There are two different types of spectacle wearers in this world ― those who see it as a chore, and those who see it as an opportunity. Those who consider spectacles to be more of an accessory than a necessity know that there is no power quite like a pair of fun glasses. Elton John has been named Britain’s most iconic glasses wearer, but probably deserves the title as owning the biggest collection of spectacles in the world.

Elton John started wearing glasses to copy one of his idols, Buddy Holly. He didn’t actually need them at first, but his eyesight got worse over the years. He suffers from short-sightedness.

Never a man for minimalism, he admitted several years ago that he had bought 20,000 pairs over the years, but had kept a modest 4,000 to wear.

At the age of 11, Elton was awarded a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. He was apparently a model student while there, but he quit just before graduation to pursue a rock career. Elton wasn’t always Elton. He was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in Pinner, Middlesex, England.

John is often formally referred to as Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE. The “CBE” denotes “Commander of the Order of the British Empire.” This is the third highest rank in Britain’s Order of Chivalry, and he achieved it in 1995. As if the CBE wasn’t enough, John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 for his services to music and fundraising for AIDS charities.

For some stars, fashion is a means of expression. For others, it’s a way of life, and Elton John, who turned 70 last year, has always been in the latter category. From his emergence on the rock scene in the late 60s to his five decades as one of music’s biggest stars, John has kept one thing consistent: his unabashed love of clothes. Though his outlandish early performance looks eventually gave way to a subtler style, John still makes a statement with what he’s wearing now, thanks to his trademark glasses. Seeking out the kookiest pairs to complement his bespoke suits and match his mood, he’s worn some of the most memorable glasses in history: Think novelty shades that feature oddball add-ons like windshield wipers or fur, and rhinestone-covered specs. With every shape, size, style, and colour popping up, he’s managed to keep things interesting—and fabulous—while creating a look that’s completely his.

Some interesting facts:

  • The YouTube video of Elton singing at Princess Diana’s funeral has been viewed more than 26 million times.
  • John has a few famous godchildren, including Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
  • He’s also the godfather of Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham, the children of David and Victoria Beckham.
  • John has a net worth of $480 million, making him the second richest singer in the UK, behind only Paul McCartney.
  • Few artists have managed to crank out the hits quite like Sir Elton. 27 of his albums have gone platinum, with 14 of those going multi-platinum.
  • John is one of the kings of the Billboard charts. When Billboard released its list of the greatest artists in the history of the Hot 100, he came third, beating out Elvis Presley, but coming in behind The Beatles at #1 and Madonna #2.
  • The Lion King stage musical, for which John wrote the music, was named the highest-grossing production in theatre history, earning over $1 billion (and counting).
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