Royal Mail issued a set of eight stamps and a miniature sheet on September 3 to celebrate one of Britain’s best-loved and most successful musicians, Elton John.

The honour comes on the 50th anniversary of the 72-year-old singer-songwriter’s first album, during what is said to be his final tour (a three-year extravaganza featuring more than 300 concerts), and six weeks before the publication of his autobiography, Me.

A global superstar, known for his outlandish stage outfits, Elton John is one of the biggest-selling recording artists of all time. After collaborating for much of his career with lyricist Bernie Taupin, the total sales of his records worldwide are estimated at around £300m in value.

His rewritten version of Candle In The Wind, released in 1997, is the biggest-selling single since the music charts were established in the 1950s. He has also written award-winning soundtracks and stage music for productions such as The Lion King and Billy Elliot.

He has been awarded 13 Ivor Novello, five Grammy and five Brit awards, plus an Oscar, a Tony and a Golden Globe. He was knighted for his charity work in 1998.

Although promoted as the third issue in a Music Giants series, after Pink Floyd in 2016 and David Bowie in 2017, this issue differs in design. The individual stamps, featuring album covers, are gummed and regular in shape, whereas previous sets were self-adhesive and free-form.

Designed by Royal Mail Group, based on a concept by Studio Dempsey, the issue was printed in litho by International Security Printers. The counter sheet stamps come in horizontal se-tenant strips of four.

1st class Honky Château

Recorded in 1972, this was Elton’s breakthrough pop album, and includes the hit single Rocket Man.

1st class Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Recorded in 1973, this double album has been hailed as one of Elton’s finest pieces of work, and features Candle In The Wind and Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

1st class Caribou

Recorded in 1974, this was Elton’s fourth consecutive album to reach number one in the US charts, perhaps best-known for Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

1st class Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

Recorded in 1975, this concept album recounts the early days of Elton’s and Taupin’s careers, complete with a vivid depiction of a suicide attempt, Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

£1.55 Sleeping With The Past

Recorded in 1989, this album was intended as a homage to the rhythm-and-blues music that had inspired him in the 1960s, and produced his first UK solo number one single, Sacrifice.

£1.55 The One

Recorded in 1992, his 23rd studio album relaunched Elton’s career following a battle with drug addiction. The cover was designed by Gianni Versace.

£1.55 Made In England

Recorded in 1995, this album features reflections on both the positive and negative aspects of ageing. The title track was a hit single.

£1.55 Songs From The West Coast

Recorded in 2001, this album returned to Elton’s piano-based roots with a strong collection of songs including the single I Want Love.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class

Elton John in concert at Madison Square Garden, New York, in 2018.

£1.55

A Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973.

£1.55

The Diamond Jubilee Concert in honour of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, 2012.

1st class

Elton John in concert at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, in 1975.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by Alexis Petridis, explores how Elton John became one of the most influential artists of all time, reflecting on his partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin and his often troubled personal life.

A press sheet of 15 uncut miniature sheets is available in a limited edition of 300, individually numbered. Besides first day covers and stamp cards, Royal Mail is marketing a wide array of souvenirs aimed at the musician’s fans.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £9.00

Miniature sheet   £4.50

Presentation pack   £14.30

Stamp cards   £5.85

First day cover (stamps)   

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.00

Press sheet    £74.25

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

As a global British superstar, Elton John fits well into the Music Giants series.

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

Inevitably, the cover designs are a mixed bag of the arty and the ordinary. But why change the style part way though a series?

WOW FACTOR   2/5

It’s hard to see these stamps making our postage look as spectacular as the subject himself likes to appear.