One of the show-business legends alive, Elton John, was born in English town of Pinner and was named at birth as Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The little genius started to play the piano at the age of three. He witnessed the divorce of his parents, but his stepfather managed to become a close friend of the gifted boy. The artist lived and studied in the native town until he was 15, working as a part-time musician in local pubs, but then left Pinner to make a career in business. In 1964, he organized the Bluesology band. It reached moderate success during its short existence. After the group disbanded, Dwight decided to start the solo activity. Looking for a job, he came to the Liberty Records following their advertisement and got Bernie Taupin as a partner - who could expect, it was the beginning of their brilliant long-time cooperation. They have produced handfuls of hits for various musicians during several decades. However, the first release of Elton John himself (Dwight's scenic pseudonym) - Empty Sky of 1969 - was mainly unnoticed. Artist's sophomore attempt Elton John saw light in 1970 and featured the material that became classical for the singer for many years ahead - thrilling ballads and rock compositions with gospel elements.
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The concert record Tumbleweed Connection followed that disc the same year. John's eccentric image, unusual glasses and manner of piano playing made musical critics furious, but earned the approval of such scene colleagues as Bob Dylan and Quincy Jones. Elton entered the history of 70's as the introducer of piano rock and performer of such rock hits as Rocket Man (Honky Chateau), Crocodile Rock and Daniel (both from the sparkling disc Don't Shoot Me I'm Just A Piano Player) and eternal composition Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. In the beginning of 70's, he officially changed his name for Elton Hercules John. He co-worked with such stars as The Who and The Beatles. However, after John revealed his bisexuality, the public accepted this fact sharply and the musician temporarily went on a hiatus. He came back with the album A Single Man, but it was perceived coldly. Nevertheless, he reunited with Taupin on the disc 21 AT 33 and came back on the top of the charts with the single Little Jeannie. In the middle of 80's, John lost the voice during touring and had to undergo the surgery on his throat. Years of drug and alcohol abuse also pelf their trail. However, the artist created brilliant albums with the unprecedented consistency and talent.
The musician entered 90's after drastic physical and inner changes - he beat his bad habits in the clinics and recovered after a long depression. He also became the charity worker and made the fund of struggle with AIDS. The soundtrack to the Lion King cartoon with the rock ballad Can you Feel The Love Tonight as the clue composition can be considered as the most noticeable input of Elton John into the music of 90's. In 1994, the artist was inducted into the Hall Of Rock And Roll Fame and was knighted a year later. In 1997, his tribute to tragically deceased Princess Diana Candle In The Wind 1997 became the fastest - and biggest - selling song ever. Released in 2001, Songs From The West Coast with the piercing lead single This Train Don't Stop There Anymore was thought to be Elton's final album. However, in 2004 Peachtree Road became its follow-up. After the unhappy marriage of 80's, the artist made public his homosexuality and married his partner David Furnish in 2005. In 2006, the autobiographic album The Captain & The Kid was released, noticeable for its smash hit The Bridge. Later the same year, Elton John issued the collection of his eternal songs Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits. The very interesting album titled The Union created by Elton John and Leon Russell was released in 2010. This studio attempt was critically acclaimed and debuted at the third position in Billboard 200, which is a great proof of its highest level. There is no doubt that The Union will please the singer’s old fans and those who are just going to get acquainted with his creativity.
The Captain & The Kid
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known professionally as Shakira, was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her Lebanese father and Colombian mother gave her the name which can be translated from Arabic as «full of elegance and God’s grace». When a child, she used to listen to Colombian and Lebanese music along with English-language songs. Among her favorite musical bands were Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Police and The Cure. The most of her talents were revealed when she was a child – when she was 4 years old she wrote her first poem and when she was 10 she engaged in oriental dancing. At the age of 11 she won her first musical contest. Since then she was winning all the musical contests in Barraquilla.
Her debut album Magia was released when she was 13. Despite the fact that her songs were aired by numerous radio stations of Colombia and brought her fame, only 1,200 copies of the record were sold. The second disc, Peligro (1993), was also a commercial failure. Unsatisfied with the second album, Shakira changed direction and joined the cast of the Colombian soap opera El Oasis playing the part of Luisa Maria. Her third work Pies Descalzos (1995), perfectly combining the rhythm of rock’n’roll and oriental motives, reached #1 in charts of eight countries and went platinum in the US.
In 1997 Shakira has left El Oasis and returned to recording. She signed Emilio Estefan, Jr. – Gloria Estefan’s husband as her manager and producer. The move paid off in no time when her follow-up album Donde Estan los Ladrones? (1998) became an even bigger worldwide hit than its predecessors. The single Ojos Asi was highly popular and the album spent 11 weeks at number 1 on Billboard's Latin album chart in America, sold over more than 4 million copies and became multi-platinum in America and platinum in Spain. In view of the single’s success, Gloria Estefan offered to translate the song into English. It was then when Shakira realized she needed to improve her English to write songs and make good shows.
Soon she performed on MTV Unplugged, the channel’s first Spanish-language broadcast. In early 2000 a studio record of this performance was released, which won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album. Having improved her knowledge of English, Shakira’s popularity increased even more – Laundry Service, released in 2001, sold over 13 million copies world-wide. In 2005 Shakira, already a representative of Pepsi Cola, recorded Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and its English-language version Oral Fixation Vol. 2, which included such hits as La Tortura and Hips Don’t Lie. In October 2009 her third English-language studio album She Wolf was released, representing Shakira’s shift from Latin pop and Pop-rock to Electropop. In 2010 the singer released her seventh album Sale El Sol, which demonstrated the real kaleidoscope of styles. The long play included a rock song Sale El Sol, a composition with electronic elements Loca, Latin Gordita and many other bright musical creations. There is absolutely no doubt that traditionally strong Sale El Sol will please both Shakira’s old fans and those who are just going to get acquainted with her creativity.
Besides musical and acting career, Shakira is also a creator of Pies Descalzos Foundation to give education and satisfy the needs of homeless children and child victims of violence in Colombia. Shakira also launched a new charity foundation Artistas Latinos En Acción Solidaria (ALAS), which was founded in 2006 and united numerous Spanish-speaking singers such as Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Miguel Bose and others. Apart from everything else, Shakira is also a goodwill ambassador for the UNICEF.