Sir Elton John’s iconic Marilyn Monroe-dedicated song Candle in the Wind was not composed specifically for the late actress.
The single, released in 1973, included multiple lyrical references to the iconic actress, who died 11 years earlier, at the age of 36.
It was already one of Sir Elton’s best-known songs when it was re-released in 1997, and it eventually became the best-selling British single of all time.
It sold 4.9 million copies in the UK with additional lyrics written in memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car tragedy in Paris in August.
However, Bernie Taupin, Sir Elton’s songwriting collaborator, has revealed to Graham Norton that the original version was not intended to be about Monroe.
‘I liked the title of [Russian author] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, which is a metaphor for a life snuffed out too soon,’ he told the chat show host.
‘At the same time, I saw The Misfits and was fascinated by Montgomery Clift who died young. But then I wondered how many people would know who he was.’
He continued: ‘I didn’t care for Marilyn, [but] people would think her a much more fragile character and more indicative of the “candle in the wind” [metaphor].’
He did, however, state that history demonstrated his change of heart to be sensible.
‘I am glad I went with her. Otherwise, history would have been very different.’
The song debuted in the top five of the UK singles chart, while a live version subsequently debuted in the top ten of the American Billboard charts.
Taupin noted that coming up with fresh lyrics for the 9x Platinum 1997 version was a considerably shorter procedure than he had anticipated.
‘I re-wrote it in half an hour, it wasn’t difficult,’ he said, but confessed he has rarely heard his work back since it was released to be the public 26 years ago.
‘I’ve only actually heard [the 1997 version] a couple of times – once at [Diana’s] funeral and once in the studio, so I don’t remember a word of it.’
Watch The Graham Norton Show on BBC One and iPlayer at 10.40pm on Friday.