Ballad of Elton John: Rocket Man and Flamboyant Star
Rocketman is a fantasy musical told from the perspective of a burned-out Elton John reflecting on his wild life from a rehab facility in the early 1990s.
‘If you’d have said to me 10 years ago I’d be sitting on your show, married to the man I love and have two beautiful children, I’d have said you put acid in my drink!,’ said legendary musician to the hostess of Ellen De Generes show a few years ago, with an ever-present dose of humor and self-irony.
Half-century Career of Legendary Elton John Rocketman
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of publishing the second studio album, ‘Elton John’, we remember the hippie age of the 70’s when the eponymous star, the Elton John Rocketman, was launched in the world of the most influential musicians alive.
If half-century ago, someone told shy Reginald Kenneth Dwight from the London suburb that he would live the wild life of glam rock star with the artistic name, Elton Hercules John, win six Grammys, two Golden Globes and one Oscar, be awarded with the royal title ‘Sir’ for musical and humanitarian accomplishments, record 33 albums and countless hits, he would probably also tell the person he’s a lunatic. Music, along with football, has been one of the biggest obsessions since the early days of young Reginald.
Elton John is an extravagant ‘persona’ on stage, and at the same time, a conflicted person whose fame failed to heal his childhood wounds
As a ‘wonder kid’ on the piano, he received a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. Although he is still grateful to have had such an opportunity, at the age of 16, he decided to replace Chopin, Mozart, and scales with so-called ‘devil’s music’.
Influences of American blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, albums by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and others have left their mark on his style. Few songwriters in the history of popular music have had the talent to express themselves with such simplicity on their instrument.
From Reggie Dwight to Elton John
Realizing early that the name Reggie Dwight would not take him far, he created the name, Elton John as some form of homage to the members of the R’n’B band ‘Bluesology’ (Elton Dean and Long John Baldry) in which he played before starting his solo career.
Although he spoke musical language wonderfully, he was struggling with verbal expression. Elton did not know how to write lyrics, but as sheer coincidence had it, he found lyricist Bernie Taupin, who did not know how to write music.
The lyricism of Bernie’s verses perfectly matched Elton’s sensibility and energy, so the songs were practically self-created. From 1967 until today, the artistic co-authors and best friends remained in a happy ‘musical marriage’, and without them, hits like ‘Crocodile Rock’, ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’ or ‘Candle in The Wind’ would have never been played on the radio.
As a ‘wonder kid’ on the piano, he received a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. Although he is still grateful to have had such an opportunity, at the age of 16, he decided to replace Chopin, Mozart, and scales with so-called ‘devil’s music’
Your Song was his first real hit
Anyone who has watched the recently released autobiographical musical ‘Rocketman’ will surely remember the breakfast scene in Elton’s mother’s kitchen. Bernie carelessly scribbled the text on a piece of paper, handed it to Elton, who, with his messy hair and wearing a bathrobe, immediately got up and headed for the piano.
Bernie Taupin hasn’t even managed to shave, while Elton composed and expressively performed ‘Your Song’ impromptu – their first real hit with which they won over the American audience and paved the way for world tours.
The scene from the film, of course, did not literally reveal the actual events, but that does not reduce the real magic of their partnership.
Elton John’s Rocketman is a fantasy musical told from the perspective of a burned-out Elton reflecting on his wild life from a rehab facility in the early 1990s.
Movie Rocketman received a largely positive response
Characters frequently burst into elaborately choreographed song and dance routines, the timeline is off much of the time and facts are disregarded in favor of creating a compelling narrative and capturing the emotional truth of Elton’s life. Rocketman received a largely positive response from critics, with some calling it one of the best films released in 2019.
The most successful, but also turbulent period Elton sketched in his journal: ‘Woke up, watched Grandstand. Wrote Candle in the Wind. Went to London, bought Rolls-Royce.
Ringo Starr came for dinner.’ While ‘levitating’ on stage, he was drowning in life. Behind the stage lights and striking, glittering costumes and fashion accessories, the musician fought battles with his own identity, sexual orientation, lack of support, drugs, alcohol, bulimia (…) which he openly talks about today, from a different perspective.
When Elton John sings, the pervasion with the song is so great that it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t come up with the lyrics
An extravagant ‘persona’ on stage, and at the same time, a conflicted person whose fame failed to heal his childhood wounds. Interested in the artistic side of life and singing about love and ideals, Elton John Rocketman was also a rebel with a short fuse.
Elton John’s marriage to Renate Blauel
Crazy about luxury and glamour, but despising fame. Despite all the internal conflicts, he managed to stay himself. At the cusp of his self-destructive lifestyle, Elton experienced catharsis and decided to get his life together.
His short-lived marriage to Renate Blauel failed to convert him, but since 1993, ‘most famous homosexual in the world’, as he calls himself, has been in a happy relationship with his current husband, David Furnish, with whom he is raising two sons.
Although he reached the peak of his grandiose stage performances in the ‘70s, his later music was no worse, just different – more sophisticated, more refined – just like him. He confirmed his social engagement by participating in a great number of charities for children, patients suffering from AIDS and other chronic diseases, human and animal rights, and supporting artistic fields.
I’m Still Standing’ after all this years
With ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’, a major three-year tour, Elton John intended to say goodbye to his audience at the end of this year, through 300 concerts around the world. But if something positive came out of the current pandemic, it’s the fact that the concerts for 2020 have been postponed.
The specific rhythm and timbre are inseparable from his presence, so it is not surprising that a small number of musicians dared to record covers of his hit songs
That means we still have the next year’s opportunity for listening to ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’ or ‘Tiny Dancer’ live for the last time, on the big European stages.
Elton John’s songs entertain and heal, elevate and soothe, and above all, act honestly and lived through. His distinctive tenor with a southern accent can hardly be separated from his melodious piano. When he sings, the pervasion with the song is so great that it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t come up with the lyrics.
It just confirms the strength of the bond between him and Bernie. The specific rhythm and timbre are inseparable from his presence, so it is not surprising that a small number of musicians dared to record covers of his hit songs. There is only one Sir Elton John, there is only one .
Text Trešnja Ferić
Photos Jeff Lipsky, Blaine Ohigashi & Troy Harvey / ©A.M.P.A.S., Ben Gibson/Rocket Entertainment & shutterstock.com