Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Johnny Mercer Award

Elton John and Bernie Taupin have one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships ever known.  Their award-winning relationship spans four decades with collaboration on more than 30 albums to date.  John was introduced to Taupin in 1967, and by the time of his self-titled breakthrough album and timeless hit “Your Song” had introduced him to an international stage in 1970, the two had honed their skill to such a degree that Taupin could present John with a lyric and he could compose to it within the hour.  In the period between 1970-76, with producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm, John and Taupin made an astonishing 14 albums including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy. Among these, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first album to ever enter the Billboard chart at #1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, with its string of American #1 hit singles and unbroken two month run at the top of the Billboard Top 100, became an all-time classic.

Jimmy Webb said of the duo, “Some catalogs are more ‘deep’ and significant than others not only because of their pertinence to the times in which they were written, but because their sheer mass is overpowering.  It’s just not that easy to write 40 Top 10 records.  It’s kind of like swimming the English Channel with your hands tied behind your back. Elton’s readily identifiable melodic piano style has proven to be a perfect accompaniment to Bernie’s razor sharp lyrics about relationships and living on the edge of life both in good and bad times.” 

The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is exclusively reserved for a songwriter or songwriting team who has already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer. 

In 1980 John and Taupin reunited for the album 21 At 33 followed by Jump Up! in 1982 known famously for the Lennon tribute “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).” This return continued with Too Low For Zero, which Taupin exclusively wrote the lyrics and gave birth to two of John’s live favorites to this day, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” and “I’m Still Standing,” his valedictory song to the troubles he had gone through.  In the late 1990s, “Candle In The Wind,” John and Taupin’s heartbreaking tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, sold well over 33 million copies and is the bestselling single in Billboard history.  John received a Grammy® for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the song in 1997.

John is one of the topselling solo artists of all time, with 35 Gold and 25 Platinum albums, 29 consecutive Top 40 hits and more than 250 million records sold worldwide; John attributes a great deal of his success to his songwriting relationship with Taupin.  They were both inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and together they have co-written international hit songs including “Rocket Man,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Daniel,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Don’t Let The Sun Shine Down On Me,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (duet with Kiki Dee),” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” “The Bitch Is Back,” “Nikita,” “Sacrifice,” “I Want Love” and many others.

In 2010, John and Taupin composed several songs for The Union, a collaboration album between John and his longtime hero Leon Russell that was released to rave reviews.  The duo also collaborated on five original songs for the Miramax movie Gnomeo and Juliet, released in February 2011 with “Hello Hello” nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards.  In 2012, John returned to the recording studio with producer       T Bone Burnett and recorded The Diving Board for release this fall.  Taupin wrote lyrics for the 13 songs.

Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Collins, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.