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Friday, 25 September 2015

Elton John

Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, the eldest child of Stanley Dwight, who served as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force and only child of Sheila Eileen (Harris). His parents did not marry until he was 6-years-old.

Reginald started playing the piano at the age of 3, and within a year, his mother heard him picking out Winifred Atwell's "The Skater's Waltz" by ear. He started formal piano lessons at the age of 7.

At the age of 11, Reginald won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.

In 1964, Dwight formed the band Bluesology with friends. By the mid-60s, the band was backing a number of US soul and R&B acts, including The Isley Brothers and Patti LeBelle and the Bluebells.

Dwight changed his name to Elton John to honor Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry in 1967. For a middle name, he picked Hercules, which was the name of the horse in the British comedy series Steptoe and Son.

Elton John was only the second rock act (after the Beatles) to be honored with a statue in Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. His waxwork was unveiled on March 7, 1976.

Elton John became the first Western rock star to play in Israel in 1979 when he performed a concert in Jerusalem.

Elton John lost his voice in 1986 while on tour in Australia. He was admitted to a hospital in Sydney, for emergency throat surgery in January of the following year, and forbidden from performing for four months. Several non-cancerous polyps were removed from his vocal cords, resulting in a change in his singing voice.

Elton held a four-day "garage sale" in 1988 where the items sold included the boots he wore in the movie Tommy and his Statue of Liberty stage costume that the musician felt he had outgrown. The take was $6.2 million.

John didn't win a Grammy until 1986. It was for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, for his collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight on "That's What Friends Are For."

Elton John achieved a US Top 40 single every year from 1970 to 1996. When he cracked the Top 40 with "The Last Song," it made 23 consecutive years he'd had a song on the charts, breaking Elvis Presley's previous record of 22.

John wrote the music for the Disney movie, The Lion King, which became a Broadway musical in 1997. It has become the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, with grosses of more than $1 billion.

His biggest selling single is "Candle in the Wind." Originally written in 1973 as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, John sang it at Princess Diana's funeral and released a revised version, with proceeds going to charity. It sold 33 million copies.

John was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1996. Two years later, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services," making him Sir Elton.

As a child, John didn't need glasses, but wore them anyway to look like Buddy Holly. They damaged his eyes so much that he was soon forced to wear them.

Elton John performs at the Skagerak Arena in Skien, Norway, June 2009. By Ernst Vikne  Wikipedia Commons

In 2010, John told BBC Radio that he owned 250,000 pairs of glasses. "I don't have a iPod or a mobile phone or a computer. I do have a quarter of a million pairs of glasses but I don't even have a mobile phone. If people want to get hold of me they can. The Internet doesn't interest me either apart from getting sports scores."

In 2005, Elton and his longtime partner David Furnish were one of the first couples in the UK to form a civil partnership after the Civil Partnership Act came into effect. Exactly nine years later, they married after gay marriage became legal in England.

Elton and David’s first son, Zachary, was born by surrogacy on December 25, 2010, and their second son, Elijah, was born by surrogacy on January 11, 2013.

Elton's cousin, Reg Dwight, was a professional footballer, who opened the scoring for Nottingham Forest in the 1959 FA Cup Final against Luton Town. However after 33 minutes, Dwight was carried off the Wembley pitch after breaking his leg in a tackle. Ten-man Forest held on, winning the match 2-1 to become the only team reduced to 10 men by injury to win the trophy.

Having supported Watford Football Club since growing up locally, Elton became the club's chairman and director in 1976, appointing Graham Taylor as manager and investing large sums of money as the club rose three divisions into the English First Division.

On December 13, 2014, Elton appeared at Watford's Vicarage Road with David Furnish, and his sons Zachary and Elijah for the opening of the "Sir Elton John Stand".

Elton has a number of famous godchildren, including Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono; and Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham, the children of David and Victoria Beckham.


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