If you run into Reginald Dwight (known to the majority of the universe as Elton John) today, be sure to buy him a drink and let him blow out some candles, because March 25 is his birthday. John is 63 years old and has had one of the most remarkable careers in the history of pop music. He released his first album back in 1969, and since then has amassed a bucketload of awards (with five Grammys, an Oscar and a Tony, he's an Emmy short of an "EGOT"), an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a quarter of a billion records sold.
John scored international fame in the '70s for his stirring piano-based brand or pop that blended together Tin Pan Alley craftsmanship, Broadway theatricality, glam rock and arena-friendly singalong choruses. He holds an astonishing number of records, including the best-selling single of all time ("Candle in the Wind 1997," his tribute to Princess Diana following her tragic death), the most number of concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden (60) and the first album to ever debut in the top spot on the pop album chart in the U.S. (1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, which featured the epic "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"). He is able to translate his work to film and to the stage, leading to iconic tunes in films and plays like "The Lion King" and "Aida." He's a jack of all trades, and he has mastered them all.
John's influence cannot be understated, and some of the biggest names in pop music in the 21st century not only cite him as an inspiration but have also collaborated with him. He just appeared on stage with Lady Gaga at the Grammy Awards, did a duet with Eminem at the Grammys in 2001 and recruited Justin Timberlake to play the younger version of himself in the video for "This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore" (from 2001's excellent Songs From the West Coast).