On March 25, 1947 a star was born in London. Reginald Kenneth Dwight took to music at a very early age. He learned to play piano at age 3, simply by listening to a recording of The Skater’s Waltz. At age 4, his parents signed him up for proper lessons and he took to them with a hunger unusual for his young age. A few years later, his hard work began to pay off as he was awarded a scholarship as a Junior Exhibitor to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11. This scholarship gave him the opportunity to accelerate his musical talent even further by attending the Academy on Sunday mornings over the next four years. Through out these years at Academy, Reginald gained notoriety at school functions by playing with a similar style to the famous Jerry Lee Lewis.
At age 17, his parents divorced and his father no longer supported young Reginald’s passion of music. Much to his fathers dismay however, Reginald quickly dropped out of school and took up with a group calling themselves Bluesology. In 1967, he answered a newspaper ad for Liberty Records songwriter. He was given the position and soon after changed his name as a way to pay homage to two of his Bluesology mates; saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry.
His new name? Elton Hercules John
Growing up through the 1960’s and 70’s, he was exposed to a wide variety of ways to celebrate fame and fortune, primarily by experimenting with drugs. Around the same time that he was proclaimed the Biggest Pop Star of the 70’s, he began heavily using both cocaine and alcohol. On top of this, he also struggled with bulimia, which was amplified by the intensive drug use. In 1975 he suffered a drug overdose and began having Epileptic seizures as a result. These seizures were so severe, that he would turn blue from lack of oxygen. In his own battle of will, Elton John explained to doctors that he needed the cocaine to forget about the seizures he was struggling with.
A few years later, in 1986, Elton John underwent throat surgery while on concert tour. He recovered rather quickly and spent the next few years focusing on both his career and on getting clean. In an effort to give back, and focus less on himself, Elton began auctioning off some of his most cherished possessions in 1988. These included his theatrical costumes, his prized record collection, and much more. By 1990 he was clean and sober. This clarity prompted him to give back to others even further, and he started the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Along with this foundation, he began donating all royalties from his single album sales to AIDS research.
In 1997, he suffered the loss of his very dear friend, Princess Diana. At her memorial he performed his original song “Candle In The Wind”, which soon became the fastest selling hit of all time in both Britain and the U.S. After the memorial he was knighted Sir Elton John, at a special ceremony held in his honor. The Queen publicly recognized him in this way for his diligent work towards AIDS research and for his services to British pop music.
In addition to this knighting ceremony, Elton John has received an incredible number of awards and nominations through out his colorful career. A few of these are, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Overall he has released 30 different albums, and has sold 300 million copies to date.
His journey truly reminds us that Epilepsy can bring us to some very dark places. It can bring out sides of us that we didn’t ever know existed; some of them very lonely and some of them incredibly strong. Elton John’s persistence to music and to helping others shows us that our life with Epilepsy really can be full, exciting, and vibrant. Be strong. Believe in yourself. And be the best version of YOU that you can possibly be!
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to Seize The Day!
For more about Sir Elton John’s Epilepsy, look here