When the movie, Rocketman, was announced, it was another chance to immortalize the career of one of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen, Elton John. The movie, where Taron Egerton played the famed singer, chronicled the journey of Elton John from his early career days to becoming one of the top five best-selling music artists in the world.
The English singer, over the course of a career that has lasted more than five decades, has recorded several milestones in many categories, from music sales to awards to his status as a cultural and influential personality. In the wave of the film’s release, we took a look at how Elton John became one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Elton John’s Background
It might come as a surprise, but while the world and history know him as Elton John, his real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight, and he was born on the 25th of March, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex in England.
Elton John is the only child of his mother, Sheila Eileen, and the eldest of his father, Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He attended Pinner County Grammar School, before abandoning his A-level studies to pursue a career in music.
Elton John’s decision to become a musician as a teenager was met with opposition by his parents, especially his father who wanted him to take up a career in the banking sector, but the English singer stuck with his guns and chose to make a career out of a passion that had been implanted in him through his parents who were musicians in their youthful days. His father was a trumpet player for the Bob Millar Band.
Known for his dexterity on the piano, Elton John’s road to becoming a best-selling music artist began as a boy when he found his grandmother’s piano and began to learn to play. Having started formal lessons at the age of seven, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11.
However, just like his academic career, he dropped out of the Royal Academy before he took his exams.
How Elton John Became a Bestselling Music Artist
His first professional job in the music industry was working as a pianist for a pub at the Northwood Hills Hotel at the age of 15. At the pub, Elton John played songs by notable musicians like Jim Reeves and Ray Charles, while also playing written songs of his own.
The pub gig was not the breakthrough Elton hoped for, but it led him to his first band, the Corvettes. After the Corvettes, he joined another band, Bluesology, through which he performed as a backup singer to other groups like the Isley Brothers.
In 1967, an advertisement in the New Musical Express led John to meet Bernie Taupin, who became his songwriting partner, a partnership that has existed to this day. Together, they joined DJM Records as staff songwriters in 1968.
In 1968, upon the advice of a music publisher, Elton John began to record his songs, starting with the single, I’ve Been Loving You which was released in 1968. In the following year, he released his debut album, Empty Sky.
The album was an eight-track album that performed modestly in the UK where it was originally released. The subsequent release in 1975 in the United States peaked at number six on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.
A significant moment in Elton John’s journey to becoming one of the bestselling music artists of all time was the release of his second album, Elton John. The eponymous album became his breakout project, with singles like Border Song peaking at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Your Song reached number seven in the UK and number eight in the US. The album itself, reached number four on the US Billboard 200, and number five in the UK, becoming his first major hit.
Since the breakthrough of the album, Elton John has released a total of 30 studio albums, four live albums, 16 compilation albums and a combined 10 EPs and Soundtrack albums.
Elton John became one of the bestselling music artists of all time by selling over 200 million albums worldwide, with the album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road being his biggest album to date, selling over 30 million copies.
His single, Candle in the Wind 1997, which he wrote as a dedication to Princess Diana, sold over 33 million copies and is the bestselling single in both the US and the UK.
The Middlesex-born iconic singer is currently ranked among the top five best-selling music artists of all time, alongside Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles.