Elton John's Larger-Than-Life Career in Photos

The beloved star has been creating timeliness music for over 50 years, and is currently traveling the world on his Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Final Tour through 2023

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Elton John's Early Years

British rock star Elton John listening to music on Sony hi-fi equipment

Sir Elton Hercules John (whose given name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight) was born on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England. At 3 years old, John taught himself how to play piano by ear and by 11, he was awarded a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music.

The star has gone from child prodigy to a multi-platinum-selling artist whose incredible career has spanned more than 50 years. The Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992) and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) inductee has also supported people with AIDS through the Elton John AIDS Foundation since 1990.

(Before learning more about John's life, see his rockstar throwbacks here.)

02 of 15

Elton John Goes on Tour

Elton John 1974 Christmas Show Hammersmith
Chris Walter/WireImage

The dynamic performer launched his first tour in 1970 and has clocked more than 4,000 performances across the globe ever since.

John sprung into his signature jumps and kicks while playing the piano at his 1974 Christmas Show in Hammersmith, London.

03 of 15

John Lennon Crashes Elton John's N.Y.C. Show

John Lennon Onstage With Elton John
Steve Morley/Redferns

John Lennon made a surprise appearance at John's Madison Square Garden show in N.Y.C. in 1974.

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Elton John on the Cher Show

Elton John and Bette Midler Hugging

Bette Midler cozied up to John as they hit the set of the Cher show on CBS in 1975.

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Elton John Performs at Dodger Stadium

Elton John in concert at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, USA - October 1975
Andre Csillag/Shutterstock

The star wore a sequined, custom Los Angeles Dodgers uniform to his sold-out concert at Dodger Stadium in 1975. The famous concert was portrayed in John's 2019 biopic, Rocketman, which stars Taron Egerton.

06 of 15

Elton John Is Honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Elton John receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 23, 1975 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

At the height of his explosive fame, John received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Oct. 23, 1975. in L.A.

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Elton John Supports Billie Jean King

Elton John and Billie Jean King
PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty

He embraced close friend and tennis legend Billie Jean King at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in N.Y.C. in 1975.

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Elton John and the McCartneys at the 1978 Capital Radio Music Awards

Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife Linda with Elton John (centre) at the Capital Radio Music Awards at Grosvenor House, London, 22nd March 1978
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty

Paul McCartney and ex-wife Linda sit with John at the 1978 Capital Radio Music Awards in London, where John won best singer and best concert of 1977.

09 of 15

Elton John's Donald Duck Moment

Chris Morris/Shutterstock

Playing for a crowd of more than 400,000 people in Central Park, John wore a Donald Duck costume as a form of self-expression. It's the outfit most people ask him about, he once told PEOPLE of his legendary look.

"I still have it," he said. "It was impossible to sit in! A disaster but a landmark."

The memorable moment took place in New York City in 1980, and was an example of John's uncompromising promise to always be himself.

"I was stuck behind a piano," he said. "I wanted to express myself through my outfits."

10 of 15

Elton John Wins His First Oscar

Elton John And Tim Rice
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

John and Tim Rice posed proudly with their Oscars during the 67th Annual Academy Awards. The duo won Best Original Song for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King.

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Elton John Sings at Princess Diana's Funeral

Prince Harry, Meghan Marke, Elton John, David Furnish
Elton John at Princess Diana's funeral. Anwar Hussein/Getty

John sang "Candle in the Wind" at the funeral for his late friend Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997. The two became fast friends after meeting at Prince Andrew's 21st birthday party in 1981.

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Elton John Attends Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding

Prince Harry, Meghan Marke, Elton John, David Furnish
Elton John and David Furnish at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding. Samir Hussein/WireImage

In the following years after Princess Diana's death, John remained close to her two sons Prince William and Prince Harry. The star and husband David Furnish attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018.

John and Furnish got married in 2014 and share two sons, Zachary and Elijah.

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Elton John Hangs with the Beckhams

Elton John Instagram
Elton John Instagram

John and Furnish went on holiday with Victoria and David Beckham in 2019. John and actress Elizabeth Hurley are godparents to two of the Beckhams' sons, Brooklyn and Romeo.

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Elton John Is Honored at Windsor Castle

Elton John
Dominic Lipinski/Getty

The star was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for his outstanding achievements in music and charity at Windsor Castle in 2021.

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Elton John Wins His Second Oscar for Rocketman

elton john, david furnish
Michael Kovac/Getty

Furnish and John posed with John's Oscar for Best Original Song "I'm Gonna Love Me Again" from Rocketman in 2020. John shared the award with songwriter Bernie Taupin.

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