The family attended Holy Rood Catholic Church in the town of Market Rasen, where Bernie and Tony served as altar boys. Bernie attended school at Market Rasen Secondary Modern. Unlike his older brother, he was not a diligent student, although he showed an early flair for writing. At 15 he dropped out of school.
He spent his teenage years hanging out with his friends, hitchhiking the country roads to attend youth club dances in the surrounding villages, playing snooker in the Aston Arms Pub in Market Rasen, and drinking ale well before his eighteenth birthday. He had worked at several part-time, dead-end jobs when, at the age of 17, he answered an advertisement that led to his collaboration with Elton John. In 1967, he answered an advertisement for a lyric writer placed in the New Musical Express by Liberty records A&R man Ray Williams. Thus began the famous and well-loved songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The pair have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date, though John worked with other lyricists between 1977 and 1983.
Taupin's lyrics include such memorable tunes as "Rocket Man", "Tiny Dancer", "Candle in the Wind", "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", and 1970's "Your Song", their first hit. 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 own birth through the eyes of his older brother, was also set to music by Elton John and included on the Elton John (album). 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. While the lyrics to Side One provide interesting insights into Taupin's childhood, the album makes for a tedious listening experience, and Taupin stated in interviews that he wasn't pleased with the results. 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 Taupin and then-wife Toni Russo, and the "Citizen Jane" video also included Toni's sister, actress Rene Russo. Once again, neither the album nor the singles made much of a dent in the charts. 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. Again a respectable effort, the album went nowhere despite a tour of small clubs across America. Read more on Last.fm.
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