Phil & Mel In The Afternoon

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British singer-songwriter Elton John wearing a pair of his flamboyant trademark spectacles, 12th September 1974. (Photo by D. Morrison/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947. He had shown talent at the piano early on. After a rather restrictive childhood in England, young Reginald left school at 17, spurned his father’s prodding to become a banker, and threw himself into music. The singing, showmanship, and over-the-top costumes emerged in due time, along with a new name: Elton Hercules John.

After a multi-year stint with the band Bluesology in the 1960s, Elton John launched his solo career in 1969. Every decade since has been touched by his music. This cultural impact was largely the result of Elton’s longtime collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Together, the prolific songwriting duo would give the world some of the most beloved and enduring songs in pop history.

  • Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1976)

    Released in 1976, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was inspired by the Motown duets of singers such as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Elton John and Bernie Taupin originally intended to record the song with Dusty Springfield, but the offer ultimately went to English singer Kiki Dee. The catchy single topped the charts in the U.S., UK, and a number of other countries.

  • I'm Still Standing (1983)

    Another Elton John/Bernie Taupin hit, “I’m Still Standing” peaked at No. 1 in Canada and Switzerland, No. 4 in the UK, No. 12 in the U.S., and performed very well on multiple other charts during the summer of 1983. The video was filmed in Cannes and Nice on the Côte d’Azur in France. The first day’s footage was ruined when director Russell Mulcahy fell into the Mediterranean Sea with the camera.

  • Circle of Life (1994)

    In the early 1990s, Elton John was approached by Disney to compose eight songs with legendary lyricist Tim Rice for the animated movie, The Lion King. It was one of the very few times in his career that Elton did not collaborate with Bernie Taupin. “Circle of Life” was released in 1994 as the second single from the soundtrack. The album was an international smash, as was the film.