"I'm still standing" sings Sir Elton John, and he most certainly still is. 300 million records, 4,000 performances, and over 50 years later, Sir Elton Hercules John CBE, is one of the most significant and best-selling artists of all time. Now, his legacy is immortalised in coinage in The Royal Mint's new collection, Music Legends.
Who is the man behind the music?
Born Reginald "Reggie" Kenneth Dwight, Sir Elton John had humble yet turbulent beginnings in a Middlesex council house, where he taught himself to play his grandmother's piano at just four-years-old. He was given lessons after his mother overheard him playing-by-ear and by age 11, John had secured a scholarship place at the Royal Academy of Music. Much of his early life is captured in the 2019 sequin-studded movie, Rocket Man, co-produced by John's husband, David Furnish. The film explored his relationships with those who helped build his successful career, the most poignant of all being Bernie Taupin, his songwriting partner since 1967. The talented duo have a brotherly-like connection and the pair are held responsible for writing some of the greatest songs of our time, including big hits such as Your Song, which is rumoured to have been written at the breakfast table in a mere 15 minutes. In his long career, John has also collaborated with the likes of; John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Eminem. A musical partnership with Walt Disney Pictures resulted in hits Can You Feel The Love Tonight? and The Circle of Life in the animated sensation, The Lion King.
The singer's global contribution to charity
Raising over $450 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation since 1992 and having donated untold personal wealth to over 60 charities, the singer-songwriter's commitment to supporting charitable causes is regularly awarded the title of the most generous person in music. Sir Elton John has sadly witnessed a number of his friends die from HIV/AIDS and the Foundation was established to combat the impact of the disease around the world. John is renowned for holding glamorous events such as his "White Tie and Tiara" ball and awards after parties to raise funds. His passion and drive to change misconceptions around sexuality and HIV/AIDS has earned him a place as one of the most influential people in British cultural history.
Sir Elton John's Royal connections
Enrolling at the Royal Academy of Music, playing at the Royal Albert Hall, knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and establishing a warm friendship with the late Princess Diana, Sir Elton John is no stranger to royal connections. Now, for the first time, the artist's glitz and glamour will arrive in Royal Wootton Bassett, fresh from The Royal Mint in a special coin commemorating his contribution to British society. For those who can recall back to 1997, one song defines that year, Sir Elton John's Candle in the Wind / Goodbye England's Rose, rewritten with Bernie Taupin as a tribute to the People's Princess on her passing. In happier times, John has been a guest at Royal events including Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding and performed at Prince Harry's marriage to actress Meghan Markle in addition to numerous garden parties and private affairs.
A piece of the Music Legend
This new flamboyant coin set, the second in The Royal Mint's Music Legends series, marks the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist's long-standing contribution to the UK's music scene. Designed by Bradley Morgan Johnson, a practising artist for over 20 years, the challenge was to create a vision of John without actually showing the artist's portrait as The Royal Mint customs dictate that only a member of the Royal Family can have their portrait on a coin. This collectible series presents an obverse of The Portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, by Jody Clark. The reverse features Sir Elton John's trademark straw boater's hat and a musical quaver parading as his eccentric glasses that instantly conjure the colourful nature of the Music Legend. Let's hope he doesn't mind, when we put down in words, how wonderful life is, when he's in the world.
The Elton John Music Legends are available in the following denominations: