Bernie Taupin Takes Jab at Jann Wenner in His Rock Hall 2023 Induction Speech

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This photo appeared in the February 24, 1973, issue of Record World

Bernie Taupin took aim at Jann Wenner, for the latter’s infamous remarks about female and black artists during his acceptance speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 induction ceremony on Nov. 3. The longtime publisher of Rolling Stone had said they were not articulate enough to be the subjects of his interviews over the years, while promoting a book last September. Wenner chaired the Rock Hall Foundation, which nominates artists for induction, for decades. Elton John made the presentation speech at the induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, for his longtime songwriting partner in the Musical Excellence category.

As John took the stage, he was met with sustained cheers. The legendary singer, composer, pianist, and worldwide icon noted that he “never [would] have dreamed in a million years [that he and Taupin could have known] what was in store for their life, for their friendship.” After sharing how they met, John said, “He became my best friend. We scaled heights we never thought possible. To this day, we are still growing as a partnership… we just finished an album. I am so proud that he’s being inducted… because the lyrics come first.” Watch his speech below.

John then performed “Tiny Dancer.”

In his acceptance speech, Taupin said that he became the “luckiest man alive” in 1967, referencing the start of his career-long collaboration with John. He later took aim at Wenner, without mentioning him by name. “I guess you could say I’m being inducted is a paradox, perhaps,” he said, “but either way, I’m honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside such a group of such profoundly ‘articulate’ women and outstanding ‘articulate’ Black artists, along with all of the other musical masters here tonight.”

Watch the Bernie Taupin acceptance speech; his indirect reference to Jann Wenner is shortly after the 4-minute mark

Four years after Elton John published his own memoir, Me, Taupin, did the same. The legendary lyricist of most of John’s hits, published his own book, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me, via Hachette Books in September. Order it in the U.S. here.

The English-born Taupin has worked in partnership with John since 1967 and has written the lyrics for such classic rock favorites as “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Crocodile Rock”, “Your Song,” “I’m Still Standing,” and dozens of others. One of the most successful and long-running musical collaborations in music history, John and Taupin received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and more. In 2022, Taupin was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music.

“I loved writing,” he says. “I loved chronicling life and every moment I was cogent, sober, or blitzed, I was forever feeding off my surroundings, making copious notes as ammunition for future compositions. . . . The thing is good, bad, or indifferent I never stopped writing, it was as addictive as any drug.”

The U.K. edition’s cover

Taupin and John’s extraordinary, half-century-and-counting creative relationship has been chronicled in the 2019 biopic Rocketman and in John’s own autobiography, Me. But Taupin, a famously private person, kept his own account of their adventures close to his chest, until writing Scattershot.

Taupin and John honed their skill to such a degree that Taupin could present John with a lyric and he could compose to it within the hour. In the period between 1970-76, with producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm, John and Taupin made an astonishing 14 albums including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Madman Across the Water

Taupin was born May 22, 1950, in Lincolnshire, England. He became a U.S. citizen in 1990 and lives in Southern California.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 4 May, 2023, 00:51

    I loved Bernie’s wry take on his work habits: “I work two weeks a year . . . ”

    The only person that might go toe-to-toe with Bernie in terms of lyric density might by Shawn Phillips.

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 6 November, 2023, 16:28

    What’s the point? Complaining or not, you’re there, honoring them with your presence and giving “The Hall” legitimacy when they have none in practice. Personally, I prefer Todd Rundgren’s not participatory form of protest. If more people did that perhaps the message would get through. But I guess the temptation is too strong for entertainers who are mostly all egotists at heart.

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