Elton John has sold more than 250 million records in a career that spans more than three decades. He has been honored with a knighthood for his work on behalf of AIDS research and education.
"The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star."
Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The son of a former Royal Air Force trumpeter, he was a musical prodigy, playing the piano at age 3. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music for six years before leaving school for the music business.
A turning point came when he connected with lyricist Bernie Taupin through a music magazine advertisement both men had answered. Their first collaboration, "Scarecrow," was recorded in 1967, beginning a songwriting partnership that continues to the present. About the same time Reginald Dwight legally changed his name to Elton John, in tribute to musicians Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
In the 1970's John became known for his energetic performances and his flamboyant stage wardrobe, including a large collection of outrageous spectacles. Many considered the Elton John Band to be the greatest act in the rock world. John had a string of seven consecutive Number One records, 23 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 singles, and six Number One hits. He has the distinction of having had a top 40 single every year from 1970 to 1996.
In the 1990's John turned his talents to film and musical theater. In 1994, his collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice on the Disney animated film The Lion Kingresulted in a soundtrack that won both an Academy Award and a Grammy and remained at the top of the Billboard chart for nine weeks. He later worked with Rice on the film El Dorado and the musical Aida, which won both a Tony award and a Grammy.
John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995.
John's friendship with Ryan White and Freddy Mercury inspired him to establish the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. He announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research.