Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, Elton John was one of the 20th century's biggest music icons who was musically gifted from a young age. He started learning piano at the early age of four and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when he was only 11 years old. However, he quit two weeks before graduation to pursue a musical career. He worked for a music publishing company and played the piano in bars, before joining a band called Bluesology. He was 15 at the time.
In 1967, John answered an ad for a songwriter for Liberty Records. He got the job and soon teamed up with Bernie Taupin, who later became his long-term song-writing partner. Two years after writing songs for other artists with Taupin, John began his career as a singer with his 1969 album "Empty Sky". While that effort was a commercial failure, his 1970 self-titled effort featured his first hit "Your Song". More hits soon followed, with "Honky Chateau" becoming his first No. 1 album on Billboard 200 chart. Spawning hits like "Rocket Man" and "Honky Cat", the album spent weeks atop the chart and reached No. 2 in the U.K.
John earned his first No. 1 single in the United States with "Crocodile Rock", which was featured in his 1973 album "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player". His following album, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", gained instant critical acclaim and established John as a glam rock star. That same year, John launched his own record label Rocket Records.
Following several collaborations with John Lennon of The Beatles, John released his next album "Caribou" in 1974. It became his third chart-topping album in the U.K. and ruled music charts in several countries. In the following year, he made his acting debut by starring as the Pinball Wizard in the film adaptation of the rock opera "Tommy" before releasing a duet with Kiki Dee entitled "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" in 1976. The song became his first No. 1 single in Britain.
His popularity began to decline after that, particularly after he publicly announced that he was bisexual. At the time, John was ridiculed and taunted for his sexuality. He began abusing alcohol and drugs during this time. The controversy died down, and he made his return to the music industry in 1979 with the album "A Single Man". However, the album produced no singles that made the top 20 in the U.S. His following album, "Victim of Love", was also poorly received by people.
John was able to return to the charts with the 1983 hit album "Too Low for Zero", which included "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues". In that same year, John met Renate Blauel whom later he married on Valentine's Day 1984. The British press attacked both his marriage and John, accusing him of tying the knot with Blauel to hide his homosexuality.
Following the release of his eighteenth studio album "Breaking Hearts", John hit the stage at Live Aid at Wimbley Stadium in 1985, performing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Kiki Dee for the first time since Hammersmith Odeon in December 1982. He then released a hit entitled "Nikita", which reached the top ten on music charts in numerous countries. His collaborations with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, "That's What Friends Are For", topped music charts in the United States.
John's personal life was once again put in the spotlight in 1987 when he won a case against The Sun which published false allegations of him having sex with rent boys. In the following year, he announced that he and his wife had ended their marriage. In 1990, after years of battling substance abuse issues, John went into rehabilitation. That year, his "Sleeping with the Past" track "Sacrifice" became a hit as it stayed at the top spot of the U.K. chart for six weeks. In 1991, John's "Basque" won a Grammy for Best Instrumental. He also won Best British Male Artist at the Brit Awards.
1992 was a busy year for John, who came out as gay in an interview. Besides establishing the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the singer released his eighth No. 1 album "The One". He also unveiled "Runway Train", a duet he recorded with his long-time friend Eric Clapton, and performed at Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium as well as at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. In 1993, he began a relationship with David Furnish, a former advertising executive.
John received more achievements in the following year when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1995, his contribution to "The Lion King" soundtrack, "Can You Feel My Love Tonight", won Best Song at the 67th Academy Awards. The song also won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards, with the soundtrack album staying at the top of Billboard 200 for nine weeks. John also released "Made in England" that year, before receiving Outstanding Contribution to Music at the 1995 Brit Awards.
After releasing a compilation album and holding a massive 50th birthday party, John was hit with sad news when his friend Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997. Honoring the late royal, he performed "Candle in the Wind 1997" at the funeral of Diana in Westminster Abbey. The song became the fastest and biggest-selling single of all time after selling over 33 million copies worldwide, the best-selling single in Billboard history and the first single certified diamond in the U.S. He won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards for the song.
Following several song releases, John scored his fifth chart-topping single in the U.K. with "Are You Ready for Love" in 2003, before he announced that he had signed an exclusive contract to perform 75 shows over three years at Caesar Palace in Las Vegas. He shared the venue with Celine Dion, with whom he later collaborated for a performance of "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" and "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)" to raise money for Harrah's Entertainment Inc. workers in February 2006. Prior to that, he composed music for a West End production of "Billie Elliot the Musical".
2006 also saw John being named a Disney legend for his contributions to Disney's films and theatrical works. In 2007, after he celebrated his 60th birthday with a headline-making concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, John took part at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium which was held to celebrate what would have been her 46th birthday. He performed several of his hit songs there. Two years later, he ended his Las Vegas residency and collaborated with Jerry Cantrell by playing the piano for his band Alice in Chains.
While John continued to be active in the industry by performing at various shows, fans finally got to hear his new music in 2010 when he released his collaboration album with Leon Russell, "The Union". In the following year, he began his new Las Vegas residency called "The Million Dollar Piano" at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
John was later featured on several musicians' music, including Kate Bush's and Queen of the Stone Age's. In September 2013, John received the first Brits Icon Award for his "lasting impact" on the culture of the United Kingdom. He then released his 32nd studio album, "Wonderful Crazy Night", in February 2016 and played a major role in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" in September 2017. That year also saw him being announced as the composer for the Broadway musical version of "The Devil Wears Prada" and appearing in the award-winning documentary "The American Epic Seasons". He additionally contributed to the soundtrack of the movie by producing "Two Fingers of Whiskey".
In early 2018, John announced that he would retire from touring and that he would embark on a three-year farewell tour. It is expected to end in 2021. While he was touring the world, a biopic about his life titled "Rocketman" was released in May 2019. For the soundtrack of the movie, John collaborated with leading man Taron Egerton on a duet entitled "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again". In October 2019, John is expected to release his first official autobiography.