Born May 22, 1950, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England; has lived in the United States for 20 years and is now a U.S. citizen; married wife Stephanie; has two stepdaughters. Addresses: Record Company and publicist--Sire Records, Debra Brennan, 2034 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Management Lippman Entertainment, Gilles Robitaille, 8900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 340, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Websites--www.farmdogs and www.discoveryrec.com.

Bernie Taupin is best known for his 30-year collaboration with pop star Elton John, although he has released several solo albums and has written lyrics for others. Taupin's association with John has made him one of the most prolific lyricists of the 20th century. Although Taupin continues writing lyrics for John, he has also formed his own acoustic rock band. In 1996, he and four other musicians became the Farm Dogs, fulfilling a lifelong dream to have his own band. The group has released two albums, Last Stand In Open Country (1996) and Immigrant Sons (1998).

Born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, on May 22, 1950, Taupin was raised in a rural community where men had limited employment opportunities. One either became a farmer, as his father had temporarily, or went to work in a factory in a neighboring town. Taupin left school at age 16 and held various jobs as a young man. He worked as a farm laborer, in a factory, and as an apprentice printer. Taupin admitted to Billboard that he was "insubordinate" and got himself fired from the printing job, partially because it seemed like an eternity before he would be a full-fledged printer.

Taupin's songwriting style was influenced by literary and musical factors. He was an avid reader and enjoyed narrative poetry, including works by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Thomas Babington Macaulay. As a teen, he would listen to music in bed at night on a transistor radio. He could pick up the American Forces Network, which was broadcast to the American military in England. He also listened to American music on Radio Luxembourg, a kind of "pirate" radio station. Taupin's cousins lived in London, and when he visited them he discovered lots of interesting music by sorting through their piles of old 78 r.p.m. records. Some of his early musical influences included Leadbelly, Woodie Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Lightnin' Hopkins. Later, he was inspired by Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, and Marty Robbins. Taupin appreciated the stories told through their music. Taupin credits Marty Robbins's song "El Paso" as the tune that actually inspired him to write his own songs. Other influences, acknowledged during his acceptance of a 1997 ASCAP Golden Word Award, included John Lennon and Joni Mitchell.

As a young man, Taupin enjoyed writing and was encouraged in this effort by his mother. In 1967, after working at various jobs unsuccessfully, he went to London to respond to an ad in the New Musical Express. Placed by the new independent label Liberty Records, it sought artists and composers. Taupin has saved these first lyrics, penned in response to the ad, and may include them in a future compilation project. Taupin told Billboard that those first few songs had names like "Coffee Colored Lady," "Year Of The Teddy Bear," and "Did Lightnin' Strike A Man," which he called, "all really horribly pretentious stuff."

Taupin began working with Elton John at age 17. His first lyric written in this joint effort was called "Scarecrow," a demo that was never recorded. John had been making demos at Dick James's studio and used some of Taupin's lyrics before they met in person. Finally, they were introduced at the studio; afterwards, they went to the nearby Lancaster Grill on Tottenham Court Road, where they agreed to do some songs together. Taupin never imagined that this would be the beginning of a long-term partnership. For the next year, he wrote lyrics and sent them to John from his home north of London. Eventually, Taupin moved to London and for a while lived at John's parents' home.

It wasn't long before the pair developed a musical rapport that would serve them for 30 years. Taupin talked with Paul Gambaccini in A Conversation with Elton John and Bernie Taupin during the early 1970s, and told him why he fel they had lasted as a team and would continue to for "a good long time ... is because {we} can turn our ideas into anything, any sort of music." Taupin felt confident in John's ability to interpret his lyrics appropriately, although he would rarely give John input or suggest a particular mood or tempo. Taupin told Gambaccini, "The songs that I write give the idea of how they should be anyway, so it's pretty easy to pick up the mood that should suit them."

By the time they worked together on the Tumbleweed album, which was released in 1970, Taupin and John had developed a style of collaboration in which Taupin worked alone, giving the lyrics to John who then developed the melodies. Taupin's writing habits have since changed; where once he simply sat down and wrote unaccompanied, he now finds using a guitar helpful in the creative process. He plays chords on the guitar as he writes the lyrics. It was a real first for Taupin after forming the Farm Dogs when the members sat around in a circle equipped with guitars, and worked out the music as a group.

Taupin has written lyrics for hundreds of songs, many of which Elton John has created melodies for and recorded. Some of their hit songs include "Your Song," "Daniel," "Rocket Man," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and "Candle In The Wind." Their 1975 album, Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy, was autobiographical in nature: John was Captain Fantastic and Taupin was The Brown Dirt Cowboy. Taupin also released three solo albums during the 1970s and 1980s. He wrote lyrics for other artists too, including co-writing all ten songs on Alice Cooper's 1978 album From The Inside. Taupin wrote the lyrics for "We Built This City," recorded by Starship in 1985 and "These Dreams," recorded by Heart in 1986. He has also penned lyrics for Melissa Manchester, Rod Stewart, John Waite, and others.

Taupin's favorite songs with Elton John include "Sacrifice," 1989, and "The One," 1992. He also favors the original version of "Candle In The Wind," which was written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe in 1973. Little did he know--as he told Gambaccini in the early 1970s, "I think {it's} the best song we've ever written.... I think ... it's going to be the best thing we've ever done"--the full magnitude of his words would carry some 20 years hence. Taupin reworked the lyrics at John's request in 1997. The new version of "Candle In The Wind" was performed as a tribute by John at Diana's funeral and would go on to become the largest selling single ever, with sales of 35 million copies. John donated his proceeds to Diana's Memorial Fund, which supports her favorite charities and is expected to raise over 160 million dollars.

Taupin had a fascination with the American West as a child. He was interested in the history and, particularly, the people who lived during the time of the gunslingers. He read books about Billy The Kid and Wyatt Earp. This interest eventually led him to move to the United States, where he has lived for over 20 years. He settled in California, became a United States citizen, and now raises cutting horses on a ranch in Santa Ynez Valley, California. With his new lifestyle, Taupin has become the image of the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

In 1996, Taupin fulfilled another lifelong dream and formed his own band, the Farm Dogs. Now he is raising horses, strumming on a git-fiddle, writing lyrics, and crooning with his new rock band rooted in Americana and blues. He told Rick de Yampert of the Tennessean, "I've come full circle." He has certainly come a long way from his rural roots in northern England. Although Taupin regrets not having started his own band earlier, he's philosophical about his life. He told de Yampert, "I'm a great believer in things happening for a reason." Taupin continued, explaining that like every teenage kid, he had dreamed of being in a band. He speculated that perhaps he didn't have the confidence in his musical ability at that age, something he later gained during his "apprenticeship" with John.

Taupin's Farm Dogs band mates include guitarists Jim Cregan and Robin LeMesurier, drummer Tony Brock and bassist Tad Wadhams. Their 1996 debut album reflected Taupin's interest in gunfighters and cowboy ballads, entitled Last Stand In Open Country. The themes explore the analogy between the Western gunfighter and the man with a guitar. Taupin described the album at Discovery Records online as "rootsy and authentic" and "blues, folk, country." The Los Angeles Times said Last Stand displayed "an earthiness of the acoustic settings and the unrefined lead vocals by Taupin."

The band's second album was released in February 1998, called Immigrant Sons. A Hollywood Reporter review by John Lappen described a February 1998 performance by the Farm Dogs as "a pastoral, calming experience." Lappen also noted that "Taupin sounded great; his raspy voice is perfect for this sort of material." He called the Farm Dogs "as cuddly as an old cur on a stormy night."

Taupin continues to write lyrics for John and he finds no difficulty in stretching his style to accommodate his longtime partner as well as the Farm Dogs. As he has done for 30 years, he writes his lyrics and sends them off to John. He told de Yampert that in order to write lyrics for John, "I just have to put myself in a different space and a different place and think about different things and subject matter." His latest effort with John was The Big Picture, a collection of standards dedicated to another of John's deceased friends, Gianni Versace. The album was released almost simultaneously with the "Candle In The Wind" single, in 1997.

by Debra Reilly

Bernie Taupin's Career

A 30-year songwriting collaboration with Elton John began in 1967; produced hit songs and albums including "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Daniel," "The One," "Candle In The Wind," and "Rocket Man;" albums include Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy, Tumbleweed, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player; in 1997 the pair reworked "Candle In The Wind" as a tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales; Taupin also released three solo albums including He Who Rides The Tiger, 1980, and Tribe, 1987; formed quintet, the Farm Dogs; the group has released two albums, Last Stand In Open Country, 1996, and Immigrant Sons, 1998.

Bernie Taupin's Awards

Songwriters Hall of Fame, inductee, 1992; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inductee, 1994; American Academy of Achievement, 1994; ASCAP, Songwriter of the Year, 1994; won six Ivor Novello Awards; INA International Achievement of Excellence; ASCAP, Golden Word Award, 1997.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

January 16, 2006: Taupin and Gustavo Santaolalla shared the Golden Globe Award for best original song, for "A Love That Will Never Grow Old," from Brokeback Mountain. Source: TheGoldenGlobes.com, www.thegoldenglobes.com, January 19, 2006.

Further Reading

Books

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 5 years ago

Love love love them

over 5 years ago

Bernie Taupin and Elton John are the pride of my generation. I could not imagine my life without them . I cant wait to see Elton again and hear Bernie again.

about 7 years ago

A true Genius Mind.... enough said!!! Maybe God will see to it I cross paths with a talented mind such as Mr. Taupin's. "Tiny Dancer" brings special memories of my very early youth...Thank you for letting me live through your music. Texas

almost 8 years ago

I think that 'Madman Across the Water' is one of the best albums ever produced and who doesn't love 'Tumbleweed Connection'? I have been listening to Elton John and Bernie Taupin since the early seventies and adore,admire and respect their musical abilities that has expanded beyond their years. Would love to have seen them in person before they became so famous. God bless you and your family!

almost 8 years ago

Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy. An incredible collection of lyics & songs. This LP holds a special place in my heart. The very day it was released I bought it and said.... " Listen to this Dad." He did. He loved it, too. It was these two talented gentlemen, through, their gift of song & writing that touched the heart of my father and me. I now cherish that day, in my memory, though 10 years since my father's passing, when I hear those songs, it only brings great memories & happiness! Also, a longtime fan since the first time I heard... " Skyline Pigeon." Thank you gentlemen!

about 8 years ago

Have been in love with this man for years and years. Such a great mind to come out with many of these unforgetable lyrics. My favorites are still, "Your song" and of course "Goodby to Norma Jean" who I also adored and adore to this day.

over 8 years ago

I wish I knew what made his mind tick. I couldn't write a suicide note. Bernie's lyrics are sometimes beyond my comprehension; I love Captain Fantastic songs. Beyond fantastic in my mind.

over 8 years ago

Bernie Taupin has bee an influence in my life since grade school...I began writing lyrics in 6th Grade and designed many of them after some of Bernie's lyrics...he is still influencing my writings as an adult---in my wiritngs for friends who have passed on, and loving dauters who are getting married...thank you Bernie for your influence, your style and your talent...love and peace

almost 9 years ago

Madman Across The Water....best music and lyrics of all time.

about 9 years ago

Captain Fantastic stayed on the turntable in the seventies, sometimes it would be put back in it's sleeve to rest! and Killer queen, or A night at the Opera would take it's place, and now many albums later they are all on the ipod, I love so much the Taupin lyrics, I think I should have been him realy, well i WOULD HAVE LOVED TO. I am so deeply into the clever lyric sometimes I forget the music. wiltshire England

over 9 years ago

Having been a fan of his lyrics, I wish to meet him someday. Can't think of another I would like to meet more. His lyrics have been some of my favorites and have made many memories for me. Ride on Brown Dirt Cowboy!

almost 10 years ago

I have always loved "Daniel's Song" and now my five year old daughter does too. She wants to know if he wrote this song based on a true story. Does Bernie have an older brother named Daniel who went to live in Spain? --Roxanne Jaber-Shaker Heights, Ohio