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May 22, 2017| « back

Happy Birthday, Bernie Taupin!

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Elton and Bernie

Elton and Bernie in New York City, 1970. (Photo: David Gahr)

Today is the is 67th birthday of Elton’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin, and we are celebrating with a look at their 50-year song writing partnership.

Elton and Bernie began writing together in the summer of 1967 and have created 395 officially released songs to date. That total will increase by one on June 9, when Two Fingers Of Whiskey will be released on the American Epic Sessions album. We will have more information on that documentary project soon on EltonJohn.com.

The first released song attributed to Elton and Bernie was I’ve Been Loving You, Elton’s debut single, which came out in the UK in March 1968. However, as Elton actually wrote the lyrics to that title (while honouring their new partnership with a publishing credit), the first Elton release of a true Bernie lyric was Lady Samantha, issued as Elton’s second single in the UK on the Philips label on January 17, 1969. The b-side was All Across The Havens, another John/Taupin composition.

The following month, the British singer Ayshea included Taking The Sun From My Eyes as the b-side to her UK 45 Another Night. This was the first time another artist covered one of Elton and Bernie’s songs. Since then 18 John/Taupin compositions have been issued by artists other than Elton, including Marianne Faithfull, Ringo Starr, Olivia Newton-John, and Kiki Dee.

Of the 377 collaborations with Bernie that Elton has released himself, three are not found on any of his own albums or singles. Red, an out-take from Made In England, is on the 1995 French compilation album Sol En Si. 1998’s Chef Aid: The South Park Album contained Wake Up Wendy. And The Heart Of Every Girl (2003) is from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film “Mona Lisa Smile”.

So far, more than a hundred John/Taupin titles have been issued on over 175 singles (by Elton and other artists) in either the UK or the US, or both. Four of these releases have reached #1 in the UK and 24 have placed in that country’s Top 10. In the US, the duo has written eight#1s and 23 Top 10s. An additional ten of the duo’s singles have topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, with 9 more placing in that chart’s top 10.

Occasionally, Elton and Bernie have written under pseudonyms. “Ann Orson, Carte Blanche” (a play on the phrase “A horse and cart”), was used for Elton’s first number one UK single, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976). “Tripe & Onions” were the credits when they wrote a song especially for Kiki Dee, The Man Who Loved To Dance, in 1977.

Elton & Bernie

Elton and Bernie at Madison Square Garden, 2007. (Photo: Kevin Mazur)

Locations are always a big part of Bernie’s lyrics. No less than thirty of his song titles refer to countries, cities, towns or places, either real or imagined. By listening to Elton and Bernie’s songs, one can venture Across The River Thames or All The Way Down To El Paso and walk along a Cold Highway, On Dark Street, down 5th Avenue (in New York City) or Mansfield Street (in LA). Fans through the years have Gone To Shiloh, Whitewash County and A Town Called Jubilee, and visited Belfast, Durban, Belgium, Grimsby, Tupelo, Philadelphia, Jamaica, Mexico, England and America, amongst many other places.

Bernie also enjoys including the names of real people or fictional characters in his compositions. No other lyricist may motivate listeners more to fire up Wikipedia to research the actors, musicians and other entities that Bernie references in his words. Examples include Marilyn Monroe, Roy Rogers, Robert Mitchum, Oscar Wilde, Amoreena (the real-life daughter of Elton’s first manager – and the man who brought them together in the first place – Ray Williams), Dan Dare, Joan of Arc, Marlon Brando, Jimmie Rodgers, and Richard Nixon.

We hope you will join all of us at EltonJohn.com in wishing Bernie a very happy birthday! Thank you, Bernie, for all of the songs…and may there be many more to come.


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