All The Wrong Things That Happened In “Rocketman”
Elton John and Taron Egerton for a Rocketman interview - Entertainment Tonight / Youtube
When real life meets the big screen, accuracy is often sacrificed for artistic license. It happened with then Bohemian Rhapsody, and has happened with the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman as well. The film turned out to be a loaded musical with artsy scenes, as opposed to a true retelling of Elton’s story. In all fairness, there are numerous Elton John documentaries that do the job rather well, and Rocketman is just another celebration of an artist’s career, made to appeal to a sentimental audience.
Where did the film go wrong, exactly? Here is a list of some inaccuracies from the icon’s biopic.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin Met at 1967
Bernie Taupin is Elton’s songwriting partner and has been ever since the start of his career, but the timing was a bit off in the film portrayal. It shows Elton backing some American artists, when he and Taupin met, which was way back in 1965. Elton and Bernie actually got together 2 years later, in 1967.
Manager Ray Williams Was Already Big Before Meeting Elton
The film portrays Elton’s first manager, Ray Williams, as a neophyte who kept sneaking into the boardroom to hold his own meetings, and was shown to have him as Williams’ first client. In reality however, Williams was already a seasoned manager, having worked with names such as Sonny and Cher and The Kinks. When he was replaced by John Reid, Williams saw even more success in his career, as opposed to the film showing his career as ruined.
His Name Wasn’t Derived From John Lennon’s
In the film, Elton was told that he needed a more rock n’ roll stage name, he asked to borrow his sax player’s name Elton Dean, who didn’t approve of him taking the whole name. He proceeded to take inspiration from John Lennon’s own name, for the surname John.
In reality, while he did borrow Elton from his sax player, John actually came from Long John Baldry, who was a musician, and mentor to him as well.
His Attempt at Taking his life was polished in the film
While Elton did dive into the pool to drown himself, his “final words” were a bit different. Instead of saying “for my next trick, I’ll [end] myself,” he said, “I have taken 85 Valiums. I shall [pass] within the hour.” Elton was saved by a medical team who pumped the substance out of his system.
Dick James wasn’t the man he was portrayed as
For that added dramatic flair, villains are necessary to heighten conflict and resolution. Dick James was portrayed as a rude manager who lambasted Elton and Bernie’s songwriting, even going so far to call them garbage. He was also shown as an abusive superior to his subordinates.
However, James was a humble and honest chap in real life. Truly unfit for a villain.
His relationship with his mother wasn’t that bad from the get-go
Although there is truth to the rocky relationship Elton has with his mother, it didn’t happen as early as Rocketman portrayed. The film shows hi mother being distant from him since childhood, but reality tells that the two didn’t have any major quarrels until 2008.
Bluesology was actually successful
Rocketman’s portrayal of Elton’s early band, Bluesology, only shows them playing for bigger acts and never producing material for themselves. In reality, the band actually struck a record deal and wrote a few songs themselves. Even though these songs weren’t entirely successful, it paved the way for the band to score a European tour and also being hired as Long John Baldry’s backing band.
Elton isn’t the lead singer for the band apparently, contrary to what the film shows.
Songs aren’t presented chronologically
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was shown in the film to appear at a much earlier point in his career, than they actually did in real life. Another stark example was “I’m Still Standing”, which was shown to be written after Elton did rehab, when in reality, the song was already out for a good decade before the rehab happened.
His relationship with John Reid remained civil for years to come
In Bohemian Rhapsody, Paul Prenter was presented as an evil, manipulative manager who destroyed Mercury’s image. John Reid wasn’t necessarily similar to him, even though Rocketman portrayed him as such. The pair actually became successful for 3 decades, until Elton decided to take Reid to court, which destroyed their relationship.
Elton’s heterosexual relationship was with a secretary, not a landlady
Before coming out as gay, the film shows Elton John in a relationship with his landlady, and broke up with her when he realized his sexuality. The landlady was deeply affected, but Elton seemed to take it lightly.
In reality, Elton had a relationship with Linda Woodrow, and even went on to become engaged. The relationship ended on a bitter note, with both parties distressed when the wedding was called off.
His decision to go rehab was influenced by someone
The movie portrays Elton’s decision to go under rehab as a realization of his poor lifestyle. In reality however, he was inspired by a teen friend named Ryan White. Ryan White had contracted HIV and was discriminated by his community, which led the way for the two to meet and become friends. Elton learned a lot through the relationship, and realized he needed to get things straight before it spirals out of control.