Elton John is a singer and piano player who rose to fame in the 1970s. Today, he is one of the most successful performers of all time, selling more than 250 million albums, with more than 50 songs on the Top 40 radio charts. In 1998, he was knighted by the Queen of England. As an openly gay man, he has served as an active spokesperson and advocate for AIDS prevention since the 1980s.
Elton John's given name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He was born in a London suburb in 1947, the son of a military officer and his wife. At a very young age, he began to show evidence of strong musical talent on the piano. He received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when he was eleven years old, and grew more interested in rock music during his time there.
In 1967, Reginald Dwight changed his name to Elton John, shortly after forming the most important partnership of his life. Answering a newspaper ad, he met lyricist Bernie Taupin. They soon began writing music together, with Taupin in charge of lyrics, and Elton John writing music on piano. The collaboration between Taupin and John continues to this day; to date, Taupin has written the lyrics for nearly all of Elton John's songs.
Elton John's first success came with the release of his 1970 album, Elton John. The album's single, "Your Song" became a top ten hit, and the album quickly scaled the charts as well. That was just the first in a long string of Elton John's hit songs, however. Of his many bestselling singles, some of the most popular are "Crocodile Rock," "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," and "Candle in the Wind." Upon the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Elton John recorded a new version of "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to the Princess, who had been a friend of his. The new song, "Candle in the Wind 1997," was the fastest selling single in history, with over 30 million copies sold.
Elton John's career has been eclectic over the years. He's written and performed soundtracks for many Disney animated films, but more recently, his work has been sampled in many popular hip-hop songs. He has said that for his next project, he'd like to do a hip-hop album himself.