CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a look at the life of Elton John, award-winning singer, composer and pianist.
Birth date: March 25, 1947
Birth place: Pinner, Middlesex, England
Birth name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Father: Stanley Dwight, a Royal Air Force officer
Mother: Sheila (Harris) Dwight
Marriages: David Furnish (2014-present); Renate Blauel (1984-1988, divorced)
Won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11.
Officially changed his name to Elton John in 1967. The name was inspired by members of his early band, Bluesology. The saxophone player was named Elton Dean, and the lead singer was named Long John Baldry.
Nominated for four Academy Awards and has won twice.
Nominated for 35 Grammy Awards and has won five, plus received a Grammy Legend Award.
Nominated for four Tony Awards and has won once.
Early in his career, he was known for whimsical costumes and wild glasses. He’s taken the stage wearing a duck suit, a sequined baseball uniform and a Ronald McDonald outfit. He wore the colorful clothes to help create a spectacle and offset his shyness onstage.
He is ranked third on Billboard’s list of Greatest of All Time Artists. Only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones rank higher.
John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. Proceeds from record sales were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which issued grants to a variety of charities.
1967 – Starts working as a songwriter for Liberty Records. This is the beginning of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin.
1970 – Launches his first world tour.
1973 – Reaches the top of the Billboard singles chart for the first time with “Crocodile Rock.” He also releases the double album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which spawns a series of hits including the title track, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Bennie and the Jets.” The album also features “Candle in the Wind,” originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, later adapted into a song for Princess Diana after her death.
1975 – Appears in a movie based on the Who’s rock opera, “Tommy.” John performs the song, “Pinball Wizard,” in the film. That same year, John’s album, “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” becomes the first LP in Billboard history to debut at No. 1 on the charts.
1976 – John duets with Kiki Dee on the number one hit, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
1979 – Becomes the first rock or pop star from the West to perform in the Soviet Union.
February 24, 1987 – Wins the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal – “That’s What Friends Are For” – with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.
1990 – Seeks treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
1992 – Establishes the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
February 25, 1992 – Wins the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for “Basque.”
January 19, 1994 – Is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
July 1994 – John teams up with Billy Joel for a series of concerts called “Face to Face.” The two piano mavens tour together repeatedly over the course of 16 years.
March 1, 1995 – Wins the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
March 27, 1995 – Wins the Academy Award for Best Music (Original Score) for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from Disney’s “The Lion King.”
September 6, 1997 – Performs “Candle in the Wind 1997” at Princess Diana’s funeral.
February 24, 1998 – Queen Elizabeth II names John an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
February 25, 1998 – Wins the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Candle in the Wind 1997.”
February 23, 2000 – Is presented with the Grammy Legend Award.
June 4, 2000 – Wins the Tony Award for Best Original Musical Score for “Aida.”
February 21, 2001 – Wins the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album for “Aida.”
2004-2009 – Performs a series of shows at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas called “Elton John and the Red Piano.”
December 21, 2005 – John and Furnish have a civil partnership ceremony, after 12 years together.
November 13, 2008 – “Billy Elliot: The Musical,” featuring a score composed by John, opens on Broadway and goes on to win 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical.
September 28, 2011 – John begins a second residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with a series of concerts called “The Million Dollar Piano.”
May 2012 – During a “Million Dollar Piano” performance, John becomes seriously ill. He is hospitalized in Los Angeles for a respiratory infection.
July 2013 – Cancels European tour dates due to an upcoming surgery for appendicitis.
November 10, 2016 – The Tate Modern museum in London opens an art show called “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection.” The exhibition features highlights from John’s trove of 8,000 prints of vintage photos dating back to the turn of the 20th century.
January 24, 2018 – Announces that his next world tour will be his last. “I’ve been touring since I was 17 with various bands,” John says. “I thought the time is right to say thank you to all my fans and say goodbye.”
September 8, 2018 – Begins his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
May 31, 2019 – The film, “Rocketman,” depicting the life of John and starring Taron Egerton, debuts at the US box office. John is a producer.
June 2019 – “Diamonds,” a compilation of John’s greatest hits, reaches No. 7 on the Billboard 200, making it his 20th top 10 album on the list. John becomes the 10th musician to do this.
October 15, 2019 – His autobiography “Me” is published.
February 9, 2020 – Wins the Academy Award for Best Music (Original Song) for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocket Man.”
February 16, 2020 – John announces that he has been diagnosed with walking pneumonia while on tour in Auckland, New Zealand.
March 16, 2020 – John postpones portions of his tour in North America due to concerns over coronavirus.
March 29, 2020 – John hosts a benefit special, “Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America”, that pays tribute to front line health care workers and first responders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
October 22, 2020 – Mattel releases a limited edition Barbie doll styled in John’s likeness. The doll is released to mark the 45th anniversary of the singer’s record-breaking, two day performance at the Dodgers Stadium in October 1975.
February 2021 – John and actor Michael Caine, backed by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), release a video encouraging individuals to get vaccinated for Covid-19.
September 16, 2021 – John announces that he will undergo hip surgery due to a fall over the summer. John has surgery in October.
January 25, 2022 – According to a statement from American Airlines Center in Dallas, John’s concerts at the arena are postponed after he tested positive for Covid-19. “Fortunately, Elton is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is experiencing only mild symptoms,” the venue writes in a statement.
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