Everyone knows Elton John, but until the recent release of his biopic Rocketman, many had likely not heard of his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. The lifelong best friends have worked together on more than 30 albums, which has made Taupin a millionaire many times over and one half of one of the most legendary collaborative duos in music history.
The lyricist is credited with writing the words to “Rocketman,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle In The Wind,” “Bennie And The Jets,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Your Song,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” and countless others.
Growing up in rural Lincolnshire, England, Taupin has always had a thing for words. He left school at 15 to work in the print room of a local newspaper in the hopes of becoming a journalist. This career path didn’t stick, but his love of words did. When he was 17, he answered an advertisement in the newspaper from Liberty Records looking for new talent. Taupin was originally turned down by the record label before the artists and repertoire executive Ray Williams suggested he team up with Reg Dwight, who had also answered the advertisement. They began by sending music and lyrics back and forth because Taupin lived in northern England, while Dwight lived in London. Dwight would later change his name to Elton John and their songwriting partnership and friendship would become lifelong. Taupin wrote the lyrics and John set them to music. In a recent interview with Time, Taupin described their connection as a “non-sexual love affair.”
In Rocketman, Taupin is portrayed as a source of unconditional love and stability for John as he battles his personal demons and the all-consuming nature of superstardom. Even as they grow apart at times, their love for each other is unwavering. They claim that in their more than five decades of friendship they have never argued. “If we’ve weathered the storm now for over 50 years and have been able to maintain this extraordinary bond with each other, I don’t think there’s anything on God’s green earth that could separate us now,” Taupin told Time.
Though he grew up in England, Taupin has lived in California since the mid-1970s. As John lived a life in front of the public eye, Taupin kept his quiet and largely to himself and loved ones.
John isn’t the only artist Taupin has written with. He is credited with writing lyrics for Starship, Heart, Alice Cooper, and Willie Nelson. Taupin also has five albums of his own: three as a solo artist and two in a band called With Farm Dogs.
All these lyrics over all the years have added up to quite the net worth. He’s estimated to be worth about $70 million, a sizable sum that only stands to get larger. He and John are working on a final album to coincide with John’s three-year farewell tour. When asked, he said they would begin writing the songs “the same way we did from day one.”