[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 11:58 GMT
The flamboyant king of pop
Elton John
Elton's career has spanned 35 years
It's no secret Elton John changed his name in pursuit of fame. A new exhibition on "movers and shakers" of British history highlights the crucial document that turned Reg Dwight into a star.

He's survived career dips, drug addiction and a variety of public court cases to become one of the most successful and enduring musicians of the last 40 years. Elton John is one of 17 great Britons featured in the forthcoming Movers and Shakers exhibition at the National Archives in Kew, west London.

The son of an RAF trumpeter, Elton was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex.

Elton John's name change

He began playing piano at the age of four and when he was 11, won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.

At the start of his pop career, he opted for a catchier moniker, taking his inspiration from singer Long John Baldry and sax player Elton Dean.

The document on display as part of the exhibition relates to Elton's name change and is proof that Elton Hercules John started life as Reg Dwight.

Winning team

Elton, from a portrait by Suzi Malin
Elton met lyricist Bernie Taupin when they both answered an ad for songwriters in NME.

It was the start of a beautiful and lucrative partnership.

In 1969 he released his debut album Empty Sky, which received fair reviews, but no sales - so no outrageous spending sprees for Elton just yet.

Success would come the following year with the Gus Dudgeon produced single, Your Song, taken from the album, Elton John. It was the singer's first UK hit reaching number seven in the charts.

Writer Geoffrey Chaucer 1343-1400
Inventor William Caxton 1415-91
Noblewoman Cecily Neville 1415-95
King HenryVIII 1491-1547
Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603
Politician and Soldier Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658
Architect Christopher Wren 1632-1723
Astronomer Edmund Halley 1656-1742
Civil Servant Henry Cole 1808-1882
Political Economist Karl Marx 1818-1883
Writer Charles Dickens 1812-1870
Nurse Mary Seacole 1805-1881
Scientist Francis Crick 1916-2004
Mathematician and Computer Scientist Alan Turing 1912-1954
Social Explorer Gertrude Bell 1868 - 1926
Soldier and Statesman Winston Churchill 1874 - 1965
Musician Elton John 1947-

By 1973, Elton had launched his own label, Rocket Records and in 1974, he became director of Watford Football Club beginning a successful working partnership with Watford manager Graham Taylor.

He has the rare accolade of charting a Top 40 single every year from 1970 to 1996.

Success brought enormous wealth coupled with a rather nasty drug habit and several well-publicised tantrums.

"I once phoned my agent telling him to do something about the wind outside my hotel room," he once said.

National Archives curator Sue Laurence says: "It's perfectly justifiable to put him in because he has also contributed something at a cultural level, as an entrepreneur involved in a football club and the Old Vic. He's an icon."

Movers and Shakers is at the National Archives in Kew, west London, from 6 December - 31 May.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific