“Don’t be soft”: Inside Elton John’s complicated relationship with his father
Elton John’s relationship with this father Stanley Dwight can be defined in three words, according to his new biopic Rocketman: “Don’t be soft.”
The quote comes from a heartbreaking scene in the film, where a young Elton asks for a hug from his father.
"When are you going to hug me?" asks a young Elton. "Don't be soft," replies his unforgiving father.
The film continues to show the strained relationship between the pair as cold and unloving, with Elton’s father Stanley Dwight doubting his talents, questioning whether or not he is capable of receiving a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, and shaming him for practicing his scales on the piano.
Elton has written about his complicated relationship with his father in The Sunday Times, explaining that he was “a tough and unemotional man”.
“Hard. In the RAF. He was dismissive, disappointed and finally absent. I just wanted him to acknowledge what I’d done. But he never did,” Elton wrote for the publication.
Elton initially thought that his father didn’t understand children, but quickly realised that wasn’t the case.
“He left us, remarried and had another family, and by all accounts was a great dad to them. It wasn’t children. It was me,” he wrote.
However, Elton’s half-brother Geoff Dwight said that the allegations within the film are just not true.
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“That's not the Dad I remember,” said Geoff, one of Stanley's four younger sons by his second marriage to The Daily Mail.
“Dad had a big heart and he loved us all equally. He was incredibly proud of Elton and everything that he achieved.”
Geoff has lived a quiet life, but due to the popularity of the film, has felt the urge to speak out against the allegations of his late father.
“This coldness, it's a million miles away from what Dad was like,” he said.
“He was a product of a time when men didn't go around hugging each other and showing their feelings every minute of every day, but he had plenty of love in him for all of us.”
Geoff then goes on to refute the opening scene of Rocketman, where Stanley comes home from a lengthy posting overseas and demands dinner instead of reuniting with his son.
“I just cannot believe that,” exclaimed Geoff.
“Dad was the one who registered Elton's birth. He was there when Elton was born and he did not stop caring.”
Geoff also dismissed the claim that Stanley was unsupportive of Elton’s musical talents.
“Dad encouraged all of us to be musical. He was in a swing band himself, so I see no reason why he'd have thwarted Elton.
“I was hopeless on the piano, so Dad left a guitar and a trumpet out for me with a few teach-yourself books. That doesn't sound like a man who discourages his kids.”
Rocketman is in cinemas now.