Elton John: a career filled with triumph and music


Elton John: a career filled with triumph and music

By Peter Zemeske

As Sir Elton John embarks on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour which will be his last, it is important to look back on his musical legacy which brought him fame and acclaim from both critics and audiences.

Sir Elton Hercules John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, was raised in Pinner, a town in London, England. He was raised by both his mother and grandmother since his parents had a rocky relationship and divorced when John was 14 years old. John took up piano lessons at age seven and showed great musical prowess.

John’s first professional band, Bluesology, formed in 1962 when he was only 15 years old. John responded to an ad for Liberty Records in 1967 and met future collaborator Bernie Taupin, who is credited for writing most of John’s lyrics. In 1972, John legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John after two members in his former band Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.

It is hard to hear the name Elton John and not immediately have his career-spanning hits come to mind. Elton John was one of the most influential LGBT artists of his generation, and still is today. His impact on music and culture is undeniable. John proved one doesn’t have to be afraid of expressing oneself, both in music and identity. He may not have begun the glam rock movement of the 1970s, but John certainly helped solidify its place in music history. He had a monumental rise in fame from his debut album, “Empty Sky,” in 1969 to 1975, a testament to his legacy.

Three of his albums released at number one on the UK charts in a row, starting with “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” through “Caribou.” His status as a musical artist is absolutely unparalleled, even today. John is the most successful male solo artist and has a whopping 50 top-40 hits on Billboard charts, according to Billboard. Elton John let his imagination loose with his music and persona, becoming an icon across the world. Songs like “Rocket Man” let listeners fly above the clouds with the songwriter. John made the masses want to be rock stars, letting their freak flag fly.

An intimate biopic about his life and musical career will be released in May, called “Rocketman.” As Elton John closes his performing chapter of his life, it’s hard to look back on his career and not want to be right there up on stage with him, his elaborate setup and unflagging personality. As this chapter closes, so does a tremendous page in musical history.