For 25 years Reginald Kenneth Dwight He carried his name as if it were a heavy backpack. Not only did he think it was horrible, there were too many sad memories associated with it. As soon as he began to make a name for himself in music, he decided that he could not be known by a name he disliked so much. On May 7, 1972, Reinaldo officially changed his name to Elton Hercules John.
“I hate the word ‘Reg’. It’s a horrible name ”
On March 25, 1947, Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Middlesex, a historic county in the south-east of England. Reinaldo grew up feeling a great rejection towards that name that Sheila and Stanley, his parents, had given him. “I was always uncomfortable with my name as a kid, Reg, Reginald. How can you call a kid Reg? It is a nightmare for a young person! I never liked the name ”, says the artist in his ‘box set’ of four CDs To Be Continued… (1990).
In a 1987 Vox Pop interview, he expanded: “I never particularly liked being Reg Dwight. I had too many unhappy memories. I hated the word ‘Reg.’ It’s a horrible name.”
On May 7, 1972, Reginald Kenneth Dwight legally changed his name. And he became Elton Hercules John. “When I became Elton John, it’s like I got a new lease on life. As soon as I was Elton, everything was great. It was like a new personality “
How can you call a kid Reg? It is a nightmare for a young person!
“I wanted to choose a name that nobody had”
But where did Reg’s chosen stage name come from? In 1962, Reg and his friends had formed a band called Bluesology. Some years later, they accompanied American soul and R&B groups such as the Isley Brothers, Patti LaBelle or the Bluebelles. In 1966 they became the opening act for Long John Baldry, and played 16 times at the legendary Marquee Club. It was around this time that Reginald chose his new name. He tells it himself in an interview with To Be Continued… (1990): “I was in Bluesology, and we were coming back from a concert with Long John Baldry, and we took a bus from London airport to the city center. Someone said ‘We have to do it now, so what are you going to call yourself?’ “
“The saxophonist in the band was called Elton Dean, he was a very good jazz saxophonist, and the only other Elton I could remember was Elton Hayes, who recorded the song ‘The owl and the pussycat.’ So I took ‘Elton’ from Elton Dean and ‘John’ from Long John Baldry. I wanted to choose a name that no one had, and it was as fast as I tell it … Elton John is the person that Reg Dwight always wanted to be, and there are many things about Reg Dwight that Elton wants to be too. “
A portrait of Elton John at his home in Windsor, UK, in 1972. / Michael Putland/Getty Images
“I became Elton John in the Troubadour club in Los Angeles.”
On August 25, 1970, Elton John flew to Los Angeles in what was his American debut. Offered eight concerts in six nights at the famous Troubadour. At the time, the prospect of visiting America was so tempting to his British colleagues that a host of friends joined him. In addition to his band, John, who was 23 years old at the time, traveled with Bernie Taupin, with his manager Ray Williams or with your producer Steve Brown, among others. “We were a gang,” recalls the lyricist. Those concerts definitely boosted Elton John’s career, and from being an unknown name he became a great rock star.
It was during those shows in the Californian city that Elton John was really born: “I really became Elton John at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles that first night. I was already Elton John before that, but that’s when I really launched myself as Elton John. After that, there was no going back, in a lot of ways. “
Hercules, the junkman’s horse
It would still take two years for Reginald Kenneth to make his new name Elton Hercules John official. Why did you choose Hercules as a middle name? Apparently he did it not for the Roman god, the son of Jupiter, but for a horse.
One of the most famous British comic series in the 60’s and 70’s was ‘Steptoe and Son’. It starred Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett as Albert and Harold Steptoe, scrap dealers who lived in Shepherd’s Bush, London. The chariot that Harold Steptoe used for his daily work was drawn by a horse named Hercules. Young Reg Dwight was a fan of the ‘sitcom’ and when it came time to formally change his name, and make it official, he decided to add the name of Steptoe’s horse.
Elton ‘John’ does not come from ‘John’ Lennon
In the Elton John biopic, Rocketman, From 2019, there is a scene exploring the genesis of Sir Elton’s name. In the movie, Taron Egerton (Elton John) is on a little bus after a concert with his group Bluesology, when he asks Elton Dean how he would feel if he adopted his name. The saxophonist responded with concern, reluctance. But John didn’t care. Later, when he is in a producer’s office, they ask him for his stage name, and at that moment he turns his gaze to a record of the Beatles which is on the wall and pointing towards John Lennon, he opts for ‘John’. But what is told in the film is not entirely accurate as the artist himself had already explained.
Long John Baldry’s obituary
And to corroborate that Elton John’s last name comes from the blues singer Long John Baldry (John William “Long John” Baldry), here is his obituary (he died in July 2005) in The Guardian: “Baldry formed Steam Packet with the organist Brian Auger, and later hired, as a backing group to Bluesology, whose pianist Reg Dwight chose the stage name of Elton John combining Baldry’s first name with that of the band’s saxophonist, Elton Dean ”.
Baldry’s wise advice, when Dwight was going through a sexual identity crisis, was commemorated in the Elton John song Someone changed my life tonight (Someone changed my life tonight) ”.