Sir Elton Hercules John CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, 25 March 1947) is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his five-decade career Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. He has more than fifty Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 Top 10, four No. 2 and nine No. 1. For 31 consecutive years (1970–2000) he had at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100. His tribute single "Candle in the Wind 1997", rewritten in dedication to Diana, Princess of Wales, sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts. He has also composed music, produced records, and has occasionally acted in films. John owned Watford Football Club from 1976 to 1987, and 1997 to 2002. He is an honorary Life President of the club, and in 2014 had a stand named after him at the club's home stadium. Raised in the Pinner area of London, John learned to play piano at an early age, and by 1962 had formed Bluesology. John met his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, in 1967, after they had both answered an advert for songwriters. For two years they wrote songs for other artists, including Lulu, and John also worked as a session musician for artists such as the Hollies and the Scaffold. In 1969 his debut album, Empty Sky, was released. In 1970 a single, "Your Song", from his second album, Elton John, reached the top ten in the UK and the US, his first hit single. After decades of commercial chart success, John has also achieved success in musical theatre, both in the West End and on Broadway, composing the music for The Lion King (film and musical), Aida and Billy Elliot the Musical. He has received five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards – winning two awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music and the first Brits Icon in 2013 for his "lasting impact on British culture", an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, a Disney Legends award, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him Number 49 on its list of 100 influential musicians of the rock and roll era. In 2013, Billboard ranked him the most successful male solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists (third overall behind the Beatles and Madonna). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Having been named a Commander of the British Empire in 1996, John was made a Knight Bachelor by Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services" in 1998. John has performed at a number of royal events, such as the funeral of Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997, the Party at the Palace in 2002 and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in 2012. He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation and a year later began hosting the annual Academy Award Party, which has since become one of the highest-profile Oscar parties in the Hollywood film industry. Since its inception, the foundation has raised over US$200 million. John, who announced he was bisexual in 1976 and has been openly gay since 1988, entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish on 21 December 2005, and after same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in 2014, wed Furnish on 21 December 2014. On 24 January 2018, it was announced that John would be retiring from touring and would soon embark on a three-year farewell tour, which began in September 2018. Elton John has written with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin since 1967 when he answered an advertisement for talent placed in the popular UK music publication, New Musical Express, by Liberty records A&R man Ray Williams. The pair have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. The writing style that Elton John and Bernie Taupin use involves Taupin writing the lyrics on his own, and John then putting them to music, with the two never in the same room during the process. Taupin would write a set of lyrics, then post them to John, wherever he was in the world, who would then lay down the music, arrange it, and record. In 1992, John was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). His voice was once classed as tenor; it is now baritone. His piano playing is influenced by classical and gospel music. He used Paul Buckmaster to arrange the music on his studio albums during the 1970s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1994. He and Bernie Taupin had previously been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. John was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995. For his charitable work, John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on 24 February 1998. In October 1975, John became the 1,662nd person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was awarded Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He became a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor in 2004, and a Disney Legends Award in 2006. In 2000, he was named the MusiCares Person of the Year for his artistic achievement in the music industry and dedication to philanthropy. In 2010, he was awarded with the PRS for Music Heritage Award, which was erected on The Namaste Lounge Pub in Northwood, London, where John performed his first ever gig. Music awards include the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from The Lion King (award shared with Tim Rice); the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1994 for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from The Lion King (award shared with Tim Rice); and the Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2000 for Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida (award shared with Tim Rice). He has also received five Brit Awards, including the award for Best British Male in 1991, and awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 1986 and 1995. In 2013, John received the first Brits Icon award in recognition of his "lasting impact" on UK culture, which was presented to him by his close friend Rod Stewart.