Elnikov was born on May 10, 1935 in Stavropol.
Until the seventh grade, he was a student at the 24th
His vocal gifts were noticed, and in 1952, he became a
student of the Stavropol music school. In 1956, he graduated and worked as a solo singer for an accordion ensemble in
1956–1961, Elnikov studied at Moscow conservatory with M. V. Vladimirova.
He would spend his whole career with the Soviet TV and broadcasting company: 1961–62, as a soloist-vocalist of a musical ensemble
and of the big academic choir of the company, and from 1962 to 1982, as a solo singer on both radio and TV.
Elnikov was the first performer on the radio (in duets with
famous singers of the 1950s and 1960s like Evgenij Kibkalo, Jurij Jakushev,
Vjacheslav Godunov, Boris Dobrinim) to popularize songs like "On vacation", "For a long time,
we were not at home, "Long live the youth",
"With you my heart" or "Podgornaja Street".
Elnikov toured the Soviet Union, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Canada and Mexico.
He does not seem to have ever sung on an operatic stage.
1964–1985, he taught singing at the Moscow conservatory.
However, Elnikov kept in touch with his
native city, not forgetting childhood friends, and returning for recitals.
One of them was in August 1961. The Stavropol Pravda wrote: At this concert given by the regional
philharmonic society, there was no free space. The townspeople came to
listen to their countryman, the soloist of the Moscow Radio
and Television Jurij Elnikov.
Literally in the first minutes of the concert, the young singer
subdued all by his rare beauty of voice,
which can be defined as a lyric-dramatic tenor, especially expressive and bright
in the upper register. It is impossible not to note
the commitment of his excellent vocal technique and high
musical culture. With passion and great
feeling, Jurij Elnikov carried out an extensive program
in which, in addition to romances, he included songs and
operatic arias by Russian and foreign composers.
Among his many recordings are:
Zolotoj petushok/The golden cockerel (1962) as Gvidon, with Aleksej Kovaljov/Evgenij Akulov (conductors), Aleksej Koroljov, Klara
Kadinskaja, Nina Poljakova, Gennadij Pishchaev
Snegurochka/Snow maiden (1976) as Bobyl, with Vladimir Fedoseev (conductor),
Matvej Matveev, Andrej Sokolov, Aleksej Usmanov
Aleksandr Nevskij with Evgenij Svetlanov (conductor), Larisa Avdeeva