They’re one of the vital profitable songwriting duos in pop music, however whereas the musician Elton John is the last word flamboyant showman, the lyricist Bernie Taupin has all the time most well-liked to be out of the highlight.
Nonetheless Taupin, who has been writing songs with John for greater than half a century, will now take centerstage – as a visible artist – together with his first UK exhibition happening subsequent month on the Iconic Images gallery in central London.
In a uncommon interview, he advised the Guardian: “I’m in no way Greta Garbo, however I couldn’t do the sort of issues that he [John] does. He’s most likely one of the vital identifiable characters on the planet and it’s powerful to dwell in that bubble. I couldn’t do this.
“He’s completely exemplary at it, however I like to have the ability to go to the market by myself and go and get my espresso within the morning. I preserve very a lot to myself. I’m a really non-public individual. I don’t take pleasure in movie star that a lot,” he added.
Artwork has been a lifelong ardour for Taupin and, if he had not obtained fortunate as a songwriter, he may nicely have pursued it as a profession. The son of a farmer from Lincolnshire, he met John in London in 1967, after they every answered the identical report firm commercial for songwriters. Taupin was 17 and couldn’t write melodies, and the singer and pianist John – then nonetheless often known as Reginald Dwight – was 20 and couldn’t write lyrics.
They hit it off instantly, turning into the closest of musical companions, the lyricism of Taupin’s phrases inspiring John’s melodies. Their many basic songs embody Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock, Candle within the Wind, Sorry Appears to Be the Hardest Phrase, Goodbye Yellow Brick Highway and Daniel.
The duo have all the time written individually. Taupin says he has written dozens of latest songs, however they’re in an early stage and he has but to indicate them to John: “Too early to say something about that proper now,” he provides.
Since 1970, Taupin has lived primarily within the US, the place he has had exhibitions of his abstracts and mixed-media items with discovered objects, amongst different works.
His present on the Iconic Photographs gallery is impressed by his good friend, the photographer Terry O’Neill, whose pictures captured the spirit of the pop and movie worlds of the Sixties and Seventies.
Referred to as Taupin and O’Neill: Two Sides of the ’60s, the exhibition options 15 mixed-media work, every a pop-art remodeling of one of many photographer’s photos of well-known faces of the last decade, together with Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon and Queen Elizabeth: “The Sixties had been very alive and vibrant,” says Taupin. “Instances had been altering quickly and these had been the those that had been on the cusp of that change … They had been the lights that burned brightest.”
Earlier than O’Neill’s loss of life in 2019, they’d collaborated on the mission, Taupin says. “[Terry was] very eager … We didn’t actually know the way or when to current them. That’s why they obtained pushed into the background for some time.”
Discussing the reworked photos, he stated: “The portrait of Paul Newman, as an illustration, is a mix of acrylic spray paint and bubblegum wrappers … [With] the portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip, I took out the tapestry that’s within the rear of them and stuffed it in with [a collage of] issues which might be wholly English [including Marmite and custard wrappers].
“The factor about this explicit exhibition is it’s all accomplished in nice good humour … Hopefully, [it’ll] make you smile.”
Whereas Taupin speaks of feeling a “little gun-shy” about unveiling his work within the UK – “I’m all the time cautious of how folks react to issues” – he pays tribute to O’Neill: “Terry was such a dynamic photographer … While you did a photograph session with Terry – often picture periods are laboured and time-consuming – he made them enjoyable. It was like having your image taken by an East Finish barrow boy. He obtained the easiest out of the perfect. You possibly can see that absolutely in his work.”
When Taupin is engaged on his artwork, he listens to music, every little thing from jazz to blues: “I’m not a lot of a pop man.”
He doesn’t take heed to songs that he co-wrote with John: “I believe it’s important to be of a sure ego to take a seat round listening to your personal.”