Watford FC begin stadium development work on Sir Elton John Stand
Friday, July 31 2015
Watford FC has begun work on expanding the Sir Elton John Stand as they increase the capacity to just over 21,000.
In order to add another 700 seats to the stand, the staircases at the front of each block have been removed and in their place additional seats will be fitted. In addition, a number of mandatory improvements are being made at Vicarage Road in order to meet Premier League requirements, in particular to comply with Premier League media & IT facility requirements.
One of those Premier League requirements to fulfil is pitch sizing. The pitch dimensions will be 105 metres by 68 metres, which means an increase in length of 1.4 metres and 2 metres in width.
LED boards will also be installed around the three TV-facing sides of the pitch perimeter, mirroring the set-up at many other top-flight stadia. The club said media and IT facilities will also be enhanced significantly.
A doubling of the main TV commentary gantry will take place, the structure which hangs from the roof of the Upper Graham Taylor Stand. Smaller pods will be installed at a similar height to serve 18-yard line positions. And there will be a gantry platform construction bolted to the Graham Taylor Stand fascia, where 'The Graham Taylor Stand' lettering currently sits.
This lettering will be re-sited after the near-50 metre gantry width - hosting all of the overseas commentary and camera positions required - has been installed. Views for those in both tiers of The Graham Taylor Stand will not be adversely affected by these works.
Hawkeye (Goal Decision System), IT hardwiring, Wifi provision for media and permanent TV studios are other matters also on the agenda. The planning for the improvement works started immediately after the end of the promotion-winning 2014/15 campaign.
The stand is expected to be completed for the Hornets first home game against West Bromwich Albion on August 15, 2015.
Elton John marks 25 years of sobriety
Wednesday, July 29 2015
Elton John has reason to celebrate on July 29, 2015 — he's been sober for a quarter-century.
He marked the milestone on Instagram, writing, "25 years of sobriety today. One day at a time," with hashtags including #gratitude, #happiness, and #blessed. The post was accompanied by a cake with the sparkly numbers on top.
David Furnish also posted a message praising his hitmaking husband's personal achievement. "Happy 25th Birthday Elton," he wrote along with a sobriety coin with 25 years imprinted on it. "You inspire me with your light and your love every day."
Elton has been candid about his drug and alcohol addictions, opening up on the topic in his 2012 memoir Love Is The Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS, saying he was "consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else."
Elton, who has described himself as a "shy" kid, called himself "ignorant" and "naïve" about drugs during an interview to promote his book in 2012. He said he started using cocaine in the '70s with his manager, who brought it into the recording studio, and the drug gave him confidence when he was off stage.
"I always said cocaine was the drug that made me open up. I could talk to people," John told NPR that year. "But then it became the drug that closed me down, because the last two weeks of my use of cocaine I spent in a room in London, using it and not coming out for two weeks. And it completely shut me down. So, it started out by making me talk to everyone and then ended up by me isolating myself alone with it, which is the end of the world really."
Elton's turning point came when he met Ryan White, an Indiana teen who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion and died in 1990. The performer said it forced him to take a hard look at his own life and stop using cocaine and abusing alcohol.
Elton was everywhere in 1975. By that, I mean, everywhere. If you weren’t there, weren’t born, you might not be able to appreciate it, but if you were there (even if you weren’t interested), the sheer scale of Elton’s reach over those twelve months is pretty well unmatched.
LEFT: I won't be another page...: Lynn's treasured scrapbook, which began life when she was a teenager and in which she keeps her collection of newspaper and magazine cuttings. RIGHT: I saw you by the wall: Just one aspect of Lynn's Elton Room, which documents her meetings with Captain Fantastic herself and some of her most collectible items.
Lynn Kurtts became an Elton John fan in 1974. That’s the year of Caribou, the summer which debuted “The Bitch is Back”, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” and (her personal favourite) “Pinky”. Oh, and of course “Solar Prestige A Gammon”, but perhaps we won’t go there. Lynn is the second “super fan” that I interview. Like others, she’s amassed a wide and varied collection of memorabilia. For her, it was those twelve months shortly after she became a fan – the year of “Captain Fantastic” – that really set her on that trail.
“I started collecting in 1975,” she told me. “Elton was everywhere, and my mother bought me my first poster. Elton was in all the newspapers and magazines, so my mother suggested that I put all the clippings I was accumulating from a box into a scrap book. So I did!”
She still has that scrapbook – lovingly cared for and now bulging with the weight of its decades-stretching collection – to this day. Those first newspaper clippings though, were the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the beginning of a collector’s paradise.
“I continued collecting various items at the concerts I attended all around the South: posters, tour books, coffee mugs, jackets, bobble head dolls, t-shirts… Back in 1997, I had such a huge bag of goodies when Elton came to my home town (Birmingham, Alabama) for the first time. I chatted with Clive Franks and he offered to hold my bag under his soundboard console until the end of the show for safe keeping. I let him! I used to go to record shows once a year in my city, and I started buying picture discs, older 45” singles, a few imported albums. Then, with the rise of the Internet, I started buying from eBay: singing dolls, unique posters, coloured vinyls…”
I have to admit, readers, to doing a little merry dance inside at the thought of Lynn’s collection. The bobble heads! The singing dolls! Hardened fans will know what I mean: who doesn’t love them and want to own them? They are little Elton treasures that no one really knows what to do with, but can’t be without.
But I digress. I asked Lynn if there is an item within her collection that she particularly treasures. That scrapbook still holds the centre of her heart. “It’s a foot thick. It doesn’t look like the artsy scrapbooking of today, but it came from an innocent teenage girl’s heart, with no frills, clippings and photos arranged to fit the pages in a simple style. It documents some of the highlights of Elton’s ‘70s and ‘80s to early ‘90s career. I only stopped due to the fact that I couldn’t extend the pages in one book any more. I thought about continuing and making a new scrapbook, but there was such a joy and innocence in the original one, I thought it best to just let it come to an end.”
The Red Piano: Lynn met David Furnish by chance at a Las Vegas concert in 2004.
Yet even as her collection has expanded, Lynn hasn’t felt the need to over-indulge in her passion. “I don’t own everything out there with Elton’s name on it,” she explains. “I bought whatever I personally liked, what I wanted and what I could afford. I have every official album, CD, a few 8-tracks, the cassettes, all the singles, and video/DVD releases from “Empty Sky” through to “The Diving Board”. As the years went by, and Elton continued to record and tour, my collection grew and grew!”
So where did it all go? “I didn’t have a spare room in my home to display my collection properly,” Lynn admits “so it remained in storage tubs in my basement. After a divorce and a short time of dating a wonderful man, I got married again. He built a bedroom in his basement for my daughter. About five years ago, she moved into her own apartment… and the Elton Room was born!”
Elton fans worldwide should take note here. When your children fly the nest, what better use to put their old rooms to than a dedicated display of Elton memorabilia? “I jokingly tell my daughter that if she ever moves back home, she has to sleep with Elton!” Lynn says. There is a definite air of the romantic about what Lynn says next, the kind of idealistic expression of fandom that we’d all like to have a slice of ourselves. “My husband is a fan as well. He and I go down to the Elton Room fairly regularly, listen to Elton together, with the disco balls spinning, the strobe light shining, lava lamps in assorted colours glowing, and incense and candles burning for atmosphere. I have all my t-shirts on display (over 200 in all), and pictures of my backstage encounters and posters surround each wall. There is a shelf with various assorted items, autographs from Elton and the band, and even the sunglasses from his Sotheby’s auction in 1988! Another long shelf full of tour books, records, 45” singles and assorted books and magazines.”
It’s the sort of collection that leaves you breathless just reading about it. So how is it for those who actually experience it in person? “It’s a blast!” Lynn enthuses. “Oh yes, and we sit on blue denim bean bags! Retro 70s décor! It took 40 years of collecting, but the Elton Room is here to stay. I love that my collection can be displayed properly for me to enjoy.” And how does it feel to actually look back on 40 years of accumulation? “Honestly, it still amazes me that I have all these items.”
I ask Lynn if there is anything in her collection that she doesn’t own, which she would ultimately like to. A “sought after” item that isn’t hers yet, perhaps? “One of Elton’s current sequined tour jackets would look wonderful on display!” she says. “I do have one of his Versace jackets from the 1990s that he sold in Atlanta during the “Out of the Closet” sale in 1996. Elton wore the jacket in interviews he did at the time and in the video for “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” with George Michael. I snatched it up when I saw it because I recognised it.
The One: Elton launched his World Tour to promote The One in 1992... but not before he met Lynn backstage in Tennessee to showcase the sunglasses she bought from Sotheby's!
“I don’t have the Captain Fantastic pinball machine either,” she sighs. She isn’t the only one!
It’s not just the ocean of memorabilia that sits at the heart of Lynn’s love for Elton John, though. She described his music as “the soundtrack to [her] life”. It might seem a cliché, but in her case, it's not without foundation. “Elton has been making music my whole life,” she says. “I can hear a specific song, know the year it came out, and that just brings back memories of whatever was going on in my life at the time – my innocent teenage years, getting married, having my children, deaths, and life’s other milestones. When I hear “Philadelphia Freedom”, I go back in time to when I was 15 on a church bus trip from Birmingham to Atlanta to go to Six Flags over Georgia. “Sad Songs (Say So Much) takes me back to 1984 when I met Elton for the first time. “Whispers” in 1989 takes me back to rocking my new-born baby in the nursery; the end of the song sounds like a lullaby to me. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” always reminds me of my mother, it was her favourite song and she passed away in 2009. Yes, it’s the soundtrack to my life.”
Just as Elton’s music is the soundtrack to a generation of record collectors, so are his live shows the staple of (several) generations of concert-goers. Lynn is the kind of fan who has never been afraid to travel far and wide to see Captain Fantastic himself. “I have attended around 60 concerts to date,” she reveals. “Most have been around the [American] South where I live. I travelled to New York on two occasions for special concerts – “One Night Only” and Elton’s 60th birthday bash. At both of these shows, I had a few seconds of fame as I made it onto the video crowd shots! I’ve been to Las Vegas to see “The Red Piano” twice (once was my honeymoon). I was there when Elton first played the Grand Old Opry in 1979 with Ray Cooper. That was a fantastic show! I was also at the Opry in 1992 for the late, great Dee Murray tribute concerts. I was there for both shows. They were wonderful, even if Elton had a little frog in his throat during the second show.”
As Lynn reels off the (let’s face it, landmark) live shows that she has attended, she turns her attention to one particularly memorable occasion in Las Vegas when she crossed paths with someone entirely unexpected.
The sweetest winds blow across the South: Lynn presented Elton with a Birmingham t-shirt in 1992 to encourage him to play her home town.
“I was at The Red Piano in 2004 and we had tickets on row 8 in front of Elton. Across the aisle from us sat David Furnish. I just had to speak to him! He was very nice, autographed my ticket, and I asked him what my chances would be of getting up to the stage. In theory, only the first three rows were allowed. He said, “Just go for it. Elton wants his fans up there.” So I did. But unfortunately, I was stopped by security. So David stood up, approached the security lady and asked her to let us through. The security guard wouldn’t, even when David told her we were friends of his! We still didn’t get access, so I thanked him for trying and went back to my seat. After the show, David apologised and asked if I was coming the following night and, of course, I said yes. He told me to find the head of security and he would arrange for us to get to the stage, no matter where our seats were. So I did. He kept his promise! They were expecting me and, at the appropriate time, we were personally escorted to the front of the stage and up to the piano we went! It was amazing to get that close.”
That passion for Elton’s live performances has never dimmed for Lynn. She admits to having camped out for tickets in nearby states and won front row tickets in her home of Birmingham from local radio stations. Then, in 2014, a disappointment turned into a super-fan’s dream. “In 2013, Elton got sick and had to cancel his concert here in Birmingham. I was devastated because I had won front row tickets from the radio for that show. Elton re-scheduled the concert exactly one year later and, although, I didn’t win tickets that time, Elton’s management offered a very limited few front row tickets from Elton’s personal stash for a few lucky fans. You had to be at a certain place at a specific time, ID required, and if someone other than the purchaser was in the seats at the show, they would be escorted out of the arena. I got there 6 hours ahead of time and I was lucky enough to be first in line for those tickets, and they were front row centre!”
*That* is dedication.
Lynn is one of those lucky handful that have had the chance to meet Elton on the band – on more than one occasion. She admits that the route to her idol was a innovatively creative one. “I was once told by a staffer in the early 80s that, to meet Elton, you had to get the attention of a staff member closer to Elton. Just being a fan wasn’t enough, you had to be creative, get to the right person and convince them. So in 1984, I came up with the idea to petition to meet Elton. He had just married [Renate] and was threatening to retire, so I wanted to meet him before he did. So I had everyone I knew in my life sign my petition! My co-workers, my family, the mailman, the UPS/Fed-Ex man, customers, and my entire high school classmates! I typed a note to Elton, explaining why I wanted to meet him. I was fortunate enough to get it to a promoter for the tour and he took my letter and petition backstage to Elton. It worked! The guy came to my seat on the third row with a backstage pass and said, “Elton wants to meet you – come with me. He’s never been petitioned before!” Bingo! I was taken backstage into a hospitality room with about 50 other people.”
The one who writes the words: Lynn met Bernie Taupin in 2013 during an exhibition of his art...
How did that feel, stepping into the courtroom of the King, so to speak? “I was nervous and excited all at the same time. Nigel and Davey walked in, and I was able to get Nigel’s autograph and a photo with him. We had to line up in a hallway outside Elton’s dressing room, where we were told that he would come and meet each of us before he went on stage. There would be no time for photos, but he would give us all autographs. I was wearing a Watford Hornets shirt. He got to me and the tour promoter said, “This is the girl with the petition”. Elton looked up at me and said, “I have never been petitioned before!” and laughed. He had moved on to the girl next to me and while he was autographing a photo for her, he looked back at me and added, “I like your Watford shirt too!” He moved to the next person, but he continued to talk to me. I told him that I’d been to England the year before and bought the shirt at a match. “Did we win?” he asked. “I said, yes, two-nil.” He gave me a thumbs up, despite the fact he was about 4 or 5 people down the line! At the end of the meeting, we were all told to return to the arena as Elton was heading onstage. He was in a bit of a sprint, heading away. I just stood there and said to the promoter, “I have to have a photo with Elton!” He shouted Elton – loudly – and as he stopped and looked back, the promoter said “One photo” and pointed at me. Elton came running back and we had our picture taken. I was blushing! I left and headed back to my seat, and by the time I got there, Elton was into the first song [“Tiny Dancer” for any of you wondering…]. I was right in front of him and Elton just seemed to play to me all night, everyone around was amazed, but I was in heaven!”
I’m not sure if it’s the unwavering enthusiasm, the die-hard devotion, or just the “seize the day” attitude, but I can see why Elton once said that he “loves the South”. If Lynn is representative of fans in this part of the world, the atmosphere at a Birmingham concert must surely be something. That determination to seize the moment is never demonstrated better than through this next anecdote.
“In 1992, I went to Atlanta,” Lynn tells me. “I came armed with my scrapbook and a pair of Elton’s sunglasses that I won at the 1998 Sotheby’s auction. I was able to convince a staff member again that I needed to meet Elton because I wanted to display the sunglasses with a picture of him wearing them. I hadn’t been able to find a photo of Elton wearing these glasses anywhere! My scrapbook was the “proof” that I was a dedicated fan. But the tour was just starting, and Elton was running behind. The staffer came to me and explained that there was no time for a meeting, but asked if I could come to Nashville, Tennessee a month later. He said he would speak to Elton and was confident that I’d be able to meet him there. He told me to bring the sunglasses and the scrapbook! So I did just that. He kept his word and took me backstage in Tennessee, where Elton was waiting. I ended up having a chat with him for about fifteen minutes! Davey Johnstone and Clive Franks were looking through my scrapbook at one point, probably going down memory lane at the clippings. I met Davey and he gave me his autograph and posed for a photo. As we set up the famous photograph of Elton wearing the sunglasses, my cousin was with me and was supposed to take the shot, but she was so nervous about not doing it right! Clive Franks came over to help calm her down and take the picture. While we were waiting for her nerves to calm, Elton leaned over and whispered, “I’m very sorry I couldn’t meet you last month in Atlanta, but that was one crazy night backstage. The Mayor, the Diet Coke people were there and I was running behind.” I told him, “that’s okay, I understood”. Finally, she snapped the photo and Elton said, “Let’s take one more, just to be sure.” Of course, I obliged and didn’t move an inch! You can see his smile is different in the two photos.”
I should have stayed on the farm: ...and was lucky enough to get him to sign her Goodbye Yellow Brick Road CD!
So, when meeting your musical hero face to face, what does a super-fan talk about? “One thing we talked about in Tennessee was him coming to my hometown sometime. I told him how I hated ticket scalpers but they were my only resource for getting good tickets to his concerts. I said my whole family would love to see his show but we can’t pay the prices to do it. I have him a t-shirt that showed Birmingham, Alabama on a map – which lit up with this battery inside – and I’d written a message on the shirt, “Please come to Birmingham, Alabama sometime, from your biggest Birmingham fan, Lynn.” He was very gracious and tended to chat at random with me, asked about my kids, their names and ages etc. He said I didn’t look like I had three children! Actually, it was my birthday the next day and he even gave me a kiss. It was a dream come true to have had so much time to actually chat with Elton. One thing he told me as he was looking at my scrapbook was that he meets fans every day, everyone seems to be a fan, but he doesn’t get to meet the big, dedicated fans very often… Then he added, “although you’re not that big”. I’m 5’3”!”
Little did Lynn know when she started that wonderfully nostalgic scrapbook that years later, Elton would not only look through it, but autograph the front page. “He looked through it and then signed it. “To Lynn, with all my love, Nashville, TN, 1992.” He asked me if that was OK!”
And when did Elton make that long-awaited trip to Lynn’s home town? “A couple of years later, he scheduled a stadium tour with Billy Joel and in 1995, he was touring major cities to promote the “Made in England” album. Then, in 1997, to my amazement, Birmingham was on the tour schedule! He was touring the ‘lesser known’ smaller cities to promote “The Big Picture”. On that tour, in 1997, I was promised by the arena manager in Birmingham that if Elton ever came here, he would see that I went backstage. And he did! I remember waiting for Elton, and a large VIP group came in, all wearing suits, ties, high heels etc. In that group was a little boy of around eight years old with his mom. He had The Lion King music book that he was clutching. Elton took a group sot with those 30 people and then sought out the little boy and asked him if he’d like him to sign the book. He squatted down to speak to him face to face and signed it. That group left and Elton went back to his dressing room and shut the door. I was told to just wait where I was and Elton would come out just before he went on stage. I was the only fan there. I was able to meet him again, take a photo and thank him for coming to Birmingham, finally.”
Since then, Elton John has returned to Birmingham on several occasions. In 2000, Elton’s official website was launched and on his second visit to Birmingham, Alabama, they offered 50 lucky fans backstage passes. Lynn secured one. There, she met Elton again very briefly and, although they were told that individual photos couldn’t be taken, there was in her words, “no way Elton was in my home town and going to get away without a photo. So one was snapped!” Lynn treasures all of what she calls her “Elton encounters”, each one under different circumstances. “Elton is a sincere, funny, perfect gentleman. It’s wonderful to say he is such a nice guy!”
Perhaps incredibly, Lynn has also had the distinct pleasure of meeting the man behind the words: Bernie Taupin. What was it like to meet the man, without whom, there would be no Elton John? “I always heard that Bernie likes to remain a private person. I was very fortunate to catch a glimpse of him when I was in the audience at Madison Square Garden for the “One Night Only” concert. For some reason, I’d taken my first tour book from 1976 with me. I just had it, just in case. When I spotted Bernie in the audience, I folded it to Bernie’s photo, armed myself with a sharpie and approached him, handed it up to him and asked if he’d sign it. I purposely chose a moment in the concert where everyone was looking at Elton so I didn’t bring that extra attention to Bernie. It worked, Bernie too the programme and autographed it for me. Never in a million years did I think something like that would happen!
“Then, in 2013, Bernie came to Nashville, Tennessee to display his artwork in one of the galleries. When I called the gallery, they said that Bernie was not there to sign Elton John memorabilia and wouldn’t. He was there to show his art. You could mix and mingle with him, talk about his art, but not Elton John. I was told that if you made a purchase of his art, you would be able to meet him privately, pose for photos and get autographs. So my husband I decided to go to the exhibit just to see his work, maybe talk to him. Once there, my husband notices a particular painting and said, “That would look great in our den”. I thought, “well, yeah!” So I was then able to meet Bernie, pose for a photo, get his autograph. He signed a CD insert for “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” which I had previously asked Elton to sign and which I’d brought along, just in case! He was somewhat quiet, but happy to pose for photos. Charlie Morgan, the former drummer from the Elton John band was also at the exhibit. I approached him and he very kindly stopped to pose with us. The artwork that we bought is still in our den, and it looks great!”
In 2001, Lynn had the chance to put herself forward for a television programme on VH1 which showcased Elton John fans. “VH1 went to numerous fan sites,” she recalls. “They asked fans to submit an email to them if they thought they were Elton’s biggest fan and explain why. At first, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be made fun of on TV, but I decided to give it a whirl and see what happened. VH1 contacted me soon after requesting a video of my collection, my work, my family, it was all part of the selection process. We were in contact back and forth for a while and the producers told me I was pretty high up there in the ranks to be selected. When I was called and told that I was indeed selected, they told me there were several hundred emails from fans, about 50 or so videos, but ultimately it was just me and three other fans who were chosen. The crew came to my home and they filmed for two days. I think they had around sixteen hours of footage, which they shaved down to a fifteen minute segment. My segment was framed around the “soccer mom” fan, someone with a job and a family, but passionate about Elton and his music. They were looking or four diverse people, I guess I fitted into one of those moulds for the show.
“I was the last of the four to be filmed. I was also told that Elton and his management were going to be given a copy of the final show, and that they had had no say in the selection process. Because a local gal had been interviewed on VH1, there was a huge spread in the local paper about it. It was also a lot of fun. When the crew arrived, the newspaper came along with a photographer and ran another story with photos. The morning they were flying back to California, the World Trade Centre attacks happened. They weren’t able to leave Birmingham by air, so they rented a car to drive back. That very morning, I was featured on local TV about the VH1 show and had been interviewed by our local entertainment writer for The Birmingham News.” Lynn looks back on the whole affair with a fondness. “It was a lot of fun, a very positive experience.”
Going back to Elton’s music, I wonder which albums and songs have most heavily influenced the South’s most enthusiastic Elton-ite? Despite the era she grew up in, it’s not the songs you might think. “It was “Pinky” that made me a fan. I knew all the hits at the time, songs like “Bennie and the Jets”, “Rocket Man” and “Crocodile Rock”, but it was the deep cuts and not the commercial singles that made me a fan. “The Last Song” is a standout song for me. The meaning behind that, the father/son relationship, the way it deals with Aids and love, the way Bernie wrote it and Elton sang it, it’s such a good marriage.
“In the 70s, when I turned sixteen, all I wanted was Elton John albums – I didn’t want a car! I even made a comment to my mother about making sure that my friends didn’t duplicate the albums. At the time, I was collecting Elton’s back catalogue of records and I was hoping to get different albums from everyone rather than five copies of “Greatest Hits”. It worked, I got what I wanted. I was then up to date in 1975 and I have those original records and extras I bought still in shrink wrap today.”
Looking back to the last two albums that Elton has released, and conscious that a new record is already in the can, what are Lynn’s expectations for the new release, as a super-fan? “I love Elton’s music because of his rock and roll piano playing, both live and on record. I hope he rocks out a bit. I hope it’s not filled with over-production, just simple rock and roll. Piano, guitars, drums, percussion and some extra keyboards would make me happy. His piano playing is better now than it was in the 70s. His voice is different, but I love the deeper sound these days. His music is why I am a fan. Period.”
That really starkly underlines why Lynn’s enthusiasm is so rich and alive after all this time. After all, without the music, where would we be? Although, there is one thing she misses. “I miss the band not featuring in the artwork on the albums they participate in. I’d love to see Davey, Nigel, John, Kim, Matt and Ray all pictured. Elton has the best band around, he should show them proudly!”
But, as I asked other super-fans, can Elton ever have a number one record again? There is only one answer possible for Lynn. “Absolutely he can! This forthcoming album could be the one!”
Elton has never played “Pinky” live on stage. I’m not sure he ever will. But if he’s ever in Birmingham, there is surely one song he should add to the set. I’ve never been to the South, although Elton loves it so I probably should. Just like Captain Fantastic itself, this corner of America has some of the richest musical backstory of anywhere in the world. It is here that you’ll also find one of Elton’s most devoted, and richly enthusiastic fans. It all started with a scrapbook, some newspaper clippings, and simple glue; the innocence of adolescence captured in the pages of a book. The book got bigger, and so did the music. Just look how far and wide it's reached today.
Elton John and band performed in Madrid on July 20, 2015
Tuesday, July 28 2015
Fan report by Julio Vila.
The concert at the Teatro Real in Madrid was simply spectacular. And it was clear from the beginning that it was going to be a special night, and so it was.
It was the last concert of the summer tour, and Elton and his band were in high spirits. Just like during most of the recent shows, Elton jumped on stage with "The Bitch is Back", a song to begin the concerts with great force.
Elton also apologized, since the concert had been advertized as Piano Solo. He explained that he will never again to do a concert solo piano. He also re-stated that from now on he will do less concerts so he can spend more time with his children. But at no time he said that he will never do anymore tours.
Anyway, this concert was part of the Follow Yellow Brick Road Tour and unfortunately no new song made it into the set list. Even worse, the set list had been shortened gradually in the course of the tour.
The concert was full of Spanish celebrities, and for Elton the show was another triumph in Spain.
As highlights, I emphasize the solo piano of "The One," and the power that "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" had as well as "Burn Down The Mission."
Elton, Spain awaits you next year with your new tour!
Following is the complete set list of the Madrid show on July 20, 2015:
The Bitch is Back
Bennie and the Jets
Candle in the Wind
All the Girls Love Alice
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Piano Solo / Rocket Man
I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
The One (Elton Solo)
Circle of Life / Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Elton Solo)
Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears is at work with Elton John on new musical
Tuesday, July 28 2015
Jake Shears, who can currently be seen on the Los Angeles stage in Bent, is at work with another musical theater-inclined rock star!
In a recent interview with The Advocate, the Scissor Sisters front man revealed that he is collaborating with Elton John on a new musical, the details of which he can’t yet reveal.
Bent, currently playing at the Mark Taper Forum, marks Shears’ stage debut. He previously penned the score for the musical adaptation of Tales of the City. He also wrote songs for the upcoming P.T. Barnum movie musical The Greatest Showman on Earth, starring Hugh Jackman.
Elton, whose life will be told on stage in a forthcoming bio-musical, won a Tony Award for the score of Aida. In addition to his numerous classic rock hits, his film and stage credits include The Lion King(which won him an Oscar for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), Billy Elliot and Lestat.
In the interview, Shears referred to a certain East German transgender rock goddess when discussing writing for theater: “It’s like Hedwig. There’s a character that’s just fleshed out over an entire show…everyone’s got their own Hedwig inside of them.” If he needs a break from songwriting, we wouldn’t mind seeing him in pumps and fishnets after Taye Diggs.
Leonardo DiCaprio auctions Elton John concerts for $3 million
Saturday, July 25 2015
Leonardo DiCaprio auctioned off two private Elton concerts for $3 million in aid of his environmental foundation.
The 40-year-old Hollywood star - who's a dedicated environmentalist and has previously described global warming as "the number-one environmental challenge" - staged a party for 1,000 guests, including the likes of Naomi Campbell, Orlando Bloom and Tommy Hilfiger, in St-Tropez, France and in total, raised more than $40 million for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
A source told the New York Post newspaper: "The entire area was covered with models. It was so crowded you couldn't move, but everyone just danced where they were in their gowns and tuxedos."
Leonardo also auctioned off his own Rolex, as well as artwork by Banksy and Andy Warhol, with the proceeds going to his foundation, which is "dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth's inhabitants".
The evening's entertainment - which extended until 4:30am - featured a performance from DJ Cassidy, while comedian Chris Tucker also showed off his Michael Jackson-inspired dance moves.
Earlier in July 2015, it was revealed Leonardo is donating $15 million to more than 30 environmental groups "implementing innovative and impactful conservation projects around the globe".
Elton and David mourn Ingrid Sischy
Saturday, July 25 2015
Ingrid Sischy, the writer and critic, died in New York on July 24, 2015.
It was sudden, but also not so sudden. She had been under the care of the legendary oncologist Dr. Larry Norton at a New York hospital for some years. Her health was up and down, but her spirit and her work ethic remained heroically steady. Not once did I ever hear her complain about the fate she had been dealt. Or even talk about it much. She just got on with things. There were so many aspects of her character to admire, but I found her saucy, cheerful stoicism to be highly attractive.
Elton posted on Instagram: "Ingrid Sischy was my best friend and the sister I never had. Like Gianni Versace before her, she inspired me, educated me and was always there for me, and for David. I cannot imagine life without her love and wisdom and humour. God speed you my dearest angel. Our story is special and so were you. My love to Sandy Brant, her beautiful wife and our beautiful friend. Forever, Elton."
David shared Elton's post and added: "Below are Elton's heartfelt words about our dear, dear friend Ingrid Sischy. The world has lost one of its true originals. She was the greatest champion for integrity, authenticity and real artistic voice. She was a beautifully sensitive writer of genuine substance in a world often rife with artifice. She was a fiercely intelligent, loyal and trustworthy friend. She and her beautiful wife Sandy were part of our chosen family. Our loss is indescribable and we are devastated beyond belief. Her beautiful soul is with the angels now. We will miss her terribly."
Ed Sheeran announces 'Live at Wembley Stadium' TV Special
Saturday, July 25 2015
Ed Sheeran's three sold-out nights at the historic Wembley Stadium in July 2015 were documented for an hour-long special to air on NBC in August 2015.
Ed Sheeran – Live at Wembley Stadium will take viewers behind the scenes and show footage from the massive run. "I can't say that performing at Wembley Stadium was a 'dream come true,' because I honestly thought it was out of reach and didn't think it was possible," Sheeran said in a statement. "It really doesn't get any bigger than Wembley in my mind, and it was an honour to join the select few that have headlined there. It's definitely a personal milestone, and I'm so glad to share this special moment with all of my fans."
Along with clips of Sheeran performing his own singles, the special will also feature a duet between the singer and Elton John. Elton joined Sheeran at one of the gigs to perform the veteran performer's classic "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and Sheeran's own "Afire Love." Elton had previously joined Sheeran at the Grammy Awards in 2013 to perform "The A-Team" together. erty.
Ed Sheeran — Live at Wembley Stadium will air on NBC on Sunday, August 16, 2015, at 8 p.m. EST.
Elton praises John Legend after Leonardo DiCaprio's bash
Thursday, July 23 2015
Elton John has made a brand new friend in fellow piano man John Legend.
The pair formed a bond after they shared the stage at Leonardo DiCaprio's charity gala in Saint Tropez on July 22, 2015. It's believed that the twosome were part of the entertainment at the fundraiser to gather contributions to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
But even though 68-year-old Elton has decades of experience under his belt, it was him who gushed about his fellow performer during the evening. Elton took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message about his new American pal with his 169,000 followers. He wrote: "Such a honour to share the stage with the incredibly talented John Legend. And a joy to raise money to help save our planet for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. @johnlegend @leonardodicapriofoundation @ejaf #ShareTheLove."
Along with the kind words, Elton also posted a snap of the duo while they socialised in the swanky venue. It featured both singers sat around the sat table while wearing snazzy suits with relaxed open collars.
The star-studded event raised a massive $25 million to help protect the earth and included an A-list guestlist. Amongst those in attendance were Orlando Bloom, Irina Shayk and Michelle Rodriguez.
EJAF and Mylan World TeamTennis bring Smash Hits Charity Event to Las Vegas
Wednesday, July 22 2015
On October 12, 2015, tennis stars Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Andy Roddick will headline Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) Smash Hits at Caesars Palace, a charity night of tennis co-hosted by longtime friends Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King.
Last year's event in London raised more than $1 million, bringing the historic total to more than $13 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and various local AIDS charities since 1993.
Tennis action is set for 7 p.m. PT. The pre-match VIP Reception and Auction will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. PT on July 23, 2015. For information on tickets – including group sales and VIP ticket packages - call +1 (212) 586-3444 x111.
Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the VIP Reception and Auction, will also be available and will directly benefit Aid for AIDS of Nevada. Elton, Billie Jean, and all players will participate in the pre-match live auction, which will include an Elton John signed piano bench and King’s Wimbledon tickets among other items.
Elton in "How AIDS Changed Everything" report by UNAIDS
Wednesday, July 22 2015
The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) announced that Elton has published an article in a new comprehensive report, How AIDS Changed Everything: 15 years, 15 lessons of hope from the AIDS response, released on July 14, 2015 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
In this report, UNAIDS announces that the goal of 15 million people on life-saving HIV treatment was met nine months ahead of schedule. Additionally, the organization is on track with its Sustainable Development Goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Elton’s article, “Empathy Can Help End the Epidemic,” focuses on the damaging effects of stigma. In it, he shares the story of Waangari, a young Ugandan woman who was the victim of rape that left her HIV-positive and pregnant. Her circumstances were only made more difficult by the unkind and contemptuous treatment she received from a healthcare worker. Fortunately, a compassionate doctor stepped in, and Waangari’s life turned around.
The new UNAIDS report shares encouraging news about the progress EJAF has made to bring the global AIDS epidemic under control. But there is still a great deal of important work to be done, and EJAF will only succeed if we further increase our investments in HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care services.
It goes without saying that a man like Elton John has tens of thousands of fans across the world. Walk through the arena at any one of his lives shows, and Elton fanatics are ten-a-penny. Waving flags or draped in feather boas with enormous glasses affixed to the bridges of their noses, they are also some of the most expressive ad joyful fans anywhere. But then, there are fans and then there are “fans”.
There is a section of Elton John’s fanbase which is notoriously enthusiastic. They are the collectors, the ultra-enthusiasts, the uber-fans. Their love for Elton and his music goes beyond the casually enthusiastic and, to them, is more like a "way of life". They are die-hard, walking encyclopaedias of Elton John knowledge and proud to boot.
With Elton’s latest album postponed until next year, I set out to fill the Rocket Man-shaped hole in my summer by interviewing a small selection of those who have since found themselves referred to as the “super fans”. I put out a call on this very website for anyone who wanted to nominate (or self-nominate!) that person whose love of Elton is an all-encompassing trait. I received so many emails (many more than I first expected), brimming with kind words from fans about other fans, and explaining why they thought this person or that person fit the bill.
It was hard to narrow down the selection, but eventually I was left with the final “fantastic” four who I have chosen to interview for this series, exclusively on eltonfan.net. This is one of the most joyful series of interviews I have ever done. These four “super fans” are a delightful, thought-provoking, considered and intelligent group of people. If Elton was ever to sit down in a room with four of his fans (I know how unfair to the thousands of others that would be, I’m just saying!), then I can think of no more deserving four than these. Their love of Elton is not just because of his nature as a rock and roll megastar, it is also because of the gifts he gives outside of his music. As a campaigner to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As a humanitarian.
It’s very moving to see the influence and impact that Elton’s music has had on so many lives. Those records aren’t just number #1 entries on the charts, they are companions and friends to everyone who has followed Elton Hercules John since the debut of “Empty Sky” back in 1969. Gathering the thoughts of these “super fans” together, it’s been remarkable to see how similar and how different they are, proving beyond any doubt that Elton’s music can reach out and touch such a wide landscape of people across the globe. Perhaps even more interesting were their thoughts about where Elton can (and should) go next.
I hope you enjoy reading these four interviews with Elton John’s “super fans”.
Name: Robert Martilotto From: Long Island, New York Age: 55 Profession: United States postal worker and high definition TV technician Year you first became an Elton fan: 1976
Quick Fire Questions
Favourite Elton John album? Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
Favourite Elton John song? Your Song
First Elton John concert that you attended? The “Back to the USSA” tour in 1979 with Ray Cooper, at the Palladium in New York City.
Favourite Elton John tour (so far)? The Captain Fantastic anniversary tour in 2005.
Favourite Bernie Taupin lyric? And just like us / You must have had / A once upon a time
What is the one song you feel Elton should include on “The Final Curtain” tour? Empty Sky!
Interview with Robert Martilotto
I have to admit, I have been sceptical of people who have entire rooms dedicated to Elton John. I mean, I collect too. I collect lots. But I could just ever imagine having an entire room in my house dedicated to Elton John.
Then I saw Robert Martilotto’s, and I understood what I’d been missing out on all these years.
Pinball wizard: The famous 1975 Captain Fantastic pinball machine has pride of place in Bob's collection.
One look around his Rocket Man-dedicated office and it is like every fan’s dream come true; a working environment that just oozes Elton. Everywhere you look, the words “Captain Fantastic” seem to jump out. I was on cloud nine just looking.
It was the 1975 “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” which first started Robert (Bob) on the path of collector mania.
“[My collection] started in 1976 with the Captain Fantastic album,” he told me. “Then the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds single. Then the posters. And it just kept growing!”
In amongst the myriad of collector’s items that in Bob’s office is one that would catch the eye of any Elton John fan. It is an authentic, fully-functioning, mint condition Captain Fantastic pinball machine. Though, perhaps unexpectedly, that isn’t the item which Bob treasures the most.
What is? “That would have to be the Captain Fantastic album, the one that started it all. I even still have the sales receipt, dated 6th September 1976 for $3.92.”
For an album which is itself steeped in nostalgia, it is perhaps particularly appropriate that that is the item which remains the cornerstone of Bob’s collection, a reminder of where it all began for him.
I asked Bob about the influence that Elton and his music has had on his life.
“I just cannot imagine my life without it [his music]. When I was a teenager, his music and the joy of following him, as a fan, was my only friend. It helped me make it through my parent’s separation and divorce. His music was an escape for me.”
Bob’s story mirrors that of so many Elton (and music) fans around the globe. There is something decidedly honest about his admission that Elton John was a form of escape, a bedrock in a sea of troubled times. But as most fans know, sitting at home and listening to the music is just one side to Elton John fandom. Following him on tour is a whole other dimension.
The office you'd love to work in: Bob's Elton John collection surrounds his workspace in a beautiful blend of professionalism and creativity.
Bob (maybe bravely) admits to me that he has been to “about 60 shows since 1979”. What are his earliest memories and recollections of those? “The first was the Back in the USSA Tour with Ray Cooper. The seats we had were great and we got so close to the stage.” Looking back now, it’s easy to see how such a masterful performance as was commonplace on the 1979 tour could have influenced and engaged a young fan.
“I was at the Central Park show in 1980,” Bob explains. “I was quite far away from the stage there, but the whole atmosphere was amazing. Then, in the early 2000s, at a Madison Square Garden show, I got up to the stage and the way Elton was playing Levon… just amazing. I got him to sign my ticket that night.”
There’s no doubt that the atmosphere alone at an Elton John concert is worth the ticket price. But in creating standout memories, it seems that Madison Square Garden shows fend off any competition. Bob was also there for Elton’s 60th birthday concert at the Garden too, an event which he was proud to be part of.
But it was a year later when he was able to meet Elton John himself that provokes the most entertaining story of our discussion, one which anyone who has come face to face with their idol can relate to. “It was 2008,” he explains. “I was at the Apollo Theatre in New York City for the taping of Elvis Costello’s Spectacle show which Elton was on. After the show, on the street behind the theatre, someone was walking Elton’s dog Arthur, so I waited there with some other fans until Elton and David [Furnish] came out. I was just in shock!
“I got to shake his hand, but I just had to lean against a railing in total disbelief.”
Did he use the opportunity to tell Elton just how much of a fan he was?
“My wife told him I was a big fan! And that I had a room dedicated to him. Elton said, “Oh God!” I wished him and David good luck in Canada, which is where they were going next for the live shows. The last thing I said? Something stupid about liking his shoes a lot, and that he should auction the off!”
We’ve all been there. A little lost for words. But looking around at the, frankly, fantastic (pardon the pun) collection that Bob has amassed over the years, I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have bid for those shoes.
Face to face: Bob is interviewed by a UK television documentary team in 2013, where he showcases his collection.
Speaking of that collection, is there anything Bob doesn’t own that he would ultimately like to? Perhaps a “sought after” item that isn’t his yet? Most people would say the pinball machine, but he has that one already covered. “The pair of glasses from the Caribou album,” he says. “The ones with clear frosted frames with flowers along the top rim, and pink lenses.”
If Bob’s clarity when interviewed about his Elton fanaticism seems like it comes easy, it’s partially down to the fact that he has had this conversation before, just not with me. In 2011, Bob was interviewed by a UK television documentary team who came to his house to view his collection (which, if I haven’t already mentioned, includes some astonishing items such as Elton's own suits and a pair of his glasses).
“It was the end of 2011,” he explains. “They posted something on Hercules looking for big fans, just like you did. I sent them pictures, and they wrote me back. Then we had a phone interview and, in the beginning of 2013, they came to America to interview me and other people about Elton. I was so nervous! The producer, a woman, and the camera guy came to my home and spent about 5 hours here. It was a new show called The Changing Faces of… made by Back2Back productions in the UK. I have a DVD copy of the show.”
Sounds less-than-familiar? There’s a twist in the tail! “As far as I know, the show never aired anywhere!” says Bob. Still, it’s the taking part that counts, right?
Going back to Elton’s music, I wonder which albums and songs have had the most profound effect and influence on my first “super fan”? That pinball machine leads me to believe that I know what’s coming.
“I would say all the songs on the Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy alum,” Bob responds. “It was my first album and, after I bought it, I would listen to it over and over again.” A familiar story for fans that grew up at the height of Elton’s stardom when, in 1975, you couldn’t move for seeing his face somewhere.
“But then,” Bob adds, “Your Song was the first song I ever saw him perform live when I went to the Back in the USSA tour. Then, because my little girl used to dance to it, Tiny Dancer. She’s now a figure skater! There are so many songs, but I would say those move me the most.”
With so much experience of Elton John under his belt, and so many spins on the turntable for those already-released albums, what would Bob like to hear on Elton’s next record? The Union and The Diving Board lent a somewhat different sound to the Rocket Man, thanks in no small part to T-Bone Burnett’s production. “Well, I would like to hear more piano from Elton, more up-beat rock songs, something more like a Gus Dudgeon production. Maybe if Davey Johnstone produced it, I’d say he knows Elton’s musical style and abilities the best, since Gus has sadly passed on…”
A Davey Johnstone-produced Elton John album? That certainly has possibilities.
There’s one last question I have to ask Bob, which I’ll be putting to all my “super fan” interviewees. Can Elton John ever have a number one record again?
“The music business has changed so much, especially with social media, YouTube and online streaming. I really doubt it. I know Elton can make a number one record but, sales-wise, will it sell like a number one record? I don’t think so, unfortunately.”
But let’s stay optimistic. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first album ever to enter the Billboard chart at number one. What a wonderful bookend it would be, especially for the fan who still has his $3 receipt as a reminder of his roots, to be able to buy the 2016 entry in Elton’s catalogue as it occupied the same spot.
A Pulitzer-winning poet links his mother’s housecleaning to "Bennie and the Jets"
Monday, July 20 2015
Poet Gregory Pardlo, 46, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for “Digest” (Four Way). He spoke with Marc Myers of the Wall Street Journal:
Like everyone else, I’ve been mangling the words to “Bennie and the Jets” for years. My initial attraction to the song was sentimental. When I was 13 in the early ’80s, my mother cleaned our house in Willingboro, N.J., on Sunday mornings with the Elton John single playing.
I remember waking up to the sound of that glorious lone percussive piano chord and the stadium concert crowd before Elton started to sing. I’ve always associated the song, which was originally on Elton’s 1973 album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” with abundant sunlight and clean-house smells and security. It has authority, and for my mother, I think it was a glam work song, with its steady, pronounced beat and honky-tonk piano.
In our household, where R&B was a staple expressive form, only certain musicians who weren’t black fit into that genre without our questioning it. Elton’s appeal proved that I didn’t have to adhere to strict orthodoxies of our understanding of race and what it’s supposed to sound or look like. That was an exciting concept.
I was particularly drawn to Elton’s stuttering of “Buh-buh-buh Bennie and the Jets” and his slurring of the lyrics. It’s all part of the glittery, rhythmic personality of the song. But the only words that were clear to me then and lingered were, “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit.”
Later, I looked up Bernie Taupin’s lyrics. There seemed to be a critique of pop culture or the music industry in there, but that was lost on me. The words were more like scatting, with lines that stood out here and there: “Oh Bennie, she’s really keen.” Keen is a double-edged word that Taupin cleverly rhymes with “magazine” two lines later.
It also was fascinating to discover that Bennie is a she, not a he. You realize the song’s lyrics don’t hold the content—that emotion is what communicates. Part of the song’s genius is that, even if you don’t know the words or what they mean, you still sense there’s some kind of crisis going on that Elton is trying to impart. “Bennie and the Jets” is a song I really want to sing along to but can’t. Trying to is still a personal pleasure of mine.
From Tin Pan Alley to The Yellow Brick Road
Thursday, July 16 2015
"From Tin Pan Alley To The Yellow Brick Road" is author Keith Hayward's sequel to the critically acclaimed "Tin Pan Alley: The Rise of Elton John".
It continues Elton John's story from the start of his solo career and his breakthrough with 'Your Song' to the end of the seventies. A time where Elton achieved unparalleled success, but at a price. Personal relationships and the physical exhaustion of being one of the most in demand performers in the world are documented alongside the sometimes ruthless business side of the music world.
With contributions from many people who played a big part in Elton's success, including his manager John Reid, David Larkham (cover designer), Stuart Epps, Steve James, Kenny Passarelli, Roger Pope (whom the author managed) and Kiki Dee. This is a journey through the music business - from the mid sixties through to the end of seventies - as seen through Elton's career.
Complete with a comprehensive gig list that has been painstakingly researched to include gigs as far back as 1966, "From Tin Pan Alley To The Yellow Brick Road" is a thought provoking and engaging read that places Elton John's success within the context of the multi-faceted and sometimes complex world of the music business.
Elton's advice for Ed Sheeran: Playing all new music is the worst decision
Saturday, July 11 2015
Singer Ed Sheeran has revealed that Elton John offered him some words of advice ahead of his Wembley Stadium gigs.
Sheeran, 23 - who kicked off the three night residency on July 10, 2015 - said that Elton told him about the "worst decision" he made when he played the iconic venue.
Speaking to Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon on the Capital London Breakfast Show Sheeran said: "I’m going to namedrop for one second – I just got a phone call in the car from Elton John who was talking about the gig [tonight], and he was like ‘How are you feeling about it?’ "He said ‘My first stadium was Wembley Stadium, and the Beach Boys were my opening act, and I decided not to play any hits and play a whole new album that nobody had ever heard and it was probably the worst decision’. So yeah, he did it, I’m not going to do it."
The BRIT Award winning artist also revealed that he is feeling the nerves. He said: "The thing that freaks me out is someone said it was twice the size of Glastonbury."
Sheeran joked before the show that no-one had turned up to his first gig when he uploaded a picture of Wembley Stadium. He captioned the shot: "They told me it was sold out, but no ones turned up yet."
During the show Ed Sheran was joined on stage by Elton for a duet of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".
Elton grilled burgers at Live Aid
Saturday, July 11 2015
Elton ensured he could eat what he liked at Live Aid by bringing his own grill, and even cooked burgers for fellow performers David Bowie and Freddie Mercury.
He wanted to ensure he got food he liked when he played at the legendary London charity concert in 1985 and was seen backstage manning the barbecue and serving his fellow stars. Reporter Spencer Bright, who was at the show, said: "Elton John liked his creature comforts and sent his own mobile-home to change in. Just in case the catering wasn't up to scratch, he brought his own grill and was seen flipping burgers for David Bowie and Freddie Mercury."
Despite the vast number of global superstars named on the bill, there were just six dressing rooms available, which each act only had access to for a limited amount of time. Spencer added to the Daily Mail newspaper: "The dressing rooms were not quite what most stars were used to -- six shabby mobile cabins with peeling lino and doors that didn't lock. A hand-written timetable pinned on each door gave the names of the artists and the times they were allowed in -- half an hour before and half an hour after their sets."
Elton arrived at Wembley Stadium in presenter Noel Edmonds' helicopter with a host of other stars - but took care when getting out of the aircraft in case his hairpiece was "whisked away". Spencer revealed: "Noel Edmonds piloted some stars to Wembley in his own helicopter. He was warned that when he landed the rotors had to completely stop before Elton John disembarked, in case the down-draught whisked away the singer's toupee."
Elton's childhood home sold in just 72 hours
Friday, July 10 2015
New owner snaps up Elton's childhood home in just 72 hours after an "extraordinary" level of interest in the Pinner property.
The birthplace and childhood home of the musical icon was sold in just three days of going on the market. The three-bedroom semi-detached house in Pinner Hill Road, Pinner, was where Reginald Dwight - now known as Elton John – learned to play the piano and showcase his talent.
Estate agents Gibbs Gillespie marketed the home at £525,000 and agreed the sale within just 72 hours. To celebrate the sale, the firm invited award-winning Sir Elton look-alike and tribute act Paul Bacon to pop down to the property and say goodbye to Pinner Hill Road.
Paul said: "Obviously I know about Sir Elton being from Pinner but to visit the home where he grew up was surreal. I’ve been performing a tribute to Sir Elton since the 1980s so both professionally and personally I found seeing the home really interesting and inspiring."
Liam Byrne, the Pinner office’s property marketing manager, said: "The level of interest in the property was extraordinary. Due to its historic background the property received attention from the local, national and even international media and this drove enquiries. It’s a property with lots of history and tons of potential."
Describing Elton disrespectfully... 'ex-convict Jonathan King
Wednesday, July 8 2015
Describing Elton disrespectfully as Reg Dwight, the ‘fat, gay piano player doing cover songs for Woolworths and their Embassy cheap vinyl label,’ ex-convict Jonathan King, 70, boasts in a blog of masterminding the Rocket Man’s first UK No 1 hit in 14 years in 1990 with double A-side Healing Hands and Sacrifice.
But Elton didn’t, as King claims they agreed, appear on The Brits awards show as thanks, which King was producing. ‘Sitting on his toilet chatting to him as he took a Hollywood shower I complained and he did thank me, although, being Elton, he qualified it by saying, “Sacrifice was the bigger hit of the two. I was right and you were wrong.” “No, you are Dwight and I am King,” I retorted.’
Is this revenge for Elton failing to support King when he was jailed for seven years in 2001 for sex with underage boys?
Read the full blog by Jonathan King in the following:
Saturday, 04 July 2015
I've known Reg Dwight for ages; he was the fat, gay piano player doing cover songs for Woolworths and their Embassy cheap vinyl label; he played with John Baldry; he was working for Dick James Music way back in the 60s, when I was a pop star (my first hit, written and recorded as a teenager, had been in 1965). His boyfriend was a mate of mine I called Pamela Motown as he was plugging the label at EMI. By the 1990s he had hit a bad patch. No hits for some years. He was considered a has been. Huge in the 70s but fading in the late 80s. Career, basically, over.
I interviewed him for Entertainment USA and had dinner with him in America. "Your label is letting you down", I told him in 1989. "You have a fabulous track on your latest album - Healing Hands. It should have been a smash but didn't even crack the top 40. You should rerelease it". "Could you persuade PolyGram to do that JK?", he begged me. I was always up for helping hits become hits; even if they weren't my babies they were someone else's babies and I hate seeing hits flop. "Of course" I replied. "How about Sacrifice" he said. "Yeah, that's not bad but I prefer Healing Hands. Tell you what, do it as a double A side, rerelease it with all royalties going to your silly Aids charity and I'll make sure it's a hit" I said. "Only one thing. I've taken over The Brits as Producer this year. If it is a hit, will you do the show?". "Absolutely" he replied.
It wasn't easy breaking it. Phonogram didn't even have a Managing Director at the time. I persuaded my friend Obie - Chairman of Polygram then - to rerelease it. The plugger at the label, Martin Nelson, was brilliant, a real hard worker. So was Dwight's plugger, Gary Farrow, Virtually single handed they took over, worked the tracks and whoosh, it went to No1 and totally revived Reg's flagging career.
Did he appear on The Brits? Did he heck. I had to fly out to Los Angeles to get a piece of film from him, as he'd also been voted Male Singer of the Year.
To be honest he did apologise profusely. Sitting on his toilet chatting to him as he took a Hollywood shower I complained and he did thank me although, being Elton, he qualified it by saying "Sacrifice was the bigger hit of the two. I was right and you were wrong".
"No, you are Dwight and I am King" I retorted, sticking my tongue out at his naked, wet body.
Billy Joel celebrates record 65th Madison Square Garden show
Thursday, July 2 2015
"The King of Queens" star Kevin James presided over the banner-raising ceremony to mark the occasion, as Joel passed Elton John as the artist who has headlined the arena the most times.
"We love you Billy," said James, a Stony Brook native. "Let's have another 65!"
Joel became the first person to have two banners hang in the Garden's historic rafters, which display tributes to the arena's heroes, including the Knicks' Walt Frazier and the Rangers' Mark Messier. Joel's other banner marks the most consecutive performances at the arena, a record that currently stands at 19.
Joel, 66, referenced his MSG debut on Dec. 14, 1978, by playing "Honesty," a ballad he rarely sings because it makes him "feel like a hypocrite." He dedicated Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to the English singer he shared the stage with on several "Face2Face" tours. Both of the Hicksville native's banners will change monthly, as he continues to break records with his open-ended residency at the Garden.
As he was preparing for the show, Joel said he wasn't all that excited about the record, but he was intent on making the show special for fans. To commemorate the night, fans received replica blue banners, which they waved during the show. But the real take-away was Joel's performance of parts of his catalog that he seldom plays, like the new-wave rocker "Sometimes a Fantasy" that ended with a blistering guitar solo from Tommy Byrnes, a harmony-filled, upbeat version of "The Longest Time" and a wild version of "New York, New York."
Industry experts say Joel's record is unlikely to ever be challenged, as both music fans' attention spans and musicians' careers grow shorter. And even Joel marveled at the feat, recalling his first trip to the Garden when he was 6 years old. "I didn't think I would even come here 65 times," he said. "I really appreciate it that you still pay to come see us."
His next milestone will be next month, when he plays the final show at Nassau Coliseum before it is closed for renovations.
"I'll sing a Sir Elton John song if we stay up"
Wednesday, July 1 2015
Watford boss Quique Flores claims he will belt out an Elton hit if he keeps Watford in the Premier League.
The Hornets new boss is a big fan of the club's most famous fan and comes from a family of singers back in his native Spain. The 50-year-old, who was unveiled on June 30, 2015, said: "I love him. When I was 25, I listened to him in the discoteque. And the last version with of 'Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word' with Ray Charles, I loved it. When I worked in Dubai I discovered this and thought it was amazing. 'Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word' is one of the most emotional songs ever written."
"All my family are singers: cousins, nephews, mother. All of them. But I can't sing! Will I sing an Elton song if Watford stay up? Yeah, maybe. If he invited me for sure!"
And he is aiming high, believing that Watford can make Europe again one day. Flores, who led Atletico to 2010 Europa League glory, believes the Premier League new boys can do a Villarreal and compete with Europe's elite. "We don't want to just stay in the Premier League," he added. "We have to look at something solid and the next year to improve a bit more. Villarreal a long time ago was a really a little small club. But after 10-15 years they are now one of the best clubs in Spain."
Flores is Watford's fifth boss in a year. But he said: "The owner Giampaolo Pozzo is a good person and he knows how to explain the project. It was not a difficult decision.