Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Pinner, Middlesex, England in 1947. In 1966, Elton formed his first band called Bluesology. Bluesology started out backing visiting U.S. soul artists, like the Isley Brothers, Billy Stewart and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.
Also, in 1966, Bluesology became the supporting band for Long John Baldry. In fact, it was from this band that Reginald got his stage name by taking the first names of Bluesology band members Elton Dean and John Baldry.
Elton teamed up with lyricist Bernie Taupin in 1967 in a partnership that continues today. They formed Rocket Records in 1973.
On the big screen, you’ll see Elton playing the Pinball Wizard in Pete Townsend’s film version of “Tommy.”
Little known fact: Elton plays piano on the Hollies 1970 hit, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
On the charts, Elton John has had at least one Billboard top 40 song every year between 1970 and 2012, including nine number one hits. He also has had seven consecutive number one albums.
Here are Elton John’s thirty biggest single hits, according to Billboard magazine:
1.Something About the Way You Look Tonight/Candle in the Wind – 1997 – A double A-side single that topped the charts for fourteen weeks. This is the second highest-selling single in history, second to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” it was dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car accident in 1997. A live version single of “Candle in the Wind” was released in 1987 and was dedicated to Marilyn Monroe. It went to #6 on the weekly charts.
2. That’s What Friends Are For – 1986 – Elton’s last #1 single for five years, was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. Proceeds from this song went into AIDS research.
3. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – 1976 – A duet with pop singer Kiki Dee that went to number one for four weeks. Elton rerecorded the song for the album “Duets” with drag queen RuPaul.
4. Crocodile Rock – 1973 – Elton’s first #1 single came from his “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player” album. It was inspired after Elton heard the Australian band, Daddy Cool, sing their hit song, “Eagle Rock.”
5. Island Girl – 1975 – A song about a man who wants to take a New York City male prostitute back to Jamaica. It would be thirteen years before Elton would announce he was gay.
6. Philadelphia Freedom – 1975 – Listed as The Elton John Band, this song was written for Elton’s friend, tennis star, Billie Jean King, who was part of the Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team. The B-side is a live version of “I Saw Her Standing There” with John Lennon.
7. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds – 1975 – A credit on the label goes to “the Reggae guitars of Dr. Winston O’Boogie” who was actually John Lennon doing backup vocals.
8. Bennie and the Jets – 1974 – From the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album Elton didn’t want to release this song as a single, fearing that it would fail.
9. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – 1991 – From the album, “Duets,” Elton and George Michael recorded this song live at Wembley Arena in London. This version did better than Elton’s 1974 release, with this version going to number one for one week.
10. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – 1973 – Some critics have named this Elton’s best song. The title of the B-side, “Screw You” was changed to “Young Man’s Blues” so American record buyers wouldn’t be offended.
11. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – 1974 – From the “Caribou” album, the original version of this song featured backing vocals from the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston and also featured Toni Tennille.
12. I Don’t Want To Go On With You Like That – 1988 – Found on the “Reg Strikes Back” album, this song was a regular during Elton’s 1990’s concerts, but was retired in 2000.
13. Daniel – 1973 – According to lyricist Bernie Taupin, this song is about a fictitious, blind, Viet Nam War veteran returning home to Texas and to the life he had before.
14. Little Jeannie – 1980 – Elton’s biggest hit in four years was co-written with Gary Osborne. Elton rarely performed this song and did so only on his 1980 and 2000’s “One Night Only” concerts.
15. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – 1984 Stevie Wonder chips in with the harmonica solo on this song which is featured on the “Too Low For Zero” album.
16. Someone Saved My Life Tonight – 1975 – The only single released from the “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” album, which went to #1 on the album charts the first week it was released.
17. The Bitch Is Back – 1974 – Dusty Springfield is one of the backing vocalists on this song which was banned on several radio stations.
18. Can You Feel The Love Tonight? – 1994 – From “The Lion King Soundtrack,” Elton won the 1994 Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
19. Sad Songs (Say So Much) – 1984 – A song from the “Breaking Hearts” album. The music video features Elton rarely seen without his glasses.
20. Rocket Man – 1972 – Lyricist Bernie Taupin says the inspiration for this song came from a Ray Bradbury short story. It is often compared to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
21. Candle in the Wind (live) – 1987 – Originally recorded in 1973 for the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album, this haunting ballad was rerecorded with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe.
22. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word – 1976 – From the “Blue Moves” album, this song has been covered by Joe Cocker, Clay Aiken and by Elton, himself, on several duets, including one with Ray Charles from his “Genius Loves Company” album.
23. Nikita – 1986 – Written about the Cold War, this song features backing vocals from George Michael of Wham! fame.
24. Your Song – 1970 – Elton’s first U.S. single features Leon Russell on piano. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
25. Honky Cat – 1972 – Elton’s third top ten single came from the album, “Honky Chateau.” The album title refers to the Chateau d’Herouville, outside of Paris, where it was recorded.
26. Mama Can’t Buy You Love 1979 – Written by LeRoy Bell and Casey James (Bell and James of “Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” fame). This gave Elton his first top ten single in nearly three years.
27. The One – 1992 – From the album of the same name, Elton performed this song at the 1992 Video Music Awards.
28. I’m Still Standing – 1983 – This song is about Bernie Taupin’s attempt at being strong after his first marriage crumbled.
29. Blue Eyes – 1982 – Written by Elton and Gary Osborne for the album, “Jump Up!” The video was filmed in Sydney, Australia.
30. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – 1973 – Written about Bernie Taupin’s teenage days and the fights he saw at local pubs. Other cover versions of this song include Queen and The Who. The song was featured on the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album.
Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and he was knighted in 1998.
Billboard ranked Elton, in 2008, as the most successful male artist on their list of “Top 100 All Time Artists”, coming in third, overall, just behind The Beatles and Madonna.
Elton’s 31st album, “The Diving Board” is scheduled for release in 2013.
He continues to tour and brings his music to fans everywhere.