Elton John has lived a true rock ‘n’ roll life. From fabulous stage outfits to legendary partying antics — and of course some of the greatest pop songs ever written — the man born Reginald Dwight has found a place in the hearts of millions. In these photos of his extraordinary life and career, you’ll see him in all his flamboyant glory, but you’ll also get a glimpse of another side to the iconic Rocket Man.
1968 — First publicity pictures
This photo was taken to promote the release of John’s first single “I’ve Been Loving You” in 1968. The musician would look back on his outfit — which is significantly less flamboyant than his later efforts — with amusement. He once remarked, “I wore a fake fur coat and a mock-leopardskin trilby hat. For some reason, the sight of me clad in this striking ensemble failed to galvanise record-buyers into the shops!”
1970 — Pensive at the piano
John credits Tommy Roberts — who owned a clothes shop on London’s Kensington Street in the ’70s — with helping him discover who he truly wanted to be in life. He told V magazine that the store was a beacon of hope for him, saying, “I was trapped inside the persona of Reggie Dwight. The fierce originality of his designs gave me the opportunity to reinvent and relaunch myself as Elton John.”
1971 — Bernie’s best man
Bernie Taupin has been John’s unseen songwriting partner right from the very beginning. Together they’ve penned some of the biggest songs in music history, including “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” and “Crocodile Rock.” Here they are at Bernie’s 1971 wedding, with John wearing a characteristically understated Best Man’s suit put together by Elvis Presley’s costume designer. No way he’s drawing attention in that outfit!
1972 — Daring double denim
In 2022 John told Vogue magazine that the vast array of badges in this unique double-denim look were sewed on by his band members’ wives! He’s not exactly a denim fan these days, though. He scoffed, “I absolutely loathe denim now. I think every piece of denim in the world should be burned. I loathe it; I detest it. Cancel it.”