Unbelievable Facts About Elton John
Andrew Parker - June 3, 2019

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Elton John is a cultural icon and a legend in the music industry, remaining relevant throughout his entire five-decade career. While you can probably sing along to his seemingly endless chain of hits, what do you really know about the man behind the piano? We’ve got you covered with these Elton John facts that will get you ready for his upcoming biopic, Rocketman.


Reginald Kenneth



Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England. He legally changed his name to Elton John in 1972, at the age of 22. John is the eldest child of his father, Stanley Dwight, and the only child of his mother, Sheila Eileen. John’s nicknames were Reg or Reggie, but after he changed his name, Elton John had no wish to be associated with his previous name. According to John’s biography by David Buckley, he once said: “Reg is the unhappy part of my life. If my mother can call me Elton, then everybody else can.”



Name of Honor


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We all know him as Elton John, but do you know the origin of his stage name? As it turns out, John’s name is a tribute to former bandmates. In the early 1960s, John formed a group called Bluesology. In the ensemble were saxophonist Elton Dean and singer Long John Baldry, a mix of these two names led to the birth of Elton John. His middle name is Hercules, not as a nod to Greek mythology, but after the horse named Hercules on the British sitcom Steptoe and Son.


Two On The Aisle, One In The Closet


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David Furnish was not the first person to exchange vows with Elton John. On February 14, 1984, John married German recording engineer, Renate Blauel, in Darling Point, Sydney. After much speculation about his sexuality, John came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone. However, soon

after his divorce from Blauel in 1988, John came out as gay, saying: “I wanted more than everything to be a good husband, but I denied who I really was, which caused my wife sadness and caused my huge guilt and regret.”



Last For Lennon


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During one of Elton John’s concerts at Madison Square Garden, John Lennon joined him on stage to perform three songs. This surprising appearance was the result of a bet. John bet that Lennon’s song Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, in which he played piano and sang harmony vocals, would reach No.1 on the charts. John turned out to be right, resulting in the performance. This would mark Lennon’s final performance on stage, occurring six years before his assassination. John’s song Empty Garden is a tribute to Lennon.


Overcoming The Past


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It is no secret that Elton John has a complicated past of substance abuse. In an interview, John revealed he “wasted” a big part of his life on his addiction, and discussed experiences from the early ‘80s, when the AIDS epidemic was just beginning: “I was a drug user and self-absorbed. I was having people die right, left and center around me, friends. And yet I didn’t stop the life that I had, which is the terrible thing about addiction. It’s that – you know, it’s that bad of a disease.” Since drugs have been such a big part of John’s life, there will be more on this issue to come.



Creating An Iconic Feature


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Ever wondered why Elton John needed his iconic feature – his glasses? Well, as it turns out it’s a lot more interesting story than you imagined. As a homage and a way to resemble one of his idols, Buddy Holly, John started wearing glasses. After a while, his eyes adjusted to the lenses, and he wears glasses ever since.


Film Cameos


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In 1995, Elton John recorded a cover to The Who’s song, Pinball Wizard, for the film Tommy. John appeared in the film, performing the song while playing a pinball machine united with a miniature piano keyboard. How does it connect to Rod Stewart you ask? Well, after convincing Stewart to turn down the role, John took it for himself. Fun fact – John asked to keep the large boots he wore for the part.



Fourth Time’s A Charm?


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In the music industry, fans can sometimes wait multiple years for their favorite artists to release a new album. Early in his career, John seemed to go to the other extreme, releasing four albums in a little over a year. Between October 1970 and November 1971, John was apparently very productive and released: Tumbleweed Connection, Friends, the live album 17-10-70, and Madman Across the Water. The latter stands out for including Tiny Dancer, one of John’s biggest hits.


Glasses, Glasses, Glasses


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We all have seen Elton John’s extravagant appearances and noticed his love and passion for glasses. They are his signature accessories, and he has even admitted that his collection includes over 250,000 pairs. In order to store them all, John has a separate closet for them, as pictured above. John’s glasses often made headlines, as in 2013 he had to deny a claim that he had rented a separate hotel room just to store his spectacles.



The Starman vs. The Rocketman


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Even though they were both relevant and achieved success simultaneously for much of their respective careers, David Bowie and Elton John spent most of there time in conflict. In the 1970s, Bowie and John were actually friends, but after reading in a Rolling Stones interview that Bowie referred to John as a “rock ‘n’ roll’s token queen”, John was offended. Their personal friendship may have been cooled in light of the remarks, but John still saw Bowie as a very impressive talent. When Bowie died in 2016, John honored him by performing his song Space Oddity.


No Pain, No Gain


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It is no secret that most of the people in show business received “no’s” in the process of becoming an A-lister, and Elton John is no different. When John auditioned for Liberty Records, they liked his performance, but not his songs. So they gave him songs written by Bernie Taupin, who would go on to become John most frequent collaborator. John also auditioned for rock groups King Crimson (in the picture above), and Gentle Giant but was rejected from both.



Strike Up The Band



Before he became one of the most successful solo acts in the world, Elton John was in a band called Bluesology.  They were a backing group for blues singers from around the world that came to perform in England, like Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles. In 1966 they were hired as the regular band of vocalist Long John Baldry. John would go on to co-produce two of Baldry’s albums – Everything Stops For Tea and It Ain’t Easy.


John-in In Marriage


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It is well known that artists charge a lot for a performance at a private event, and Elton John is no exception. In the past, John charged up to $1 million to perform at weddings. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, for example, paid to have John perform at his 2010 wedding. The money John makes from these types of events are donated to his charity, the Elton John AIDS Foundation.



Clothes Make The Legendary Man


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These days, John’s on-stage costumes are usually very elegant suits, but earlier in his career, John used to wear extravagant and flashy outfits. John used to perform in feathers, glitter. rhinestones, glasses that spelled out his name in lights, and even dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and Donald Duck on multiple occasions.




The Lion King


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As you may know, Elton John wrote the music for The Lion King musical. What you probably don’t know, is that it was named the highest-grossing production in theater or cinema history. John, along with Tim Rice, also wrote all the songs for the film version. In addition, Elton John also performed a few tracks on the movie soundtrack, including I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, Circle of Life, and Can You Feel The Love Tonight. In the 2019 remake of the film, John is intended to rework the soundtrack alongside Beyoncé.