Elton John Year by Year: Photos 1968-2020
Throughout his decades in the spotlight, Sir Elton Hercules John has gotten almost as much attention for his distinct clothes as for his music. In the gallery below, we take a look at his history as a fashion plate with photographs of the singer-songwriter from every year from 1968 through the present.
Our collection shows the ever-flamboyant John in all sorts of colorful and bedazzled outfits, ranging from suits (albeit some in nontraditional colors) to dressing up as Mozart and the Statue of Liberty ... plus just about everything in between. Along the way, you'll all see an incredible array of hats and eyewear. In 2013, he revealed on NPR's Fresh Air that a major influence on his approach to his outfits was fellow piano player Liberace.
"He was being who he was — he wasn't publicly out — but he didn't give a flying monkey about what he was wearing," he said. "That, of course, influenced me, when I started wearing the clothes and I subconsciously must've [thought], 'If you're stuck at a piano and you're not a lead guitarist or a lead vocalist, you're kind of at a nine-foot plank and you've got to do something about it.' So my thing was to leap on piano, do handstands and wear clothes that would draw attention to me because that's the focus for two and half hours."
By 1988, John had accumulated so many clothes and accessories that he ran out of room at his house in Windsor, England. To clear out space, he sold 2,000 items during a four-day auction at Sotheby's in London, raising more than $8.2 million. Many of those outfits can be seen on the cover of 1988's Reg Strikes Back. Beginning in 1997, he's occasionally opened pop-up shops filled with his clothes, some of which he's never worn, to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
And even with the end of his touring career in sight, John's love of high fashion shows no signs of abating. He signed a deal with Gucci's creative director, Alessandro Michele, in 2018 to be his exclusive outfitter throughout his three-year, 300-date farewell tour. Check out more than 50 years' worth of Elton John photos, and his singular sense of style, below.