Elton John, one of the most influential musicians of all time, turns 67 today!
With a career spanning 5 decades, John has become one of the most iconic images in music. He has sang and produced some of the most memorable songs and lyrics of the 20th century.
Who wasn’t touched by the romantic melody of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight“, the song featured in the hit Disney movie Lion King? Or who didn’t dance to the insanely addictive groove of the song “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“?
But what do we really know about the English songwriter? Everyone knows that he’s one of the best-selling singers in history, but did you know that Elton spent his early days in music as a lowly pianist in a pub? Read below to find a few facts you probably didn’t know about the legendary singer.
1. Pub Pianist
As briefly mentioned earlier, Elton John started his career at the age of 15 as a weekend pianist for the hotel pub of the Northwoods Hills Hotel. John played from Thursday to Sunday and was paid £35 every week plus tips. He played classic hits by Jim Reeves and Ray Charles, but he also performed a couple of songs he wrote himself. Around this time, John also formed a band called “Bluesology” with a couple of local musicians.
2. Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Elton John didn’t always bear his money-making moniker. John had a more distinct English name when he was born: Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He even brought with him his birth name in his early career, being known as “Reggie” during his early music gigs. Shortly after he was starting to get noticed. “Reggie” decided to switch to “Elton John”, a tribute to his former Bluesology band mates Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
3. He once said Jesus is a “Gay man”
Elton has been openly gay and liberal for years, and his statements regarding some issues constantly come under fire from various religious circles. In 2010, Elton John angered a few Christian groups when he said the following:
“I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems”
William Anthony Donohue, infamous anti-gay activist and president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, responded to Elton by saying: “To call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant”.
4. Child Prodigy
Elton John started playing the piano when he was 3, an age when many of us are still trying to figure out the potty trainer. Before he was 4, he could already play Winifred Atwell’s The Skater Waltz, a piece he learned by ear. At age 11, John won a junior scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. One of his instructors recalled that he was able to accurately play a four-page Handel piece after hearing it for the first time.
5. First western artist to perform in the Soviet Union
That’s right. Elton John was the very first Western-based artist to perform in the Soviet Union. This was exactly in the middle of the cold war, when the U.S and the Soviets were still heated up by the SALT II Treaty. Elton John daringly performed in Russia during one of the most tumultuous times of the cold war.
Happy Birthday Sir Elton John! Inquisitr wishes you all the best.
[Images Via Bing and Heinrich Klaffs]