Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, to Stanley and Sheila Eileen (née Harris) Dwight.
Elton came by his love of music honestly, both parents were avid listeners and they frequently bought records. From birth he was enjoying music and has recalled memories of falling in love with rock and roll at about age 9 when he heard his mother play Elvis Presley and Bill Haley records.
Elton was 3 when he started playing the piano and by age 4 his mother heard him picking out “The Skater’s Waltz” by ear. He started taking formal lessons at age 7. He was writing music and earning a strong reputation for his musicianship when at age 11 he won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. One of his instructors said he played a four-page piece by Handel like a “gramophone record” after hearing it once.
Although some instructors remember him as an exemplary student, Elton says of himself “I was one of those children who could just about get away without practicing and still pass, scrape through the grades.”
When Elton expressed interest in a career in music, his father, a part time musician himself, tried to steer him toward a more conventional career, such as banking. Mr. Dwight was often absent from the home and showed little overall interest in his son, so Elton’s mother and maternal grandmother were his primary influences in the home. His parents divorced when Elton was 15.
Elton’s step father, Fred Farebrother, was a loving influence. Elton remained living with his mother and step-father well into the start of his career.
Elton and Bernie Taupin began working together in 1967. Bernie would write lyrics, hand them to Elton and he would add the music. It was a rapid process and over 40 years later they are still working hand-in-glove creating musical masterpieces with an effort that could be the envy of artists the world over.
It was around this time that Reginald Kenneth Dwight changed his name to Elton John in honor of Elton Dean, the saxophonist from his former group Bluesology and Long John Baldry, for whom Bluesology played backup.
In the mid 70’s Elton came out as bisexual, expressing a belief that everyone is bisexual to a degree. In 1984 he married Renate Blauel and four years later they divorced with Elton telling Rolling Stone that he was comfortable being gay.
He met David Furnish in 1993 and they have been together since; as of Christmas day 2010 they have a son together.
Elton works tirelessly to raise awareness and money to help AIDS patients and to find the cure. He uses the power of his fame and his music to draw attention to gender identity and the social dysfunctions that need to be addressed.
Elton’s charitable work earned him Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in 1995 and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.
His unique and genius talents have earned Elton a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall of fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor and a Disney Legends Award. The list of awards and recognitions for his musicianship, artistry, skills and talents as well as his compassion and personal genius is long and impressive.
With such an amazing life and career, Elton still had time for troubles; drug and alcohol dependency, bulimia and attempted suicide among them.
So, what is Elton John’s Soul Contract with his public?
A boy born into post-war Britain where scared parents, churches, governmental and educational systems were trying to keep their children safe by getting them to “fit in” somewhere and make a nice low profile life as they rebuilt their nation. A boy with innate genius that could not be tamed, or trumped; young Reg was a maverick at heart.
He was a musical prodigy who couldn’t hear the words “fit in”. Everywhere the boy went he set new standards for excellence. Not by working his little tail off, but by following his heart and his truth no matter the cost.
His father failed to have any use for him when he realized that he could not control his son’s destiny. He was afraid of an unknown future for his progeny. So he abandoned him.
Elton grew into a young man who honed his musical skills and talents with fellow geniuses and created life-long friendships that have notably blessed two generations of music lovers, and are still blessing this world today.
He became a self-denying adult who turned to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and random sexual encounters to avoid facing the world-wide rejection he came to expect after experiencing world-wide adulation.
As he began to remove the self-imposed obstacles to his fulfillment, he began to express who he truly was and became a pioneer in western culture as one of the first shining stars to declare and own his sexuality before his public.
His coming out process lasted 12 years before the public and by the time he was completely out to his public there was the added, though inaccurate, stigma of AIDS. By this time it didn’t matter. Elton John was established to his public as a gay man and from the looks of things most of them didn’t care.
Not long after he came out, he began losing friends to AIDS and it affected him so strongly that, as he put it “I’ve dodged so many bullets. Not just because of unsafe sex, but because of the amount of drugs I did, the amount of alcohol, the amount of work I was doing. I started the Elton John AIDS Foundation because I got so lucky.”
Elton John has spent the past two decades and more raising public awareness to gender identity issues and raising enormous amounts of money for AIDS research. He has become a voice in the political world for humanity and the human condition; he speaks compassion.
He has also given himself the gift of true love, of supporting other musicians and entertainers in their works and most recently the gift of a child of his own. Elton John has, after so many years of fighting with himself, allowed himself to be happy.
But if you look at his early years, and his single-minded pursuit of his passions it’s easy to see that all he had to do was live long enough and he would allow himself to be happy. Happiness is born in passion and nurtured in its pursuit.
For all of us who came after, Elton John is a shining example of the power of perseverance in passion. When you are bound and determined to accomplish something in your life because you know that you can do no other, you have an idea of what young Reginald Kenneth Dwight must have known and what Sir Elton John has given us for over 40 years now.
To learn more about Soul Contracts, and what yours might look like visit my website at www.curtisfolts.com