July 4, 2002
Elton John has received a historic tribute from his old college yesterday, July 3, 2002.
Sir Elton, 55, in robes and a black velvet cap, was joined for the ceremony at the London college by his partner David Furnish, stepdad Fred Farebrother and mum Sheila, who joked: He deserves it! Ive seen him in frocks. But I never thought Id see him in one of those gowns!
At the age of 11, the young Reg Dwight, who was able to read music at the age of three years, won a one-day-a-week scholarship and would learn piano on Saturday mornings at the Academys scheme for talented young musicians. He had lessons there for six years, but left before his original graduation.
He had gone on to become a great musician, Curtis Price, Principal of the Academy, said yesterday. He had a very successful time here, although as he looks back on it now he thinks perhaps he was a bit insecure and not as good as some of the other high-fliers.The thing about Elton is that he has such a solid classical music background. He understands the value of harmony and counterpoint . . . Hes a wonderful performer, a fantastic pianist and a voice that is indestructible.
Elton, who was visibly moved during the ceremony, said: I have always regarded my training at the Royal Academy of Music as vitally important to the development of my career. He announced that he will hold a gala concert on December 1 at the Royal Opera House with the Academys Symphony Orchestra to raise money for an endowment fund. It will provide scholarships for people so that they can come to this wonderful place.
Elton in a graduation gown to pick up a doctorate said : I wasnt a very good student. When I didnt practice, I used to go round on the Circle Line and then go home.
The star has returned to the Royal Academy on several occasions, including one visit in 1998 during which he performed and answered questions for students. The star was one of the first two people to receive honorary doctorates in the Royal Academy's 180-year history. The other was Sir Colin Davis, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra