Singer/songwriter Elton John is one of the most influential artists in the history of the music industry. The London-born superstar learned to play the piano as a child and went on to become a global legend, with a multitude of awards under his belt. To date, he has released 133 singles and more than 30 albums, during a career spanning 57 years.

In 1992, John was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, followed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. One year later, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his charitable work, and he also has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

© 1975 CBS Television

Biggest hit

Throughout his long and illustrious career, he has had a multitude of hits, such as the iconic Candle in the Wind. Originally released in 1974, when it made the top 20 in the UK, John rewrote it in 1997, in tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, following her death in a car accident on 31st August.

Certified 19-times platinum in Canada with 1.9 million sales, 14-times platinum in Australia and 11-times platinum in the United States, it was a massive global hit, topping the charts all over the world

It was the second best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness Book of Records, being beaten only by Bing Crosby's 1942 hit, White Christmas. All of the proceeds from the sales were donated to the many charities that Princess Diana had supported throughout her life.


The megastar has also collaborated with a string of other artists over the past five decades. In 1985, he recorded a cover version of the Rod Stewart song, That's What Friends Are For, with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, with proceeds from the sales being donated to AIDS research - it raised $3 million.

Perhaps John's most unusual collaboration was when he took to the stage with rapper Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards. The duo performed Eminem's hit single Stan, in a show of solidarity, after gay rights campaigners claimed the rapper's music contained homophobic lyrics. There was no better way to refute the slurs than by performing live with John, who was openly gay.

In another unusual pairing, John played piano on the Kanye West track, All of the Lights, which also featured Rihanna, in 2010. John said he was a huge Kanye fan and had been drawn to the track when he first heard it.

Rocket Man: The hit single

The star seems to relate most to one of his biggest hits of the 1970s, Rocket Man, as this was the name he also gave to a documentary about his life story, which is due to be released at Cannes Film Festival on 16th May 2019.

Originally a hit single in 1972, Rocket Man peaked at number two in the UK chart and number six in the United States. On 5th October 2018, it was certified gold after achieving 400,000 digital downloads.

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The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin, who wrote many of John's songs over the years. The theme of Rocket Man echoed David Bowie's 1969 song, Space Oddity, describing an astronaut bound for Mars, who had mixed feelings about leaving his family behind on earth. Taupin was said to have been inspired to write the lyrics after seeing a shooting star.

The ballad gives the impression that the notion of being an astronaut is no longer seen as heroic, but instead is an everyday job. Talking about his wife, the narrator opens the song with, "She packed my bags last night, pre-flight," as if he was just going on a simple business trip, rather than into space. However, he later admits, "I miss the earth so much. I miss my wife. It's lonely out in space on such a timeless flight."

He describes himself as a "rocket man" and muses that Mars is no place to raise the kids. He sounds melancholy when he says, "I'm a rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone," and realises it's going to be a long time before he touches down on earth again.

Rocket Man: The Movie

The movie of the same name has been in production since 2012 and is a biographical musical based on John's life, starring Taron Egerton as the singer. The 29-year-old is best known for his role in the action film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, in 2014.

At one point, it looked like the film may not get off the ground, after it went through several directors and actors. It reportedly didn't work out with director Michael Gracey and lead actor Tom Hardy, while John's personal choice of leading man, Justin Timberlake, didn't happen, but eventually, director Dexter Fletcher took over. He successfully directed Bohemian Rhapsody, the hit film biopic about the rock band Queen, which was released in 2018.

Rocket Man relates the story of John's life, including his time as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music. It looks back to the start of his enduring musical partnership with Taupin.

Following its release at Cannes Film Festival, Rocket Man will go on general release in the UK on 22nd May and in the US on 31st May.

Real-life "rocket men"

In the real world of astronauts and space travel, over the past five decades, hydraulics has remained the technology of choice. Hydraulics have been used in space travel since the 1960s and the days of Saturn V, the expendable rocket used by NASA between 1967 and 1973.

Hydraulics control vital flight-control surfaces including rudders, flaps, ailerons, elevators and other functions. They provide higher torque, force and power in a more compact, lighter package than their electro-mechanical counterparts, providing repeatable and precise position and speed control.

Today, hydraulic systems are crucial for space shuttles. Keeping the system well maintained in zero gravity is of optimum importance in the challenging climate. Space has temperature variations, which make it a continual challenge to keep the hydraulic systems' fluid state stable.

Hydraulics have come a long way since the 1960s, but scientists will continue to work to find ways of adapting the technology to ensure its safety and efficiency continues and advances.

Phoenix Hydraulics offers a number of hydraulic engineering services that are performed by fully qualified engineers. We will visit your site to diagnose faults and repair your hydraulic system. Please contact us on 01733 234800 for further details.