Bernie Taupin’s songwriting partnership with Elton John is one of the most successful in rock & roll history. Their 50-plus-year collaboration began in 1967, when Taupin and John both responded to a music industry advertisement seeking songwriters. In 1970, “Your Song” became their first smash, kicking off a 1970s-era run of fourteen Top Ten hits that included “Rocket Man,” “Crocodile Rock,” and “Philadelphia Freedom.” With his narrative songwriting influenced by the folk music of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, the blues of Lightnin' Hopkins, and the country music of Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins, Taupin’s introspective lyrics served as a precursor to the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s. Taupin’s rich words create the evocative images to which Elton John composes melodies that have resonated with millions of listeners. The Taupin-John legacy ranks among rock & roll’s most notable songwriting duos, including Lennon-McCartney, Goffin-King, Jagger-Richards, Leiber-Stoller, and Ashford-Simpson.
Taupin and John continued to achieve critical and commercial success into the 1980s and 1990s with hits such as “I’m Still Standing,” “Nikita,” and “Club at the End of the Street.” As the world grieved the sudden loss of Princess Diana in late 1997, Taupin’s rewritten lyrics for “Candle in the Wind 1997” touched the hearts of millions; the emotional tribute topped the Billboard charts for 14 weeks, becoming the second highest selling single of all time.
In addition to his work with Elton John, Taupin has written songs for other artists, including Alice Cooper and Brian Wilson, and earned Number One hits with songs like Starship’s “We Built This City” and Heart’s “These Dreams.” In 2006, Taupin earned a Golden Globe for “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” from the film Brokeback Mountain. Most recently, he earned an Academy Award for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the biopic Rocketman. Taupin was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992.
Elton John, “Your Song,” Elton John (1970) • Elton John, “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time),” Honky Château (1972) • Elton John, “Crocodile Rock” (1972) • Elton John, “Philadelphia Freedom” (1975) • Elton John, “I’m Still Standing,” Too Low for Zero (1983) • Starship, “We Built This City,” Knee Deep in the Hoopla (1985) • Heart, “These Dreams,” Heart (1986)
Influences: Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen
Legacies: Rufus Wainwright, Lady Gaga, Brandon Flowers, Ed Sheeran
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