Elton John attending the premiere of The Union at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone.
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30 Interesting facts about Elton John

As one of the most famous and prolific musicians in the last century, Elton John is a true class act. Known for songs such as “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, “Your Song”, and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, Elton John is truly an icon for musicians all over the world. 

You may think you know everything about the British singer and songwriter, Sir Elton John until you read this list. 

Here are 30 interesting facts that you may not know about this world-class entertainer.

His Name is Not Really Elton John

Elton John’s real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He was born March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, England to Stanley and Sheila Dwight. Elton John legally changed his name in 1972 after not wanting to associate with the nickname Reggie any longer.

The New Name Came From Two Band Members

Elton’s name came from two members of his 1960s soul group called Bluesology. The new stage moniker was a combination of the names of saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry.

Elton’s Middle Name is Hercules

Elton John also ditched his given middle name Kenneth in favor of the name Hercules. He said that he chose the name after a horse in a popular British sitcom.

Publicity photo of Elton John from the Cher Show in 1975.

He was a Natural-Born Musician

It comes as no surprise to anyone that Elton John was born a musical prodigy. The young boy taught himself to play the piano at the young age of three. Bluesology was formed by Elton when he was just 15 years old. The band was the opener for acts such as Patti LaBelle and the Isley Brothers as they toured through Europe.

He was a Scholarship Winner

The talented young musician proved his worth after winning a coveted Royal Academy of Music scholarship in London at the age of 11.

Elton Names His Pianos

As his trademark musical instrument, it is no surprise that Elton John loves his pianos. He names most of these beauties after famous female musicians, including Aretha Franklin and Diana Krall.

Book Elton for a Private Event

If you have enough cash on hand, you can book Elton John for a private event. He has charged more than $1 million for the right to perform at your event but he donates the funds to his Elton John AIDS Foundation, which he created to honor his long-time friend, Freddie Mercury after his death.

There are Bleachers Named After Him

In 2014, the Watford Football Club named a set of bleachers after Elton John. As an avid fan, Elton was once president and chairman of the club.

Elton John in concert at Liseberg, in 1971.

He Shared the Last Stage with Lennon

During a 1974 performance at Madison Square Garden, Elton John coaxed John Lennon up to the stage to perform a duet with him. Lennon performed three songs with Elton and the appearance marked the last time that he would sing in public.

He Performed in the Soviet Union

Despite chilly relations between the Soviet Union and most of the rest of the world, Elton John held eight shows in Leningrad and Moscow in May of 1979. He would end the concerts by performing “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

His Signature Glasses Were Originally a Prop

Elton John is known for his outlandish eyeglasses; however, he did not even need them for corrective vision when he first began wearing them. The glasses were merely a prop, becoming a part of his iconic presence on stage.

Met Bernie Taupin Through an Ad

As Elton’s long-time songwriting collaborator, lyricist Bernie Taupin and Elton John share an amazing working relationship. The pair actually met after Elton answered an ad placed by a Liberty Records manager looking for songwriters. John and Taupin reportedly never were together when they collaborated, but instead, Taupin would write the lyrics and send it to John to compose the music.

He Had Problems with Drugs

Elton John has not been shy about sharing his experience with drug addiction. He was once hospitalized in 1975 after he overdosed on cocaine. Since his wild days, Elton has succeeded in being free of his addiction to drugs.

Elton John and Luciano Pavarotti during the “1996 Pavarotti & Friends #4” in Modena, Italy in 1996.

He Was a Mentor to Eminem

Elton John has become a mentor to others dealing with their own issues. Eminem said that he once reached out to Elton for advice as he battled his own addictions to drugs. Elton John has even collaborated with rap star Eminem on songs together.

He Performs Grunge

In addition to rap and hip hop, Elton John has also performed with the grunge rock band Alice in Chains, appearing on the song “Black Gives Way To Blue.” The song is a tribute to the band’s late lead singer Layne Staley.

He Was a South Park Star

Proving he has a sense of humor, Elton John was once a guest star on the animated comedy “South Park.” He appeared as himself on the season two episode “Chef Aid.”

Godfather Elton

Known as a kind and giving man, it is no surprise that Elton John is a godfather to numerous children. Included in this list are the children of David and Victoria Beckham, Elizabeth Hurley, and John Lennon.

He is Father to Two Sons

In addition to being a godfather, Elton is a dad to two sons named Zachary and Elijah. The children were born via a surrogate mother in 2010 and 2013.

Elton John, English singer-songwriter and pianist, performing on stage at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, England. Picture taken in 2008.

He Owns Six Homes

There is no shortage of amazing residences for Elton John to enjoy. He owns six homes around the world, including his primary residence in Old Windsor, Berkshire, and homes in Italy, Atlanta, London, and France.

Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE

Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the ultimate honor on Elton John when she made him a knight in 1998. The distinction recognized Elton’s contributions as both a musician and for his charitable work, particularly in the fight against AIDS. Prior to his being knighted, in 1995, Queen Elizabeth II also honored him with the title CBE, which stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Concerts Galore

Elton John is a true workhorse. Showing an amazing resolve, he has performed more than 3,500 concerts spanning over five decades.

Candle in the Wind 1997

Elton John broke UK music chart records for the best-selling single with his song, Candle in the Wind in 1997 when he rewrote and performed the song at the funeral of Princess Diana of Wales. Interestingly enough, the song was originally written for Marilyn Monroe and Elton rewrote it just before the funeral to honor the princess.

Rocketman

In 2019, the biopic movie about Elton John was released after years of development. The movie is about the phenomenal singer and songwriter and starred Taron Egerton formerly known for his role in The Kingsman

Elton John at Rocketman premiere in the UK in 2019.

He Found the Love of a Lifetime

In 2005, Elton John and David Furnish registered their civil partnership. In 2014, once same-sex marriage was legal, they were married.

He Has Awards Galore

Throughout his phenomenal career, Elton John has received numerous awards for his performances. Some of these awards include many Grammy Awards nominations and wins-one of which was for Best Musical Theatre Album on Broadway for Tim Rice’s Aida; induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song on the Lion King; a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Academy Awards for Best Music; and a Tony Award for Best Original Score on Aida.

He Was Twice Married to Women

Elton John married twice before David Furnish to women. His first wife was his secretary, Linda Woodrow. His second wife was a recording engineer, Renate Blauel. Both marriages, which happened early in Elton John’s career, were believed to be covers for his homosexuality. After his second marriage ended, Elton came out to Rolling Stone as being gay.

Elton John and Rod Stewart

Over the course of both of their careers, Rod Stewart and Elton John, while they have been friends, have had a rather interesting relationship. The two spent much of their time bantering back and forth along with a series of pranks. They had a falling out at one point, but have reportedly put it all behind them recently.

Elton John and Madonna

Elton John and Madonna have had an on-and-off relationship of feuds over the years. Many of these were created when Elton John accused Madonna of lip-synching during what should have been a live performance. Although this may or may not have been true, the feud continued and even included John’s husband after Madonna won a Golden Globes award in 2012.

He Supported Hillary Clinton

In 2016, Elton John, along with many other musicians held a concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall to help raise money for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. They ended up raising $2.5 million.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Sir Elton John to discuss PEPFAR and the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain].

Billboards Hot 100 Greatest Artists in History

Elton John came in third on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the greatest artists in history. While he came ahead of Elvis Presley, he fell behind The Beatles, who were the number one pick, and Madonna, who came in at number two.

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014

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