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Sir Elton Hercules John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, is an English songwriter, singer, composer, and pianist. He is widely considered as one of the best-selling singers of all time, having sold over 300 million records and created over 30 albums. This article focuses on some of the most intriguing facts about Elton John that many people do not know about.
Ever since he was young Elton John showed all the signs that he would have a successful music career. He started playing his grandmother’s piano at the age of three, and a few years later, he performed at family gatherings and parties. When he was seven years old, he began formal piano lessons and won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music four years later. He was reportedly so good that one of his instructors once claimed that he played a four-page record by George Frideric Handel after hearing it for the first time. (Elton John by Philip Norman)
John’s biological father, Stanley Dwight, seemed uninterested in his son and was often absent. As a result, John was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother. His parents reportedly had so many arguments, which affected John. When he was 14, his parents divorced, and his mother remarried a local painter. (His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John)
At the age of 15, Elton’s skills as a pianist had already landed him a job at a local pub, the Northwood Hills Hotel. He used to play from Thursday to Sunday nights alongside a group called the Corvettes. He also wore horn-rimmed glasses to depict popular American singer and songwriter Buddy Holly. In 1962, he formed a band namedBluesology, a decision that would mark the turning point of his career. (The Marquee Club)
Elton reportedly did not like his original name because, firstly, it did not sound attractive enough for the pop culture. Secondly, it reminded him of his biological father, whom he had a troubled relationship with while growing up. On January 7, 1972, he legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John, which was in honor of Bluesology members Elton Dean (saxophonist) and Long John Baldry(vocalist). (The London Gazette)
Elton John and English lyricist Bernie Taupin have been friends since 1967. The two met when they both responded to an advertisement for a talent search placed on the New Musical Express, a popular UK music paper. To date, the duo has produced more than 30 albums, with Taupin doing the writing, and Elton transforming the lyrics into music. The two, however, are never in the same room during the process; Taupin reportedly writes the lyrics separately and then sends it to Elton, who then brings it back as a song. (The Definitive Guide toScreenwriting)
In the 1960s, before his international fame, John was engaged to Linda Woodrow, who he mentioned in the song Someone Saved My Life Tonight. At the time, John and Taupin struggled financially, with Linda offering the much-needed assistance. However, two weeks to their wedding, John called it off following Taupin’s advice. A few months later, John released Your Song, which marked the beginning of his fame, prompting Linda to move on with her life. In 2020, John agreed to help his former fiancé financially when she needed money for a knee replacement surgery. (Metro)
One of the most unknown facts about Elton John is he lost his virginity to John Reid, a music manager. The pop icon recalled a special moment when the two had ‘joyous’ sex in San Francisco, ahead of the release of the musical film The Rocketman, which was based on Elton’s life. At the time, Elton was 23 years old. He later told The Mirror that he was a virgin until that night, and was in desperate need to be loved. The Goodbye Yellow Brick Road singer has been openly gay since 1988. John Reid and Elton dated for five years before ending their relationship. (The Mirror)
One of the lesser-known facts about John Elton is how he almost ended his marriage to German recording engineer Renate Blauel on Valentines Day of 1984. However, the attempt failed when Blauelthreatened to commit suicide after finding out that John wanted to end their marriage during their honeymoon. Four years later, their marriage ended. Describing the marriage, Elton once said:
“She was the classiest woman I’ve ever met, but it wasn’t meant to be. I was living a lie.” (Vanity Fair)
John’s relationship with filmmaker David Furnish started in 1993. The two formed a civil partnership on December 21, 2005 when the Civil Partnership Act was passed in the United Kingdom. In March 2014, gay marriage was legalized in the UK, and on December 21, 2014, on the ninth anniversary of their civil partnership, John and Furnish wedded. They have two sons via the same surrogate; Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, who was born on Christmas Day in 2010, and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, who was born on January 11, 2013. (Hello Magazine)
In 2010, John received harsh criticism from various religious factions in the United States when he described Jesus as a “compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems” in what is perhaps one of the most shocking facts about Elton John. One of the many death threats he received came from Christian Reconstructionist Neal Horsley, who posted a video on YouTube calling for the death of the legendary singer. Horsley was later arrested but the charges were dropped. (Advocate)
According to a report published by the Sunday Times containing the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK, Sir Elton John ranks third under the Musicians category. The celebrated singer is valued at £320 million, which translates to around £437 million. (Sky News)
If you thought you knew some facts about Elton John and his wealth, wait till you find out how much he spent on flowers in a single year. Between January 1996 and September 1997, Elton John spent at least£293,000 on flowers alone. Within those two years, he reportedly spent a total of £30 million. Speaking in front of a judge in a previous lawsuit in 2000, the pop superstar defended his spending. He told the court,
“I have no one to leave the money to. I’m a single man. I like spending my money.” (BBC)
Elton John took his talent to a whole new level between 1970 and November 1971 when he released four albums – Tumbleweed, Friends, Connection, and Madman Across the Water. The song Tiny Dancer from the album Madman Across the Water was one of his most successful hits at the time. (American Songwriter)
His love for charity and humanity is one of the many unknown facts about Elton John. In 1992, he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the United States and a similar organization in the United Kingdom a year later. The foundation helps spread awareness and promote direct care for people living with the deadly HIV virus.
In a recent interview, he revealed that he took risks having unprotected sex in the 1980s, and considers himself lucky not to have contracted the virus. As a result, he has dedicated his life to supporting people living with HIV. (The Independent)
Elton is known for being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, but what many people do not know is his deep love for football. One of the many little-known facts about Elton John is his ownership of Watford FC in 1976 for the first time, and the second time a decade later. Under his tenure, Watford rose three divisions into the English First Division, and even finished behind the then league winners Liverpool in 1983. In 2014, Watford named a new stand after him at the club’s Vicarage Road stadium. He also co-owned the Los Angeles Aztecs, a soccer club in the North American Soccer League. (BBC)
In 2016, when the United Kingdom voted to be removed from the European Union, John revealed that he would vote for the UK to remain. He made the announcement on Instagram, urging the UK government to “build bridges not walls”. In 2019, he also slammed UK’s handling of the Brexit vote, adding that he felt “ashamed.” (The Guardian)
One of the obvious facts about Elton John is how much he is celebrated and appreciated globally. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the time, Johnand his long-time friend Taupin had already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1995, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Three years later, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his charitable work. His other notable awards and recognitions include being a member of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, among others. He has also won the Golden Globe Award, Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, Ivor Novello Awards, Brit Awards, MVPA awards, among others. (BBC)
His singing career aside, one of the more surprising facts about Elton John is his role in several films in different capacities. He made a guest appearance in the 1972 movie Born to Boogie, and other in Totally Minnie (1988), The Simpsons (1998), South Park (1998), Kingsman: The Golden Circle(2017), Nashville (2016) and CBeebies Bedtime Stories(2020). He was also the narrator in The Road to El Dolaro in 2000. (IMDB)
On Thanksgiving Day in 1974, Elton John was performing at a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He then invited former Beatle John Lennon on stage, and the duo performed three songs together, including I Saw Her Standing There and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, in what was, sadly, Lennon’s last ever performance.
According to the story behind the iconic and historic moment, as narrated by John’s musical director and guitarist Davey Johnstone, the ex-Beatle star agreed to appear after John played the piano in the latter’s Whatever Gets You Through the Night hit song. The agreement was that if the song hit No. 1 on the charts, Lennon would perform alongside John. (YouTube)
While there are so many facts about Elton John all over the internet, these few we’ve listed reveal just who the pop star is away from the glaring cameras and Hollywood fame. There is no doubt that he is a loving and generous individual despite all the fame and wealth he has accumulated over the years. If you loved this article on facts about Elton John, please subscribe to our newsletter for similar content.