Did Elton John really pick his name from a bandmate and a John Lennon poster?

24 May 2019, 13:05 | Updated: 23 December 2020, 16:00

Elton John / John Lennon
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

In Rocketman, Elton John is shown picking his stage persona via a bandmate's first name and looking at a John Lennon poster. But is this really what happened?

Before he was Elton John, he was known as Reggie Dwight. Not quite the popstar name.

So, Reg went about picking a new onstage persona that kicked off a new era of his flamboyant and hugely successful life.

But was what happened in Rocketman really what happened?

Why did Elton John pick his name?

In 1962, Reg and his friends formed a band named Bluesology.

A few years later, Bluesology was backing American soul and R&B musicians such as the Isley Brothers, Major Lance and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.

In 1966, they became Long John Baldry's supporting band, and played 16 times at the Marquee Club.

Long John Baldry
Long John Baldry. Picture: Getty

By 1967, Reg was going by the name 'Elton John'. This was a homage to two members of Bluesology: saxophonist Elton Dean and singer Long John Baldry. His name was legally changed to Elton Hercules John on January 7, 1972.

So, it wasn't a photo of John Lennon that gave him the inspiration, like the film suggests.

Saying that, Elton was a huge fan of The Beatles, and later collaborated with Lennon on a few occasions.

Why did he pick Hercules?

As for his new middle name, he didn't choose the middle name 'Hercules' after the hero of mythology, but actually after a horse named Hercules from British sitcom Steptoe and Son!

Steptoe And Son with Hercules the Horse
Steptoe And Son with Hercules the Horse. Picture: Getty