Bernard John "Bernie" Taupin
(born 22 May 1950) is an English lyricist, poet, and singer, best known for his long-term collaboration with Elton John, writing the lyrics for the majority of the star's songs, making his lyrics some of the best known in pop-rock's history.In 1967, Taupin answered an advertisement in the UK's music paper New Musical Express
that was seeking new songwriters. Around the same time Elton John submitted samples of his work to the paper, and the pair were brought together, collaborating on many projects since.In 1971, journalist Penny Valentine wrote that "Bernie Taupin's lyrics were to become as important as Elton [John\] himself, proved to have a mercurial brilliance. Not just in their atmospheric qualities and descriptive powers, but in the way he handled words to form them into straightforward poems that were easy to relate to."Solo albums
- 1971 Taupin
- 1980 He Who Rides The Tiger
- 1987 Tribe
With Farm Dogs
- 1996 Last Stand in Open Country
- 1998 Immigrant Sons
In 1971, Taupin recorded a spoken-word album entitled Taupin
, in which he recites some of his early poems against a background of impromptu, sitar-heavy music created by some members of Elton's band, including Davey Johnstone and Caleb Quaye. Side One is entitled "Child" and contains poems about his early childhood in southern Lincolnshire. The first poem, "The Greatest Discovery," which looks at his birth from the perspective of his older brother Tony, was also set to music by Elton John and included on Elton's eponymous second album, Elton John
. There are poems about Taupin's first two childhood homes, Flatters and Rowston Manor, and others about his relationship with his brother and grandfather. Side Two includes a variety of poems of varying obscurity, from a marionette telling her own story to a rat catcher who falls victim to his prey. Taupin stated in interviews that he wasn't pleased with the album.In 1980, Taupin recorded his first album as a singer, He Who Rides the Tiger
. Although he demonstrated a more-than-adequate vocal ability, the album failed to make a dent in the charts. Taupin later suggested in interviews that he didn't have the creative control he would have liked over the album. In 1987, he recorded another album entitled Tribe
. The songs were co-written with Martin Page. "Citizen Jane" and "Friend of the Flag" were released as singles. Videos of both singles featured Rene Russo, the sister of Toni, his wife at that time.In 1996, Taupin pulled together a band called Farm Dogs, whose two albums were conscious (and successful) throwbacks to the grittier, earthier sound of Tumbleweed Connection
. While Taupin wrote the lyrics, the music was a collaborative effort among the band members. Their first album, 1996's Last Stand in Open Country
, received critical praise but little airplay. As mentioned above, the title track was later recorded by Willie Nelson and Kid Rock for Nelson's 2002 album The Great Divide
. In 1998, Farm Dogs released its second and final album, Immigrant Sons
. The album was unsuccessful despite a tour of small clubs across America.
In 1973, Taupin collected all his lyrics up through the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
album into a book entitled Bernie Taupin: The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John
. In addition to the lyrics from the albums, this book contained the lyrics to all the single B-sides, various rarities, and Taupin's 1970 spoken-word album. The songs are illustrated by various artists, friends, and celebrity guests such as John Lennon and Joni Mitchell. The book is in black & white except for the cover.In 1977, Taupin collaborated with rock photographer David Nutter on "It's A Little Bit Funny", adding text and helping chronicle Elton John's year-long, "Louder Than Concorde, But Not Quite As Pretty" world concert tour. The now-collectible book was published in hard and soft cover editions by Penguin Books. It collects the better part of one year's worth of personal adventures and memories of Elton and the band, aboard his private plane, on the beaches of Barbados, at backstage gatherings and in some quieter off-stage moments with friends (including some famous faces that Elton and Bernie met and palled around with in their travels).In 1978, Taupin also appeared in an episode of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
, The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula,
singing backup to Shaun Cassidy. In 1988, Taupin published an autobiography of his childhood entitled A Cradle of Haloes: Sketches of a Childhood
. The book was released only in the UK. It tells the tale of a childhood fuelled by fantasy in rural Lincolnshire in the 1950s and 1960s, ending in 1969 as Taupin gets on the train to seek his fortune in London.In 1991, Taupin self-published a book of poems called The Devil at High Noon.
In 1994, Taupin's lyrics up through the Made in England
album were collected into a hardcover book entitled Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Complete Lyrics
, published by Hyperion. However, it doesn't appear that Taupin was intimately involved in this project, as it contains multiple misspellings and outright misrenderings of the lyrics. It is also missing some of the rarities and B-sides found in the earlier collection. As with the 1973 collection, the songs are illustrated by various artists, this time in full color throughout.In 1992, Taupin was asked to produce a benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles. The event featured no songs written by the composer, instead opening with an acoustic set of performances of material chosen by the performers followed by selections from the musical West Side Story
, chosen for its "timeless message of tolerance that is relevant to every decade."In 2009, Taupin debuted his American Roots Radio with Bernie Taupin
, a roots music show hosted by Taupin on satellite radio Sirius XM Radio's The Loft channel.In addition to his music and poetry Taupin began displaying and selling his original artwork on canvas in 2010. Consisting of large, mixed media, contemporary works, the art has been shown in a handful of select galleries across the US.
Taupin has been married four times and divorced three: Maxine Feibelman (1971–76); Toni Lynn Russo (1979–91), sister of actress Rene Russo; Stephanie Haymes (1993–98), daughter of entertainers Dick Haymes and Fran Jeffries; Heather Lynn Hodgins Kidd (March 2004–present), with whom he has two daughters, Charley Indiana and Georgey Devon.Taupin has lived his dream of being a "Brown Dirt Cowboy". He moved to Southern California from England in the mid-1970s. Since the 1980s, he has been living on a ranch north of Los Angeles near Santa Ynez, California. He co-owned a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called "Cicada"
with then-wife Stephanie Haymes. He co-owned a PBR bucking bull named Little Yellow Jacket, which was recently retired as an unprecedented three-time world champion.