23 May 19
ROCKETMAN is the sex, drugs and anguish-fuelled ride through Sir Elton John’s life that will have audiences wondering if such madness can be true.
The singer, whose nine No1s include Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, promised a “warts and all” depiction of his life. But have those warts been magnified for dramatic effect?
Rocketman is the sex, drugs and anguish-fuelled ride through Sir Elton John’s life that will have audiences wondering if such madness can be true — so we found out
Posters say it is “based on a true fantasy”, so audiences have been warned there is a fair dollop of fiction among the facts.
Here, Grant Rollings and Mike Ridley sort the myths from the reality in the new film.
Dad Stanley was uncaring to young Reg
Dad Stanley walked out on Elton when he was just 11, but he did encourage his son’s love of Watford Football Club by taking him to matches
IN the film, Stanley Dwight is cold and remote, with Elton moaning that his dad cuddled his other sons but not him. He is portrayed as having no interest in his son’s musical talent – even banning him from touching his jazz records.
In real life, after years of rows, the RAF pilot walked out when Elton – then Reg Dwight – was 11. He married second wife Edna and had four boys, Stanley, Robert, Simon and Geoff.
Step-brother Geoff, from Ruthin, North Wales, says: “My dad was kind and gentle. He spoke his mind but encouraged us all, including Elton, to do what we were good at. As a boy when he started supporting Watford it was my father who took him to the matches.”
Mum Sheila was disappointed in Elton
This claim is not completely true, according to the man himself
DID Elton’s mother really tell him, as she does in the film: “Do you know what a disappointment it is to be your mother?”
No, says Elton. In an interview in 1992, he said: “My mum had always supported me and never reproached me, even when I went on record and said I was bisexual.”
After her divorce, his mum Sheila married Fred Farebrother, who treated Elton like his own son when they all lived together in a maisonette in Pinner, North London.
In the film, Fred appears to get on well with his step-son.
But when Fred died in 2010 aged 88, Sir Elton did not attend the funeral.
Gran Ivy was the only relative to support him
This claim makes for a nice line in the film, but it’s not the full story
IN Rocketman, Elton’s gran seems to be the only member of his family who supports his dream to be a musician. Sheila’s mum Ivy Harris (Gemma Jones) is seen taking young Reggie (Matthew Illesley) to his first appointment at the Royal Academy of Music.
In reality Elton’s parents were both musical.
Stanley, who played trumpet in a band, bought a piano for the young Elton and wrote to congratulate him on winning his scholarship to the Royal Academy.
Step-brother Geoff says his dad always thought highly of Elton, telling people right up to his death aged 66: “I have five great sons.”
Manager Dick James hated the early tracks
Far from being a foul-mouthed cockney, Elton’s manager Dick James was a gent
WAS Elton’s first manager, Dick James – played by Line Of Duty’s Stephen Graham – a foul-mouthed Cockney who hated many of the star’s early songs?
In reality, Dick became Reg Dwight’s first manager in 1967 and encouraged “the fat boy from Pinner” to change his name.
Caleb Quaye, 70, who was in Elton’s first band Bluesology, says: “Dick James was a gentleman. He wasn’t Cockney.
“He was an old-school music man, who dressed smartly and you never heard him cuss.
“He was a principled businessman.”
Bernie and Elton never had arguments
Elton and his lyric writer Bernie Taupin
REMARKABLY, lyric writer Bernie Taupin and music writer Elton largely created their hit songs by post.
Bernie (played by Jamie Bell in the film) would send the words to the singer, who would create a tune on the piano.
And just like in the film, they never did have a “row” – though for a period Elton chose to work with other lyricists.
Their enduring friendship is one of the most heart-warming aspects of Rocketman.
Did star’s first love John Reid really slap him?
Elton and lover Reid, played by Richard Madden, certainly had a fiery relationship
IN the movie, Elton meets first love John Reid at a gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1970, but in fact their initial connection was at a Christmas party in London.
Elton says the film correctly shows him sleeping with a man for the first time when he beds Reid in America.
Rocketman suggests there was a gap in time before Elton (Taron Egerton) and Reid (Richard Madden) became regular lovers, but previous accounts say they moved in together quickly after meeting.
Paisley-born Reid is portrayed as ruthlessly scheming to become Elton’s manager, but in the past the Scotsman has said he was asked to take that role even though he “wasn’t enthusiastic”.
We see Reid slapping Elton in the movie, and while the pair certainly had a fiery relationship it’s not known whether this was based on reality or if creative licence was used.
Elton tried to take his own life at party
One of the film’s most shocking scenes shows Elton attempt to take his own life – but did it really happen?
ONE of Rocketman’s most shocking scenes is Elton’s suicide bid during a party at his Los Angeles home, in front of friends and family .
In fact, Elton really did try to end his life that day in 1975. As guests lounged around the pool the singer, dressed in a bathrobe, announced he’d taken an overdose of Valium and then threw himself in the water.
He was pulled from the pool, then paramedics were called to save his life by pumping his stomach.
Director Dexter Fletcher does add to the moment with synchronised swimmers – who weren’t there.
He walked out of NY gig to go to rehab
There are tragic reasons behind this claim that the film fails to mention
THE film sees Elton quit a gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden venue, just before going on stage, then head straight to rehab.
For the purpose of brevity, timelines and events seem to have been changed. Elton did cancel a gig at that venue in 1984, claiming he had flu.
But it wasn’t until 1990 that he checked into Chicago’s Parkside Lutheran Hospital in a bid to cure himself of his addictions.
The movie does not mention a major catalyst for this decision – the death of a young friend, Ryan White, from Aids a few months earlier.
Singer was hooked on booze and drugs
Elton is candid about his ‘issues’ around addiction and the film reflects this
AT the start of Rocketman, Elton tells a rehab support group he is addicted to cocaine, sex, alcohol and shopping, is bulimic and has anger issues.
All of it is true. Elton has admitted: “I wouldn’t eat for three days, then would gorge on six bacon sandwiches and a pint of ice cream and throw it up.”
He once confessed: “I’d have an epileptic seizure and 40 minutes later be snorting another line.” Of his many vices, he admitted “a sexual addiction as bad as any of the others”. He also spent huge sums shopping, including £293,000 on flowers in just 20 months.
But he’s been sober since 1990.
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He hid his sexuality from wife Renate
In real life she was Linda Woodrow, briefly Elton’s fiancée
ELTON struggled with his sexuality over the years and this is depicted correctly.
In the film he moves in with a woman called Arabella in North London.
In real life she was Linda Woodrow, briefly Elton’s fiancée.
We see him bedding men but hiding his homosexuality from the public, although he actually came out in 1976 as he told Rolling Stone magazine: “Everybody’s bisexual to a degree. I don’t think it’s just me.”
Mirroring real events, we see Elton wed German Renate Blauel in 1984, before divorcing four years later and admitting she “didn’t deserve” the pain.
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