Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana breaks all records

When he heard about Princess Diana’s death, Elton John went into a serious depression. Diana had been a close Elton John performing 'Candle in the Wind' at Princess Diana's funeral Elton John performing 'Candle in the Wind' at Princess Diana's funeral friend of his, and only a few weeks before she died, he had been with her at the funeral of their friend Gianni Versace. Elton felt he had to pay her a tribute, and contacted his writing partner Bernie Taupin. Time was short - the funeral was scheduled for 6 September – so the songwriters decided to write new words for “Candle in the Wind”, a song which had originally been written in 1973 to honour Marilyn Monroe.

Elton John performed the song at Diana’s funeral, and has not performed it ever again. He has said that he will do so only if Diana’s sons ask him to.

“Candle in the Wind” was released as a single after the funeral, and reached Number One both in Britain and in a large number of other countries. The Guinness Book of Records says it is the biggest-selling CD single of all time, and at one time six copies were sold worldwide every single second. Five million copies were sold in Britain, another 30 million in other parts of the world, and in Canada the song was in the top spot for 45 weeks. But Elton John has not earned anything from this best-selling song: all his income from its sales has gone to the Diana Memorial Fund.


These statements are incorrect. Use the information in the text to correct them.

  1. Elton John and Princess Diana did not know each other very well.
  2. Elton John has always written the words and music to his songs alone.
  3. Nobody had written a song called “Candle in the Wind” until Princess Diana died.
  4. Elton John regularly sings and plays “Candle in the Wind 1997”.
  5. After the funeral the song came out as part of an album.
  6. 30 million copies of the song were sold in Britain.
  7. Five million copies were sold in Canada.
  8. “Candle in the Wind 1997” made Elton John very rich.

Activities for the links below


1) If you go to the first website, you will be able to download the lyrics of the two versions of “Candle in the Wind”. Find five similarities and five differences between them. Which version do you prefer, and why?

2) Now go to the second website, where you will find a biography of Elton John. Find paragraphs which could have these statements as their headings:

  • Artists are not good at handling money, and this can be a problem.
  • In the USA, foreigners can do better than most natives.
  • The saying “Like father, like son” can be ridiculous.
  • Goodbye to loads of stuff and a few health problems.
  • The year he lost two dear friends and broke a record.
  • A pioneer in the field of gay rights.
  • No longer plain Mr John.
  • Popular music, but not so popular sexuality.