GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Bernie Taupin recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Taupin discussed his songwriting process, musical influences, artwork, and longtime writing partnership with GRAMMY winner Elton John, among other topics.
"I don't think I can ever think of one example … where Elton sort of forcibly [came] up to me and said, 'I really want to do this' … with the emphasis on something that might possibly make the charts," said Taupin. "We were just incredibly lucky that what we were writing seemed palatable and acceptable to people at the time."
Born in Lincolnshire, England, Taupin was influenced at an early age by GRAMMY-winning songwriter Marty Robbins and the "King of Skiffle" Lonnie Donegan. At age 17 Liberty Records A&R executive Ray Williams introduced Taupin to a young singer/songwriter, Reginald Dwight, who would later change his name to Elton John. Taupin co-wrote songs for several of John's hit albums, including every song on John's debut and sophomore albums, Empty Sky (1969) and Elton John (1970), as well as the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-inducted album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), among others. Their writing partnership spawned Top 10 hits such as "Your Song," "Honky Cat," "Bennie And The Jets," "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," "Rocket Man," and "Candle In The Wind 1997," the latter of which was re-written and re-recorded in tribute to the late Princess Diana and earned John a GRAMMY for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 40th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
In 1971 Taupin released his debut solo album, Taupin, and garnered his first career GRAMMY nomination for Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special for composing (with John) the soundtrack to Friends. In 2002 Taupin picked up a second GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Song with Matt Serletic for Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack's "Mendocino County Line."
Taupin joined forces with John again, co-writing all 14 tracks on the singer's latest album, 2013's The Diving Board, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. In addition to songwriting, Taupin creates original artwork that has been exhibited in art galleries throughout the country, including the GRAMMY Museum.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Spotlight: Jon Batiste And Stay Human (March 24), An Evening With Blue Note Records (March 25), The Drop: Circa Zero (March 26), and Behind The Lens With Rock Photographer Rob Shanahan (March 30).