Without a doubt, Elton John is an absolute legend. He grew from a child prodigy into an eccentric rock star with a wardrobe of zany outfits to match his bigger-than-life personality. Nowadays, Elton has toned down his look a bit but he remains one of the most talented acts around. Let’s take a look back at some of Elton’s craziest looks and antics over the years.
Introducing Reginald Dwight
Elton John was not born Elton John. His real name is the very British-sounding Reginald Dwight. This photo was taken in 1973 and shows Elton lounging on a staircase while wearing a full denim outfit completely decorated with patches. Elton took his stage name from blues heroes Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
For his middle name, he took the name of Roman god Hercules, which is just like the extravagance that has come to be expected from Sir Elton. This photo from the beginning of his career was certainly not the wildest of his many fashion looks!
Married To A Woman
In 1984, Elton John married German sound engineer Renate Blauel. Now known for being long-married to husband David Furnish, many people are rather surprised when they find out that Elton was once married to a woman. However, Elton has also admitted that he struggled with his sexuality for much of his life.
At the time, the mainstream society wasn’t nearly as accepting as it is now. Needless to say, his marriage to Renate did not last. The couple divorced in 1988 and Elton publicly came out. This photo shows Elton on his wedding day, and he clearly did not stray away from bold fashion for the occasion. He went with lavender stripes and a matching straw top hat to complete his look.
It’s common knowledge that Elton John was very good friends with Princess Diana. He famously played his song “Candle In the Wind” at her funeral, which he had re-worded just for her. However, not many people know that the two once had a falling out in their friendship. Apparently, the issue came after Elton asked to use a photograph of Diana and her sons in a photo book by Gianni Versace.
However, Diana was less than thrilled when the book came out, only to find it filled with scantily-clad men. Diana and Elton reportedly made up before her untimely death. Interestingly, Diana was not the original subject of "Candle In The Wind." Pictured is Elton performing at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium on July 1, 2007. The concert was held 10 years after her tragic passing.
The Original Blonde Bombshell
Speaking of Elton’s iconic song “Candle In The Wind”, Elton originally wrote the song for the larger-than-life icon, Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn, like Diana, also suffered an untimely demise. The two also share an array of theories that have sprung up around their deaths. Elton had a fascination with and an appreciation for both golden beauties.
He was clearly obsessed with fashion, too. Here he is pictured in one of his amazing on-stage costumes, which was designed to resemble a military uniform. As his career progressed, he began to become quite well-known for his outlandish costumes.
Elton John has many friends in the entertainment industry and is known to be well-loved and respected, which is why it’s no surprise so many people have chosen him as the godfather of their children. Elton is reportedly the godfather, along with his husband, of quite a few famous offspring. They reportedly include two of Victoria and David Beckham’s children, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s son Sean, as well as Elizabeth Hurley’s son Damian.
Elton has said that he is the godfather of ten children, some of whom are not famous. For a time, Elton said he would leave his fortune to his godchildren, however, he has since had children of his own. Here is Elton dressed as Lady Liberty.
Speaking of Godchildren
When it came to his own children, Elton also chose to go the famous route. His children's godmother is Lady Gaga. Elton and David chose her to be the godmother to both of their sons. Gaga was still quite young when both of the boys were born, as they are now five and seven years old.
When asked why she was named the godmother to both of the boys, Elton said, "She's a great role model, she's young, [and] she's been a great godmother to Zachary. We're all bonkers in this business, but we're human beings at the same time." Pictured here is Elton, dressed to impress for his 50th birthday party, next to him was then-boyfriend David Furnish.
Elton Is An Actual Knight
In 1998, Elton received one of the highest honors within British society. Queen Elizabeth bestowed the honor of knighthood on Elton for contribution to British music as well as his charitable work over the years. Elton was obviously quite impressed with the venture and when commenting on the honor he said, "They don't come much bigger than this."
For his day in the spotlight, Elton opted not to wear one of his famous costumes in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and opted for a muted suit. Elton further commented, saying, "I've had a long career and worked hard. But I think the turning point came in 1990 when I got sober and started to do some charity work, particularly for the AIDS problem. A knighthood is the icing on the cake."
As we mentioned, Elton is in recovery from controlled substances and alcohol. The rocker has been exceptionally candid about his struggle with addiction in a bid to help others who have suffered from the same illness. Elton has said that his addiction ravaged his body and his life from the 1970s until he finally kicked his habits in 1990.
Elton has said that it took the death of a young man by the name of Ryan White to wake him up from a drug-induced stupor. Ryan suffered from AIDS due to a blood transfusion. After his death, Elton checked himself into a Chicago hospital which was not a “posh” rehab. He’s been sober ever since.
Ryan White And Elton’s AIDS activism
Ryan White was a teenager from Indiana. He contracted the AIDS virus after getting a contaminated blood transfusion. Ryan was a hemophiliac. Sadly, at the time, the disease was highly stigmatized and Ryan was no longer allowed to go to school. After he and his parents fought to gain re-admission he became quite well known and also became acquainted with various celebrities who ended up lending their voices to the cause.
One of those celebrity voices was Elton John. Because AIDS was commonly thought of as a disease that only affected gay men, Ryan’s diagnosis marked a shift in the perception of the illness. Elton felt that while his community was being ostracized he should lend his voice in a more positive way. Elton also credits Ryan’s death with his will to achieve sobriety. While Elton's style is relatively subdued in this photo alongside Ryan, he still completed his outfit with a fancy hat.
Freddie And Elton’s Friendship
Elton John had a close friendship with the fellow eccentric musician Freddie Mercury. Elton even once famously shared that Freddie could “out party" him. Freddie was also one of the first prominent men to succumb to the illness of AIDS. Elton later shared that although Freddie was notoriously private, he had shared his diagnosis with him.
After Freddie died, Elton received a gift from Freddie in the mail. It was a painting. Elton was overcome with emotion at the thought of his friend at the end of his life and still thinking of others in the midst of his own suffering. This gift was truly a testament to Freddie's character and the strength of their relationship.
The Effects Of Crazy Living
Elton John went through a variety of challenging issues because of his struggle with addiction, from health problems to money issues. His own health was affected tremendously by his decades of drug use including suffering nodules on his vocal chords as well as heart problems which he attributes to the use of narcotics and alcohol.
Elton also said that he spent insane amounts of money on ridiculous things. For instance, he said that he once called the receptionist while staying at a hotel in London and demanded that they change the windy weather. He apparently told her that he would sue unless the weather was changed. Although Elton is sober these days, his love of heavy costuming has never changed. Here he is dressed as a pirate alongside his husband.
Rocketman: The Groundbreaking Film Based On Elton's Life
The biographical musical Rocketman centers around Elton's younger years. One reviewer called the film a look into "Elton John's sad, toxic relationship with his mother," although it received good critical response.
The project was almost two decades in the making, going through a series of studios, directors, and creative differences before it finally became a reality for Elton. Rocketman hit No. 1 at box offices during the first week of Pride Month. It's the first major Hollywood movie to depict two men making love on-screen.
Elton Told The Actor Who Plays Him Not To Copy His Singing
Welsh Actor Taron Egerton portrays Elton John in the film Rocketman, and he performed the songs himself. Elton's husband David Furnish told Hollywood Reporter that they're both fans of Taron's work in the film. "When I played the songs for Elton, he was blown away, really blown away," Furnish said. "Elton was like, 'It can't get any better for me.’”
However, Elton didn't want Taron just to copy his singing. According to David, Elton had these words for the actor. "Don’t think you have to sing it exactly the way that I sang it. Don’t think you have to perform it the way I performed it. I think it’s the challenge for the actor to embody the spirit and not get into thinking they have to do an impersonation.”
Elton Was There For Lennon’s Last Performance
Elton John has said that his favorite venue in the entire world is Madison Square Garden. While performing there in 1974, Elton managed to get John Lennon on stage with him and the two performed three songs. Elton said that he and John had a bet running that if their song “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” hit the #1 spot on the charts than John would join him on stage.
Well, the song hit the number one spot so John was obliged to join him on stage. This took place six years prior to John’s murder. This was John’s only #1 solo single in his lifetime and his performance with Elton was his last on-stage performance ever. Elton later wrote the song “Empty Garden” in memory of his friend.
A Nod To Buddy Holly
Elton John is well known for his eccentric looks which often feature amazing eyewear. He has said that he did not originally star wearing glasses out of necessity but rather for fashion. He purposely wore glasses in an attempt to emulate one of his idols, Buddy Holly.
However, after wearing glasses for so long, his eyes actually began to need them and now he has to wear glasses. He reportedly owns over a thousand pairs. It was once even reported that when he travels he has separate rooms just for his glasses. However, he denied that to be true.
Elton John has been known to get into feuds with a few people over the years. One of the most well-reported feuds is with pop star Madonna. It apparently started in 2004 after Elton publicly criticized Madonna for winning "best live act" because of her lip syncing. He also said that lip sync artists should not be charging exorbitant amounts for their concerts.
He also has an ongoing friendly rivalry going with rocker Rod Stewart. To be fair, this feud seems to be more teasing in nature than anything else. For instance, Elton hired a sniper to shoot down balloons that Rod had to promote his concert. Later, Rod Stewart hung a banner for his “Blondes Have More Fun Tour.” Elton had a rival banner hung across the street that read, “But Brunettes Make More Money.”
A Ridiculous Number Of Awards
Elton is undoubtedly crazily musically talented and it has not gone unnoticed over the years. He has won so many awards that it’s pretty much impossible to list them all. Despite numerous challenges throughout his life, Elton has been able to persevere and accomplish many outstanding things.
Some of the amazing awards which Elton has been awarded include: 12 Ivor Novello Awards, 11 Grammy nods and five wins, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Named an Officer of Arts and Letters by France, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Polar Music Prize, Oscars for the Lion King, Kennedy Center Honor, Grammy Legend Award, Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music and even more for his philanthropic and charitable contributions.
Breaking Barriers With Music
In 1979, the world was a different place. The Soviet Union still existed and the Berlin Wall was still standing. Elton, however, did not let that deter him from reaching people with his music. In the same year, he became the first Western rock star to perform in both the USSR and Israel.
Allegedly, Elton was one of the first “rich westerners” that Russian people had ever laid their eyes on. His outlandish style made people think that all Westerners dressed this way. Many people have credited some of the “gaudy” Russian fashion trends of the 1980s and 1990s due to Elton’s influence. Pictured here is Elton dressed as Ronald McDonald, alongside George Michael.
The Lion King Success
In 1994, Elton John performed and wrote music for the motion picture soundtrack of the animated rendition of “The Lion King”. Three years later a stage adaptation was made and Elton’s music was used. Both the film and the musical achieved widespread success.
The film won two Golden Globes and two Oscars. While the stage musical went to become the highest-grossing production in theater or cinema history. The musical also won multiple Tony awards and continues to have success each time it is performed. Elton said that when he went ahead with working on music and lyrics for the film, “it changed the course of my career and my life.” Above, Elton performs in 1974.
A Composer At Heart
Elton John famously has a songwriting partner who he has worked with for almost the entirety of his career. His name is Bernie Taupin. Bernie is a lyricist while Elton is more of a composer. The two first met after they failed an audition trying to get a record deal with Liberty Records. When they work together, Bernie usually writes lyrics and gives them to Elton. Elton then takes the words and puts them to music. The two have now been working together for fifty years!
Bernie has said that he writes things on the guitar and then sends them to Elton. When asked by Rolling Stone magazine how the two send their info back and forth, Bernie said, “In the past I've faxed him things, but now he's been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century. He actually has an iPad and a computer.” He also says they typically meet up in person and go over music and lyrics together. Bernie is always present in the recording studio. Sounds like a match made in heaven! Here are Elton and Bernie together, with Elton decked out in a bedazzled Dodger's uniform.
Became A Dad Later In Life
Elton John and his husband David Furnish have been together for decades. They welcomed their first child together, via surrogate, in 2010. The child was a boy and they named him Zachary. Elton became a dad at the age of sixty-two. Three years later, they welcomed a second son named Elijah.
However, life seemed to just be getting better despite getting older and in 2014 gay marriage finally became legal in England. Elton and David finally tied the knot in a civil ceremony that same year. Pictured are Elton and David, along with Zachary, in 2014. This is a much tamer look than many of Elton's fans are used to seeing him in!