Sad and lonely Elton, by his secret brother who hates his music and hasn't spoken to the star in 20 years
By Jane Fryer
Last updated at 12:40 AM on 4th December 2010
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
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Geoff Dwight lives in a teeny cottage in the windswept village of Ruthin in North Wales with his 47-year-old partner Karen, one of their seven children and a cat called Rocky.
The windows are filthy but the woodburning stove is toasty warm, and the one downstairs room is decorated with animal skulls, plastic trolls, dozens of bongo drums, a homemade harp, faded rugs and a 10ft, three-pronged Hindu trident that’s leaning against the back door.
‘You should have been there when I walked down Oxford Street holding it — the crowds parted pretty quickly, I can tell you,’ he jokes.
Living hand to mouth: Shed man Geoff Dwight. 'I must have made millions in royalties for Elton, though it's not like he needs my help'
Forty-three-year-old Geoff is Elton John’s half-brother. His hobbies include building yurts — enormous circular tents made from wood and canvas — smoking cannabis, building Celtic harps in his drafty shed and, of course, music.
‘I love music. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly musical, but I play the guitar and I’ll listen to anything. Well, anything good, that is — country, rock, pop …’ And anything of Elton John’s?
‘No. He’s not exactly my cup of tea, so only when I have to. You know, when I’m walking round the supermarket, they’re always playing his stuff. And every time I’ve walked into my local pub for the past 25 years, they’ve put Elton on the jukebox to wind me up. I must have made millions in royalties for him, though it’s not like he needs my help.’
He’s right. Elton, 63, has an estimated fortune of at least £160 million, a £7 million mansion in Old Windsor, homes in London, the South of France and America, which he flits between by private jet and Bentley. He and his film producer partner David Furnish are friends with the Beckhams and Tom Cruise, and have previously spent £150,000 on their annual flower bill.
So while they share the same father — the late Stanley Dwight, a handsome former World War II fighter pilot who was married first to Elton’s mother, Sheila, and, later, to Edna, mother to Geoff, Stan, Simon and Robert — it’s little surprise Geoff and Elton aren’t exactly joined at the hip.
Far from it. They’ve been at loggerheads for years. It all started in the Seventies when Elton started criticising their father Stanley in newspaper and magazine interviews, depicting him as a control freak who banned him from playing football in the garden, listening to pop music, wearing trendy clothes and even eating celery because it was too noisy.
Elton even claimed his ridiculously flamboyant image was a reaction to Stanley’s rules and coldness. Geoff doesn’t see it that way.
‘Dad was a formidable bloke, but he was kind. And he was always mucking about in the back yard — when you see Elton larking about on stage, he’s the spit of our dad, apart from the good looks of course. Neither of us got his looks.
‘Dad was mad about football, and was always taking Elton to see Watford. And Elton was the only one of us who had his own clothing account — at Horne Brothers in London. We had hand-me-downs, but he was allowed to charge whatever he wanted and dad would pay for it.’
And the pop music?
‘Hardly. Dad had his own swing band, for goodness sake. It was he who bought Elton a piano and paid for all the lessons. He wanted Elton to be a musician — he’d never have got in his way.’
It’s all very odd. And sad. But with a pair of mothers who didn’t get on, and an age gap of 20 years, Geoff and Elton were never destined to be close.
Elton (christened Reginald) was born in March 1947, the only son of Stanley and Sheila, and bought up in Pinner, Middlesex. It wasn’t a happy marriage and ended in divorce when Elton was 15.
Both parents remarried, Sheila to a chap called Fred, and Stanley to Edna, whom he met in Port Sunlight in Merseyside, having relocated there for a fresh start after his first marriage ended.
Edna gave birth to four boys in five years. Stan, now an accountant, was the eldest; next came Robert, who works for the Lottery operator, Camelot; then there was Geoff; and finally Simon, a civil engineer.
As the boys grew up, Elton became a sort of glamorous uncle figure to his dad’s new family.
‘I first met Elton when I was five — he was already a star, which was very exciting,’ recalls Geoff. ‘We all went to see him at the Empire in Liverpool — I remember thousands of people queuing to get through, but we were VIPs and were escorted backstage.’
Elton also used to pop round and play football with his younger half brothers whenever he was in the area. ‘He bought us presents — stuff his fans had given him; teddy bears and all sorts.’
And he always sent birthday and Christmas cards to our dad. He never forgot.’
So the way in which Elton described his childhood in an interview to Playboy magazine in the mid-70s must have come as a terrible shock to Stanley — something that today Geoff puts down to Elton taking ‘a load of drugs at the time, and not being able to handle his depressing comedowns very well’.
So while Elton was strutting about in platform boots, partying like a maniac and topping the charts time and again, Geoff was growing up in Ruthin.
Things started off well. He won a scholarship to the local independent school, but dropped out early and got in with the wrong sort. When he was 18, he was given a four-year prison sentence for a bungled robbery. ‘It was a disaster — we robbed the wrong house,’ he rolls his eyes.
One taste of prison was enough and, determined to go straight, the next ten years were a blur of odd jobs, travelling, dabbling in drugs and religion, and trying to make ends meet.