A duet with Luciano Pavarotti, "Live Like Horses", reached number nine in the UK in December 1996. A compilation album, Love Songs, was released in 1996. Early in 1997, John held a 50th birthday party, costumed as Louis XIV of France, with 500 friends. He performed with the surviving members of Queen in Paris at the opening night (17 January 1997) of Le Presbytère N'a Rien Perdu De Son Charme Ni Le Jardin De Son Éclat, a work by French ballet legend Maurice Béjart that draws upon the AIDS crisis and the deaths of Freddie Mercury and the company's principal dancer, Jorge Donn. Later in 1997, two close friends died: designer Gianni Versace was murdered on 15 July, and Diana, Princess of Wales died in a Paris car crash on 31 August.
With original band members Johnstone, Murray and Olsson together again, John returned to the charts with the 1983 album Too Low for Zero, which included the singles "I'm Still Standing" (No. 4 UK) and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues", the latter of which featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and reached number four in the US and number five in the UK. In October 1983, John caused controversy when he broke the United Nations' cultural boycott on apartheid-era South Africa by performing at Sun City. He married his close friend and sound engineer, Renate Blauel, on Valentine's Day 1984; the marriage lasted three years.More Info
According to Circus, a spokesman for John Reid said the decision was reached mutually via phone while John was in Australia promoting Tommy. She said there was no way Reid could have fired them "because the band are not employed by John Reid, they're employed by Elton John." She said Olsson would return to solo work and Murray would do session work "and possibly cut a solo album". Davey Johnstone and Ray Cooper were retained, Quaye and Roger Pope returned, and the new bassist was Kenny Passarelli; this rhythm section provided a heavier backbeat. James Newton Howard joined to arrange in the studio and to play keyboards. In June 1975 John introduced the line-up before a crowd of 75,000 at London's Wembley Stadium.More Info
John and Taupin then wrote the soundtrack to the 1971 film Friends and then the album Madman Across the Water, which reached number eight in the US and included the hit songs "Levon" and the album's opening track, "Tiny Dancer". In 1972, Davey Johnstone joined the Elton John Band on guitar and backing vocals. Released in 1972, Honky Château became John's first US number one album, spending five weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, and began a streak of seven consecutive US number-one albums. The album reached number two in the UK, and spawned the hit singles "Rocket Man" and "Honky Cat".More Info
In 1985, John was one of the many performers at Live Aid, held at Wembley Stadium. He played "Bennie and the Jets" and "Rocket Man"; then "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Kiki Dee for the first time since the Hammersmith Odeon on 24 December 1982; and introduced George Michael, still then of Wham!, to sing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". In 1984, he released Breaking Hearts, which featured the song "Sad Songs (Say So Much)", number five in the US and number seven in the UK. John also recorded material with Millie Jackson in 1985. In 1986, he played the piano on two tracks on the heavy metal band Saxon's album Rock the Nations.More Info
On the advice of music publisher Steve Brown, John and Taupin began writing more complex songs for John to record for DJM. The first was the single "I've Been Loving You" (1968), produced by Caleb Quaye, Bluesology's former guitarist. In 1969, with Quaye, drummer Roger Pope, and bassist Tony Murray, John recorded another single, "Lady Samantha", and an album, Empty Sky. For their follow-up album, Elton John, John and Taupin enlisted Gus Dudgeon as producer and Paul Buckmaster as musical arranger. Elton John was released in April 1970 on DJM Records/Pye Records in the UK and Uni Records in the US, and established the formula for subsequent albums: gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads. The album's first single, "Border Song", peaked at 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second, "Your Song", reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US, becoming John's first hit single as a singer. The album soon became his first hit album, reaching number four on the US Billboard 200 and number five on the UK Albums Chart.More Info
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