especially well in America. For the next five years, his output -- and the sales that material racked up -- was enormous. John always had an ability to hit with ballads like the wistful "Daniel," then turn around and rock as hard as The Rolling Stones on a song like "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting." There hardly seemed a day from 1972, when "Rocket Man" began a streak of 16 straight Top 20 hits (15 of which went Top Ten), to 1976, when John took a breather, that his songs were not dominating the airwaves and the record charts. The late '70s seem to have been a period of recovery and indecision for the singer, but by 1980 he had settled into making one well-crafted album a year, and many of them tossed off hits, if not with such consistency as before. "Little Jeannie" (1980), "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" and "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" (both 1984), and "Nikita" (1986) all showed John could still hit the upper reaches of the charts, especially with his trademark ballads. The late '80s again saw a slowing in John's record success, but by the start of the '90s he had gone public about drug and alcohol problems he said were behind him, and he looked poised for a new start. After several more years of adult contemporary hits in the early '90s, John moved into film, writing the music for Walt Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. The soundtrack was an enormous success and John's version of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was his biggest hit in years.
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