Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, March 25, 1947) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. He has worked with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin since 1967 having collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his four-decade career John has sold more than 250 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. His single "Candle in the Wind 1997" has sold over 33 million copies worldwide, and is the best-selling single in Billboard history. He has more than 50 Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive #1 U.S. albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 singles, four #2 hits, and nine #1 hits.
John made his debut with 1968’s “Empty Sky” featuring songs he’d written with Taupin. His follow-up album, “Elton John,” was released in April 1970 and established the formula for subsequent albums of gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads. The first single from the album, "Border Song,” made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart peaking at #92. The second single "Your Song" made the Top 10, peaking at #8 and becoming John's first hit single as a singer. The album soon became his first hit album, reaching #4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
The concept album “Tumbleweed Connection” was released in October 1970, and reached the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. John and Taupin then wrote the soundtrack to the obscure film “Friends” and then the album “Madman Across the Water,” the latter reaching the Top 10 and producing the hit "Levon,” while the soundtrack album produced the hit "Friends."
He followed with “Honky Chateau,” which became John's first American #1 album, spending five weeks at the top of the charts and spawning the hit singles "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)" and "Honky Cat."
The pop album “Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player” came out at the start of 1973, and produced the hits "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel," the former became his first U.S. Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” gained instant critical acclaim and topped the chart on both sides of the Atlantic, remaining at #1 for two months. It also temporarily established John as a glam rock star. It contained the #1 hit "Bennie and the Jets,” along with the popular and praised "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” "Candle in the Wind,” "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting,” "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and "Grey Seal.”
“Caribou” was released in 1974, and it again reached #1. Reportedly recorded in a scant two weeks between live appearances, it featured "The Bitch Is Back" and John's versatility in orchestral songs with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
In the 1975 autobiographical album “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” John revealed his previously ambiguous personality, with Taupin's lyrics describing their early days as struggling songwriters and musicians in London. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" was the hit single from this album and captured an early turning point in John's life.
Also released in 1975 the rock-oriented “Rock of the Westies” entered the Billboard 200 at #1 like “Captain Fantastic,” a previously unattained feat.
In 1976, the live album “Here and There” was released in May, then the “Blue Moves” album in October, which contained the single "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” His biggest success in 1976 was the "Don't Go Breaking My Heart,” a duet with Kiki Dee that topped both the American and British charts.
John slowed his production down and released several albums before returning to the charts with the 1983 hit album “Too Low For Zero,” which included "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues,” the latter of which featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and reached #4 on the Hot 100 chart.
He placed hits in the U.S. Top 10 throughout the 1980s including 1980’s "Little Jeannie" at #3, 1984’s "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" at #5, 1986’s "Nikita" at #7, a live orchestral version of "Candle in the Wind" at #6 in 1987, and 1988’s "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" at #2. His highest-charting single was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on 1985’s "That's What Friends Are For" which reached #1. Credited as Dionne and Friends, the song raised funds for AIDS research. His albums continued to sell, but of the six released in the latter half of the 1980s, only 1988’s “Reg Strikes Back” placed in the Top 20 peaking at #16 on the Billboard 200.
In 1990, John would finally achieve his first U.K. #1 hit on his own, with "Sacrifice" (coupled with "Healing Hands") from the previous year's album “Sleeping with the Past” which would stay at the #1 spot for six weeks. The following year, John's "Basque" won the Grammy for Best Instrumental, and a guest concert appearance he had made on George Michael's cover of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was released as a single and topped the charts in both the U.S. and U.K.
In 1992 he released “The One,” which peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 and featured the hit song "The One." Along with Tim Rice, Elton John wrote the songs for the 1994 Disney animated film “The Lion King,” which became the third highest-grossing animated feature of all time. At the 67th Academy Awards ceremony, “The Lion King” provided three of the five nominees for the Academy Award for Best Song, which John won with "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Both that and "Circle of Life" became hit songs for John. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" would also win Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 37th Grammy Awards. After the release of the “The Lion King” soundtrack, the album remained at the top of Billboard's charts for nine weeks. In November 1999, the RIAA certified “The Lion King” diamond for selling 15 million copies.
In 1995 John released “Made in England” which peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 and featured the single "Believe." Also, a compilation called “Love Songs” was released the following year.
In September 1997, John contacted his writing partner Bernie Taupin, asking him to revise the lyrics of his 1973 song "Candle in the Wind" to honor Diana, Princess of Wales who died in a Paris car crash and Taupin rewrote the song accordingly. On September 6, 1997, John performed "Candle in the Wind 1997" at Diana’s funeral. The song became the fastest, and biggest-selling single of all time, eventually selling 5 million copies in the U.K, 11 million in the U.S., and over 33 million worldwide, with the proceeds of approximately £55 million going to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. It would win John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 40th Grammy Awards ceremony in 1998. John has publicly performed "Candle in the Wind 1997" only once, at Diana's funeral, vowing never to perform it again unless asked by Diana's sons.
John's studio album “The Union” was released in October 2010 which is a collaboration with American singer-songwriter and sideman Leon Russell.
To date, Elton John has won six Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award. John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s, and was knighted in 1998. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him as the most successful male solo artist on "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists" (third overall, behind only The Beatles and Madonna).