Everyone knows Elton was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, but did you know his middle name is Hercules? He named himself after Blues legends Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. And the Roman god of hitting things.
2. Candle in the Wind
Originally written for Marilyn Monroe, Elton reworked Candle in the Wind as a tribute to the late Princess Diana. It immediately replaced Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You as THE real-life-tragedy-hit of 1997, going on to become the second best-selling single of all time. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas still holds the number one spot.
3. Every day is all right for fighting
Elton has had some of the most celebrated spats in the music industry. His sparring partners have included Madonna (“a f***ing fairground stripper”) and David Bowie, who called the Rocket Man “the token queen of rock”. Here’s Elton and Lily Allen managing to fall out spectacularly (albeit in a stagey way). It seems that, for Elton, sorry really is the hardest word.
4. Reggie and Bernie
Most of Elton’s famous songs were written with lyricist Bernie Taupin: the pair met after both failed an audition for Liberty Records. They don’t collaborate as such. Bernie writes the lyrics, gives them to Elton, who goes away and writes the tune. Here’s Elton, midway through writing the song that would become Tiny Dancer.
5. Sir Elton Tear Down This Wall
Sir Elton toured the Soviet Union in 1979, the first western pop star to do so. For many Russians, it was the first time they had seen a rich westerner. Believing we all dressed and acted this way, the gaudy Russian luxury industry was born.
6. He has an enormous closet
Elton John started his career in the closet, but you would too if you had so many amazing clothes in there: regency wigs and Donald Duck costumes, tiaras and corsets, boaters and braces and loafers and really naff glasses. His wardrobe is like a Pride march in Narnia.
7. He and Rod Stewart should just get a room already
The two aging rockers have a playful rivalry. At the Brits Icons, Rod Stewart presented Elton with his award, while simultaneously plugging his own autobiography. Previously, Rod gave Elton the nickname ‘Sharon’. Elton responded by shooting a balloon promoting Rod’s concert out of the sky, because when you throw down with Elton HE WILL MAKE YOU HURT.
8. Special Guest Star
For such a grump, Elton plays surprisingly well with others. He has collaborated with everyone from Tupac to Five, and just finished working on a new album from Queens of the Stone Age. Not all of these collaborations have been out in the open. John Lennon and Gary Barlow have secretly contributed to his records, while Elton played piano for the Scissor Sisters on I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’. He’s also great friends with Eminem.
9. William Shatner recorded the definitive version of Rocket Man