Twenty years ago today, we said goodbye to England’s Rose. That’s how we’ll always think of Princess Diana — who died at age 36 — thanks to Elton John‘s tribute to her, “Candle in the Wind ’97.”
Twenty years later, the song remains the best-selling single in British history — and, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the second best-selling single of all time, with 33 million copies sold worldwide. Only Bing Crosby‘s “White Christmas,” which pre-dates the existence of the U.S. and U.K. singles charts, has sold more.
After Diana’s shocking death folowing a limo crash, Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin quickly wrote new lyrics to their 1973 song “Candle in the Wind.” The original was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, another blonde beauty who, like Diana, struggled with the demands of fame, and died tragically at age 36.
After Elton performed the re-written song at Diana’s funeral, he recorded it to raise money for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The fund closed in 2012 after raising nearly $177 million for various charities. According to the International Business Times, about $49 million of that total came solely from the proceeds from “Candle in the Wind.”
That rendition of the song was actually the third hit version of that tune. The original appeared on Elton’s album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, while the second was a 1986 live rendition he recorded with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra that reached the U.S. top 10.
“That song’s had a kind of amazing life,” Elton said in a 2002 interview.
Interestingly, Elton has only performed “Candle in the Wind ’97” that one time, and he reportedly has vowed never to sing it again, unless Diana’s sons, William and Harry, ask him to.
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Source: Classic Rock News