Happy Birthday to Elton John‘s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, who turns 73 today (May 22nd)!!! Taupin, who first teamed up with Elton in 1967, wrote the lyrics to such instant classics as “Bennie And The Jets,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Daniel,” “Border Song,” “Take Me To The Pilot,” “Country Comfort,” “Rocket Man,” “Mona Lisa And Mad Hatters,” “Burn Down The Mission,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Candle In the Wind,” “The Bitch Is Back,” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny),” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Your Song,” and many others.
For Bernie Taupin, 2023 is already shaping up to be one for the history books. On September 12th, he’ll publish his eagerly anticipated memoir, titled Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, And Me — and on November 3rd, he’ll be one of the inductees of the 2023 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In February 2019, Elton John and Bernie Taupin won their first joint their first joint Oscar for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” — the theme to last year’s Rocketman biopic, which was sung with Elton’s silver screen counterpart, Taron Egerton.
In 2013 Elton and Taupin were presented with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards in Manhattan. Elton recalled how the pair — who have often been called the “Lennon & McCartney of the ’70s” — first teamed up: “I went into Liberty Records in London when I was in a band called Bluesology, and I was getting fed up with playing cabaret, and I thought what can I do — maybe I can write songs. So I went to Liberty Records, saw a guy called Ray Williams, I said, listen, ‘I can’t write lyrics, but I’m sure I can write melody.’ And he said, ‘I’ve got a pile of lyrics on the desk from a guy from Lancashire called Bernie Taupin, take those away.’ You can’t get more ridiculous than that. And I took them away and I started writing to them. And I’ve always. . . really, it’s always been the lyrics first.”
Elton says that although the end results of their collaborations are still of the same quality, the way they go about writing now is much different: “The process has changed, they (the lyrics) used to be hand written, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, then they were type-written when we got to Honky Chateau, and now, of course, they’re faxed. And the way that things have changed is that, Bernie, when he first started out, just wrote a page of lyrics and I would divide them into verse (and) chorus. And now, of course, because he’s made albums himself, and he’s become much more musical, he tends to write in the form of verse, chorus, bridge, whatever.”
Despite all the honors and accolades the songwriting team has racked up over the years, Taupin is amazed that there are so few cover versions of their classic songs: “We haven’t had that many covers y’know, to be quite honest, which is rather extraordinary. You would think in our career we would’ve had more covers. I like George’s (Michael) version of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,’ the one he did with Elton was good.”
In 1994 when Elton John was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, he called Taupin up to the stage with him, saying that “Without Bernie Taupin, there would be no Elton John.” He gave Taupin his Hall Of Fame trophy, and Taupin told us that it is the only award that he has ever kept — he auctions off most of his awards.
Apart from his success with Elton, Taupin has also written lyrics for other acts — including Starship‘s’ 1985 chart topper “We Built This City” and Heart‘s 1986 Number One hit “These Dreams” — which was originally intended for Stevie Nicks.
Elton John told us that throughout his partnership with Bernie Taupin, one member has never outranked the other: “It’s never been major/minor, it’s always been 50/50, it’s never been. . . we’ve never even thought of it like that, from my point of view, anyway. It’s a relationship that’s never, ever been questioned. It’s always as a one — it’s never split. It’s a complete ‘one’ relationship.”
Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s latest batch of songs were featured on Elton’s 2016 album, Wonderful Crazy Night. The collection hit Number Eight on the Billboard 200 album charts and reached Number Six in the UK.