He was the most outrageously flamboyant pianist since Liberace. He was the honky cat with the sequinned shades and the velvet suits. He was the mellow baritone on the radio, singing wistful, heartbreaking songs about Daniel, and Levon, and the Rocket Man. He was half of one of the world’s finest songwriting teams, the man who composed the beautiful melodies that brought partner Bernie Taupin’s poetry to life. And he was, once upon a time, just a nerdy kid named Reginald Dwight.

Elton John’s blend of sweet pop ballads, dramatic progressive rock, and bouncy retro R ‘n’ R has made him an essential artist from his 1969 debut right up to the present day. His soulful, muscular voice is unmistakable. Almost everybody likes something in his repertoire… a neat trick, when you think about it. In fact, despite his controversial lifestyle and occasional outspokenness, his big, friendly smile and his earnest manner have endeared him to the hearts of millions.

In 1997, Queen Elizabeth knighted John, and fellow-legend Paul McCartney. Based on the number of standards the two men have added to the catalog of modern popular music, perhaps she should have made them honorary princes.

–D. Drummond