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Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin win the 2024 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Elton John and Bernie Taupin promote the film <em>Rocketman</em> at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
Loic Venance
/
AFP via Getty Images
Elton John and Bernie Taupin promote the film Rocketman at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

Celebrated songwriting duo Elton John and Bernie Taupin will share this year's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. One of the most prestigious music prizes in the U.S., the award was established in 2007 by the Library of Congress in honor of another great songwriting team, George and Ira Gershwin, whose papers are held by the Library.

"They are the epitome of what George and Ira Gershwin stand for: legendary songwriting teams that have really resonated with generations of music lovers," the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, told NPR.

This is the third time the Gershwin has been awarded to a pair of artists since the prize was established in 2007. Gloria and Emilio Estefan were jointly honored in 2019, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David won the award in 2012. Other past recipients, nearly all A-list celebrities, have included Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson. Last year's Gershwin winner was Joni Mitchell, the third woman to be recognized. And Sir Paul McCartney was the first British musician to be honored, in 2010.

In a Library of Congress statement, Bernie Taupin said, "To be in a house along with the great American songwriters, to even be in the same avenue is humbling, and I am absolutely thrilled to accept."

"I've been writing songs with Bernie for 56 years, and we never thought that that one day this might be bestowed upon us," Elton John added, in the same statement. "It's an incredible honor for two British guys to be recognized like this."

John and Taupin first met in 1967, through a newspaper advertisement seeking songwriters. Since then, their albums have sold hundreds of millions of copies. Their hits include "Tiny Dancer," Rocket Man," Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which spent two months atop the Billboard Top 100.

"Their process seems simple: Taupin writes lyrics and sends them to John, who goes to work at the piano and creates a song," the Library of Congress wrote in its announcement.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says her favorite song by the duo is "Bennie and the Jets," which came out in 1973.

"It was a number one hit on African-American radio stations," she said. "And I remember being a young person who didn't even know who the musicians were. But we loved that song and played it over and over again. So that just really emphasizes personally how this music transcends so many things."

The two musicians were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. Earlier this year, Elton John became an EGOT, one of only three pop stars who's won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. (Perhaps now that he has a Gershwin, we can call him an EGGOT.)

A televised tribute concert for the pair is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on PBS stations on April 8th from Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.