Beginning his musical journey in the late 60s, Sir Elton John has achieved it all in his stellar 50+ year career. His massively successful string of hits from ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Your Song’ to ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Candle In The Wind’ cemented his legendary status early on. Ever since, anything he releases hits the top of the charts, wins major awards and gets played in living rooms around the globe. Alongside his music, he’s raised millions for charity with his Elton John Aids Foundation, been knighted and honoured with a movie-adaptation biopic of his life.
In celebration of this and his 73rd birthday on March 25th, let’s take a look back at his astonishing rhinestone-cladded top 10 career highlights.
Knighthood and Companion of Honour
The Sir in front of Sir Elton John is an achievement made by very few. Back in 1998 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music and charity. At the end of last year, he was elevated to the honour system’s highest level, Companion of Honour. A title that only 65 people can hold at one time, he’s in esteemed company alongside an exclusive group including Sir Paul McCartney and Roger Taylor (Queen). He is also a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Achieved Seven Consecutive #1 Albums
Releasing seven consecutive chart-topping albums is almost unheard of, but for Sir Elton John, this unbelievable feat was accomplished in just three short years between 1972 and 1975 with six studio albums and one Greatest Hits record; Honkey Chateau (1972), Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (1973), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), Caribou (1974), Greatest Hits (1974), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) and Rock of the Westies (1975).
Regarded as his best album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road went on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide, achieve Platinum status in NZ and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Featuring songs such as ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,’ ‘Candle In The Wind,’ ‘Bennie and the Jets’ and title track ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ it’s clear to see why he named his final tour after it.
Named the Top Male Solo Artist of All Time
It’s easy to see why Sir Elton John takes the crown as the top male solo artist (third overall) on Billboard’s list of the 125 top artists of all time. Obviously for the highlight above, as well as holding the record for the most consecutive years charting a top 40 hit, and for spawning over 50 Billboard Top 40 singles so far (including nine #1’s). Today, he has sold more than 300 million albums and over 100 million singles worldwide, proving that he is adored around the globe.
Inducted Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
It’s every artist’s dream to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Sir Elton John achieved this in 1994 for his remarkable contributions to the music industry. He was inducted by lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose who shared, “for myself as well as for many others no-one has been more inspirational than Elton John.” Two years prior, John was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin – “He and lyric writer, Bernie Taupin, comprise one of the longest-running and most successful songwriting teams of all time.”
Composed Music for Broadway Shows
Sir Elton John is one of the most successful composers in the history of musical theater. He’s composed music for a variety of Broadway musicals including, ‘Billy Elliot,’ ‘Aida’ and ‘The Lion King.’ He won a Grammy for ‘Best Musical Show Album’ for ‘Aida’ and ‘The Lion King’ went on to become a huge critical and commercial success thanks to his songs, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight,’ ‘Circle of Life’ and ‘Hakuna Matata.’ ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ went on to win him an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1995 for ‘Best Original Song’ as part of Disney’s adapted silver screen version.
Won Every Prestigious Award
Fast forward fifteen years later and John has achieved that exact same feat – this time with his best mate Bernie Taupin. Surprisingly, it’s the very first time they’ve ever won an award together. Their song ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ from the phenomenal biopic Rocketman went on to win them ‘Best Original Song’ at the 2020 Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Sir Elton John has also won 5 Grammys (including the Grammy Legend Award) and a Tony Award, making him one of very few artists to have this in their repertoire.
Had a Biopic Made About Him and Released a Memoir
In 2019, after many years in the works, Rocketman, the biographical musical film based on the life and music of Sir Elton John was released. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, it starred Taron Egerton as Elton from his early days as Reginald Dwight to his prolific career as a performer. The film went on to gross over $195 million at the box office, receive high critical praise and win multiple major awards.
That same year, John gave fans another intimate look into his life, with the release of his first official autobiography titled ‘ME’. From explanations about his hair, his stint in rehab, and his coming out, to his friendships with Michael Jackson and Lady GaGa, it’s the deepest John has ever gone into his own personal stories aside from his songwriting.
He’s Inspired So Many Fellow Artists and Musicians
It only takes a quick scroll of Sir Elton John’s Instagram to see many familiar faces – all of which have been inspired by the legend in some way, shape or form. And he’s just as big a fan of them as they are of him. John’s recently teamed up with Lana Del Rey on the cover of Rolling Stone, made friends with Kacey Musgraves, Lewis Capaldi, Mumford & Sons, Niall Horan, and Sam Smith and showed support to the likes of Sam Fender and our very own Benee and SIX60!
Recorded A Rocket Hour Show With Benee And SIX60
He said it himself in a hashtag, that #NewZealandRocks, so there’s no doubt that his sit down chat with our very own pop princess Benee and SIX60 frontman Matiu Walters is considered a career highlight – and not just for Elton but for all Kiwis. When he touched down in Auckland earlier this year, John hosted the two icons for his weekly Rocket Hour radio show. Naming Benee as “an amazing young artist” and SIX60 as a “wonderful band who I’m crazy about” is a huge testament to their talent and success. John also named Benee’s ‘Supalonely’ as his “top tip for the next global smash” and he’s always right.
Embarked on a Massive Farewell Tour
Sir Elton John kicked off his ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ in 2018 and will see him play more than 300 shows in five continents over three years. As you will know, sadly Elton had to reschedule the remainder of his NZ dates due to pneumonia, but has promised to return to Mt Smart Stadium in 2021 on January 15th and 16th. Although it is his last tour before retirement, he will never stop making music, he shared, “I’m not stopping music. I will hopefully be making more records, writing more music. Mostly I’ll be taking my kids to soccer games. But I’ll be creative, hopefully, until the day I die.” Sounds like his career highlights are far from over.