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10 incredible things you probably never knew about Elton John

Emma Powys Maurice March 25, 2021
Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Let’s raise a toast to Elton John, who like a fine wine or a pair of Doc Martens, only gets better with age.

As the decades roll by Sir Elton remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time, producing more than 30 albums and selling over 300 million records.

There are few entertainers who can boast that kind of career longevity, let alone the star-studded celebrity lifestyle he’s enjoyed throughout.

Here are a few lesser-known facts about the Rocketman you might’ve missed over the half century he’s spent in show business.

1. His middle name is Hercules

The star’s real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight, but he ditched it to become Elton Hercules John in 1972.

The stage name was a homage to two of his former bandmates, saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry… and Hercules came from a character in the British sitcom Steptoe and Son.

2. He didn’t even need glasses at first

Elton John has become synonymous with his jazzy eyewear, one of the most iconic elements of his stage presence. But he didn’t even need glasses when he first started wearing them.

Sir Elton started sporting his signature glasses because, as a teenager, he wanted to look more like Buddy Holly. Ironically after wearing them for so many years, he eventually couldn’t see without them. He’s now rumoured to own over a thousand pairs.

3. He once produced four albums in a single year

Some artists labour for years over a single album, but not Sir Elton. The absolute workhorse released four albums – Tumbleweed ConnectionFriends, the live album 17-11-70, and Madman Across the Water – between October 1970 and November 1971.

This makes him one of the most prolific recording artists in British history.

4. He’s big in Russia

In 1979, Elton John was the first Western rock star to perform in the USSR. It was an extremely significant event in the Cold War as it signalled a softening towards Western culture on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

And it made history in more ways than one: for many audience members it was the first they’d ever seen of the rich, ostentatious Westerner, and they mistakenly believed all Europeans dressed as he did.

The story goes that Russia’s famously gaudy luxury industry was born as a result.

5. Elton John is a massive Watford FC fan

Elton John’s been a dedicated football fan his entire life, staying true to his local childhood club, Watford FC. The star actually became president of the club –  and later chairman –  in the 1970s, and again in the 1990s.

He apparently still uses his “incredible knowledge of football” to scout for players, and was made honorary life president of the club in recognition of the work he’s done for the team.

6. He doesn’t write his lyrics

Throughout his entire career Elton John has never written the lyrics to his music. The vast majority of his biggest hits had their lyrics written by his collaborator Bernie Taupin.

“I don’t really want to,” he once told GQ. “The only time I’ve ever written down anything that I’m really proud of was when I was in treatment and I had to write a farewell letter to cocaine.

“People may see that as a sign of weakness, but if I really wrote what I felt my career would probably be over because I’d have a go at everybody, because I’d write, ‘C***, c***.’ It’ just not worth it.”

7. And it was all done long-distance

Although they were songwriting partners for years, Elton and Taupin never actually wrote their music together.

Taupin would write the lyrics by himself, then he’d send them to Elton, wherever he happened to be in the world. Elton would then set the words to music, record it, and show it to Taupin.

8. He shared John Lennon’s last ever stage

Thanks to a bet made in the studio, John Lennon‘s last live performance was during a concert with Elton John at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving day in 1974.

When Sir Elton supplied the piano part for Lennon’s 1974 single Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, the singer insisted that if Lennon’s single hit number one, he’d have to agree to get up and perform with him at his Thanksgiving show.

The rest is history, and Lennon wound up singing three songs with John at that concert, including Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and I Saw Her Standing There.

9. He’s had a close friendship with Eminem spanning two decades

Elton John’s known to have an unlikely friendship with Eminem, which kicked off when the pair performed a duet at the 2001 Grammy awards.

Speaking of their first meeting, Elton John revealed on The Graham Norton Show: “We became friends. We’ve been amazing friends ever since. He’s an amazing guy. I just adore him.”

Which brings us to…

10. Eminem bought Elton John and David Furnish matching cock rings as a wedding gift

Yes, really.

Elton made the revelation in an interview with The Guardian where his celebrity friends submitted the questions to be asked. Eminem’s question simply read: “Have you used your wedding gift yet?”

“Ah, no,” Elton answered. “Eminem bought me and David matching cock rings when we got married. That was his gift. They sit there, like the crown jewels, in this beautiful box on satin cushions.

“They’re wonderful to look at. I don’t know if any guests we’ve had have used them. God, I hope not. They’re kind of sacrosanct. The fact they came from Eminem makes it even better. It’s very him, as is this question.”

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