Who is Renate Blauel?
Renate Ruth Margot Blauel is a German sound engineer and music producer. She is the first and only wife of English singer, pianist, and composer Sir Elton John. Little to no information is available on her family and early life. A native of Berlin, she became a renowned sound engineer and music producer in the years leading up to her marriage to John and had worked with the likes of Mike Oldfield, Piet Veerman and The New Cats, The Human League, and The Blues Band. She also once worked as an air stewardess. She married John on the Valentine’s Day in 1984 in a lavish ceremony. At the time, John had been openly bisexual for quite a few years and their wedding was treated as a cover-up for his homosexuality by most people in the media. After four years, they divorced amicably and Sir Elton found the courage to tell the world that he is gay. Since then, Blauel has led a relatively secluded life. In the early 2000s, she returned to Germany to take care of her ageing parents.
Renate Blauel was born on March 1, 1953 in Berlin in a divided Germany. After the end of the World War II, Germany was controlled by the Allies: the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France. In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany was formed with the areas occupied by France, Britain, and America whereas the Russian zones were declared as the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic or East Germany. Owing to the on-going political upheavals in the region, Renate Blauel grew up in a tumultuous era. Nothing else is known about her childhood.
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Renate Blauel started off in the music industry by working for Croatia Records. She worked as an assistant engineer on Mike Oldfield’s album ‘Platinum’, which was released through Virgin Records in 1979. She also worked with Vitesse on their album ‘Rock Invader’, which was put out through Bovema Negram. In 1980, five albums were released with her as the sound engineer: Ryuichi Sakamoto's 'B-2 Unit', Stephen Bishop’s ‘Red Cab To Manhattan’, Japan’s ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’, Piet Veerman’s ‘Back To You’, and The Blues Band’s ‘Ready’.
In the following year, Blauel got the chance to work with Marvin Gaye on his album ‘In Our Lifetime’, The Teardrop Explodes on 'Wilder', and Sunny Jim Band on ‘Jay’. She collaborated with Duran Duran on their 1982 album ‘Rio’, The Jam on ‘The Gift’, and Pete Townshend on ‘All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes’. She and John worked for the first time in his 1983 album ‘Too Low for Zero’. They would collaborate in several other projects in the ensuing years, including the 1984 album ‘Breaking Hearts’.
Marriage with Sir Elton John
In the late 1960s, John had a fiancée named Linda Woodrow, who he referred to in his 1975 song ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’. However, in 1969, as the wedding day approached, John, who was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, became more and more desperately reluctant. He was a closeted gay man in his private life and hardly anyone knew about it. Eventually, blues singer Long John Baldry and lyricist Bernie Taupin had a conversation with him and convinced him to call off the wedding.
In 1976, during an interview with the Rolling Stone, John came out as bisexual. Blauel and John met sometime in the 1980s and soon enough, she became part of his entourage. She travelled to the Caribbean isle of Montserrat where they worked together on ‘Breaking Hearts’. John had a lot of issues in his personal life that plagued him in the early 1980s. He was diagnosed with bulimia and had developed a severe drug addiction. While they were in Sydney in February 1984, he proposed to her at an Indian restaurant. Four days later, on the Valentine’s Day, they were married in a grand ceremony held in Australia. She wore a lavish dress bejewelled with 63 diamonds and after the wedding, moved in with her husband to a magnificent mansion in Windsor.
It was widely speculated by the media at the time that the marriage was a cover-up for his homosexuality. They were married for four years, eventually parting ways in 1988. The divorce was finalised on November 18, 1988. According to some sources, she received £5 million in the divorce settlement. Subsequently, she moved to a relatively small cottage in Shackleford, Surrey and lived there for the following ten to fifteen years before going back to Germany to take care of her ageing parents.
As for John, soon after the divorce, he revealed in another interview with Rolling Stone that he is gay. On December 21, 2014, he married his long-time partner, former advertising executive and filmmaker David Furnish. They have two sons together: Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John (born 2010) and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John (2013). He has stated he has nothing but love and admiration for Blauel and regrets causing her sadness.