Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Sunday, 1 November 2009

Profile: Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton is one of the most successful pop artists of all time

The career of Sir Elton Hercules John spans four decades and has been littered with accolades, hit singles and world records.

He was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex, on 25 March 1947.

Sir Elton began playing the piano when he was aged about three, and went to the Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 11.

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

He was 14 when he joined his first band, Bluesology, which was formed in 1961, later taking his stage name from that band's saxophonist Elton Dean and their frontman, Long John Baldry.

In 1967 Sir Elton was introduced to lyricist Bernie Taupin and the two co-wrote many international hit songs, including Your Song, Rocket Man, and Crocodile Rock. Their early work was conducted without the two of them meeting up, instead swapping their contributions by post.

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

The 62-year-old singer has sold more than 200 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time.

His single Candle in the Wind 1997, dedicated to Princess Diana, has sold more than 37 million copies, becoming the best selling single of all time.

Award-winning

He has had more than 50 Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive number one US albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 singles, and nine number one hits. He has won five Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award.

In 1975, he played the Pinball Wizard in Ken Russell's big-screen adaptation of the rock opera Tommy, appeared with singing crocodiles on the Muppet Show in 1977 and in 1979 became the first Western pop star to tour the Soviet Union.

As a result of all his achievements, Sir Elton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and was knighted in 1998.

He came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, and would announce his homosexuality in the late 1980s.

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton, pictured here in 1970, is known for his flamboyant stage outfits

He married a German recording engineer, Renate Blauel, on Valentine's Day in 1984 but their marriage was dissolved in November 1988. He entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish on 21 December 2005.

In 1976, Sir Elton became involved in Watford Football Club and fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming chairman and director.

He appointed future England manager Graham Taylor as the club's manager and invested large sums of money, as the club rose three divisions into the then-First Division.

The pinnacle of the club's success was finishing second in that league in 1983 and reaching the FA Cup final a year later. He sold the club in 1987, but remained their life-long president.

In 1997 he re-purchased the club and once again became chairman. He stepped down in 2002 when the club needed a full-time chairman although he continued as president of the club.

In June 2005 he held a concert at Watford's Vicarage Road ground, donating the money to the club and another concert for 2010 has been announced to raise further funds.

Aids charities

Sir Elton is also a longtime tennis enthusiast, co-hosting an annual tennis event with longtime friend Billie Jean King to benefit various Aids charities.

He has been heavily involved in the fight against Aids since the late 1980s.

In 1992 in the USA, and in 1993 in the UK, Sir Elton established the Elton John Aids Foundation - his charity dedicated to breakthrough work on behalf of those suffering from HIV and related illnesses. It has raised more than $150m (£91m) so far.

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

In September 2009 he was denied permission by Ukrainian officials to adopt a 14-month-old Ukrainian boy because he was not married and too old.

Sir Elton had said he hoped to adopt a boy, named Lev, whom he met while visiting an orphanage, but a government minister said the age difference between an adoptive parent and a child must be 45 years or less.

And his civil partnership with Mr Furnish would not be recognised as a marriage in Ukraine, the minister added.

Sir Elton was forced to postpone three concerts in the US in November because of ill-health, a statement on his official website saying that he had a "serious case" of E.coli bacterial infection and influenza.



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