January 30, 2018
In the past 50 years there has not been an artist, more than this one, who has provided the soundtrack for our lives. He embodies the concept of be ‘an original’ and has, since the beginning of his long career, gone his own way. In addition to his commercial success, he’s been recognized by his own country and was knighted on January 30, 1998.
The musician: the one, only and never imitated Elton John.
Although he was born Reginald Dwight, he changed his name to Elton John in 1967, after several years in the music industry. From the infallible Wikipedia:
“In 1967, Dwight answered an advertisement in the British magazine New Musical Express, placed by Ray Williams, then the A&R manager for Liberty Records. At their first meeting, Williams gave Dwight an unopened envelope of lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, who had answered the same ad. Dwight wrote music for the lyrics, and then mailed it to Taupin, beginning a partnership that still continues. When the two first met in 1967, they recorded what would become the first Elton John/Bernie Taupin song: “Scarecrow”. Six months later Dwight was going by the name “Elton John” in homage to two members of Bluesology: saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry.”
The list of memorable songs written by the duo – and performed by Elton John – is amazing. From his very first top 40 hit – Your Song – and continuing on with hit after hit through the 1970’s and 1980’s, the songs are memorable and often poignant.
Ironically, Elton did not win a solo Grammy Award until 1995… 24 years after his first nomination. The 1995 award was for Best Male Performance for the Song Can You Feel the Love Tonight? from the Disney hit movie The Lion King. He has been nominated for Grammy’s 33 times and won five times.
He was honored with the Grammy Legend Award in 1999, an honor given to the select few whose lifetime achievements are notable.
As a teenager in the 1970’s you could not turn on the radio without hearing many of Elton John’s songs. One song in particular stands out for me. It was late fall of 1972 and I was a sophomore in high school. And there was this guy – Ron – who I had a thing for. He, however, was pretty clueless when it came to the whole dating thing, so our relationship never went beyond ‘friends.’ Mostly we’d sit with each other at the Eisenhower High School basketball games and talk to each other in the one class we shared.
And for some reason whenever I hear Crocodile Rock I am immediately transported back to the winter of 1972-73 and think of ‘Ron.’
Crocodile Rock was Elton John’s first number one hit in the US, staying atop the charts from February 3rd through the 17th in 1973.
Elton John announced last week that he is doing one ‘last’ tour dubbed ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’. Although he has not yet announced dates in the greater Puget Sound region, a peek at the website does hint that more dates in 2019 will be added. From the website:
“These dates mark Elton’s last-ever tour, the end of a half a century on the road for one of pop culture’s most enduring performers. The new stage production will take his fans on a musical and highly visual journey spanning a 50-year career of hits like no one has ever seen before.”
I signed up to get updates and hope to make it to one of his performances!
For more information about Sir Elton, be sure to check out these links:
And, of course, a video of Crocodile Rock featuring Elton John in one of his crazy outfits from 1972: