Rocket Man! Fantastic Elton John Memorabilia to be Auctioned

Nancy Bilyeau
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Bernie Taupin and Elton John formed one of pop music’s greatest partnerships in the late 1960s.

Taupin wrote the lyrics, and Elton John composed the melodies and sang the songs, from “Your Song” to “Candle in the Wind” to “Rocket Man” to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of that partnership, Taupin is auctioning off his personal collection: awards, handwritten lyrics, and other memorabilia. It will take place on Friday, November 9th, and Saturday, November 10th in New York City.

Bernie Taupin attending the premiere of The Union at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone CC BY 3.0

The two created more than 30 gold and platinum albums together.

Highlights from the collection on offer include Taupin’s original, annotated lyrics to the “Candle in The Wind 1997” tribute to Princess Diana, typed sheets with alternate last verse lines handwritten; Taupin’s original notes for “Philadelphia Freedom,” written by Taupin and John for tennis star Billie Jean King; original lyrics to “I’m Still Standing” from 1983’s Too Low For Zero; original lyrics to Starship’s 1985 hit “We Built This City,”and other artifacts of musical history.

Taupin with Elton John, 1971.

According to Julien’s Auctions, the sale will also feature “platinum and gold record awards, clothing, photographs, jewelry, western ephemera, music memorabilia, decorative arts and more.”

A highlight of the event will be Taupin’s leather desk chair in which he wrote many of his hits over the last several decades.

A portion of the sale proceeds will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Elton John attending the premiere of The Union at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone CC BY 3.0

At the outset of Elton John’s latest and, Elton says his last, tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, Taupin released a statement on how he feels about his career: “I am often asked how I feel about our biggest hits – how do I interpret them today as I reflect on the last 50 years of my professional life? As the tour has begun, I am more overwhelmed than ever before by the sell-out crowds singing along to every song.”

Publicity photo of Elton John from the Cher Show.

“Fans share often that my lyrics and Elton’s melodies have shaped and changed their lives in dramatic, everlasting ways. How can I possibly express my gratitude to the millions of fans who have impacted my life? Your love and loyalty has meant everything…”

According to CBS, Taupin said parting with his collection wasn’t emotionally difficult.

The 1910 piano on which Elton John composed his first five albums, including his first hit single, “Your Song.” Photo by CantosMusic CC BY SA 3.0

“I decided that I wanted to move the stuff here and put it all together and let somebody else enjoy it,” Taupin said.

The two of them have continued to make records through the years without much of a break. Most of the time, Taupin wrote the lyrics on his own and John then put them to music, and sang the songs.

The fondness for some of their biggest hits of the 1970s and 1980s can be overpowering, they admit.

Elton John on stage in 1971. Photo by yabosid CC BY SA 2.0

Taupin told Rolling Stone two years ago, “Yeah, there is a nostalgia about our work that can be very debilitating at times. You can run into somebody who will be effusive about your older work and not even mention your new work.”

Taupin continued: “That can be extremely frustrating. But it’s what we have to live with. You can be Billy Joel and just give up making records. But the thing is, if you really have the drive and the passion for music and writing, you’re going to do it whether it sells or not, because it’s there inside you. If you don’t get it out, you’re going to explode.”

The singer, composer, and piano player, Elton John, and the lyricist, Bernie Taupin, originally met in London in 1967 through an ad posted in the New Musical Express weekly music magazine by a publisher looking for new talent.

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Beginning with their 1970 hit single, “Your Song,” a ballad that eloquently channeled the feelings of someone being tongue-tied in love, John and Taupin joined songwriting teams like John Lennon-Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger-Keith Richards as the most successful in music history.