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The life of rock and roll began many years ago. It came forth because of a melting pot—a blend of different types of music—and has changed as each new musician played it his or her own way.

Just like in all forms of art, there are those musicians who are considered to be the best. They excel because their talent and expertise extends beyond that of their peers. Their music becomes the sound track to the moments in your life that you remember. Their albums are the ones you buy and listen to repeatedly. You look to their music for inspiration, understanding, and good times. Their performances are the ones you not only stand in line for but also the ones you count down the days until you attend. You love their music as much as they love making it.

Few musicians actually reach this kind of fame, as only a select few remain in the forefront of the public eye, producing music that not only they love but that you love, too. These are the musicians that become legends.

Elton John is one of those musicians. Since the beginning of his musical career in 1970, he has remained an innovative force in music. For thirty years, at least one of his songs has been on the Billboard Hot 100 at any given time. At times, he has had two or three songs on the chart at once. His life is an interesting one, and not only because of his music, though his musical career is enough to grant him the legendary status he has achieved.

In this book, you will learn about the man who has released thirty-five albums—nine gold and twenty-five platinum. Willing to work with anyone he thinks is musically talented, Elton John has collaborated, or worked with, some of the greatest and most popular musicians of all time, such as Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and John Lennon. At the 2001 Grammy Awards, he startled the world by performing with Eminem, currently one of the most controversial musicians. Elton is often compared to Frank Sinatra because even past his fiftieth birthday he is still one of the most popular musicians in the world.

Elton John is known best, however, for his live performances. They are exciting, strange, and incredibly lively. In fact, he got his big break because of one. In 1971, while playing at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California, he kicked back his piano bench and began to passionately play his song “Burn Down the Mission” as he stood and wildly danced around his piano. At his first show in America, Elton took the audience and his reviewers by complete surprise and earned himself excellent reviews. Everyone wanted to see him because the audience never knew exactly who he might be or what he might do next. During one show, he might appear on stage and perform dressed as Donald Duck or Minnie Mouse. Other times he wore outrageous glasses while playing. His collection of eyewear has cost him an astounding $40,000.

Yet Elton John has done much more than just perform on stage. In 1994, he and Tim Rice worked together on “Circle of Life” and other music for the movie The Lion King. The intensely emotional and melodic soundtrack was number one in the world in 1994. Elton's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came that year as well. Elton John has also composed music for the Broadway musical Aida, based on an opera by Verdi. It won four Tony Awards, the highest awards in musical theater.

You might wonder how one person could accomplish all of this in just one lifetime. But there's more. In 1992, Elton also became the founder of the most successful charity any entertainer has ever established. Touched by the tragic stories of AIDS and the many friends he had lost to the disease, he began the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the United States and England. To date, the foundation has raised and given away nearly $22 million in grants for education, medical care, and research for HIV and AIDS.

Behind all of these accomplishments there is also a person with an interesting personal story. As you may guess from his accomplishments, Elton's life has held many triumphs, but he has also gone through a great deal of struggle and tragedy. For many years, he dealt with the problems of the rocker lifestyle—partying too hard and too often. In fact, Elton often refers to 1989 as the worst year of his life and compares the time to Elvis Presley's depression and fatal drug problems. However, it was not until the mid-1990s that Elton entered drug rehab and cleaned up his life, too late to fix the many regrettable decisions that evolved from his drug use.

Soon after his fiftieth birthday, his life was rocked by the death of two dear friends. A longtime friend of fashion designer Gianni Versace, Elton suffered enormously when Versace was gunned down outside his home in July 1997. The murder was a shock to the world, and Elton's close companion Diana, Princess of Wales, comforted him through his pain. Yet only a month later in August, Diana was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France. Again the world was horrified and, once again, Elton experienced a tragic and personal loss. To cope with the grief of her death, Elton adapted his hit song “Candle in the Wind,” once a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, into “England's Rose.” He performed it at Princess Diana's funeral and vowed never to publicly perform the song again.

Presently, Elton John has moved on from this pain-filled time and his life has grown in many different ways. The following chapters will tell you in detail about the life of Elton John, from young boy to legendary rock star.

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Musician BiographiesElton John