Sir Elton Hercules John CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and pianist.
In his four-decade career, John has been one of the dominant forces in rock and popular music, especially during the 1970s. He has sold over 200 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. He has more than 50 Top 40 hits including seven consecutive No. 1 U.S. albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10, four No. 2 hits, and nine No. 1 hits. He has won five Grammy awards and one Academy Award. His success has had a profound impact on popular music and has contributed to the continued popularity of the piano in rock and roll. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #49 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Some of the characteristics of John's musical talent include an ability to quickly craft melodies for the lyrics of songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, his former rich tenor (now baritone) voice, his classical and gospel-influenced piano, the aggressive orchestral arrangements of Paul Buckmaster among others and the on-stage showmanship, especially evident during the 1970s.
John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s, and was knighted in 1998. He entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish on 21 December 2005 and continues to be a champion for LGBT social movements. On 9 April 2008, John held a benefit concert for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, raising $2.5 million. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list on which are present Hot 100's top 100 artists and Elton John reached #3, preceded by Madonna and The Beatles.
John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, and was raised in Pinner, Middlesex in a council house of his maternal grandparents, with whom his newlywed parents (Sheila Eileen (Harris) and Stanley Dwight) were living. They then moved to a nearby semi-detached house. He was educated at Pinner County Grammar School until the age of 15, before pursuing a career in the music industry.
When John began to seriously consider a career in music, his father tried to steer him toward a more conventional career such as banking. He has stated that his wild stage costumes and performances were his way of letting go after such a restrictive childhood. Both of John's parents were musically inclined, his father having been a trumpet player with a semi-professional big band that played military dances. The Dwights were avid record buyers, exposing John to all the popular singers and musicians of the day. John remembers being immediately hooked on rock and roll when his mother brought home records by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956.