When it comes to showmanship, there are very few people who can compare to Sir Elton John. Not only is he a phenomenally talented piano player and singer, but he has always had an eye for the colorful and unique. Simply put, he knows what it means to be a well-rounded entertainer.
Part of his appeal has always been that he is completely unafraid to be a spectacle – the crazier, the better. In his early years, he could be relied upon to wear the most outrageous costumes onstage. Some were so elaborate that it seemed impossible that he could still play the piano.
Here are some of his wildest outfits from the heyday of the 70s and 80s. Now, keep in mind, at the time, some of these were not too far off from how people were dressing every day.
Elton wore this get up when he guest hosted The Muppet Show in June 1977. He opened the show with “Crocodile Rock,” backed up by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band. The costume was such a hit, and Elton was such an influence, that all of the Muppets were dressing just like him by the end of the show. Fozzie Bear dressed like Elton John is certainly unforgettable!
What inspired Elton to dress up like a sixth-graders science project in 1974? Maybe it was the return to Earth of Skylab crew after being in orbit for nearly 90 days. Or perhaps he was inspired by the ball pits that were starting to appear in playgrounds. Regardless, this is undoubtedly one of his more “out there” outfits. It is notable that the glasses with the hair around them have made several reappearances through the years.
Circa 1975, this costume has enough fringe and feathers to make a Las Vegas showgirl jealous. The previous year, Elton had become fascinated with the outfits that Bob Mackie was making for Cher at the time. Elton asked Bob to make him some similar costumes, and a signature look was born. If you find a picture of Elton in feathers, boas, fringe, and sequins, it’s a safe bet that it is a Mackie creation.
Another outfit from 1975, but not a stage costume, Elton wore a stylish three-piece suit to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This leprechaun-meets-a-deputy style has all of the hallmarks of vintage mid-1970s, from the ridiculously wide lapels on the jacket to the oversized pointed collar on the shirt that had no buttons near the top. It is interesting to note that this suit looks gold in some pictures but more lime-green in others. Knowing Elton’s penchant for brightness, it was probably closer to the color of the lime Jell-O dessert that was popular at the time.
Perhaps inspired by the famous Gainsborough painting “The Blue Boy,” this historical costume appeared in August 1982. The Jump Up! Tour celebrated his 16th studio album. Elton traveled through five legs on four continents in seven months, playing 135 shows by the time he reached the climactic three shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
What gives this one away as being from the 80s? Bright neon colors? Check. Geometric patterns in the clothes? Check. Outrageously extreme hairstyle? Check. And don’t forget the crazy sunglasses. This outfit is vintage 80s, without a doubt.
You really cannot get more 80s than this Bob Mackie creation that Elton wore during another Madison Square Garden appearance, this time on his Ice on Fire Tour in 1986. This costume is one of the most similar in style to streetwear of the time. Jackets with keyboard lapels and big shoulder pads were trendy at high school semi-formals (albeit usually without the fringe). Neon colored mohawks could be seen a mile away; the higher they were sculpted, the better. And once again, the crazy-shaped sunglasses make an appearance.
This one is a little tame by Elton John standards but still makes a bold statement. Another design by Mackie, and also from 1986, Elton sports the big shoulder pads and crazy lapels on his star jacket. This time he pairs it with a relatively normal white button-down shirt. The single dangling earring is a signature 80s style. The neon hair makes another appearance as well, this time paying tribute to David Bowie’s style in the hit movie, Labyrinth, which came out the same year.
By the time the 90s rolled around, Elton was wearing costumes that were much tamer than anything seen here, preferring to wear jackets and pants, and he continues to wear this fashion currently. The jackets still had sequins and designs, however, and glasses of some kind will always be a part of his style. In some ways, the excess of his costumes of the 70s and 80s perfectly represents the more carefree “anything goes” attitudes of the time. We will always be grateful that he has entertained us in so many ways over the years.