Elton John, full name, Sir Elton Hercules John, original name Reginald Kenneth Dwight, was a British singer, composer, and pianist who was one of the most popular entertainers of the late twentieth century.
In a concert and recording career that encompassed the selling of hundreds of millions of records, he blended as many strands of popular music and stylistic flair as Elvis Presley.
John, a child prodigy on the piano, was offered a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 11. After finding rhythm and blues, he gravitated toward pop and joined Bluesology, afterward John Baldry’s backing band, in the mid-1960s.
After responding to an advertisement in a trade journal, he met his major songwriting collaborator, Bernie Taupin (born May 22, 1950, Sleaford, Lincolnshire), and his first British recording breakthrough came with “Lady Samantha” in 1968. Elton John, his first American album, was published in 1970 and quickly established him as a great international sensation.
Throughout his career, John exhibited an exceptional ability to incorporate and integrate numerous pop and rock influences into a propulsive, streamlined sound that was extroverted, energetic, and somewhat impersonal.
His albums were among the first to incorporate electric guitar and acoustic piano with synthesized music. His vocal style, with its Southern accent and gospel inflections, was heavily affected by America, as was his pianism, an ornate, gospel-flavored extension of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis’ stylings.
“Your Song,” his first American hit in 1970, was a love ballad that merged the introspective atmosphere of the era’s singer-songwriters with more classic pop technique. John’s early 1970s recordings were influenced by country-rock and folk-rock icons such as the Band and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.