Born Reginald Dwight in Middlesex, England, the future Elton John discovered his destiny early, tinkering with the piano as a tot of three. Teenager Reg won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and studied there five years before signing on with Long John Baldry's band Bluesology in the mid 60s. Taking his name from Baldry and bandmate Elton Dean, Elton John left Baldry and teamed up with the man who would become his longtime writing partner, lyricist Bernie Taupin.
The sweetly sentimental "Your Song," John's 1970 breakthrough hit, was far from his first single. The 1968 dud "I've Been Loving You" was an ill-conceived attempt to capitalize on the popularity of big ballad singers like Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones; 1969's "Lady Samantha" didn't score either, but found John on the verge of discovering his artistic voice, and was covered by Three Dog Night. Since "Your Song," it's been full speed ahead, of course.
During a career spanning five decades, the Rocket Man has released more than 30 albums, and is one of the top-selling artists of all time, with more than 300 million records sold worldwide.
Sir Elton continues to influence artists and remain in the limelight: performances at the Grammy Awards alongside Eminem (2001) and Lady Gaga (2010); and hits being sampled in pop/hip hop songs, including Kanye West’s “Good Morning” (samples “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”) and Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” (samples “Your Song").
In recent years, his fascination with hip hop and electronic music has grown. In 2010, John was one of 14 artists to provide backing vocals to West’s Grammy Award–winning hit “All of the Lights” (John also played piano on the track).
In an interview with Rolling Stone, John spoke of future music opportunities and endeavors: "I might do a couple of tracks with Pharrell. I don't know. I've got a couple of things coming up this year, one of which is a thing with a boy called Bright Light Bright Light, which is a record of the week in the USA Today. He's a friend of mine who is a singer/songwriter, but in electronica. I did that, and it was pretty fabulous. I'd like to play on some more people's records. I just take it when it comes. I have no fixed plans to record."
On February 19, Elton John was named one of the headliners of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (one of the festivals that will be showcased in the Rock Hall’s next featured exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience, opening April 25, 2014).
The scope of Elton John’s influence and talents are exponential and indisputable. Celebrate his 67th birthday by watching video from his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.