Geek Couples: Elton John & Bernie Taupin - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Geek Couples: Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Christopher Morley packed his own bags last night!

After a long songwriting partnership, surely the creative marriage of Elton John & Bernie Taupin deserves some celebration? While it may not be a conventional biopic, Rocketman does at least shine a light on their bond on a level beyond the music, as well as through its prism. Beginning as young Reg Dwight discovers an aptitude for the piano, which soon becomes a means of escape from an often unhappy childhood as his parents' by no means perfect marriage crumbles.

Classical training at the Royal Academy of Music quickly becomes boring to him, having first played along to Winifred Attwell's The Skater's Waltz as a young boy........

Enter rock & roll!
It's getting late have you seen my mates
Ma tell me when the boys get here
It's seven o'clock and I want to rock
Want to get a belly full of beer
And indeed fast forward to one of many early pub gigs for the young man who would be Elton, who was only fifteen when he landed himself a gig as resident pianist at the Northwood Hills Hotel four nights a week.

This led to him joining Bluesology in the early 60s.

Within six years the scene is set for a fateful meeting. Answering an advert placed by Ray Williams of Liberty Records looking for writers, he's handed an envelope with some lyrics just begging to be set to music - from the pen of Bernie Taupin. The pair meet and the seeds of a professional partnership are born.

A hint of longing for something more comes to the surface on Elton's first American tour following a successful performance at the Troubadour club.

John's quest for love is quashed and he's left feeling abandoned when, at the after-show party, the Brown Dirt Cowboy to his Captain Fantastic chooses to pursue a girl instead.

Aptly enough its Taupin's real-life relationship with his then-wife Maxine Feibelman which actually inspired his lyrics for Tiny Dancer! The opening song from Madman Across The Water even mentions her occupation at the time, as she was indeed “seamstress for the band”....
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand
At the same party, John finally finds what he thinks is the love he's been craving after his first meeting with John Reid, their first sexual encounter playing out to the strains of Take Me To The Pilot.

Reid's promotion to managing his boyfriend soon leads to a cycle of abuse - his victim numbing the pain with sex, drugs & alcohol to the point of addiction to all three. These excesses threaten to push away those closest to him, even Bernie, who has remained his friend & confidante through the ups & downs as demonstrated by the build-up to Rocketman's take on his performance of the Who's Pinball Wizard ( ) as recorded for their film adaptation of Tommy.

Catching Reid cheating on him, as well as the pressures of his fame, then leads Elton to a suicide attempt after an overdose on pills before he's patched up & on stage at his famous Dodger Stadium concert clad in his famed sequinned LA Dodgers baseball uniform, as seen on the posters for Rocketman itself.

And its his live performance of the title track which underpins the whole drama from hospitalisation to performance in front of millions, all in a Seventies day's work for the former Reg Dwight!
She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine AM
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then............
And who remains by his side throughout?

Good old faithful Bernie, still getting on with the lyrics while Elton does the music as they continue their original working practices to this day. Though a fallout does threaten to derail the well-oiled diesel train that set many a dance alight following his brief marriage to Renate Blauel in 1984, their differences are set aside once John realises he desperately needs help following a heart attack & enters rehab.

The restaurant table conversation segues into Goodbye Yellow Brick Road allowing Jamie Bell as Taupin to sing the lyrics written by the man he's portraying!
When are you gonna come down?
When are you going to land?
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
Farming being exactly what Bernie was doing prior to sending his lyrics in to Liberty in response to the advert placed in The New Musical Express.

Born at Flatters House farm in Lincolnshire, Bernie helped out for a time on his family's land then sought to make it as a journalist with an apprenticeship at the Lincolnshire Standard prior to turning to lyric writing at just seventeen years of age.

And aside from a three year break between 1977 & '79 he's been at the side of the man giving them melody since that first meeting. Bernie is the only man in Elton's life beside his husband David Furnish. Proof positive then that they're still standing, yeah yeah yeah....

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