Home Entertainment Elton John, Bernie Taupin to receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Elton John, Bernie Taupin to receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Elton John, Bernie Taupin to receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song


Fresh off achieving EGOT status, Elton John is capping his decorated career with yet another esteemed accolade: the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which he’ll share with his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Tuesday that John and Taupin, the duo responsible for myriad hits over the past half-century — “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” among them — will receive the honor at an invitation-only tribute concert March 20 at DAR Constitution Hall, which will air April 8 at 8 p.m. on PBS.

This will mark the 14th time the Library of Congress has awarded the Gershwin Prize since it was introduced in 2007, and the third time it has gone to a songwriting duo (after Gloria and Emilio Estefan in 2019 and Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 2012). Joni Mitchell earned last year’s honor, and other recipients have included Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King and Lionel Richie.

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“I’ve been writing songs with Bernie for 56 years, and we never thought that one day this might be bestowed upon us,” John said in a statement. “It’s an incredible honor for two British guys to be recognized like this. I’m so honored.”

Taupin added, “To be in a house along with the great American songwriters, to even be in the same avenue is humbling, and I am absolutely thrilled to accept.”

The recognition comes after John in July concluded his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, a five-year, 330-concert extravaganza he has described as his final concert tour. Grossing more than $900 million, it trails only Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour as the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.

The Library of Congress refers to the Gershwin Prize — named after legendary songwriters George and Ira Gershwin — as “the nation’s highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music.” Hayden consulted with a board of scholars, producers, performers, songwriters and music specialists before selecting John and Taupin as this year’s recipients.

“Elton John and Bernie Taupin have written some of the most memorable songs of our lives,” Hayden said in a statement. “Their careers stand out for the quality and broad appeal of their music and their influence on their fellow artists. More than 50 years ago, they came from across the pond to win over Americans and audiences worldwide with their beautiful songs and rock anthems. We’re proud to honor Elton and Bernie with the Gershwin Prize for their incredible impact on generations of music lovers.”

John, 76, and Taupin, 73, met in 1967 when they both responded to an advertisement that Liberty Records placed in the British music magazine New Musical Express in search of singer-songwriters. The label connected them, and the partnership between John, then a budding piano player in London, and Taupin, a lyricist from Lincolnshire in central England, proved to be one of the most fruitful in entertainment industry history.

Since penning the lyrics for John’s 1969 debut album, “Empty Sky,” Taupin has remained his trusted collaborator throughout a transcendent career, in which John has sold more than 300 million records, landed more than two dozen songs in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and seen nine singles hit No. 1 in the United States. John and Taupin’s “Candle in the Wind 1997,” a rewritten version of their 1973 song that John performed at Princess Diana’s funeral, trails only Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” as the most popular physical single of all time, with more than 33 million copies sold.

John became the 19th person to complete an EGOT — claiming all of the North American entertainment industry’s major honors — when he collected an Emmy earlier this month, winning outstanding variety special (live) category for “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium.”

He also has won five Grammys, a Tony and two Oscars, including one he shared with Taupin for the song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the 2019 movie “Rocketman.” The Dexter Fletcher-directed biopic, which starred Taron Egerton as John and Jamie Bell as Taupin, explored the ups and downs of their collaboration, including their two-year break from working together in the mid-1970s and subsequent reconciliation.

When John was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, he welcomed Taupin onstage and handed him the statuette. “Without him, the journey would not have been possible,” John said. “I kind of feel [like I’m] cheating standing up here accepting this because without Bernie, there wouldn’t have been any Elton John at all.”

This past November, John made that symbolic gesture official and delivered the induction speech when Taupin was at last inducted into the Hall.

“We climbed mountains we never thought were possible to climb,” John said in that speech, “and we scaled heights that we never thought were possible to scale.”


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