Thursday, June 13, 2013

THE 2013 SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME JOHNNY MERCER AWARD: ELTON JOHN AND BERNIE TAUPIN


Elton John and Bernie Taupin have one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships ever known. Their award-winning relationship spans four decades with collaboration on more than 30 albums to date. Elton John was introduced to Bernie Taupin in 1967, and by the time of his self-titled breakthrough album and timeless hit “Your Song” had introduced him to an international stage in 1970, the two had honed their skill to such a degree that Bernie Taupin could present Elton John with a lyric and he could compose to it within the hour. In the period between 1970-1976, with producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm, Elton John and Bernie Taupin made an astonishing 14 albums including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy. Among these, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first album to ever enter the Billboard chart at #1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, with its string of American #1 hit singles and unbroken two month run at the top of the Billboard Top 100, became an all-time classic.

Jimmy Webb said of the duo, “Some catalogs are more ‘deep’ and significant than others not only because of their pertinence to the times in which they were written, but because their sheer mass is overpowering. It’s just not that easy to write 40 Top 10 records. It’s kind of like swimming the English Channel with your hands tied behind your back. Elton John's readily identifiable melodic piano style has proven to be a perfect accompaniment to Bernie Taupin's razor sharp lyrics about relationships and living on the edge of life both in good and bad times.”

The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is exclusively reserved for a songwriter or songwriting team who has already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer.

In 1980 Elton John and Bernie Taupin reunited for the album 21 At 33 followed by Jump Up! in 1982 known famously for the John Lennon tribute “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).” This return continued with Too Low For Zero, which Bernie Taupin exclusively wrote the lyrics and gave birth to two of Elton John’s live favorites to this day, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” and “I’m Still Standing,” his valedictory song to the troubles he had gone through. In the late 1990s, “Candle In The Wind,” Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s heartbreaking tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, sold well over 33 million copies and is the bestselling single in Billboard history. Elton John received a Grammy® for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the song in 1998.

Elton John is one of the topselling solo artists of all time, with 35 Gold and 25 Platinum albums, 29 consecutive Top 40 hits and more than 250 million records sold worldwide; Elton John attributes a great deal of his success to his songwriting relationship with Bernie Taupin. They were both inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and together they have co-written international hit songs including “Rocket Man,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Daniel,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (duet with Kiki Dee),” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” “The Bitch Is Back,” “Nikita,” “Sacrifice,” “I Want Love” and many others.

In 2010, Elton John and Bernie Taupin composed several songs for The Union, a collaboration album between Elton John and his longtime hero Leon Russell that was released to rave reviews. The duo also collaborated on five original songs for the Miramax movie Gnomeo and Juliet, released in February 2011 with “Hello Hello” nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards. In 2012, Elton John returned to the recording studio with producer T Bone Burnett and recorded The Diving Board for release this fall. Bernie Taupin wrote lyrics for the 13 songs.

Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Collins, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

THE 2008 HIT PARADE HALL OF FAME: ELTON JOHN


Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Pinner, Middlesex, England on March 25, 1947, where at a very early age his appreciation of music included piano lessons at seven and a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at eleven years of age. As a teenager influenced by America’s Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock stars of the day, he began a career that would make him one of the most successful recording artists of all time.

With a name change to Elton John, his first million selling single, “Your Song” in 1971 was followed by “Levon” and “Tiny Dancer.” The following year “Rocket Man,” and “Honky Cat” went gold with his first #1 hit, “Crocodile Rock” topping the Hit Parade. “Daniel,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” continued Elton John's hit streak in 1973. Beginning 1974 with another #1 hit “Bennie and the Jets,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “The Bitch Is Back” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” each topped the charts. “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “Island Girl” earned more gold in 1975. In 1976, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” were million selling singles. It was “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” in 1979 and “Little Jeannie” in 1980. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” in 1983, “Sad Songs” in 1984 and joining Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight in 1985, “That's What Friends Are For” topped the Hit Parade. In 1986 “Nikita” earned gold as did “Candle In The Wind” in 1987 and “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” in 1988.

A five time Grammy winner, with an Academy Award to his credit, Elton John has sold more than an estimated 250 million albums. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, he was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.With his home in the English county of Berkshire, Elton John also has residences at Holland Park in London, in Atlanta, Georgia and in France and Italy.

Monday, October 9, 2006

THE 2006 DISNEY LEGENDS: ELTON JOHN


The monumental career of international singer/songwriter and performer Elton John has spanned more than three decades. He is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with more than 200 million records sold worldwide. Elton John has won a wide array of industry awards including Grammys, Tonys, and an Oscar®, and continues to add innovative work to his personal repertoire of 35 gold and 25 platinum albums.

A prolific songwriter and a flamboyant performer, Elton John had 30 different hits on the top 40 charts between 1970 and 1982. His theatrical stage appearances, with Elton John changing into a succession of elaborate costumes and outlandish spectacles, helped make him a pop megastar. His hit tunes included "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road," "Your Song," "Bennie and the Jets," and "Rocket Man." All were written with his longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin.

In the early 1990s, Elton John embarked on songwriting collaborations with lyricist Tim Rice, resulting in the soundtrack to the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature "The Lion King." At first, though, Elton John wasn't too sure of success. "I sat there with a line of lyrics that began, 'When I was a young warthog," Elton John said in 1995, "and I thought, 'Has it come to this?'" This uneasiness proved unfounded, and the resulting work earned three Academy Award® nominations ("Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and the winner, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"), and the film soundtrack album produced two top-selling, award-winning singles for Elton John: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life." It also introduced Elton John to a whole new generation of fans-the children who approach him in public and tell him that they love "The Lion King." The lad who grew up loving the score to Walt Disney's "The Jungle Book" says, "That's exactly what I wrote it for. I wanted to write melodies that kids would like." In 1997, "The Lion King" debuted on Broadway, receiving six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and in 1998, a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

In March 2000, the Tony Award-winning "Aida" opened on Broadway and Elton John was honored with another Grammy for the Best Musical Show Album. The smash-hit stage production of "Billy Elliot," for which Elton John composed the music, is currently running in London and garnered Elton John a top-five hit in the UK with the song "Electricity." "Billy Elliot" was nominated for a record 9 Olivier Awards, winning Best Musical, among others. Elton John's fourth musical "Lestat" opened on Broadway April 25, 2006.

In September 2006, Elton John released his new album, "The Captain and The Kid." This is the sequel to his triple platinum album "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy," which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with an expanded deluxe edition. He also continues to perform his critically acclaimed Red Piano show exclusively at Caesars Palace. A great humanitarian, Elton John's commitment to the fight against AIDS led to the inception of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (U.S. and London) has raised over $100 million to date making the Elton John AIDS Foundation one of the largest public non-profit organizations in the AIDS arena.

In December of 2004, Elton John received the Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime contributions to American culture and excellence through the performing arts. In 1998, he was knighted by the Queen of England, who honored him with the title Sir Elton John, CBE.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

THE 2004 KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: ELTON JOHN


A force of nature in the world of music, Sir Elton John is one of the most successful and influential musical artists of all time. His artistic reach is long, his generosity breathtaking and his presence powerful not only in popular music but also on the Broadway stage, on the Hollywood screen and beyond. Since his intensely personal 1970 ballad "Your Song," this inimitable Rocket Man of a piano man has conquered a field usually dominated by guitars and broke Elvis Presley’s record for the most consecutive years of Top 40 hits on the Billboard charts with 24 consecutive years on top. He has sold more than 60 million albums to date, and his work is far from over.

Not one to be contained by musical or any other borders, Elton John also has made his mark as a humanitarian of selfless devotion, a persuasive AIDS warrior, as a fearless champion of free speech. From "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" to "Bennie and the Jets" and "Candle in the Wind," from The Lion King to Aida, and from his Watford Football Club to today’s Elton John AIDS Foundation, here is an artist and humanist whose brilliance is drenched in love.

His first hit was a love song. Like much of his work, Elton John’s gentle "Your Song" remains a deceptively simple little gem. It is both a song and a song about a song, unabashedly romantic art reflecting on timeless art, post-modernism revealed to the masses: "And you can tell everybody this is your song / It may be quite simple but now that it's done / I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words / How wonderful life is while you're in the world." In the decades that have followed, Elton John has emerged in serious rock and roll armor from his tender 1970 debut. His enigmatic 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was both a straightforward musical meditation and a cultural snapshot of an era that would keep semioticians busy for years. He was a pioneer in moving rock music into ever-larger arenas, which nevertheless seemed somehow barely big enough for Elton John’s outrageously theatrical, larger-than-life spectacles.

His participation in the heartbreaking 1985 AIDS fundraiser "That’s What Friends Are For" and his own "Candle in the Wind 1997", a heartfelt tribute to the late Princess of Wales that sold more than 33 million copies, helped the world grieve and helped usher in a spirit of hope. The son of a Royal Air Force trumpet player, the future Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in the London suburb of Pinner. He taught himself the piano at the age of four. At eleven, he won a scholarship to a program for gifted children in the venerable Royal Academy of Music, where he was grounded in the classics even as his heart belonged to rock and roll. He left school after six years, joined the band Bluesology, changed his name to Elton John, and began appearing in London cabarets. An audition for Liberty Records did not yield much more than a promise, but it was at Liberty in 1967, that Elton John met Bernie Taupin. The pair became a songwriting team in 1968, and the hit-making machine of Elton John’s music and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics has not stopped ever since.

"Your Song" made Elton John a household name on both sides of the Atlantic in 1970, then the album Tumbleweed Connection that followed fast that same year only solidified his grip on the public imagination. The 1970s were truly his, with 1972’s "Rocket Man" marking the start of a four-year streak of 16 Top 20 hits in a row. He founded Rocket Records in 1973, producing albums by Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee. He co-wrote "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" with John Lennon, and he persuaded the ex-Beatle back onstage for a 1975 Madison Square Garden concert on Thanksgiving Day that was John Lennon’s last live performance.

Elton John’s singles "Crocodile Rock" and the ineffably moving "Daniel" became classics. His albums Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, the precocious Greatest Hits, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and the fun-punning Rock of the Westies, all released between 1973 and 1975, each went platinum. Captain Fantastic, also from 1975, became the first album in history to enter the American charts in the No. 1 spot. The frantic pace slowed a tad in 1976, when an exhausted Elton John announced he would cut back his live appearances and record only one album a year. Still, the 1980s saw little slowing down in Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Top 40 singles, all the way to 1990’s "Sacrifice"—a hit spawned by the album Sleeping with the Past that became Elton John’s first No. 1 hit in his British homeland. In 1993, The One became the first album ever to receive multi-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the same year his collaboration with Tim Rice for the soundtrack of Walt Disney’s The Lion King entered the Top Forty. In 1995, it was his "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King that earned Elton John his first Grammy for Best Vocal Pop Performance.

The stage version of The Lion King opened on Broadway in November 1997 garnering 10 Tony nominations and winning the Tony for Best Musical. He followed the extraordinary success of his first musical with AIDA, which opened on Broadway in March 2000 with five Tony nominations, and the Tony Award for Best Score.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998, the year after "Candle in the Wind 1997" became the second biggest single in history, after Bing Crosby’s "White Christmas." He continues his work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation to this day; Elton John has given more than $20 million to help people living with HIV and AIDS. He is returning to musicals, on the heels of AIDA and The Lion King, with a project to be based on the film Billy Elliot, premiering at Victoria Palace in London in March 2005. The music goes on. That is his gift of hope.


Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Tuesday, February 24, 1998

Wednesday, January 19, 1994

THE 1994 ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: ELTON JOHN


Inductee: Elton John (piano, vocals; born March 25, 1947)
Induction Year: 1994; Induction Category: Performer


Elton John is among the most successful musical artists of the modern era. In terms of popularity, he ranks with Elvis Presley and the Beatles among rock and rollers. Moreover, his longevity as an active recording artist surpasses both of them. In 1992, he broke Elvis Presley’s old record for the most consecutive years of Top 40 hits on Billboard’s singles chart, having been a continual presence in every year since “Your Song” debuted in December 1970. A multifaceted talent, Elton John excels as both a ballad-oriented singer/songwriter and a flamboyant rock and roll star. He is also a first-rate musician who elevated the role of piano in a medium theretofore dominated by guitars.


Elton John emerged from the obscurity of a British song publisher’s office in a meteoric rise to superstar status during the Seventies. Toting a wardrobe of outrageous costumes and glasses, he was the consummate live entertainer, providing a splashy, larger-than-life visual spectacle to complement his music. He helped usher rock into the arenas during the decade when that conquest became unequivocal. Elton John and longtime lyricist and partner Bernie Taupin identified and shaped the mood of the Seventies from its inception. Given to roughly equal numbers of ballads and rockers, Elton John’s output was as critical to this decade as the Beatles were to the Sixties and Elvis Presley to the Fifties. There was even a bit of overlap between the Beatles and Elton John, as Elton John had the most successful Beatles cover ever with his 1974 version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – which featured John Lennon as guest guitarist.

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, a suburb of London. He displayed early promise on the piano and was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where he enrolled in a program for musically gifted children. Though tutored in the classics, his heart belonged to rock and roll, especially Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. Early on, he joined a band called Bluesology, a blue-eyed soul group whose members included singer Long John Baldry and sax player Elton Dean. (The combination of their first names provided Reg Dwight with the stage name “Elton John.") Elton John met lyricist Bernie Taupin when both answered a June 1967 ad placed by Liberty Records in the British music paper New Musical Express. Thus began a prolific partnership that endures to this day.

If Elton John’s earliest albums - Empty Sky, Elton John and Tumbleweed Connection - established him as a solid arrival on the rock scene, his concert performances sent his career into orbit. The Elton John Band - the Seventies core of which included guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson - was an onstage powerhouse. Elton John’s flamboyant stage wardrobe included ostrich feathers, $5,000 spectacles that spelled his name in lights, a Statue of Liberty costume and more. He’d take the stage attired as Donald Duck or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the game of sartorial one-upmanship during the over-the-top Seventies, Elton John was without peer.

All the while, he steadily amassed a formidable catalog of recordings, their classic status being all the more amazing for the prolific pace at which he worked. During 1971 alone, four new Elton John albums made their appearance on Billboard’s album chart: the western-themed Tumbleweed Connection; the soundtrack to an obscure film, Friends; the live album 11-17-70, recorded on that date at a New York radio station’s studio; and Madman Across the Water, which contained the favorites “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon” and the brooding title track. Honky Chateau, which appeared in 1972, was top-heavy with classic tracks, including “Honky Cat” and “Rocket Man.” The latter was a profound match of words and music that used space travel as a metaphor for spiritual isolation.

In 1973, Elton John launched his own custom label, Rocket Records. That peak year saw the release of the poppy, hit-filled Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player (“Crocodile Rock” and “Daniel,”) and the more thoughtful, album-oriented double-LP Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had already racked up five Top Forty hits prior to the release of Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, but the floodgates opened in the wake of the chart-topping success of that album’s “Crocodile Rock.” In the three-year period from 1973 to 1976, Elton John amassed 15 hit singles, including six that went to #1 (“Crocodile Rock,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Island Girl,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”) and three that reached #2 (“Daniel,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”). Those 15 singles logged a combined 156 weeks from 1973-1976, which is to say that, on average, an Elton John single could be found in the Top Forty every week for three years. In other words, Elton John completely dominated the rock world in the mid-Seventies.

Moreover, Elton John wasn’t just a highly successful singles artist. From 1972 to 1975, he released seven consecutive albums that topped the charts: Honky Chateau (1972, #1 for five weeks), Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player (1973, #1 for two weeks), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973, #1 for eight weeks), Caribou (1974, #1 for four weeks), Elton John – Greatest Hits (1974, #1 for ten weeks), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975, #1 for seven weeks) and Rock of the Westies (1975, #1 for three weeks). These seven albums topped the album chart for a combined total of 39 weeks, which is to say an Elton John album was ensconced at #1 every fourth week or so during the mid-Seventies. Sales figures and chart statistics such as these place Elton John in a rarefied class with the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks and Bob Dylan.

In 1974, Elton John became director of a professional soccer team, the Watford Football Club. On Thanksgiving Day of that year, he coaxed a reclusive John Lennon onstage for three songs during a Madison Square Garden concert that turned out to be John Lennon’s final public performance. The charmed year of 1975 began with Elton John – Greatest Hits lodged at #1. Later that year, two albums of new material - Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, a musical autobiography about Elton John and Bernie Taupin, his longtime lyricist, and the more straightforward, rock-oriented Rock of the Westies - entered the album chart at #1, a previously unprecedented feat.

Elton John’s exhausting pace tapered off as the Seventies wound down. Elton John and Bernie Taupin took a two-year hiatus from each other, during which time they worked with other writers. They resumed their partnership by co-writing several songs on 21 at 33 (1981), and 1983’s Too Low for Zero was their first fully collaborative album of the Eighties. The rest of the decade found Elton John working less furiously, though no less successfully, charting almost exactly as many Top 40 singles during that decade as he had in the previous one. Among them was “Sacrifice,” taken from 1990’s Sleeping With the Past, which became Elton John’s first-ever #1 hit in his British homeland.

Elton John remained active and viable in the Nineties, adding a tireless devotion to AIDS-related issues to his resume. Among other things, he established the Elton John AIDS foundation to provide funds for services to people living with HIV/AIDS and for educational programs targeting AIDS prevention. Meanwhile, oblivious to trends or the passage of time, Elton John continued his hitmaking ways. He scored a #1 single in 1992 with a live remake of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (a duet with George Michael) and reached #4 in 1994 with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” from the soundtrack to the Walt Disney film The Lion King. Five songs from that animated feature were composed by Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice.

The year 1997 was an eventful one for Elton John, marked by both triumph and tragedy. He lost two close friends, Britain’s Princess Diana and Italian designer Gianni Versace, under tragic circumstances. On the other hand, his tribute single to Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997” – which was produced in a day by George Martin – became a phenomenal success that helped the whole world in its grieving. It sold more than 33 million copies, becoming the biggest single in history, and raised over 20 million pounds (roughly 30 million U.S. dollars) for the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund. In early 1998, Elton John was knighted in his British homeland. That same year, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that Elton John was the second top-selling solo artist of all time (behind Garth Brooks), with a grand total of 60.6 million units sold.

Elton John reprised his collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice for Walt Disney’s Broadway musical Aida (based on Verdi’s opera), which opened in March 2000 and won four Tony Awards. As luck would have it, John co-wrote the music for the spring season’s two most popular Broadway musicals: The Lion King and Aida. He returned to the world of rock and roll in with a concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden that was released as Elton John – One Night Only (The Greatest Hits). In 2001, he released an album, Songs from the West Coast, which harked back in spirit and approach to earlier classics like Tumbleweed Connection.

TIMELINE

March 25, 1947: Reginald Kenneth Dwight, a.k.a. Elton John, is born in the London suburb of Pinner.

June 23, 1967: Elton John answers an ad placed by Liberty Records in Britain’s ‘New Musical Express,’ thereby setting in motion a chain of events that will result in his teaming up with lyricist Bernie Taupin, his lifetime songwriting collaborator.

June 3, 1969: ‘Empty Sky,’ Elton John’s first album, is released in England. It will not be released in the U.S. until 1975, when Elton John is a bonafide superstar.

August 25, 1970: Elton John makes his performing debut in America at Los Angeles’ Troubadour nightclub.

January 23, 1971: Elton John reaches #8 with “Your Song.” It is the first in a string of 60 hit singles for Elton John over the next three decades.

April 10, 1971: Elton John hits #34 with “Friends”.

February 5, 1972: Elton John hits #24 with “Levon”.

July 15, 1972: Elton John hits #6 with “Rocket Man,” a song whose words and music make a timely play on the U.S. space program.

September 23, 1972: Elton John hits #8 with “Honky Cat”.

February 3, 1973: Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” hits #1. It is the first of a half dozen chart-topping singles for Elton John over the next three years.

June 2, 1973: Elton John hits #2 with “Daniel,” a pensive ballad from his hit-filled album Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player.

September 15, 1973: Elton John hits #12 with “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”

December 8, 1973: Elton John hits #2 with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” the title track from a double album that would itself reach #1 and remain on the album charts for two years.

April 13, 1974: Elton John hits #1 with “Bennie and the Jets,” a tribute to R&B music from ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’ “When I first heard ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ I knew I had to be a performer,” Axl Rose (of Guns N’ Roses) would say in his 1994 speech inducting Elton John into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

July 27, 1974: Elton John hits #2 with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” from his ‘Caribou’ album. The song features Beach Boys Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston on backing vocals.

November 2, 1974: Elton John hits #2 with “The Bitch is Back.”

November 28, 1974: Having promised Elton John that he would join him onstage if “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” hit #1, John Lennon makes good by accompanying Elton John on three songs at Madison Square Garden. It turns out to be John Lennon’s last-ever live performance.

January 4, 1975: Elton John hits #1 with his remake of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” John Lennon plays guitar on this non-LP single under the pseudonym Dr. Winston O’Boogie.

April 12, 1975: Elton John hits #1 with “Philadelphia Freedom,” a song inspired by his friendship with tennis superstar Billie Jean King, whose pro team is the Philadelphia Freedoms.

August 16, 1975: Elton John hits #4 with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

October 11, 1975: “Bad Blood,” by Neil Sedaka, hits #1. It features Elton John on harmony vocals and appears on Elton John’s own label, Rocket Records.

November 1, 1975: Elton John hits #1 with “Island Girl,” from ‘Rock of the Westies,’ his seventh consecutive #1 album.

August 7, 1976: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, tops the charts for the first of four weeks. It is Elton John’s sixth #1 hit in three years – and his last one in the U.S. for 21 years.

December 25, 1976: Elton John hits #6 with “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”.

November 3, 1977: An exhausted Elton John announces at a London concert that he is retiring from live performances, which he does – for 15 months.

February 3, 1979: Close on the heels of a new album, ‘A Single Man,’ Elton John resumes touring after a 15-month hiatus.

May 30, 1980: Elton John releases ‘21 at 33,’ which reunites him with lyricist Bernie Taupin. The title refers to the fact that it is the 33-year-old Elton John’s 21st album.

December 14, 1986: Elton John performs in Sydney, Australia, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The concert is released as the double album ‘Live in Australia’ in July 1987.

August 1, 1987: MTV Europe, the continent’s only 24-hour music-video network, is launched at 12:01 a.m. Elton John switches on the channel from the Roxy Club in Amsterdam. The first video to be shown is Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing.”

September 23, 1988: Elton John concludes a sold-out five-night stand at New York’s Madison Square Garden. It is his 26th sold-out concert at the venue, breaking the Grateful Dead’s old record.

June 23, 1990: “Sacrifice,” from the album ‘Sleeping With the Past,’ becomes Elton John’s first-ever #1 hit in his British homeland.

December 21, 1992: Elton John establishes the Elton John AIDS Foundation, aimed at AIDS prevention education and direct care services.

February 18, 1993: Elton John’s album ‘The One’ becomes the first to receive multi-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Previously, albums were only certified gold (500,000 copies sold) or platinum (1,000,000 copies sold).

April 3, 1993: Elton John’s “Simple Life,” from his 1992 album ‘The One,’ enters Billboard’s Top Forty. With this charting single, Elton John breaks Elvis Presley’s longstanding record with 24 consecutive years of Top Forty hits.

January 19, 1994: Elton John is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the ninth annual induction dinner. Axl Rose, of Guns N’ Roses, is his presenter.

June 4, 1994: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” by Elton John – a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice from the soundtrack to Walt Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ – enters the Top Forty, where it will peak at #4. It extends Elton John’s record-breaking streak of consecutive years of Top Forty hits to 25.

July 13, 1994: Elton John and Billy Joel team up for a joint tour for the first time. The union of two piano-playing rock and roll superstars virtually guarantees sellouts.

March 1, 1995: After countless Grammy nominations dating back to 1970, Elton John receives his first Grammy Award as an artist for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (from ‘The Lion King’), which wins Best Pop Vocal Performance. The same song wins Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice an Oscar for Best Song from a Motion Picture at the March 27th Academy Awards.

October 2, 1997: It is announced that “Candle in the Wind 1997,” Elton John’s tribute to the late Princess Diana, has shipped more than 26 million units worldwide, making it the second biggest single in history (behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”). It tops the U.S. charts for 14 weeks.

February 24, 1998: “Sir” Elton John is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

October 2, 2001: Elton John releases ‘Songs from the West Coast.’ It is his 40th U.S. album, including compilations and soundtracks.

Wednesday, May 27, 1992

THE 1992 SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME: ELTON JOHN


Elton John, one of the most successful purveyors of hit songs and records in the history of the music industry, has numerous distinctions. Without question, he fits the classification of "singer/songwriter" like few others. He is the composer of virtually all his hit recorded songs. He and lyric writer, Bernie Taupin, comprise one of the longest-running and most successful songwriting teams of all time.

Elton John is also one of the earliest hit-recording artists of the rock and roll era to make his piano the lead instrument in his records, at a time that was dominated by the guitar. Elton John also performed his own brand of music magic in two of the legendary venues of the late '60s and early 70s, The Fillmore East in New York and The Troubadour in West Hollywood, an address where many notables of the music field have since worked.

In fact, it was at The Troubadour, where Bob Hilburn, the pop and rock critic for the Los Angeles Times, first spotted Elton John and gave a rave review for the performance. Since that important break for Elton John, he has sold more than 100,000,000 records. He has also been awarded 23 gold albums and 13 gold single records.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in the London suburb of Pinner in 1947, he made his first approach to a music career by answering a classified ad in a London music paper, wherein a songwriter was being sought. Also responding to the ad was the poet and lyric writer, Bernie Taupin. The coincidence resulted in the two meeting each other and eventually forming a writing partnership, which continues to exist today.

The name Reg Dwight became Elton John through another happenstance. Reg Dwight was performing in an R&B band known as Bluesology, which also featured Elton Dean and Long John Baldry, and a name from each was borrowed.

Sparked by the success of his first album, with songs by the newly established team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Elton John recorded more than 30 albums and scored with many single hits, including "Rocket Man," "Levon," "Honky Cat," "Crocodile Rock," "Daniel," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

During the first decade of his career, Elton John's performances were, to say the least, colorful. In fact, his on-stage demeanor became eccentric and flamboyant, with stacked up heels, outlandish costumes and ludicrous spectacles, which have become his most notable trademark.

During the 1980's, Elton John moved further afield from America, England and the Continent, to spread his exciting message all over the world. He sold out eight concert performances in Leningrad, the first Western star to accomplish such a feat. He later created a wave of hysteria when he visited Australia in 1987. His televised concert was watched by over 6,000,000 fans.

THE 1992 SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME: BERNIE TAUPIN


When Liberty Records of the UK placed an innocuous ad seeking new songwriters, in England's music paper, The New Musical Express, amazing repercussions were soon to take place. It was 1967, four years after the arrival of The Beatles and two years before Woodstock, when a lyric writer, Bernie Taupin, then a teenager, answered the ad by submitting a bundle of his lyrics. At virtually the same moment, a composer and pianist, Reg Dwight, who would soon become Elton John also submitted samples of his work, and when a record executive hooked the two up, history was about to be made. With the advent of this new songwriting duo, an uninterrupted quarter century of creativity ensued with Bernie Taupin taking his place as one of the premier lyricists in the entire spectrum of rock and roll.

Born in 1950, Bernie Taupin grew up in the Lincolnshire region of the north of England. From early childhood, he developed a powerful interest in poetry and his parents nurtured his interest and love for words, by reading him the great epic poems. As he grew older, he became fascinated with the music of great American folk artists like Woody Guthrie, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, all of whose lyrics amounted to narrative poetry.

In answer to the Liberty Records ad, the partnership with Reg Dwight ensued as the pair was hired by Dick James Music to compose songs for other artists on its roster. Very few of these songs were recorded. The first collaboration by the new team was a song titled, "Lady Samantha," which followed Elton John's first recorded single, "I've Been Loving You," written solely by Elton John. It has been noted in commentaries about Bernie Taupin that the late '60s were a time of pretentiousness and general weirdness in lyrics, and Bernie Taupin has claimed that viewing those early lyrics from the vantage point of today, he understands less than 50 percent of his output. Nevertheless, a lasting friendship and working partnership was born and was to last at least a quarter of a century.

In 1991 Elton John-Bernie Taupin celebrated their silver anniversary with the release of a special tribute album on Polydor Records, containing new versions of the duo's best-known songs by a host of recording stars, including Eric Clapton, Sting, The Who, The Beach Boys, Phil Collins, George Michael and Rod Stewart. In addition to his collaborations with Elton John, Bernie Taupin has also completed his first book, the autobiographical, A Cradle of Halos, and a first collection of poetry, Devil at High Noon.

Thursday, October 23, 1975

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