Sir Elton John, who is entering into a civil partnership with lover David Furnish, was born Reginald Dwight in 1947. He studied music before working as a session musician.
After Sir Elton's first hit single, Your Song, in 1970, he and lyricist Bernie Taupin had a string of UK and US successes such as Crocodile Rock and Daniel, plus number one albums.
Sir Elton is renowned for his flamboyant stage outfits. During the 1970s and 1980s, he established himself as one of the world's most popular live acts.
Sir Elton has fought media intrusion into his personal life. He sued The Sun in 1988 over claims about his sex life, winning a reported £1m and a front page apology.
Sir Elton has performed with the biggest names in music, working with opera stars like Luciano Pavarotti and writing musicals including The Lion King and Billy Elliott.
Sir Elton was married to Renate Blauel for three years from 1984. He later spoke of difficulties with drugs and food. He has been with film producer David Furnish since 1994.
Sir Elton was devastated when his friend Diana, Princess of Wales died. He performed Candle in the Wind at her funeral, adapting the lyrics to commemorate her life.
Sir Elton's spending habits, including £290,000 on flowers in 18 months, were revealed when he took his former management company and accountants to court over touring costs.
After gay protestors targeted Eminem over his anti-homosexual lyrics, Sir Elton publicly backed the singer by performing with him at the US Grammy awards in 2001.
Having performed at Live Aid in 1985, Sir Elton John played the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park in July to back the anti-poverty campaign.