Among Sir Elton John's 30-plus years of accolades is his recognition as the second bestselling all-time solo artist in the U.S. (behind Garth Brooks), the distinction of charting a Top 40 single each calendar year from 1970 (with his breakthrough hit "Your Song") through 1997, success with music for film and Broadway (The Lion King, Aida) and, on a philanthropic note, his fundraising efforts with the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He also scored the biggest selling single of all time with his lyrically updated "Candle In The Wind," performed in Westminster Abbey for a global TV audience of 2 billion at his friend Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. Many of his songs, from "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" to "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," are classic rock and adult contemporary standards.
Born in Pinner, Middlesex in 1947, Reginald Dwight joined his first band, Bluesology, in 1961. By 1965, Bluesology was backing touring American soul and R&B musicians. In 1966, the group became Long John Baldry's supporting band and began touring cabarets throughout England. Auditioning for Liberty Records, he was given a stack of lyrics by Bernie Taupin, and the two began a writing songs by mail.
In 1968, the future superstar songwriting team was signed by Dick James, formerly of Northern Songs and the Beatles music publisher, to be staff writers for his new company DJM Records. In June 1969 Empty Sky was released, to favorable reviews but sluggish sales. Wide recognition came the following year. Following a very successful American appearance at the Troubadour in L.A. in August 1970, supporting the release of his orchestrally-enhanced self titled debut, which featured singles "Border Song" and the classic "Your Song". The latter provided John's first UK hit, reaching #2.
The momentum maintained with Tumbleweed Connection, and over the next few years Elton John became a superstar. His concerts in America became legendary for his wild outfits, exaggerated platform soled boots, and outrageous spectacles. At one point between 1972 and 1975 he had seven consecutive #1 albums, including Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Rock of the Westies. In 1973, John founded the MCA-distributed Rocket Records, in order to sign and produce acts like Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee.
In 1975, Captain Fantastic became the first album to enter the American charts at number one. In 1976 he topped the UK charts with a joyous duet with Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," and released further two million-selling albums, Here And There, and Blue Moves. But in 1977, John declared that he was retiring from music, and in 1979 Taupin came back to Los Angeles. The two reunited for tracks on 1980's 21 at 33. In 1981, he signed with Geffen Records and his second album, Jump Up! went gold. 1983's Too Low for Zero launched his last great streak of hit singles, including the MTV hit "I'm Still Standing." Throughout the rest of the '80s, John's albums would consistently go gold, and always generated at least one Top 40 single.
In 1988, two years after undergoing successful throat surgery, he released Reg Strikes Back. Five new songs by the artist (written with Tim Rice) graced the soundtrack to 1994's Disney blockbuster, The Lion King, and the accompanying album reached #1 on the U.S. charts.
His career scaled new heights in September 1997 when, following the tragic death of his friend Diana, Princess Of Wales, he was asked by her family to sing at the funeral. At the end of the year, he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.His first studio album of the new millennium, Songs From The West Coast, was hailed as a return to the standards set by his classic early 70s material.
He has now embarked on a three-year stand in Las Vegas.