Pop superstar Elton John has said he feels “incredibly lucky” that music is still such an important part of his life as he celebrates his 75th birthday.
He marks the milestone by releasing a digitally remastered version of his album Diamonds: The Ultimate Greatest Hits for the first time on streaming platforms.
BBC Two will also celebrate his illustrious career with two special shows this Saturday night. The first, Elton John on the BBCwill follow his career with archival footage of performances, interviews and news clips, while the second is a documentary exploring his childhood, his sudden rise to fame in the US and his musical heyday.
Even the most laid-back music fan knows that John composed the soundtrack to it The Lion King and that its 1997 rewrite candle in the wind in honor of the late Princess Diana became the best-selling British single of all time.
But here are a few facts you might not know about the legendary singer-songwriter as he celebrates his milestone birthday:
His stage name is a tribute to two music mentors (and a horse)
Elton John is the stage name of the man born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, north west London.
At age 15, Dwight formed a band called Bluesology, which released two singles. Both were unsuccessful, but they caught the attention of blues musician Long John Baldry, who invited him to join his backing band, where he also befriended saxophonist Elton Dean.
When Dwight left the band to attempt a solo career, “he immortalized his former colleagues by adopting an amalgamation of Baldry’s and Dean’s first names,” he said The times.
As for the origin of his lesser-known middle name, Hercules, it’s not a homage to Greek mythology, but to the horse that belonged to the title characters of the 1960s sitcom Steptoe and son.
He tore down the musical Iron Curtain
On May 21, 1979, John strutted onto the stage at the Great October Hall in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, and made history as the first western rock star to perform in the USSR.
“We chose to play places we had never played before,” he said told reporter at the time. “Normally most rock ‘n’ roll people go to places where they can make money, but I’ve had enough of that. I want to see different people around the world.”
The concert hall was packed with Communist Party officials to keep concertgoers from turning to Western decadence, but it wasn’t long before “Leningrad’s uniformed police and other Soviet officials were helpless in the face of the screaming, clapping crowd,” reported the Associated Press .
He is passionate about Watford FC
A football fanatic, John is a lifelong supporter of his childhood local side, Watford. He previously served as the club’s president and chairman, and was later named honorary club president for life. He also has a stand named after him on the club’s Vicarage Road premises.
He made another connection with the Hertfordshire side in 2016 when his son Zachary was signed at Watford’s youth academy at the age of seven. In 2019, Zachary and his younger brother Elijah led the Watford players onto the pitch for their FA Cup final against Manchester City.
He has a huge collection of sunglasses
Elton’s wacky shades have been his trademark since the 1970s, so it’s not surprising that he’s amassed quite a few over the decades – but the sheer number might surprise you.
The exact size of the collection is disputed, but in 2010 the man himself put the number at 250,000.
“In 2013 he had to deny claims that he had rented a separate hotel room to store his glasses,” he noted Daily Mail.
He doesn’t own a phone
He may have been a trailblazer on stage, but when it comes to technique, The Rocket Man is a self-confessed Luddit.
2016 he has told US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel that he does not use a smartphone. “I just don’t want a phone,” he said.
When asked at Christmas 2018 to share his hopes for the year ahead, he told the Associated Press, “I hope people can spend less time on their phones.”
The singer added, “I love the benefits that technology has brought us, but… nothing beats a lively conversation and lots of laughter.”
Social media is also taboo. “The office staff runs Twitter for me,” he told Kimmel. “I instagram things though [husband] David does that for me. I am a luddit.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/five-things/101438/five-things-you-didn-t-know-about-elton-john Elton John: Five things you might not know about the singer