Elton John exploded like a supernova in the early 1970s, generating headlines and hits with ease. As "Your Song," "Rocket Man," "Crocodile Rock," "Daniel," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and "Bennie and the Jets"--songs John wrote with his lifelong collaborator Bernie Taupin--climbed into the Top Ten on either side of the Atlantic, John was inescapable during the first half of the '70s, five years that turned out to be the first act in a remarkable career that kept him at the top of the charts for decades. He had a Billboard Top 40 hit single every year between 1970 and 1996.

The son of a former Royal Air Force trumpeter, John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947. He began playing piano at the age of four, and when he was 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. After studying for six years, he left school with the intention of breaking into the music business. In 1961, he joined his first band, Bluesology, and divided his time between playing with the group, giving solo concerts at a local hotel, and running errands for a London publishing house. Dwight became frustrated with  control of the band and looked for other groups to join. He failed his lead vocalist auditions for both King Crimson and Gentle Giant before responding to an advertisement by Liberty Records. He was given a stack of lyrics left with the label courtesy of Bernie Taupin, who had also replied to the ad. Dwight wrote music for Taupin's lyrics and began corresponding with him through mail. Between 1972 and 1976, John and Taupin's hitmaking machine was virtually unstoppable. "Rocket Man" began a four-year streak of 16 Top 20 hits in a row; out of those 16 -- including "Crocodile Rock," "Daniel," "Bennie and the Jets," "The Bitch Is Back," and "Philadelphia Freedom" -- only one, the FM hit "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," failed to reach the Top Ten. Later in 1974, he played and sang on John Lennon's number one comeback single "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," and he persuaded Lennon to join him on-stage at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day 1974; it would prove to be Lennon's last live performance.

John reunited with Taupin for 1980's 21 at 33, which featured the Top Ten single "Little Jeannie." Over the next three years, John remained a popular concert artist, but his singles failed to break the Top Ten. Throughout the rest of the '80s, John's albums consistently went gold, and they always generated at least one Top 40 single; frequently, they featured Top Ten singles like "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" (1984), "Nikita" (1986), "Candle in the Wind" (1987), and "I Don't Want to Go on with You Like That" (1988). While his career continued to be successful, his personal life was in turmoil. Following a record-breaking five-date stint at Madison Square Garden in 1988, John auctioned off all of his theatrical costumes, thousands of pieces of memorabilia, and his extensive record collection through Sotheby's. The auction was a symbolic turning point. Over the next two years, John battled both his drug addiction and bulimia, undergoing hair replacement surgery at the same time. By 1991 he was sober, and the following year he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation; he also announced that he would donate all royalties from his single sales to AIDS research.

He and Taupin signed a record-breaking publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music in 1992 for an estimated 39 million dollars. In 1994, John collaborated with lyricist Tim Rice on songs for Disney's animated feature The Lion King. One of their collaborations, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. John's 1995 album . With the profits earmarked for Diana's favorite charities, and with a debut performance at Diana's funeral, "Candle in the Wind 1997" became the fastest-selling hit of all time in both Britain and the U.S. upon the single's release, easily debuting at number one on both sides of the Atlantic; with first-week sales of over three million copies in the U.S. alone and 14 weeks in the top spot, it was John's biggest hit ever

The Union revived Russell's career and the duo supported the record with a limited tour. John settled into another Vegas stint in 2011, signing a contract with Caesars Palace to deliver a show called The Million Dollar Piano over the next three years.

Elton John launched his final tour, dubbed Farewell Yellow Brick Road, in September 2018, the first in a series of retrospective events that ran through 2020. The splashiest of these was Rocketman, a Dexter Fletcher-directed 2019 biopic starring Taron Egerton as the rocker and Jamie Bell as Taupin. John and Taupin contributed a new song, "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" -- performed as a duet with Egerton -- which later won the Academy Award for Best Song. At the end of 2019, John published his memoir, Me. Jewel Box, a hefty box set containing non-LP B-sides and previously unreleased early collaborations with Bernie Taupin, appeared in time for the holiday season of 2020. Among the highlights on Jewel Box was John's scrapped debut album Regimental Sgt. Zippo, a record cut in the wake of Sgt. Pepper; it was released on its own for Record Store Day in 2021.

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021, Elton John collaborated long-distance with a variety of artists, a roster ranging from Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus to Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks, Gorillaz, Brandi Carlile and Stevie Wonder. These recordings comprised his 2021 album The Lockdown Sessions.