Elton Hercules John CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. John started playing the piano at the age of three, and within a year, his mother heard him picking out Winifred Atwell's "The Skater's Waltz" by ear. It wasn’t long before the boy was being pressed into service as a performer at parties and family gatherings. He began taking piano lessons at the age of seven. At the age of 11, he won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. One of his instructors reports that, when he entered the Academy, she played a four-page piece by Handel, which he promptly played back like a "gramophone record."
John and Taupin now enlisted Gus Dudgeon to produce a follow-up with Paul Buckmaster as arranger. The first single from the album, "Border Song", only made the US Top 100 peaking at #92. After the second single "Your Song" made the U.S. Top Ten, the album followed suit. John's first American concert took place at The Troubadour in Los Angeles (his introduction was provided by Neil Diamond), in August.
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. Number one hit. (Ironically this, like his other famous 1970s solo hits, would be popular in his native land but never top the UK Singles Chart; this achievement would have to wait two decades.) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road gained instant critical acclaim and topped the chart on both sides of the Atlantic. It also temporarily established John as a glam rock star.
He has more than 50 Top 40 hits including seven consecutive No. 1 U.S. Albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10, four No. 2 hits, and nine No. 1 hits. He has won five Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award. His success has had a profound impact on popular music and has contributed to the continued popularity of the piano in rock and roll. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #49 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1994. He and Bernie Taupin had previously been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. John was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995. John has also been awarded the honour of Knight Bachelor. This award entitles him to use the prefix "Sir".
In his four-decade career, John has been one of the dominant forces in rock and popular music, especially during the 1970s. He has sold over 200 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time.
John has had a complicated personal history in both announcing his sexual orientation, as well as personal battles with drugs, depression, bulimia, baldness, and spending. In 2007, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated John's wealth to be £225 million and ranked him as the 319th richest British person. Within the music industry, John is sometimes known as "Sharon", a nickname originally given to him by good friend Rod Stewart. In return, Elton calls Rod "Phyllis." [wikipedia]