Happy Birthday to Elton John, who turns 66 on today (March 25th)!!! Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex, a suburb of London. John was playing piano at age three, and by the age of 11 he was studying at London's Royal Academy of Music. He later dropped out to work as a music publishing errand boy and play rock n' roll at night. John recorded and gigged with his early band Bluesology, and went on to back such legendary acts as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and the Isley Brothers.
In 1967 he hooked up with aspiring lyricist Bernie Taupin and went on to form one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in rock history. By early 1971, Elton had cracked the American charts with "Your Song," which peaked at Number Eight, and became the first of his 25 Top 40 hits of the 1970s. In the '70s, John and Taupin turned out hit after hit, placing 25 singles in the top 40, 16 in the Top Ten, and sending six to Number One.
Of the 19 albums Elton John released in the United States in that decade, 15 went gold or platinum. John's album Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy holds the distinction of being the first album to debut at Number One in the charts. A month after its release, on June 21st, 1975, Elton performed the album in its entirety at London's Wembley Stadium. Elton took the stage at the close of a mammoth outdoor rock concert, which featured the Beach Boys and the Eagles as the opening acts.
John's classic singles include "Rocket Man," "Honky Cat," "Crocodile Rock," "Bennie And The Jets," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "The Bitch Is Back," "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," "Daniel," "Philadelphia Freedom," "Island Girl," the duet "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Kiki Dee, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" with John Lennon, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Little Jeannie," "I'm Still Standing," "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," "Sad Songs (Say So Much)," "Candle In The Wind," "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," and many, many more.
Elton says that he thrived on the demands in the '70s to constantly write new material: "I was under contract to do two albums a year, and we did it, and we did separate singles, we did separate b-sides and it was fun. If you love writing songs, there's no reason why you cannot do that."
In 1992 he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Between 1992 and 2004 the foundation helped distribute 2,417 grants for over $50 million to fund AIDS related charities. Elton's efforts do not stop at fundraising. In April 2002, the singer visited Capital Hill, where he told Congress the U.S. has the power to end the AIDS epidemic: "Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the United States government is the biggest possible source of new funding for fighting AIDS. Forty million people are infected with HIV. Eight thousand people are dying every day. You have the power to end this epidemic. Please end it . . . please end it."
In 2006 Elton John and Bernie Taupin revisited the autobiographical concept of their Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy album, with a follow-up detailing the pair's last 30 years, called The Captain & The Kid.
On Christmas Day 2010, Elton and partner David Furnish welcomed a baby boy, named Zachary through a surrogate. The couple welcomed their second son, Elijah, this past January 11th. He was born via the same surrogate as Zachary in Los Angeles and weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces.
Elton John's latest album, 2010's The Union -- a collaboration with longtime hero Leon Russell -- peaked at Number Three on the Billboard 200 -- marking Elton's highest charting collection since 1976's Blue Moves -- which also peaked at Number Three.
Cameron Crowe's documentary on the making of The Union, launched the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and recently aired on HBO.
In addition to Elton and Russell, the film includes appearances by producer T Bone Burnett, Bernie Taupin, along with friends and musical contributors to The Union -- Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Booker T. Jones, Stevie Nicks, and Don Was.
On February 22nd, Elton previewed his upcoming album, The Diving Board, for reporters in Los Angeles. The album is slated for release in September.
Elton John will next perform on Thursday (March 28th) at Houston's Toyota Center.