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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 08:49 GMT
Sixty things for Sir Elton's 60th
Sir Elton John turns 60 on Sunday, 25 March, and to celebrate his milestone birthday here are 60 facts about the pop superstar:

CHILDHOOD

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton attended the Royal Academy of Music

1. Elton Hercules John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex.

2. His father, Stanley Dwight, was an RAF flight lieutenant and big band trumpet player. He divorced Elton's mother Sheila in 1962.

3. Elton began playing the piano when he was three or four and went to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11.

4. He attended the academy for five years but dropped out before the final exams, later saying he "resented" attending and hardly ever studied.

5. He joined his first group, Bluesology, at the age of 14.

6. He would perform, aged 15, at weekends in the Northwood Hills pub and would have to cope with drunken customers emptying their pints into his piano.

7. His parents were alarmed by his music. His father wanted him to concentrate on classical pieces whereas his mother did not like his often raucous playing style.

EARLY CAREER

Kiki Dee and Sir Elton
Elton sang with Kiki Dee on Don't Go Breaking My Heart

8. Sir Elton auditioned for prog-rock bands King Crimson and Gentle Giant - he was rejected.

9. Before he hit the big time, Sir Elton recorded several anonymous albums of budget cover versions.

10. He also played in the backing band of British blues legend Long John Baldry. His stage name is drawn from those of Baldry and his sax-player Elton Dean.

11. Scarecrow, the first collaboration between Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin, was released in 1967. The pair had never met - their work was swapped by post.

12. His official nickname is Rocket Man - taken from his second hit single - but Rod Stewart calls him Sharon.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton was a personal friend of Princess Diana

13. He is at number nine on the all-time US best-seller list, with a total of 69 million albums sold in the US during his career. He is sandwiched between Barbara Streisand at eight and AC/DC at 10.

14. His song Candle in the Wind '97, released in tribute to the late Princess Diana, is the highest-selling single in history. More than 30 million copies were sold around the world.

15. The Elton John Aids Foundation has raised more than $100m (52m) since it was established in 1992.

16. When he received his knighthood in 1998, the Rocket Man was announced as Sir John Elton.

AWARDS

Sir Elton John and Sting
Sir Elton is known for his many celebrity friends

17. He was named best British male at the Brit Awards in 1991. It is the only competitive Brit he has won - but he has received the outstanding contribution award twice.

18. The first time, in 1986, he shared the honour with Wham! and was presented with the award by then-Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit. Sting presented the second accolade nine years later.

19. In 1994, the five nominations for the best original song Oscar included three songs Sir Elton co-wrote for The Lion King with Sir Tim Rice. They won with Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

20. He has won five Grammy Awards - his first in 1986 for That's What Friends are For and his most recent in 2000 for Aida.

21. Sir Elton had 13 UK top 20 hits before Don't Go Breaking My Heart, a duet with Bradford-born Kiki Dee, earned him a number one spot in July 1976.

TOUR STORIES

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton's official nickname is Rocket Man

22. His 1976 World tour was called Louder than Concorde (But Not Quite as Pretty).

23. Sir Elton became the first Western pop star to tour the Soviet Union in 1979.

24. He has toured several times with Billy Joel, but denies there is any rivalry. "He is Mr Piano Man, I am Miss Piano Man," he said.

25. After performing with Eminem at the 2001 Grammy awards Sir Elton was full of praise for the rapper. "There just aren't many people in the world with balls that big and talent that awesome," he said.

26. "It's very important to have two tiaras when you're on the road," he said. "You never know when you'll be invited to something really formal."

27. He once had a balloon promoting a Rod Stewart concert shot out of the sky.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Sir Elton John
The star has sold off lots of his clothes for charity

28. In 1975, he played the Pinball Wizard in Ken Russell's big-screen adaptation of the rock opera Tommy.

29. He became chairman of the then Fourth Division Watford football club in 1973. He wept openly when the team lost 2-0 to Everton in the FA Cup Final.

30. In September 1988, Sir Elton put more than 2,000 items of his personal memorabilia up for sale at Sotheby's, raising 4m for his AIDS charity.

31. Every year since 2004, he has opened a temporary shop to sell thousands of items from his wardrobe for charity. Last year, the shop was in New York, and was called Elton's Closet.

PERSONAL LIFE

Sir Elton John and David Furnish
Sir Elton is known for his love of fancy dress

32. He came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. "People should be very free with sex," he said. "But they should draw the line at goats."

33. He married Renate Blauel, a German recording engineer in 1984 but they divorced four years later. He announced his homosexuality soon after.

34. In 2001, Sir Elton told The Sun newspaper he spends "more than 200,000 a time" when shopping for clothes.

35. He entered into a civil partnership with long term partner David Furnish in December 2005.

36. He cannot put a figure on how much he spent on drugs, but told one reporter: "Sometimes when I'm flying over the Alps I think, 'that's like all the cocaine I sniffed'."

37. The superstar has refused to adopt a child with Furnish because of their age difference. "And, frankly, I refuse to breast feed," he joked.

38. He credits Watford Football Club with helping him kick his addictions. "Graham Taylor would sit me down and say, 'You're drinking too much'," he said in 2004. "If I hadn't had Watford, I really don't know what would have happened to me..."

CONTROVERSY

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John has sold nearly 70 million albums in the US

39. He reckoned Hear'Say were the "ugliest band in pop", saying singer Danny Foster was a dead ringer of cartoon character Shrek. Hear'Say blamed Sir Elton for the demise of their group.

40. He doesn't like making music videos. "I hate videos. Videos are loathsome," he complained in the warts-and-all documentary Tantrums and Tiaras.

41. David Bowie sparked a 20-year feud with Sir Elton when he called him "the token queen of rock".

42. Sir Elton joked that if he was to join the Spice Girls he would be known as "Cocky Spice". Fellow crooner Rod Stewart would be "Mingy Spice, because he is mingy".

43. The singer wasn't impressed with Elvis Presley. "When I met him in Washington he was half dead already. There were no signs of life there and it was kind of sad."

IN THE STUDIO

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton is also famous for his change in hairstyle over the years

44. Former Beatle John Lennon plays on Sir Elton's 1975 concept album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy - but he is credited as Dr Winston O'Boogie.

45. One of his oddest songs is called Conventional Oven Thermostat. He improvised it using the manual from Richard E Grant's cooker on ITV's Audience With Elton John in 1997.

46. The masterpiece included the lyrics: "You and your oven are capable of great things / Remember, no two ovens are the same".

47. Lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote the ballad Someone Saved My Life Tonight about the night he stopped Sir Elton from committing suicide with a gas oven.

48. The pair wrote a song called Can't Go On (Living Without You), hoping it would become the British entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969. But it didn't make the cut, coming sixth out of six songs.

49. Sir Elton has duetted with George Michael, Kiki Dee, Gladys Knight, Cliff Richard and 2Pac.

50. He plays piano on the Scissor Sisters number one single I Don't Feel Like Dancing.

51. Sir Elton wrote the music for the Captain Fantastic album aboard a luxury ocean liner. "I'd tried to book the ship's music room, but an opera singer had it for the whole five days," he told Rolling Stone. "The only time she wasn't there was when she scoffed her lunch for two hours. So every lunchtime I'd nip in there and grab the piano."

52. The pop star keeps up to date with the latest music, listing LCD Soundsystem, James Blunt and Antony and The Johnsons among his current favourite acts.

53. Sir Elton and Taupin wrote Don't Go Breaking My Heart under the pseudonyms Ann Orson and Carte Blanche.

MISCELLANEOUS

Sir Elton John
He first had a 1973 hit with Candle in the Wind in 1973

54. Pop star Justin Timberlake appeared as a young Elton John in the video for This Train Don't Stop Here Any More.

55. The original version of Candle in the Wind was a UK number one in 1973, but its release was cancelled in the US when radio stations started playing Bennie and the Jets instead.

56. Take That's Gary Barlow sings backing vocals on Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

57. For his 50th birthday, Sir Elton wore a Louis XV-style powdered wig topped by a silver ship shooting real smoke from its cannons.

58. The garment was so big, he had to be delivered to his party in a furniture removal van. He was not pleased.

59. He was a guest of honour at Liz Hurley's recent wedding, and walked the bride down the aisle.

60. The flamboyant superstar was dragged into a pool of water by a troupe of singing crocodiles when he appeared on the Muppet Show in 1977.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Sir Elton John at 60
23 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
'Stand up to bigots', says Elton
22 Mar 07 |  Entertainment

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