John, Sir Elton

John, Sir Elton

▪ British musician
in full  Sir Elton Hercules John , original name  Reginald Kenneth Dwight 
born March 25, 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, Eng.
  British singer, composer, and pianist who was one of the most popular entertainers of the late 20th century. He fused as many strands of popular music and stylistic showmanship as Elvis Presley (Presley, Elvis) in a concert and recording career that included the sale of hundreds of millions of records.

      A child prodigy on the piano, John was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at 11. Gravitating toward pop after discovering rhythm and blues, he joined Bluesology, later John Baldry's backing band, in the mid-1960s. He met his major songwriting collaborator, Bernie Taupin (b. May 22, 1950, Sleaford, Lincolnshire), after both responded to an advertisement in a trade magazine, and his first British recording success was with "Lady Samantha" in 1968. His first American album, Elton John, was released in 1970 and immediately established him as a major international star.

      Throughout his career John demonstrated a supreme talent for assimilating and blending diverse pop and rock styles into a propulsive, streamlined sound that was extroverted, energetic, and somewhat impersonal. His recordings were among the first to homogenize electric guitar and acoustic piano with synthesized instrumentation. His vocal style, with its Southern accent and gospel (gospel music) inflections, was strongly American-influenced, as was his pianism, an ornate, gospel-flavoured elaboration of the stylings of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis (Lewis, Jerry Lee). His first American hit, "Your Song," in 1970, was a love ballad (pop ballad) that combined the introspective mood of the era's singer-songwriters with a more traditional pop craftsmanship. John's early 1970s recordings paid homage to country rock and folk rock models such as the Band (Band, the) and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

      By 1973 John was one of the world's best-selling pop performers. His typical compositions, written with Taupin, were affectionate parodies and pastiches of everything from the Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones, the) ( "The Bitch Is Back" [1974]) to Frank Sinatra (Sinatra, Frank) ballads ( "Blue Eyes" [1982]) to 1950s rock and roll ( "Crocodile Rock" [1972]) to Philadelphia soul ( "Philadelphia Freedom" [1975]). He also demonstrated deeper musical ambitions in longer works such as "Burn Down the Mission" on Tumbleweed Connection (1971) and "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973).

 Beginning in 1976 with the album Blue Moves, his rock influences became less pronounced, and a more churchlike English pop style emerged in ballads like "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" (1976), which typified the staid declamatory aura of his mature ballads. In the late 1970s and '80s, as he experimented with other collaborators, his music lost some of its freshness and his popularity dipped a bit, but he remained an extremely popular mainstream entertainer who brought into the pop arena an old-fashioned gaudily costumed flamboyance reminiscent of the Las Vegas piano legend Liberace. In the 1990s John was the first male pop star to declare his homosexuality, suffering no noticeable career damage. With lyricist Tim Rice he also wrote songs for the film The Lion King (1994), which was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1997. The same year, a new version of his 1973 song "Candle in the Wind," revised by Taupin to mourn the death of Diana, princess of Wales, became the most successful pop single in history, selling more than 30 million copies. In 2003 John began an open engagement at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The show, titled Elton John and the Red Piano, was a multimedia retrospective of his career, with visuals provided by photographer David LaChapelle. John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1998 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Stephen Holden

Representative Works

Elton John (1970)
● “Your Song” (1970)
Tumbleweed Connection (1971)
Madman Across the Water (1971)
Honky Chateau (1972)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
● “Philadelphia Freedom” (1975)
● “Candle in the Wind 1997” (1997)

Additional Reading
Philip Norman, Elton John (also published as Elton, 1991), is a biography.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • John, Sir Elton (Hercules) — orig. Reginald Kenneth Dwight born March 25, 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, Eng. British rock singer, pianist, and songwriter. He played piano by ear as a child, winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11. In the late 1960s he began… …   Universalium

  • John, Sir Elton (Hercules) — orig. Reginald Kenneth Dwight (n. 25 mar. 1947, Pinner, Middlesex, Inglaterra). Pianista y cantautor de rock británico. Desde niño tocaba el piano de oído, ganándose una beca para estudiar en la Academia real de música a los 11 años. A fines de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sir Elton John — Elton John Live in Ischgl (2008) Chartplatzierungen Erklärung der Daten Singles Border S …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sir Elton Hercules John — Elton John Elton John Elton John en concert au Keepmoat Stadium à Doncaster en juillet 2008. Alias …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sir Elton John — Elton John Elton John Elton John en concert au Keepmoat Stadium à Doncaster en juillet 2008. Alias …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Elton Hercules John — Elton John Live in Ischgl (2008) Chartplatzierungen Erklärung der Daten Singles Border So …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elton John (Album) — Elton John Studioalbum von Elton John Veröffentlichung 1970 Label DJM Records Format LP, CD, Compact Cassette, Super Audio Compact Disc, Doppel CD …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elton John — Pour les articles homonymes, voir John. Sir Elton John …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John — /jon/, n. 1. the apostle John, believed to be the author of the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation. 2. See John the Baptist. 3. (John Lackland) 1167? 1216, king of England 1199 1216; signer of the Magna Carta 1215 (son of… …   Universalium

  • john — /jon/, n. Slang. 1. a toilet or bathroom. 2. (sometimes cap.) a fellow; guy. 3. (sometimes cap.) a prostitute s customer. [generic use of the proper name] * * * I known as John Lackland born Dec. 24, 1167, Oxford, Eng. died Oct. 18/19, 1216,… …   Universalium

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