March 25, 1947– Reginald Kenneth Dwight:
“I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving & forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East … you’re as good as dead.”
A man who changes his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight to Elton Hercules John cannot be anything but gay. John, with his flamboyant eye glasses, extreme shopping habits (he and his husband’s household expenses are said to be more than 2 million dollars a month) and multiple platinum record sales, is certainly an out and proud gay guy.
He knew the road he needed to travel early in his life, winning a scholarship to Royal Academy of Music at just 11 years old. Before he began to do his songwriting with lyricist Bernie Taupin, with whom he had the biggest hits of his career, John had many jobs: he ran errands for a London publishing house, played piano in a hotel, played backup for Patti LaBelle And The Bluebells, plus he recorded cover versions of pop songs for records to be sold in supermarkets.
His first album was released in 1969, and between 1972 & 1976 there was no stopping the Taupin-John duo. They very much ruled the radio in the mid-1970s. He released an unbroken string of six #1 albums, starting with his first classic, Honky Chateau (1972) and his masterpiece, the two-record set Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) and the autobiographical concept album Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). John’s 1974 Greatest Hits collection remains one of the bestselling albums ever released. John has always stayed busy over the decades, releasing soundtrack records, duet projects and ambitious albums that combine Rock N’ Roll nostalgia with a sharp sense of mortality. He’s a consummate showman, probably the best piano player in pop music, playing with style, elegance and the good sense to wear a duck costume onstage.
In 1974, after he co-wrote John Lennon‘s comeback single, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, the Captain Fantastic album became the first LP to enter the charts at #1 in the USA.
Although his career took a big dip at the end of the 1970s, the new video oriented thing called MTV helped send the singles from his 1983 album Too Low For Zero back to the top of the charts. John has sold more than 400 million records in a career that is in to its fifth decade. His special single Candle In The Wind 1997, which he sang at Princess Diana’s funeral, remains the bestselling single of all-time. He has had 55 Top 40 hits. John has won 6 Grammy Awards, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and Tony Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Because of his admitted bisexuality (he later said that the term was a compromise, because he was afraid to admit he was gay), John lost many of his fans. In 1984, with much turmoil in his personal life (bulimia, cocaine addiction and alcoholism), John married German sound engineer Renate Blauel, but their relationship did not last and the couple divorced in 1988. John later came clean and admitted that he knew he was gay all along.
Now in the 21st century, Elton has been in a relationship for more than 25 years with filmmaker David Furnish. They married in England in 2014, on the ninth anniversary of their civil union. John:
“There is a world of difference between calling someone your ‘partner’ & calling them your ‘husband’.’Partner’ is a word that should be preserved for people you play tennis with, or work alongside in business. It doesn’t come close to describing the love that I have for David, & he for me. In contrast, ‘husband’ does.”
The couple have two sons and 10 godchildren, including Sean Lennon. They have homes in Old Windsor, Atlanta, Nice, London and Venice.
John and his husband raise millions of dollars every year with his charity, The Elton John AIDS Foundation, hosting an annual party in Hollywood on Oscar night, that is more popular than the awards show itself, attended by the great, the good, and the terminally glamorous. This year’s party raised $6.2 Million. John and Furnish continue to be a champion for LGBT rights. John seems to enjoy goading Russian President Vladimir Putin over that country’s treatment of Gay and Trans people.
John and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are collaborating on new music right now. His new album, Wonderful Crazy Night, is set to be released later this spring. A new exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography From The Sir Elton John Collection opened last week and will run through November 2016. Featuring over 150 works, the exhibition consists entirely of rare vintage prints from important photographers like Man Ray, André Kertész, Berenice Abbot, and Edward Steichen.
I appreciate John and his music, but to be honest, not that it really matters, but I am going to be honest with you anyway, I owned the early Elton John albums: Tumbleweed Connection (1970), Madman Across The Water (1971), Honkey Chateau (1972), Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (1973), and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), and then I got off the Elton John ride. I am not sure why. My CD collection now only contains 4 volumes of his Greatest Hits. But, my favorite Elton John album is a soundtrack for a little seen film, Friends (1971).
I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost & weary travelers to go
Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there then everything’s all right
It seems to me a crime that we should age
These fragile times should never slip us by
A time you never can or shall erase
As friends together watch their childhood fly away