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Elton John CBE celebrates six dark and dazzling decades

As a child in the 1950s, Elton John listened to the Big Band records and rock 'n roll his parents played. When he began attending the Royal Academy of Music on a scholarship at age 11, a professor played him a four-page piece by Handel. He promptly played it back for her "'like a gramophone record'" (Wikipedia). By then he was already "dashing off good melodies", but it was not until his "impassioned performances and over-the-top fashion sense" at his concerts in the 1970s that his musical career took off.

His long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin, born in Lincolnshire in 1950, knows how swiftly Elton John writes music. Others are staggered at the speed at which he turns out songs. Over the last four decades Elton John has sold over 250 million records and has had over 50 Top 40 hits, making him one of the most successful musicians of all time. He celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday.

His views on religion are not ours, but hey, he's a musician, not a saint. His achievements are undeniable.

According to Wikipedia's detailed article, Elton John struggled with drug abuse and alcoholism, and hit bottom more than once, but always managed to overcome despair and deterioration and rekindle his career. His musical style, based on the piano, sets him apart.

To say he spends lavishly would be a bit of an understatement. He also gives generously to charity. When his single "Candle in the Wind", a tribute to Princess Diana, became the fastest-selling single of all time, the proceeds of £55 million went to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. His "endearing support of young artists" and new music continues. He remains the life-long President of the Watford Football Club.

Here he is with classical orchestra playing 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word'. The lyrics are by Bernie Taupin.