Elton John is one of the best-selling singer-songwriters of all time. But it may come as a surprise to you that he didn’t write most of the lyrics on his songs. But why does Elton John not write his own lyrics?
Here is what I have learned:
Elton John doesn’t write his own lyrics simply because he didn’t want to, instead, relying primarily on lyricist Bernie Taupin. He felt it wouldn’t be worth it. He only wrote lyrics when he really liked something. He was also drawn to the songwriters of the Tin Pan Alley era, where there was always a lyricist to go with the person who wrote the music.
In addition, during an interview with GQ magazine, Elton also revealed that “a lot of songwriting partnerships are more hands-on, but they fail because egos clash”. But when it came to Taupin, Elton revered this friendship.
He felt Taupin had a very different approach to songwriting which he liked. John also referred to himself as having a “god-given gift to write music to written words”, and the stories held in Taupin’s lyrics inspire the melody.
But did refusing to compose the lyrics impact John’s success? Let’s find out in detail:
Elton John and Bernie Taupin Photo by Terry O’Neil. pic.twitter.com/0CUqnHIUUO
— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) March 26, 2022
Are Bernie Taupin and Elton still friends?
Bernie Taupin and Elton John are still friends and continue to work as a songwriting team on Elton’s albums.
They are “like any other couple who are friends and have a history”, said Taupin in an interview. The duo worked together for over five decades and see each other as music partners.
In 2015, the lyricist opened up about his relationship with John when he appeared for an interview.
During the interview, Taupin said that he had been with John for nearly 50 years. Taupin would be up in the studio whenever John was recording because Elton loved having Taupin with him there.
They were not a couple but briefly enjoyed a “non-sexual love affair” until a minor fall-out.
Those who know the pair’s relationship closely know that there was a point when Bernie and John didn’t talk to each other. But that separation didn’t last long. It was more like a break.
Many saw this short split as a period when the duo just needed time apart from each other. They lived their separate lives. But they were like family to each other.
As per reported news, John and Bernie are on excellent terms.
They talk a lot on the phone but not a tremendous amount. Also, Taupin told Rolling Stone that he is willing to work together as long as John is happy to do it.
Backstage with my songwriting soulmate, Bernie Taupin. Completely blown away by last night’s Elton John: I’m Still Standing – #GRAMMYSalute, honouring 50 years of our songs. Every performance was insanely brilliant.
Such a humbling tribute. Ex pic.twitter.com/sPTr3HrZyo
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) January 31, 2018
Did Elton John have a crush on Bernie?
Elton John didn’t precisely have a crush on Bernie. He loved him as a friend. But the duo also enjoyed a non-sexual love affair briefly in their early days.
An entertainment website attempted to capture John and his longtime lyricists’ so-called love story. It mentioned that Elton did not have a crush on his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.
The duo met each other in 1967 when they both responded to an advertisement for songwriters in a British magazine called New Musical Express.
Liberty Records at that time told John that he could write music but not the lyrics. Williams (from the record) ended up handing John a poem written by Bernie. Elton read the poem, and he was “definitely in love with Bernie as a friend“, – John told VH1.
John added: “I never really fancied Bernie, thank God, physically. But he was the first real big, pivotal thing in my life”.
As for Bernie, the relationship was never for a material thing. He believed John was more like a brother to him. Besides, John was in a relationship with his manager John Reid.
Tiny Dancer remains undefeated in Elton John Songs polls.
A great song, but it definitely gets a bump from Almost Famous and Friends.
— Joe Manniello (@joe_manniello) March 27, 2022
How long did Elton John and Bernie Taupin split?
Elton John and Bernie Taupin had a minor riff in 1976. They didn’t see each other for two years. But this wasn’t a fall-out but rather a break from an intensive working relationship.
Despite the love and care, John and Taupin’s relationship wasn’t as smooth as one would have expected.
Taupin recalled: “He knew that there were certain elements on his stage persona that I didn’t think was necessary.” Elton’s biopic “Rocketman” shows when Bernie and Elton grew distant because John’s stage persona became more extensive. As per the movie, Bernie and Elton took a two-year gap from their relationship, but they got back together in 1976.”- source.
Later in the years, this is what John told The Observer:
“We’ve had arguments – you don’t want to get him started on the subject of some of my more outlandish stage costumes, or indeed the subject of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, a song he’s loathed from the minute it was finished and continues to loathe to this day – but we’ve never fallen out, despite all the ridiculous crap we’ve been through. Outside of my husband and children, it’s the most important relationship in my life, we really love each other, and the film captures that.”
The pair have won prestigious awards together, including five Grammys, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe (Bernie). The pair’s fans are curiously waiting for another masterpiece from them.
…lyricist Bernie Taupin and musician Elton John. The label teams them up, resulting in one of the greatest songwriting duos in rock history. pic.twitter.com/gIz7483gIb
— Psychedelic Jukebox (@60sPsychJukebox) June 17, 2021
Does Bernie Taupin still write for Elton John?
As late as 2016, Bernie still writes lyrics for Elton John. Their last collaboration was for an album called “Wonderful Crazy Night”, released in 2016. Currently, they are not working on any new projects.
“Wonderful Crazy Night” was the last album by British singer Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin.
And as rumors have it, since this last album, the pair haven’t worked on any other project and may or may not work together for another record.
Additionally, the pandemic forced Taupin and John to alter their plans and put them on hold. But as per Rolling Stone magazine, Bernie has been John’s songwriting partner for the past five decades and is still in business with him.
Bernie said: “Everything is good,” talking on the phone from his California home.
He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame back in 1994 and two years prior as well, to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, both of them alongside his all-time lyricist and friend, Bernie Taupin pic.twitter.com/vWbBhqCrTi
— The McCartney Archive (@page_sirpaul) March 25, 2022
Is Bernie Taupin as wealthy as Elton John?
Not at all. Elton John reportedly has a net worth of $550M which is much higher than Bernie Taupin, who amasses about $200M U.S. dollars.
Also, this disparity can be because John does the heavier lifting in terms of recording music, touring, participating in promotions and interviews, earning him more bucks than Bernie.
What’s important to note is that there are songwriting royalties, performance royalties (when a song is played or streamed), concert revenue, and merchandise sales.
Bernie receives his share from the writer’s portion of the royalties (which is claimed to be 50/50) from the sales of the songs.
But John gets the performer’s royalties as well, in addition to concert revenue and merchandise sales since Bernie isn’t really involved in those things.
Also, Bernie, who has had a couple of divorces in the past, might have dented his finances.
So, John ends up enjoying an extensive share of the money because he has been associated with successful projects like Disney’s “The Lion King”. This is just one example.
But what about Bernie?
Why didn’t he work on this movie with John? Luckily, I discussed it in a recent article. Just click that link to read it on my site. Additionally, John has toured extensively and made thousands of dollars per concert. At the same time, Bernie prefers a more private lifestyle.
He manages to earn between $150 and $200 Million. That being said, Bernie is exceptionally rich in his own right but not as wealthy as Elton John.
Born Kenneth Dwight in 1947, Sir Elton John’s (as people called him) career spanned six decades collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin.
The five-time Grammy award winner worked with Taupin for over 30 albums. And surprisingly, he didn’t write too many lyrics on his own. He didn’t work much on lyrics because he felt it wasn’t worth it. But deciding not to write his lyrics didn’t mean that John isn’t a lyricist himself.
He does write them whenever he feels he should because he is an entertainer, after all.
Photo which requires attribution:
Elton John @ Ceasar’s Palace by Studio Sarah Lou is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.