Sir Elton John is music royalty, and we thought we’d celebrate his birthday by taking a look back at his remarkable contributions to the world of music.
In his over fifty years in show business, he’s written and/or appeared on 734 songs, with over five hundred of those being his own original compositions. He’s released 33 studio albums and multiple all-original soundtracks. John has had fifty top forty hits, with the re-released version of Candle In The Wind‘s 33 million copies sold worldwide. In fact, over the course of 31 straight years (1970–2000) he has had at least one song in the top 100, a feat no one has even come close to matching.
But numbers aren’t what has made him a beloved legend, it’s the songs. With his writing partner, lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John crafted a catalog of music that has become ingrained in the fabric of the lives of millions. While his outward appearance might be stylistically shocking and at times absurd, his message has always been one of acceptance and love. It would take far more time and space than we have here to give a true retrospective of this icon’s body of work, but here are a few of the more memorable melodies and moments.
“Skyline Pigeon”: This song off his first album, performed in front of a massive audience in Rio, is one of the few from the early days he still plays occasionally live.
Elton John – “Skyline Pigeon” – 9/17/76
[Video: Philip Anness]
“Tiny Dancer”: John’s writing partner Bernie Taupin gave him one of his more memorable love songs from his early period with this attempt to capture the spirit and beauty of the women of California.
Elton John – “Tiny Dancer” – 9/13/80
“Bennie And The Jets”: Elton John was completely against releasing this song as a single, believing it had no chance of catching on. Over 500 million worldwide plays later, he now admits he just may have been wrong.
Elton John – “Bennie and the Jets” – 11/21/00
[Video: Murciélago SV]
“Crocodile Rock”: Elton has never been against having a little fun while he’s making music, as his wardrobe clearly attests. Here he is visiting The Muppet Show to sit in with Dr.Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.
Elton John – “Crocodile Rock” – 1/8/78
[Video: Z-1’s World Of Wonders]
“Pinball Wizard”: Elton John can even be talked into acting from time to time, as his performance in The Who‘s Tommy attests. While the movie itself hasn’t aged well, you can’t fault John or his gleefully odd performance.
The Who, Elton John – “Pinball Wizard” – Tommy
“I’m Still Standing”: Elton John wasn’t above replying to the critics who said he was past his prime. Funnily enough, when he did decide to fire back, he managed to get himself yet another top ten hit for his efforts, proving his point as effectively as anyone ever has.
Elton John – “I’m Still Standing”
“Piano Man” with Billy Joel: Over the last decade, Elton John has formed a touring partnership with Billy Joel that seems almost too obvious somehow. The two premier piano men of a generation blend themselves perfectly in this duel take on Joel’s classic tune.
Billy Joel, Elton John – “Piano Man” – 3/31/98
[Video: Pablo Argüelles]
Happy Birthday Reginald Kenneth Dwight, though to us you will always be the one and only Elton John.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Elton was recently forced to reschedule all shows between March 26th and May 2nd. For the latest information regarding his tours, visit his official website.
[Originally publish March 25th, 2016]