On writing songs with Bernie Taupin

“We wrote our first 20 songs together before we ever met,” says Elton John of his collaboration with Bernie Taupin.  And reading through some of them later in his career, Elton says he was beside himself with laughter.  Songs like “A Dandelion Dies in the Wind.”  Or “Velvet Fountain.”  Or these lyrics from “Scarecrow.”  

        Like moths around a light bulb
        Your brain is still bleeding
        From visions and pictures
        of nature’s young raincoat.

“We used to sneer at people who wrote bloody psychedelic lyrics,” Elton said.  “And there we were, writing the biggest load of old garbage you ever read.”

Eventually, Bernie moved to London to live with Elton and his mother and her boyfriend.  They shared a bunkbed in Reg’s bedroom.  Asked many years later if he had fancied Bernie, Elton replied, ‘I did.  But it was never a sexual thing.  I just adored him, like a brother.  He was the soul mate I’d been looking for all my life.’  And just for the record, Bernie was on top, Reg was on the bottom.  

 

On "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"

Back in 1968, Reginald Dwight was in a fix.  The pub band he played in was taking him nowhere.  And he was engaged to marry a woman who wanted him to settle down and put aside his music in favor of a “proper” career.  

Everyone around him could see that this was plain wrong.  Musical mentor Long John Baldry spelled it out for him.  “If you marry this woman you’ll destroy two lives—hers and yours.”  Baldry, you see, was gay, and he had probably already guessed that Reg was, too.  

Elton got the message, though, and 7 years later he would sing that it ‘saved’ his life that night.  

“He knew I was gay and told me to get used to it or it would destroy my life,” Elton has said.  But at the time he retreated into his music instead.  Literally.  Elton claimed that the prospect of marriage “frightened me off sex for...I don’t really remember how long.  I think it was probably a good year or two.”

On becoming Elton John

Sir Elton Hercules John is one of the most highly acclaimed and successful solo artists of all time. 

He has achieved 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums.  He has sold more than 250 million records worldwide.  Which places him among the top ten selling artists in history.   

Over the five decades since his career began in 1969, Elton has played more than 3,500 concerts in over 80 countries.

And at the height of his success it was calculated that in one calendar year, he accounted for 3% of all records sold.  

He started off as a shy, overweight, not at all stylish young man with the unfortunate name of Reginald Dwight.  But what he made of himself is quite an accomplishment.  Elton John’s story is actually three stories:  a coming of age story, a coming out story, and the story of his coming into his own.