Elton John Fast Facts

Updated 12:59 PM EST, Sun March 7, 2021
(CNN) —  

Here’s a look at the life of Elton John, award-winning singer, composer and pianist.


Birth date: March 25, 1947

Birth place: Pinner, Middlesex, England

Birth name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Father: Stanley Dwight, a Royal Air Force officer

Mother: Sheila (Harris) Dwight

Marriage: David Furnish (2014-present); Renate Blauel (1984-1988, divorced)

Children: Born via surrogate with Furnish: Elijah Joseph Daniel, Zachary Jackson Levon

Other Facts

Won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11.

Officially changed his name to Elton John in 1967. The name was inspired by members of his early band, Bluesology. The saxophone player was named Elton Dean, and the lead singer was named Long John Baldry.

Nominated for four Academy Awards and has won twice.

Nominated for 34 Grammy Awards and has won five, plus received a Grammy Legend Award.

Nominated for four Tony Awards and has won once.

Early in his career, he was known for whimsical costumes and wild glasses. He’s taken the stage wearing a duck suit, a sequined baseball uniform and a Ronald McDonald outfit. He wore the colorful clothes to help create a spectacle and offset his shyness onstage.

He is the third most successful Billboard Hot 100 artist of all time, according to the magazine’s tally of sales for music released between 1958 and 2015. Only the Beatles and Madonna rank higher.

John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. The song is the best-selling physical single of all time in the US. Proceeds from record sales were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which issued grants to a variety of charities.


1967 - Starts working as a songwriter for Liberty Records. This is the beginning of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin.

1970 - Launches his first world tour.

1973 - Reaches the top of the Billboard singles chart for the first time with “Crocodile Rock.” He also releases the double album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which spawns a series of hits including the title track, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Bennie and the Jets.” The album also features “Candle in the Wind,” originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, later adapted into a song for Princess Diana after her death.

1975 - Appears in a movie based on the Who’s rock opera, “Tommy.” John performs the song, “Pinball Wizard,” in the film. That same year, John’s album, “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” becomes the first LP in Billboard history to debut at #1 on the charts.

1976 - John duets with Kiki Dee on the number one hit, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”

1979 - Becomes the first rock or pop star from the West to perform in the Soviet Union.

July 13, 1985 - Performs at the Live Aid benefit concert in London for famine relief. Other featured artists at the all-star show include Paul McCartney, Queen, David Bowie and U2.

February 24, 1987 - Wins the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal - “That’s What Friends Are For” - with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

1990 - Seeks treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

1992 - Establishes the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

February 25, 1992 - Wins the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for “Basque.”

January 19, 1994 - Is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

July 1994 - John teams up with Billy Joel for a series of concerts called “Face to Face.” The two piano mavens tour together repeatedly over the course of 16 years.

March 1, 1995 - Wins the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

March 27, 1995 - Wins the Academy Award for Best Music (Original Score) for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from Disney’s “The Lion King.”

September 6, 1997 - Performs “Candle in the Wind 1997” at Princess Diana’s funeral.

February 24, 1998 - Queen Elizabeth II names John an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

February 25, 1998 - Wins the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Candle in the Wind 1997.”

February 23, 2000 - Is presented with the Grammy Legend Award.

June 4, 2000 - Wins the Tony Award for Best Original Musical Score for “Aida.”

February 21, 2001 - Wins the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album for “Aida.”

2004-2009 - Performs a series of shows at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas called “Elton John and the Red Piano.”

December 21, 2005 - John and Furnish have a civil partnership ceremony, after 12 years together.

November 13, 2008 - “Billy Elliot: The Musical,” featuring a score composed by John, opens on Broadway and goes on to win ten Tony Awards including Best Musical.