Elton John documentary reveals the 10 defining moments that turned the shy musician into a legend

Elton John documentary reveals the 10 defining moments that turned the shy musician into a legend

Reginald Dwight was born to a middle-class family in Pinner, England, in 1947. His father was hard on him and his mother loved him very much. What they both, and he, did not anticipate coming their way by the late 1960s is the birth of a new person that would rock the course of music history. After he quit school to focus on his passion for music, Reg (as he is known to those close to him) moved away from home and decided to reinvent himself. This was the birth of the greatest solo artist of all time, Sir Elton John.

A documentary titled "Elton John: Ten Days That Rocked" talks about the ten defining moments in the singer's life. These moments are highlighted by John's own words from what he wrote and from interviews. Through the course of this piece, we will unravel these significant moments and see what made the man into the legend. 

Elton John performing in Manhattan, NYC 1976 Madison Square Garden (Source: Ron Pownall/Corbis via Getty Images)

The first big moment in John's life came in the late 1960s when he was engaged to secretary Linda Hannon. John was going through an identity crisis at the time and was also not able to make any songs really work. He made the decision to call off the engagement and move on, a decision which would prove to be career-defining for the young musician. Hannon was not happy about the decision and she even says in the documentary: "I felt jilted."

The singer started realizing that he may be gay right around this time. He decided that the only way to try and make a name for himself is if he went through a complete reinvention. That was when the name 'Elton John' was truly born. Bernie Taupin joined John as his roommate and they started working on music together. By the time he was 22-years-old, John had signed with a record label in the UK but he didn't have any hits. 

Bernie Taupin (L) with Elton John (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It was in 1970 that he decided to try another big market in the music world: The USA. He flew to Los Angeles that year and was given the opportunity to play at the renowned bar, Troubadour. No one on that side of the Atlantic knew who he was before this performance but after the show was done and the dust settled on August 26, 1970, everybody knew that John had arrived. This marked the second big moment in his life. The LA Times wrote that it was a brilliant show and that a star was born. 

John was able to make it in the USA before he did in his own country. He appeared on the Andy Williams Show shortly after and performed his first hit single "Your Song". The show was viewed by 28 million people that day and John's career was only shooting upwards from that point. Taupin was the lyricist and the pair, especially John, had unrivaled success for five years. He basically owned the 70s and had seven consecutive number one albums. 

Behind this glorious image, however, lay a man who was extremely shy. John's third big day came in January 1974 when his lover and manager John Reid introduced him to cocaine for the first time. What started off as a simple challenge to try a drug, morphed into full-blown addiction in later years. 


The fourth big moment came in August 1975. He was able to book the massive Dodgers Stadium for a concert, which was only done once before by world-famous Brit band, The Beatles. All of this shy person's pent-up emotions decided to come bubbling to the surface just a day before the biggest moment of his life at the time. He swallowed some pills and then threw himself into the pool to take his own life.

John's mother, grandmother, and stepfather, who were all there to watch him perform, rushed him to the hospital where he had his stomach pumped. One day later, John gave the performance of a lifetime to a sold-out stadium. He performed two shows in the stadium to 55,000 people. 

His fifth big moment came on August 18, 1976, in an interview with Cliff Jahr of Rolling Stone magazine. During the interview, Jahr asked John a personal question about his sexuality and the singer, tired of hiding his true self, came out as bisexual. Shortly after the interview that shocked the world, John wrote and performed another famous song of his, 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word'.


British singer-songwriter and vice-president of Watford FC Elton John and Rod Stewart wearing Watford strip at Vicarage Road. (Source: Sydney O'Meara/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Football had always been a passion of his since he was young so he used all this money to buy his local football club, Watford F.C. He soon went on a tour of Russia but had developed quite the addiction to alcohol. The sixth big moment in his life came on February 14, 1984, in Sydney, Australia. John was engaged to sound engineer Renate Blauel and they tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony. Many thought it was another publicity stunt by the eccentric musician but he spoke out about it later and said that he had the hope he would be cured of his addictions.

The seventh big day was on February 25, 1987, when UK newspaper The Sun published an article claiming that the musician attended orgies with underage teen male prostitutes. The superstar denied all of the "rent boys" allegations and after a couple of years of legal battles, The Sun apologized to the star and gave him £1 million in damages. By this time, his addiction to cocaine was at its peak.


The eighth big day in the superstar's life came in June 1990. He was dating Hugh Williams at this time who also had a problem with addiction. When he told John that he was going to check into rehab to get himself clean, the star was initially in denial about his own problems. After Williams left, however, he decided to go meet him and that's the meeting that proved to be a lifesaver for the singer.

A notice of Civil Partnership for Sir Elton John and David Furnish is pinned to a notice board in Maidenhead Town Hall on December 5, 2005 in Maidenhead, England (Source: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

In July, which was the very next month after his intervention, John checked into rehab at Parkside Lutheran, Chicago. He had incredibly painful withdrawals, as someone does when they are addicted to cocaine, but after six weeks of it, he was finally clean and out. His first performance since rehab was Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with fellow singer George Michael of Careless Whisper fame.


The ninth big day in John's life came in November 1993 when he met his soulmate and future husband David Furnish at his Windsor home for a dinner party that was organized by his friend. The two hit it off extremely well and it began a new relationship for the star. John's career-defining moment came the following year with his performance of Can You Feel The Love Tonight from Disney's film The Lion King. It ended up winning him an Academy Award.

However, the one performance that everyone still talks about to this day, though, is his rendition of Candle In The Wind for his close friend Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. A year later, he was knighted by the Queen. John and David were one of the first couples to form a civil partnership in the UK on December 21, 2005, after the Civil Partnership Act came into effect. They tied the knot on December 21, 2014, after gay marriage was legalized in the country in March that same year.

David Furnish (L) and Elton John attend the "Rocketman" UK Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on May 20, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Source: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

The tenth and most important day in John's life came on December 25, 2010, with the birth of his first child with Furnish, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, to a surrogate mother based in California. A little more than two years later, their second child, Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, was born to the same surrogate mother.

Elton John: Ten Days That Rocked premiered on the REELZ network on June 9 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

Share this article:  sir elton john documentary ten days that rocked reelz defining moments man behind legend