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May 4, 2024

Amazing Vintage Photographs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin in the 1970s

Bernie Taupin is one-half of one of the most successful and prolific songwriting duos in the history of popular music. As lyricist to Elton John, Taupin has been writing words for one of music’s greatest showmen for over half a century. Yet to many he is an unknown.

Taupin and John are responsible for more than 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, 30 consecutive U.S. Top 40 hits, have sold more than 255 million records worldwide, and hold the record for the biggest-selling single of all time, Candle In the Wind ’97, with more than 33 million copies sold. But for Taupin, it’s the view from off-stage he finds preferable to the glare of the spotlight and the screaming of thousands of devoted fans.

In 1967, Taupin answered an advertisement for talent that was placed in the New Musical Express by Liberty Records A&R man Ray Williams. Elton John answered the same advert. Neither Taupin nor John passed the audition for Liberty Records. Elton told the man behind the desk that he could not write lyrics, so the man handed Elton a sealed envelope from the pile of people submitting lyrics, which he opened on the London Underground ride home. The envelope contained poems by Taupin.

The duo have collaborated on more than thirty albums since. The team took some time off from each other for a while between 1977 and 1979, while Taupin worked with other songwriters, including Alice Cooper, and John worked with other lyricists, including Gary Osborne and Tom Robinson. (The 1978 single-only A side “Ego” was their only collaboration of note during the period, although John/Taupin B-sides such as “Lovesick” and “I Cry at Night” were issued with the respective singles “Song for Guy” and “Part-time Love” from the album A Single Man.)

John and Taupin resumed writing together on an occasional basis in 1980, with Taupin contributing lyrics to several songs on albums such as 21 at 33, The Fox, and Jump Up!. However, by 1983’s Too Low for Zero, the two renewed their partnership on a full-time basis and from that point forward Taupin was again John’s primary lyricist for his solo releases. John often works with other lyricists on specific theatrical or film projects such as 1994’s The Lion King and 2000’s Aida, both of which featured lyrics by Tim Rice, and 2005’s Billy Elliot, which has script and lyrics by the original film’s screenwriter, Lee Hall. Hall also wrote the screenplay for the Elton John biopic Rocketman, in which Taupin features as a major character.

On March 25, 2007, Taupin made a surprise appearance at John’s 60th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, briefly discussing their 40-year songwriting partnership. Of Taupin’s importance to their careers, as recorded on the Elton 60 – Live at Madison Square Garden DVD, John told the audience that without Taupin there probably would not be an ‘Elton John’ as the public has come to know him. Taupin and John also composed several songs for The Union, a collaboration album between Elton and his longtime hero Leon Russell released in October 2010. They also collaborated on five original songs for the 2011 Miramax movie Gnomeo and Juliet, including the Golden Globe-nominated “Hello Hello.” Taupin and John’s most-recent album collaboration is Wonderful Crazy Night, released in 2016.

In 2018, Taupin and John collaborated on two original songs for the animated film Sherlock Gnomes. In 2019, the movie Rocketman was released, containing an original song written by Taupin and John for the film, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” which plays over the closing credits. The film depicts the personal friendship of Taupin (played by Jamie Bell) and John (played by Taron Egerton) during the 1970s and 1980s. They won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”


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