CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a glimpse into the life of award-winning singer, songwriter and pianist Elton John.
Date of Birth: March 25, 1947
Place of birth: Pinner, Middlesex, England
Birth name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Dad: Stanley Dwight, an officer in the Royal Air Force
Mother: Sheila (Harris) Dwight
Marriages: David Furnish (2014-present); Renate Blauel (1984-1988, divorced)
Children: Born via surrogate with Furnish: Elijah Joseph Daniel, Zachary Jackson Levon
Won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music aged 11.
He officially changed his name to Elton John in 1967. The name was inspired by the members of his first band, Bluesology. The saxophonist was called Elton Dean and the lead singer was called Long John Baldry.
Nominated for four Oscars and won twice.
Nominated for 35 Grammy Awards and won five, and received a Grammy Legend Award.
Nominated for four Tony Awards and won once.
Early in his career, he was known for his fanciful costumes and wild glasses. He took to the stage wearing a duck costume, a sequined baseball uniform and a Ronald McDonald outfit. He wore the colorful clothes to help put on a show and compensate for his shyness on stage.
He is ranked third on Billboard’s list of Greatest Artists of All Time. Only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are ranked higher.
John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997”, has sold over 10 million copies in the United States. Proceeds from record sales were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which provided grants to various charities.
1967 – Starts working as a songwriter for Liberty Records. This is the beginning of his writing partnership with Bernie Taupin.
1970 – Launches its first world tour.
1973 – Reached the top of the Billboard singles chart for the first time with “Crocodile Rock”. He also released the double album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which spawned a string of hits including the title track, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Bennie and the Jets”. The album also contains “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 film 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”, became 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 Western rock or pop star to perform in the Soviet Union.
July 13, 1985 – Performs at the Live Aid benefit concert in London for famine relief. Paul McCartney, Queen, David Bowie and U2 are among the other star performers in the all-star show.
February 24, 1987 – Won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – “That’s What Friends Are For” – with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.
1990 – Seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
1992 – Creates 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 concert series called “Face to Face”. The two piano mavens have toured together many times over the course of 16 years.
March 1, 1995 – Won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
March 27, 1995 – Wins the Oscar 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 appoints John Chevalier Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
February 25, 1998 – Won 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 Grammy for Best Musical Performance Album for “Aida.”
2004-2009 – Presents 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, opened on Broadway and won 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 entitled “The Million Dollar Piano”.
May 2012 – During a performance of “Million Dollar Piano”, John falls seriously ill. He is hospitalized in Los Angeles for a respiratory infection.
July 2013 – Canceled European tour dates due to upcoming appendicitis surgery.
November 10, 2016 – The Tate Modern museum in London opens an art exhibition titled “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection”. The exhibition features highlights from John’s hoard of 8,000 vintage photo prints dating back to the early 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,” says John. “I thought it was time 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 John’s life and starring Taron Egerton, made its US box office debut. Jean is a producer.
June 2019 – “Diamonds”, a compilation of John’s greatest hits, peaked at number 7 on the Billboard 200, making it his 20th top 10 album on the chart. John becomes the 10th musician to do so.
October 15, 2019 – His autobiography “Me” is published.
February 9, 2020 – Wins the Oscar for Best Music (Original Song) for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocket Man.”
February 16, 2020 – John announces that he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia while on tour in Auckland, New Zealand.
March 16, 2020 – John is postponing parts of his North American tour due to concerns over the coronavirus.
March 29, 2020 – John is hosting a special, “Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America,” which honors frontline healthcare workers and first responders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
October 22, 2020 – Mattel is releasing a limited-edition Barbie doll featuring John. The doll was released to mark the 45th anniversary of the singer’s record-breaking two-day performance at 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 people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
September 16, 2021 – John announces that he will have hip surgery due to a fall over the summer. John is operated on in October.
January 25, 2022 – According to a statement from the 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, with only mild symptoms,” the site wrote in a statement.
September 23, 2022 – US President Joe Biden presents John with the National Humanities Medal, surprising the musician following a performance on the South Lawn of the White House.
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