The man behind some of Elton John’s biggest hits was never going to be poor. And Bernie Taupin most certainly isn’t that. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the songwriter is today worth the very handsome sum of $150 million… a figure that may pale in comparison to Elton John’s worth of $500 million, but is still significant enough in itself to leave most of us green with envy, none-the-less.
From Zero to Hero
At the age of 15, Taupin, never a particular academic student, dropped out of school. After a brief stint as a trainee in the print room of a local newspaper, he spent the next couple of years aimlessly drifting from one dead-end job to another, doing little of significance other than winning the occasional snooker match at his local pub.
Then, at the age of 17, lady luck struck. After seeing an advertisement for “talent” placed by Liberty Records A&R man Ray Williams in the NME, Taupin applied. At the same time, a certain Reginald Dwight (aka Elton John) was doing the exact same thing. As it turns out, neither Taupin nor John were deemed “talented” enough for Liberty (Taupin for his inability to write music, and John for his inability to write lyrics).
However, after John mentioned to the label that he was looking for a writing partner, they did him the favor of passing him an envelope full of poetry from another applicant. The poems were Taupin’s, and the fortuitous event would lead to one of the greatest partnerships in the history of rock and roll.
Behind Every Great Singer is a Great Songwriter
Despite some brief spells apart, John and Taupin have worked together for almost 50 years. The sum total of their achievements covers more than thirty albums, numerous side projects (with some of the most notable including the 2006 musical Lestat: The Musical and the soundtrack to Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)) and some of the biggest hits of the 20th century.
As Elton John has himself admitted, without Bernie Taupin, there would be no Elton John as we know him today- a sentiment few would disagree with when they consider the extensive list of tracks Taupin can take credit for, which includes (but isn’t limited too) "Rocket Man", "Levon", "Crocodile Rock", "Honky Cat", "Tiny Dancer", "Candle in the Wind", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", "The Bitch is Back", "Daniel", "Your Song", "I'm Still Standing", "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues", "Sad Songs", "Nikita", "The One", "Simple Life", "The Last Song", "Club at the End of the Street", "Believe," and "Candle in the Wind 1997". In total, the magic pairing of Taupin and John has resulted in over 300 million record sales worldwide.
While Elton John is the artist to whom Taupin is most closely associated, he’s been careful not to lay all his eggs in just one basket. After establishing his credentials with John in the early 1970s, Taupin began branching out.
Some of his most notable collaborations in the years that followed included the singles "We Built This City" with Starship, “These Dreams” with Hart, and the album “From the Inside” with Alice Cooper. In 1972, he produced “America Gothic” for David Ackles.
Although the album failed to set the charts on fire, it was hailed by critics as one of the finest records of the decade, with Derek Jewell of the Sunday Times going so far as to call it "the Sgt. Pepper of folk." Since the 70s, he’s continued to enjoy success with a variety of other artists, with some of his most popular credits including “This Face" for Willie Nelson and Kid Rock, and the Golden-Globe winning "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" from the film “Brokeback Mountain”.
For someone who can’t write music (the reason behind his rejection by Liberty all those years ago), Taupin hasn’t done badly from a solo standpoint. Despite the bulk of his success (and fortune) coming from his ability to set words to Elton John’s music, he’s also carved out a respectable career for himself as a solo artist.
So far, he’s released three solo records, "Taupin", "He Who Rides The Tiger" and "Tribe", and two albums with his band, Farm Dogs: "Last Stand in Open Country" and "Immigrant Sons”, all of which have enjoyed respectable sales.
From Music to Literature
It’s not just in the arena of music that Taupin’s enjoyed success. He began his career with aspirations of becoming a journalist, and while that dream came to nothing, he’s managed the achievement of seeing his work in print, nonetheless. So far, Taupin’s literary achievements stretch to several well-received novels and a collection of poetry titled "The Devil at High Noon”.
Back to John
We could wax lyrical for days about Taupin’s achievements as a producer, solo artist, writer, and show horse breeder (yes, really), but when all’s said and done, the real reason for his success and the explanation for his millions comes down to one thing: his partnership (or as he puts it, his “non-sexual love affair”) with Elton John.
Although the pair’s relationship has never been monogamous (Taupin, as we’ve learned, has written with numerous other artists over the years, while John’s not hesitated to work with other writers on occasion), it’s been the most significant of either one’s career.
Without Taupin, John’s fame would unlikely have carried past the 70s; without John, Taupin’s greatest achievement is likely to have been winning the odd round of snooker at the village pub. It was Taupin’s ability to tap into the moods, manias, and mysteries of John that put the singer on the road to fame, and John’s ability to find the music and emotions in Taupin’s lyrics that put the songwriter on the road to fortune… and there, in a nutshell, we have the explanation for that $150 million net worth.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee