When Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 1994, he called Bernie Taupin onstage and handed him the award. “Without him, the journey would not have been possible,” John said at the time. “I kind of feel like cheating standing here accepting this. Without Bernie Taupin, there wouldn’t have been any Elton John at all. And I would like him to come up and give this to him.”

Three decades later, John took the stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to welcome Taupin into the institution in a more formal way. “Our success story is what it is, you all know,” John said during Taupin’s induction speech, tracing their nearly 60-year collaboration. “Through the years we grew and we grew and we grew. We climbed mountains that we never thought were possible to climb, and we scaled heights that we never thought were possible to scale.

“And throughout that time, we never ever really had an argument. He was disgusted with my behavior, yes, that’s a given. But to this day, we are still growing as a partnership.” John then confirmed that the duo just completed a new album in Los Angeles (which Taupin hinted at in his recent Rolling Stone interview).

Arriving onstage to accept his award, Taupin chuckled and said, “I have to follow Jimmy Page,” referring to the Led Zeppelin guitarist’s searing tribute to Link Wray. He thanked John and discussed his lifelong love of songwriting, listing all his inspirations that varied from Howlin’ Wolf to Merle Haggard.

Taupin then made a not-so-subtle reference to Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner’s widely criticized comments in an interview with The New York Times (Wenner was subsequently removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.)

“Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, are you listening?” Taupin asked. “I acknowledge all these people because they and so many others are why I write. I guess you could say I’m being inducted as a paradox, perhaps, but either way I’m honored to be in the class of 2023, alongside such a group of profoundly articulate women and outstanding articulate black artists.”

Following Taupin’s speech, John sat at the piano for a heartfelt rendition of “Tiny Dancer.” The lyrics to the song were written by Taupin in 1971 as a tribute to his first wife, Maxine Feibelman, and other women he met on John’s first American tour.

“We came to California in the fall of 1970 and it seemed like sunshine just radiated from the populace,” Taupin said. “I guess I was trying to capture the spirit of that time, encapsulated by the women we met, especially at the clothes stores and restaurants and bars all up and down the Sunset Strip. They were these free spirits, sexy, all hip-huggers and lacy blouses, very ethereal the way they moved.”


The single didn’t crack the U.S. Top 40 when it initially came out, but it quickly became a fan favorite and a staple of John’s concerts. An entirely new generation discovered the song when Cameron Crowe used it during a pivotal scene in Almost Famous.

“Tiny Dancer” was performed at all 330 concerts that John performed on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour between 2018 and 2023. He’s kept a low profile since the tour wrapped in July, but earlier this month he played a special show at the opening of a new amphitheaters in the Dominican Republic.


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