For Elton John, the numbers don't lie
If pop music had a Mount Rushmore, his face would undoubtedly be among the four chiseled into the mountainside. Complete with a dazzling pair of sunglasses, of course. And a spectacularly ostentatious hat atop his head. But rest assured, the reason Elton Hercules John would belong on such a mountain has much more to do with substance than style. Sure, Elton John is the quintessential showman, but he’s also a brilliant artist whose songbook—crafted during a career that has spanned more than five decades—is second to none.
As the Rocket Man returns to Las Vegas and resurrects his Million Dollar Piano residency at Caesars Palace, let’s take a little by-the-numbers stroll through the pop icon’s career …
300,000,000-plus: The number of records John has sold worldwide, which puts him among the top-selling music acts of all time. According to the Billboard Hot 100, John’s sales rank behind only The Beatles and Madonna for music released between 1958 and 2015.
1962: The year in which John formed his first band, Bluesology, which served as the backing group for various American R&B and soul acts when they toured England. It was from Bluesology that the man born Reginald Kenneth Dwight would adopt half of his new persona, cribbing the name of saxophonist Elton Dean. The other half came from British R&B singer Long John Baldry. In 1967, Reginald Dwight legally became Elton Hercules John, and that same year, John was introduced to lyricist Bernie Taupin. Thus began a partnership—with John composing the music around Taupin’s lyrics—that exists to this day.
58: The number of John’s singles to crack Billboard’s top 40, including nine that went to No. 1. (The first: “Crocodile Rock” in 1973.)
49: John’s ranking on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time.
41: The combined number of Grammy, Tony and Academy awards nominations John has earned, with seven wins (five Grammys, one Tony and one Oscar).
31: Consecutive years (1970-2000) in which John had at least one song on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
30: The number of studio albums John has released in his solo career, from his 1969 debut Empty Sky to 2016’s Wonderful Crazy Night.
15: The age when John landed a gig playing piano four nights a week at a British pub.
11: The tender age when John won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
3: The age when John first took a seat on a piano bench and began learning to play by ear. Four more years would pass before the prodigy took his first formal piano lesson.
2: The number of residencies John has had in Las Vegas, both at Caesars Palace, with The Million Dollar Piano preceded by The Red Piano, which debuted in October 2003.
1: Number of artists to collaborate—be it onstage or in the studio—with Eminem, Queens of the Stone Age, John Lennon, George Michael, Engelbert Humperdinck and Red Hot Chili Peppers (among dozens of others).
That artist? Elton John.