14 Elton John Stories That Prove He's A Legend
There are different types of rock stars - they can be incredibly talented, temperamental, or wild. Elton John in the '70s was all three. The piano-playing, funky-glasses-wearing musician - whose birth name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight - became known around the world, cranking out 12 studio albums in a single hazy decade. The '70s turned out to be the first chapter in a long story for John, as he later became a responsible father and accomplished performer.
The man behind the piano is no stranger to feuds, fury, and fabulous music. These are the wildest Elton John stories from his years of partying as the legendary "Rocket Man."
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He Performed A Tribute At Princess Diana's Funeral
When Diana, Princess of Wales, suddenly passed in 1997, the United Kingdom was left stunned by the loss. During a massive memorial service in the royal's honor, John performed a special version of his classic song, "Candle in the Wind," featuring altered lyrics to celebrate the late princess.
The song proved popular, and John recorded it as a single. According to Entertainment Weekly, the track reached the top of the charts, and its proceeds went to the late royal's favorite charities. Since then, John has sworn not to perform the song again unless Princess Diana's children - Princes William and Harry - specifically requested him to sing it.
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He Performed In The Soviet Union At The Height Of The Cold War
In 1979, Cold War tensions flared, and there was much enmity between the Western and Eastern centers of power. Those living in the Soviet Union couldn't legally purchase rock music records and tapes - so it's surprising that John later became a smash hit there.
According to the Washington Post, after months of negotiations, the Soviet Union allowed John to appear at the October Concert Hall, where he performed a legendary show and three encores for a roaring crowd of roughly 4,000 fans. Despite the political tension, John welcomed his warm reception. He told The Guardian that he even became friendly with his government-sanctioned interpreter.
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He And His Lyricist Bernie Taupin Have Never Worked In The Same Room
John and Bernie Taupin are a legendary collaborative pair, going all the way back to John's first album. According to The Guardian, John and Taupin prefer working independently instead of side by side. Taupin writes batches of lyrics alone, and John only reviews them when he's in the recording studio. After reading Taupin's work, John tries to compose music for the words.
John told The Guardian, "If I haven't got it within 40 minutes, I give up." He claimed that the element of surprise has kept his work relationship with Taupin exciting for more than 40 years.
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He Has Raised Hundreds Of Millions On Behalf Of The LGBTQ+ Community
When it comes to his past controversies and feuds, John offers few apologies. However, according to Rolling Stone, John regrets not showing more support during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. To make amends, John has spent the decades since raising hundreds of millions for AIDS research.
John has also criticized Vladimir Putin for implementing hostile legislation that negatively impacts Russia's LGBTQ+ population. He later received a call from Putin in response.
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He Turned His Shyness Into Stage Presence
In Captain Fantastic: Elton John's Stellar Trip through the '70s, John told writer Tom Doyle that he was a shy, self-conscious child who seldom felt comfortable interacting with people in his daily life. Fortunately, however, he was able to funnel his anxiety into an outrageous, colorful stage persona.
Still, John admitted that his success and persona failed to quell his discomfort:
Although I was having a ball, you're still stuck with the insecure, nervous person inside. Being successful doesn't cure it. In fact, it makes things a little worse because then the difference between your stage persona and your actual, normal persona is so far removed.
In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, John said he eventually became more confident in his abilities, largely thanks to the joy he found in being a father.
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He Once Entered Rehab Wearing A So-Called Chicken Costume
According to The Guardian, John made at least one attempt to get clean in the early '90s. During this instance, he reportedly arrived at rehab wearing a chicken costume. The musician later kicked his bad habits; he quit using coke and stopped drinking heavily.
John has claimed his past struggles still affect him, telling NPR:
I still dream, twice a week at least, that I've taken [coke] and I have it up my nose. And it's very vivid, and it's very upsetting, but at least it's a wake-up call.