Captain Fantastic . . . from the end of the world to your town.
For him, the end of the world was a middle-class Middlesex town called Pinner, where he was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The lonely, lumpy, myopic only child of an R.A.F. squadron leader, he was too shy "to say boo to a goose." He was so out of favor with his straight-backed dad that he was forbidden to kick a soccer ball in the garden lest he wreck the rose bushes. He was refused permission to purchase mohair sweaters and Hush Puppies shoes, status gear he devoutly hoped would help him gain acceptance in the local smart set in the late '50s and early '60s.
Now, in every home town that seems like the end of the world to its moping teen-age inhabitants, Reg Dwight, 28, and ever so much better known as Elton John, has become the repository of a million escapist dreams. He is the symbol of the often battered, never completely shattered juvenile faith that no one is too short, too fat, too awkward or parentally despised to be transformed into someone who is not only famous and rich, butinfinitely more importantloved by the multitudes.
So far, so routine. But no one stays at the top of the pop charts for any length of time without twanging chords that reverberate in the teen-age psyche. What sets Elton apart is the fact that his appeal knows no demographic limits. Said British Rock Promoter Mel Bush, watching a sellout crowd of 75,000 file out of London's Wembley Stadium after John's appearance there a fortnight ago: "Elton's appeal is across the board. We had heads, hippies, film stars, lords and ladies here today." Says the star of the huge audiences he regularly attracts: "I can see four or five rows when I'm onstage, and the cross section of people is staggering. In the front row may be a couple in their forties, and I think, 'They must be friends of the promoters.' Then you get 13-year-old girls and everybody. It's great."
Anyway, astonishing. In his five-years of singing and drubbing the piano
John has compiled a staggering set of statistics. With an annual income of $7 million, he is one of the most prosperous pop stars on the scene today. He signed a landmark deal in recording history when MCA Records last year guaranteed him $8 million in royalties against all the albums he produces in the next five years. The company could recoup its entire investment by the end of 1976. John has sold 42 million albums and 18 million singles worldwide; nine of his twelve albums are over the million mark in the U.S. alone, often with several hundred thousand to spare. His latest album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, had an advance sale to retailers of 1.4 million copies before anyone outside the recording studios had heard a single bar of this extraordinary autobiography in music by Elton and his faithful lyricist-companion, Bernie Taupin. This week it was in the No. 1 spot on all major U.S. record charts.