While Taupin was still a boy, his father decided to try his hand at independent farming, and the family relocated again, this time to a run-down property called Maltkiln Farm in the north-Lincolnshire village of Owmby-by-Spital. Here a third brother, Kit, was born 11 years junior to Bernie. The family attended Holy Rood Catholic Church in the town of Market Rasen, where Bernie and Tony served as altar boys. Bernie attended school at Market Rasen Secondary Modern. Unlike his older brother, he was not a diligent student, although he showed an early flair for writing. At 15 he dropped out of school. He spent his teenage years hanging out with his friends, hitchhiking the country roads to attend youth club dances in the surrounding villages, playing snooker in the Aston Arms Pub in Market Rasen, and drinking well before the legal age of eighteen. He had worked at several part-time, dead-end jobs when, at the age of 17, he answered an advertisement that led to his collaboration with Elton John.
Taupin sometimes wrote about specific places in Lincolnshire. For example, "Grimsby" on Caribou was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a nearby port town often visited by Taupin and his friends. More famously, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was inspired by Taupin's experiences in the dance halls and pubs of his youth. More often he wrote in more general autobiographical terms, as in his reference to hitching rides home in "Country Comfort." These autobiographical references to his rural upbringing continued after his departure for London and a life in show business, with songs such as "Honky Cat" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," in which he thinks about "going back to my plough."
But the most important influence of Taupin's childhood was his intense interest in the American Old West. This topic imbues his lyrics from the 1970 Tumbleweed Connection album to recent songs like 2001's "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore." When he and Elton decided to write an autobiographical album in 1975, Taupin dubbed himself "The Brown Dirt Cowboy" in contrast to Elton's "Captain Fantastic," and in the 2006 sequel to that album, Taupin is pictured on horseback as a working cowboy.
The 1991 film documentary Two Rooms described the John/Taupin writing style, which involves Taupin writing the lyrics on his own and John then putting them to music, with no further interaction between the two. This however was a process that was to change considerably over the years as their collaborations became far more intimate in their creation.
Taupin and John had their first Broadway musical open in March 2006 with Lestat: The Musical.
Taupin wrote lyrics for ten songs by John on his album The Captain & The Kid (sequel to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy) and appeared on the cover with him for the first time marking their 40th anniversary of working together.
On 25 March 2007, Taupin made a surprise appearance at John's 60th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, briefly discussing their 40-year songwriting partnership.
In 2002, Willie Nelson and Kid Rock recorded "Last Stand in Open Country" for Nelson's album The Great Divide. The song was the title track of the first album from Taupin's band Farm Dogs (see below). Nelson's album included two other Taupin songs, "This Face" and "Mendocino County Line." The latter song, a duet between Nelson and Lee Ann Womack, was made into a video and released as the album's first single. The song won the 2003 Grammy for best vocal collaboration in country music.
In 2005, he co-wrote the title track to What I Really Want For Christmas with Brian Wilson for his first seasonal album.
In 1971, Taupin recorded a spoken-word album entitled Taupin, in which he recites some of his early poems against a background of impromptu, sitar-heavy music created by some members of Elton's band, including Davey Johnstone and Caleb Quaye. Side One is entitled "Child" and contains poems about his early childhood in southern Lincolnshire. The first poem, "The Greatest Discovery," which looks at his birth from the perspective of his older brother Tony, was also set to music by Elton John and included on the Elton John (album). There are poems about Taupin's first two childhood homes, Flatters and Rowston Manor, and others about his relationship with his brother and grandfather. Side Two includes a variety of poems of varying obscurity, from a marionette telling her own story to a rat catcher who falls victim to his prey. While the lyrics to Side One provide interesting insights into Taupin's childhood, the album makes for a tedious listening experience, and Taupin stated in interviews that he wasn't pleased with the results.
In 1980, Taupin recorded his first album as a singer, He Who Rides the Tiger. Although he demonstrated a more-than-adequate vocal ability, the album failed to make a dent in the charts. Taupin later suggested in interviews that he didn't have the creative control he would have liked over the album.
In 1987, he recorded another album entitled Tribe. The songs were co-written with Martin Page. "Citizen Jane" and "Friend of the Flag" were released as singles. Videos of both singles featured Rene Russo the sister of Toni his wife at that time.
In 1996, Taupin pulled together a band called Farm Dogs, whose two albums were conscious (and successful) throwbacks to the grittier, earthier sound of Tumbleweed Connection. While Taupin wrote the lyrics, the music was a collaborative effort among the band members. Their first album, 1996's Last Stand in Open Country, received critical praise but little airplay. As mentioned above, the title track was later recorded by Willie Nelson and Kid Rock for Nelson's 2002 album The Great Divide.
In 1998, Farm Dogs released its second and final album, Immigrant Sons. Again a respectable effort, the album went nowhere despite a tour of small clubs across America.
In 1988, Taupin published an autobiography of his childhood entitled A Cradle of Haloes: Sketches of a Childhood. The book was released only in England. It tells the tale of a childhood fueled by fantasy in rural Lincolnshire in the 1950s and 1960s, ending in 1969 as Taupin gets on the train to seek his fortune in London.
In 1991, Taupin self-published a book of poems called The Devil at High Noon.
In 1994, Taupin's lyrics up through the Made In England album were collected into a hardcover book entitled Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Complete Lyrics, published by Hyperion. However, it doesn't appear that Taupin was intimately involved in this project, as it contains multiple misspellings and outright misrenderings of the lyrics. It is also missing some of the rarities and b-sides found in the earlier collection. As with the 1973 collection, the songs are illustrated by various artists, this time in full color throughout.
In real life, Bernie has lived his dream of being a "Brown Dirt Cowboy." He moved to southern California in 1970 and he has been living since the 1980s on a working ranch north of Los Angeles near Santa Ynez, California, raising cutting horses.
In the early 2000s, Taupin publicly displayed some of his paintings. He co-owned a PBR bucking bull named Little Yellow Jacket, which was recently retired as an unprecedented three-time world champion.
He Rescued the Suicidal Elton from a Gas Oven and Warned Him Not to Marry the Pickled Onion Heiress to Whom Elton Lost His Virginity. but, above All, Bernie Taupin Has Been One Indispensable Half of Pop's Great Double Act; Series.Books
Feb 15, 2000; Byline: PHILIP NORMAN IN THE extraordinary world of pop, there is no one more extraordinary than Elton John. His appetite for...