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30 Jun 2008

The Story Behind "Song For Guy"

"I wrote the song one Sunday when I was feeling very depressed" explained Elton. "While I was writing the music I couldn't stop thinking about death. It was as though someone else was guiding my hand".

Composed and recorded the same day, he couldn't think about a title. But the next day, came the news that 17 years-old Rocket Record messenger named Guy Burchett had been killed on his motorcycle: the instrumental song was dedicated to him.

At the end of the song Elton mumbles "Life isn't everthing", which he sings over and over.

The Record Company didn't want to put this song as a single because "Music Box Dancer" was a hit at that time, and the company thought that public wouldn't embrace another instrumental, but Elton won the struggle.

29 Jun 2008

The Eltonite's Day: Today A Very Special Guest... The One & Only... Rocketwoman!!!!!

Hello eltonites!!! For the "Live" week I have to bring on a very special guest. She's from U.K.. Ladies and gentlemen: Rocketwoman!! Hi Rocketwoman, thank you very much for the acceptation. Elton has been touring since 1970 in most countries of the world, most venues, most formats of the show, great bands... let's talk a little about it all...

But first of all… Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

I am Olwen Teasdale (Rocketwoman) and I come from Durham which is in the North East of England. I have been married to Jeff for over 34 years and have three grown up children. Jeff is the one who drives me all over the place to see Elton and has become almost as big a fan as I am. I work in the local Primary school as a Teaching Assistant.

Thank you! And when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

I can't actually remember when I first heard Elton's music but it must have been around 1972 when I first became an 'Eltonite'. There was just something about his music that I really liked. The first album that I bought was 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', it was amazing. I then started to buy all of his previous albums and loved them too. I have of course bought all of his albums since then and am still amazed at the lyrics, the music and the voice. I can't imagine ever not wanting to buy or listen to Elton's music it really cheers me up if I am feeling a bit down.

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him? Have ever exchanged words with him?

The first time I saw Elton live was in December 1973. It was so exciting knowing I was going to actually see him in concert. The concert hall held about 2000 seats and I was about 5 rows from the front. It was amazing just knowing that I was in the same room with him. All I know is that when the concert was finished I just wanted to go again and again to see him live. I must have seen him over 30 times (I have never counted) and am seeing him 5 times this year. I have never been in contact with him or spoken to him really although I have shouted things to him at concerts and had 'Thank you' shouted back which is unreal. I have had concert tickets, programmes and my Captain and the Kid CD signed by him at concerts.

Great!!! Which could be a great set list, in your opinion? Is there any song that Elton hasn’t played yet, and you think that he should do it? And you prefer the Elton’s solo tours or better with band? With the same musicians as his current band or you miss someone of the past?

For me I really love to hear 'Funeral for a Friend'/'Love Lies Bleeding' at the beginning of his concerts and 'Your Song' at the end. I also love him to sing 'I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues'. Other songs I would like to hear are Skyline Pigeon, Harmony, Freaks in Love, Teacher I Need You, Just Like Belgium, Club at the End of the Street, The North, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Tinderbox, Empty Garden, Rocket Man, I'm Still Standing, Are You Ready For Love, Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance), The Bitch is Back, Tiny Dancer, Hercules, Blues For Baby and Me, Original Sin. I am sure that if you ask me this question again tomorrow you will get a different answer.

I have seen Elton's solo tours and loved them. He played some songs that you don't normally hear in the concerts with the band. It is a while since I saw Elton solo so I would love to go to another solo concert. Although it is fantastic to just see Elton and hear some different songs the concerts with the band are fantastic. I really think he has the best band membere ever. I do however miss Dee Murray and Ray Cooper. The 'Single Man' tour where Elton played solo for part of the concert and Ray Cooper joined him for the other part was absolutely brilliant. There is no-one quite like Ray.

Right! Which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

This might sound silly but I really love the burst balloon that I was sent last year from two other Eltonites who were at the Red Piano show in London (Thanks Pink Rocket and A Single Man) which I was unable to go to. I also appreciate the things that I have had signed by him. Some of the signatures are a bit unclear but I know who wrote them and I know that Elton actually had my things in his hands so they are very precious to me. I also have a fantastic Elton photo frame that I got from another forum member that you might have heard of Mary. She sent it to me and it was a wonderful surprise. And the pictures I got from old76 are also some of my most prized Elton things.

Elton was a big star in the U.S. in the 70s, and in the U.K. did well. While “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was number 2 in the US, was number 16 in UK; while Elton had 7 consecutive number one albums in american charts, in the UK were only four? Other while, in the 90s Elton had number Top 5 in UK while in America they rarely enter the Top 10... Why that difference?

I don't really understand why Elton hasn't had as much chart success here in the UK as he has had in USA. When you see him in concert there is a lot of real genuine fans and love for him so I don't know why his chart positions are not as good here. America really took him to their hearts though so it is hardly surprising that he has done so well there.

OK! What do you think about next step Elton should do? Recording an album with new material? Doing more musicals? When he should be retired?

I hope there is more albums to come, I can't see him not ever releasing another one. As to doing more musicals if they are as good as Billy Elliot then I say yes, do more please. I can't see Elton retiring either, I think he lives to work and wouldn't know what to do with himself if he retired altogether. I am not sure if he will be able to keep up this pace though for much longer, he makes me tired just thinking about what he does.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

Skyline Pigeon, I Guess That's Why They Call it The Blues, Freaks in Love, Harmony, Funeral For Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding. The first two are always there but the other change sometimes.

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I would just like to say that I have made loads of friends on the forum and have even met some at concerts and hope to meet even more. Elton has brought together people from all over the world who appreciate him and his music. He is a special person.

Thanks a bunch, Olwen. Really a pleasure to chat with you. I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience.Thank you very much. Take care.

27 Jun 2008

Unforgettable People (XXVI): Clive Franks

Clive Franks has been Elton John's FOH engineer for the past 30 years. Elton John is such an audio perfectionist that the only person he trusts to run his front-of-house mix is Clive Franks.

He debuted on “Empty Sky” album in 1969 as a tape operator, and whistling at the end of “Hymn 2000”. When Elton left behind Gus Dudgeon, the other producer of his classic period, he choosed to collaborate with Clive Franks and he co-produced three albums with him: “A Single Man”, “21 At 33” and “The Fox”, working as Frank’n’Stein Productions (Frank for Clive Franks and Stein for Steinway pianos).

Apart from that, he co-produced with Elton, Kiki Dee’s following records: “Amoreuse” (1973), “Loving And Free” (1973) and “The Man Who Loved To Dance” (1977), and Blue’s “Another Night Time Flight” (1977).

Curiosities While on Tour:

American debut performance

With Nigel Olsson on drums and Dee Murray on bass, that was In the Trobadour Club in L.A., and it marked his debut in America, for the first time, receiving good reviews.

First attempt to wear flamboyant costumes on show

He performed wearing Mickey Mouse ears on 04/12, in Anaheim, CA.

Dylan digs... Bernie!!!!

“Taupin, there’s someone I want you to meet: Taupin-Bob Dylan” said Elton. “I was just overwhelmed, I just couldn’t take it in” justified Bernie. That was on the first night at the Fillmore East concert, in 1970.

Don’t Shoot... Us!!!

The band was kept barricaded, mobbed by enthusiastic fans.

On stage with... a crocodile!!!

Not talking about Clive Franks crocodile costume head, no... more than this: a live crocodile crawled across the stage.

Would you want to sing?

Elton allowed drummer Nigel Olsson to sing two of his own songs during his set, that was on the 21 At 33 Tour. Before, on the Louder Than Concorde tour, Kiki Dee sang “I’ve Got The Music In Me” before the “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” duet.

Elton on... guitar!!!

Unsual feature, Elton playing guitar with band as he sang “Love Song”.

Elton on keyboard

For first time, in 1989, Elton plays electric keyboard instead of piano, while he could set up to face the audience.

Part of a memorable band

Elton on piano and guitarrist Mark Knofler joined Clapton for several concerts in Japan, performing a set list including “Candle In The Wind”, “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Money For Nothing”.

Take care, Elton!!!

In 1979, Elton collapsed on stage while singin’... “Better Off Dead”, in Los Angeles. Once, he fall off the stage while performing... “I’m Still Standing”!!! In 1987 he was forced to cancell a North American Tour with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra because the surgery throat operation.

Need a higher-power

His most deceiving Tour was the 1989 World Tour, cause Elton's playing has slowed down and he regularly forgot the lyrics, due to personal problems and drug addiction.

What’s next????

Joined by percussionist Ray Cooper on their “An Evening With Elton John & Ray Cooper” in 1993, Elton started using teleprompter for first time in concert.

Taj Mahal before Caesar’s Palace

Performed three shows, in New Jersey, at the opening of this casino complex, in 1990. In 2004, he started a series of concerts in Las Vegas, for the Red Piano Show.


In Chicago, 9th May 2001, on the “Face To Face” Tour, and during Billy Joel's set, the band learned that Davey lost his son in an accident. John Jorgensson replaced Davey in the following concerts.

Teaching and learning... on stage!!!

New percussionist Lindsey Binolt was teached by Guy Babylon in the keyboard live parts during the set, in 2005, because he was involved on the “Lestat” production and a replacement was needed.

Two times Elton played the same song twice in one show

1989, in Philadelphia, he sang “Philadelphia Freedom” again on the encore because he claimed he couldn’t had time to rehearse another song.
1992, in Los Angeles, he sang “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” twice too, once with band, once with special guest George Michael.


“Curtains” song finished with all former and current band members names appearing on the LED, on the 30th anniversary of “Captain Fantastic & Brown Dirt Cowboy” release.

25 Jun 2008

How many countries has been playing Elton?

1327 times

426 times

162 times

128 times

86 times

56 times

41 times

37 times

33 times

28 times

22 times

19 times

17 times

16 times
New Zeland

15 times

13 times

11 times

8 times
Hong Kong

6 times

5 times

4 times

3 times

2 times
South Korea

1 time
Cosa Rica
Czech Republic
Puerto Rico
Tobago Island

22 Jun 2008

Eltonite's Day: From Italy... The One And Only: Beppe!!!!!!!!

This week I have another very special guest. He owns “Bad Side Of The Moon”, one of my favourite Elton’s fansites. The website is in italian language, yes, but this does not make it no less interesting, particularly the contrary. So, Hi, Beppe, thank you very much for accepting the invitation. It’s an honour for me to have you. I chose the “Elton John Album” week for you, that was an album which represented Elton’s first success and marked his really debut as an artist.

But first… Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

Hi. I’m Giuseppe (Beppe) Bonaventura, I have a wife, a son, and I live in Crema, a small town near Milano, in the north of Italy.

Well, when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music?

Yes, I remember it very well! Long long time ago, in the hot summer of 1973, I was on Garda Lake for the summer holidays. I was not a music fan in those days, but I heard from the radio a beautiful song that changed my life; the song was Rocket Man and I was shocked by Elton. My story of fan and collector of music began that day. And my first album was (obviously) Honky Chateau!

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? Have you even been front row? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him?

After the first Italian tour in 1973, that I missed, Elton came back in my country only in 1984, for two shows in Milan, at the old Palatenda; it was the Breaking Hearts tour, with the old band with Nigel, Dee, Davey and Fred Mandel. It was my first Elton show and I remember it as a really fantastic one, after all those years without a chance to see him live. Since 1974, I have been at about thirty shows, in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, both solo piano and with the band, plus the promo show in Milan for the upcoming Peachtree Road album (broadcasted by MTV) and the Telecomcerto in Rome, in front of the Coliseum, with an audience of about 500.000 people (broadcasted by the Italian television in 2005). And I am very proud of my ticket n°1, in the first row for the fantastic “An Evening With EJ and Ray Cooper” tour in Milan, the best show with a wonderful set list!

I’ve been in touch with Elton two times, always in France. The first time we found him in Nice (after the Nikaia shows in 2001), shopping at the local Fnac; Elton was shopping too and he kindly refused a picture with fans.

In 2002, we were in Paris for the Bercy show, and we found Elton shopping at the Virgin Megastore (he’s an avid record collector, too) on the Champs Eliseés, but the story had the same sad ending: he refused a picture with us. Really, not good memories from these meetings!

I understand... Which could be a great set list, in your opinion? Is there any song that Elton hasn’t played yet, and you think that he should do it? And you prefer the Elton’s solo tours or better with band? With the same musicians as his current band or you miss someone of the past?

My live set list:

Funeral For A friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Pinball Wizard
Talking Old Soldiers
Have Mercy On The Criminal
The Ballad Of Danny Bailey
Indian Sunset
My Father’s Gun
The Greatest Discovery
Take Me To The Pilot
Rocket Man
Bennie And The Jets
Holiday Inn
I’m Still Standing
I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That
All The Girls Love Alice
Sweet Painted Lady
Bad Side Of The Moon
Your Song

I liked very much the tour with Ray Cooper with a real piano (Steinway), I don’t like the Yamaha piano with the horrible synth effects, like he was a piano-bar player. And the Las Vegas Red Piano is for me the worst choice for his future, a lot of money but “a sad sad situation” …

I wish a new sound live instead of the old same production and probably a new band. I never liked Johnstone very much, Nigel was a hero for me, but now it’s time to change. Why not a new trio tour, piano, bass and drums (such as the last tour of Joe Jackson, Tori Amos, …)? But with a true piano!

Great!!! Which is the most foolish thing, or incredible thing, you did for Elton, if you did it? What you would do if you meet him sometime? What would you talk about and which question would you like to ask him?

I was mad collecting him though the years (really mad!), singles, album, vinyls, CD’s, promos, bootlegs, tour programs, books, covers, music sheets, … I have the same single from 10, 20, 30 different countries …

After all these years, my wife hates my records and also hates Elton!
A question for Elton? Why “Victim Of Love”?!? Why???

I always asking me the same... And how was the success of Elton John in your country? Which references had italians about Elton, specially in the 70s and 80s? And the most succesful albums? Could you still hear Elton´s music now on radio stations? And which should do Elton’s next step in his music career, in your opinion?

Elton was a n° 1 singer in 1973, when “Crocodile Rock” and the “Don’t Shoot Me” album peaked the Italian charts, but after this Elton was not really a top seller for many many years. He was well-known, had good sales, but not a huge success. Only in 1988, with the “Reg Strikes” album and the single “A Word In Spanish” (and after he was a guest at the Sanremo Festival, an important musical contest here in Italy) his fame went up again and the sales too. “The One” album was another big hit here with massive airplay and with the “The Lion King” soundtrack a new generation of fans grew up. Unfortunately in Italy, Elton does not have the status of rock hero of the seventies such as Bowie, Lou Reed or groups like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Queen, …, he’s always remembered for the gossip and not for his music.

About the future? Maybe a solo piano album in my dreams!

Right! And in Elton’s albums... Which are the songs that should have been singles and weren’t? What do you think about the “B” sides... Were they good songs, any in particular? Do you think it was an error not to put out singles from recent albums?

I think that “Harmony” could have been an excellent single, and also “Sweet Painted Lady”. “A Woman’s Needs” from the Duets album was another good song for the US market. Two powerful singles such as “I’m still standing” in 1983 and “I Don’t Wanna Go On...” in 1988 helped Elton to be again up in the charts.

Yes, no singles from the “Captain & The Kid” was a big mistake, no singles and no videoclips means no airplay and low sales. “And The House Fell Down” and “Blues Never Fade Away” should have been good choices for airplay.

I think that “All That I’m Allowed” was a terrible choice as a single from “Peachtree Road” (and for me a terrible song!)

Ok!! As you know this is the “Elton John Album” Week. Which are your feelings about this album? And Bernie’s lyrics? And what do you think about the DeLuxe releases? Should that continued with other albums?

“Elton John”, together with “Madman Across The Water” and “Tumbleweed Connection”, is the top in my personal chart, I’m an “old” fan and I prefer the “old” Elton. Since 1972, with the “Honky Chateau” album, the sound and the production changed direction towards a more commercial music, the seventies were a golden age for Elton, with wonderful records (“Honky”, “GYBR”, “Captain” …) but the early age was another thing.

The “Elton John” album is a masterpiece, with wonderful songs and wonderful lyrics by Bernie, with my only remark about the “heavy” orchestral arrangement by Paul Buckmaster. Buckmaster is a genius and his work was fantastic (“Madman” and “Tumbleweed” at the top), but in this album the sound is too much gloomy. And in this album we can find the Elton trademark, “Your Song”, a standard in the contemporary music. The deluxe edition is fantastic, I love the piano demos and the outtakes and I hope other albums with extra tracks and rarities.

Please, tell us what we could find on "Bad Side Of The Moon", your website... that's on I particularly like "Immagini" section where fans can post their photos and personal experiences, could they?

In the early nineties, for a couple of years, I produced a small fanzine about Elton called “Madman”, dedicated to the collectors, but the internet era killed this project. Bad Side Of The Moon was born at the end of 2000 only as a joke, a little web page, only a test for me. But, after all these years it became a huge website about Elton and his music with a lot of sections, hundreds of pages, thousands of pictures about Elton and fans, and a discussion forum in italian language.
Every day, I spend a lot of time about Bad Side, it’s a (not paid!) job, a passion, a hobby, a drug! I’m happy that a lot of fans meet each others through Bad Side. In the “Immagini” section you can find a lot of pictures made by fans during the shows, all pictures are welcome, the section is a big database for and from the fans. For example, about the Lucca Show in 2007, there are about 460 pics from many people!

Wow!!! Which is your Elton’s item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you’ve got to have it?

The highlights of my collection are two: one copy of the original test pressing white label from the “Saturday Sun Session”, the sessions with the songs of Nick Drake (and others) performed by a young Elton in 1970, and never released on a standard record; and the extremely rare EP from Portugal, issued by Philips in 1968, including “Angel Tree” and “Thank You For Your Loving”. My collection about Elton is really big (about 4.500 records!) but these items are for me very special (and very expensive!!!)

Wow!!!! Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John’s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

Really an hard choice!
1) Talking Old Soldiers
2) Ticking
3) My Father’s Gun
4) Indian Sunset
5) Have Mercy On The Criminal

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I love the early Elton, and I hope that Elton will be always remembered for songs such as “Talking Old Soldiers” or “Levon”, and not for “Nikita” or “Sacrifice”!

Thanks a bunch, Beppe. Really a pleasure to chat with you . I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience.Thank you. Take care.

19 Jun 2008

Unforgettable People (XXV): Paul Buckmaster

Born in London into a musical family, his Italian mother was an accomplished classical pianist, Paul began playing the cello at age of four. At six, Paul won the first prize in this age group for his cello performance at one of London's principal music festivals. He continued cello studies in London until eleven, when he won a cello scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, and graduated four years later.

Before starting collaborating with Elton, Paul had his first hit on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in July 1969, where he met Gus Dudgeon. He introduced an unique and influential new sound and produced a number on innovative and highly successful albums and singles for Elton.

While focusing on his film composing, Paul continues to be in demand as an arranger, recently working on recordings by, among others, Lionel Ritchie, Loyd Cole, Damn Yankees, Patti LaBelle, 10,000 Maniacs, Tori Amos, Paula Abdul, Bob Seger, Alannah Myles, Ozzy Osborne, David Crosby, Julian Cope and Stevie Nicks. And he won a Grammy Award as Best Arranger for the sweeping string arrangement of Train's 2001 song "Drops of Jupiter". In 2004, it was revealed that he had worked on arrangements for the songs "Madagascar", "The Blues", "There Was a Time", and "Prostitute" as part of the sessions for the as-yet unreleased Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy". In 2005, Buckmaster arranged and conducted an orchestral accompaniment for the song "Landed", from the Ben Folds album Songs for Silverman.


"Mean Streak" (1999); "The Maker", "Most Wanted", "Murder in Mind" (1997); "12 Monkeys", "The Last Word", "Once Upon a Time, When We Were Colored", "Out-of-Sync" (1995); "Family Prayers" (1993); "The Rainbow Warrior" (1992); "Captive", "Diving In", "Love and Curses and All That Jazz" (1991); "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue", "Elvis", "Iki basli dev" (1990); "Midnight Crossing" (1988); "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977); "Son of Dracula" (1974); "Friends", "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (1971).

18 Jun 2008

The Story Behind "Border Song"

It’s a quasi-spiritual song, more than somewhat of the Edwin Hawkins singers’ “Oh, Happy Day”. Elton had said the song was about an alienation Bernie felt in and about London at that time and his desire to visit home more often as he could do.

The lyrics, again, had a lot of interpretations, specially for its declamatory “Holy Moses” and its last verse “He's my brother let us live in peace”. This last verse was, in truth, written by Elton who felt that song was too short and tried to summarize it at the end. The sentiment of the song was a plea for racial harmony “There's a man over there / What's his colour I don't care” despite hostile surroundings, a message that resonates strongly in America still convulsed by the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Thought the single did not reach the charts, enough impact was made to get Elton a booking on BBC’s Top Of The Pops, and Aretha Franklin covered a successful version that reached the US Top 40.

17 Jun 2008

The Story Behind "Take Me To The Pilot"

Many have cited the song's lyrics as incomprehensible. "If you feel that it's real / I'm on trial / and I'm here in your prison / like a coin in your mint / I am dented and spent with high treason" reads the first verse. The speaker in this odd tale then observes: "Through a glass, eye, your throne / is the one danger zone" and exhorts his captor to "Take me to the pilot for control / take me to the pilot of your soul."

Bernie has said that he has no idea what the lyrics mean, comparing his writing style in the song to poets like "Baudelaire and Rimbaud (who) just threw things together and went "Wow! That sounds good". The lyrics possess many elements: betrayal, either political or personal ("treason"); the illusion of danger ("through a glass eye"); and fearlessness toward the unknown ("take me to the pilot of your soul"). According to Elton, this and other songs recorded during this period were inspired by the science fiction books Bernie was reading at the time.

Since its 1970 release, "Take Me to the Pilot" has become a staple of John's live shows and can be heard on many of his concert recordings — ranging from a performance with his early '70s backup musicians, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson on 11-17-70 (1970) to Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (1987) with a full scale orchestral reworking the original Paul Buckmaster score. There have also been numerous notable cover versions from the likes of Jose Feliciano, folk/blues guitarist Buzzy Linhart, R&B vocalist Ben E. King, blues icon Odetta, piano legend Nate Hopkins, a duet between singers Al Jarreau and Gloria Loring, and third-season contestant George Huff on American Idol.


The Story Behind "Your Song"

Bernie confessed that "Your Song" was the frustrated outpourings of a reluctant virgin "it sound like a song that was written by a guy that never got laid in his life, which I hadn't at that point" added. Elton, for his part, was convinced the song was for a girl with glasses resembling Nana Mouskouri, from Lincolnshire whom Bernie had been seeing. Bernie "swear in blind that I didn't (for that). I do remember I wrote it during breakfast, it was something that came off the top of my head.

Elton had to wait until January 1971, nine months after the release of "Elton John" album, but finally "Your Song" became his first Top 10 hit in U.S.

"I always had this kind of battle with "Your Song", sometimes I hate it, and sometimes I love it" declared Bernie when he was asked abut this song in the Two Rooms tribute. "(You hear that on everywhere so) you tend to lose respect for it. But then there are times when I'll be at one of Elton's shows, and the spotlight will hit, and Elton'll do that song, and it'll take on a whole new meaning".

Elton has been playing "Your Song" in most of his shows "maybe eighty or ninety per cent" in Elton's words. It reamins the most covered song of Elton's catalogue, since Al Jarreau, Billy Paul, Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Jewel, Barry Manilow, ... to name only a few.

14 Jun 2008

Eltonite's Day: From Canada... The One And Only: Island Girl 75!!!!!

Hi Islandgirl75, welcome to the "Tumbleweed Connection" week. Thank you for the acceptation. If you listen to this album, "Tumbleweed Connection" I still get goosebumps and it seems not out of date. It was critically aclaimed, instead it didn't have singles to release. Otherwise, I've always been fascinating with Elton's albums and singles history results in your music national chart lists. Canada is one of the countries where Elton's sales more records, US and UK apart.

But first… Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

Well, I am from British Columbia, Canada. I am a musician just like my dad and brother, and am very happily married.

Thank you! And when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

I have been a fan of Elton's every since I can remember. With growing up in a family where music was all around me I heard Elton for the first time when I was a baby. I have been a fan of his for over 30 years and absolutely love his music and him as a person. He is one of the great musicians out there. His genuine care for his fans and the humanitarian work he does is second to none.

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? Have you even been front row? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him?

I have been to 2 of Elton's concerts. The first time I saw Elton in concert was in 2001. He was in Vancouver with the Face To Face tour with Billy Joel. I was in total awe. The show was fantastic! Seeing both together was a real treat. The second concert was in Vancouver again in 2005. This concert was awesome! I went with my husband and we had 9th row floor seats right in front of the piano. That show stands out most for me. I couldn't believe the luck we had with our tickets. We got Rocket tickets through Elton's Fan Club and were really shocked at how close we were. Elton was brilliant as usual and looking over his glasses into the crowd a ton. He was so happy to be there and it really showed in his performance. I have never had front row tickets before but hey anything is possible in the future. I haven't been in touch with Elton personally.

Great!!! Which is the most foolish thing, or incredible thing, you did for Elton? If not, what you would do if you meet him sometime? What would you talk about and which question would you like to ask him?

I can't really say I have done anything foolish or incredible for Elton. I would but would love to one day if only to shake his hand and tell him thank you for all he has done both musically and as a person for me. It is hard to say what I would talk to him about. I think that if I met him what I spoke to him about with would have to be something I would think of at the time I met him. The one question I would ask him would be who is the person who has had the biggest influence on him as a person.

OK! How it was, and still is, the success of Elton in your country? Which have been his hits in sales terms? And which are the canadian's favourite Elton's albums or songs? And could you still hear Elton's music in the radio, nowadays? And which should do Elton's next step in his music career?

Elton is still a huge success here in Canada. His most recent release "Rocket Man : Number Ones" has done very well. I can't really speak for all Canadians but as far as my favorite Elton Albums I would have to say that, "Reg Strikes Back", "Live In Australia", "Captain And The Kid", "Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy" and "Sleeping With The Past", to name a few. My favorite songs are, "The Bridge", "Recover Your Soul", "Meal Ticket", "Grey Seal", "Poor Cow", "Runaway Train", "Healing Hands", there are so many but those a some of them. You can still here Elton's music on the radio on daily basis here. I think that Elton should do what he wants with his career at this point. He has done so much in his music career that if he didn't release a new album I think it'd be ok. A new album would be great but the albums that are out now will live on forever.

I see... And in Elton's albums... Which are the songs that should have been singles and weren't? What do you think about the "B" sides... Were they good songs, any in particular? Do you think it was an error not to put out singles from recent albums?

There are so many songs to choose from with regard to a single. I think the ones the he chose were great. The "B" sides that I have are, I think good song and well done. I think that Elton should have released singles on the recent albums. Especially for the song "The Bridge". The song itself stands on it's own as a classic in my view.

Well, as you know this is the "Tumbleweed Connection" Week. Which are your feelings about this album? And Bernie's lyrics? Some of the songs received strong FM airplay then in your country. And what do you think about the DeLuxe releases? Should that continued with other albums?

I like "Tumbleweed Connection". Being that it was Elton's first album released in America, I feel that it was very well done and that Bernie's lyrics were brilliant. I personally like "Where To Now St. Peter" best of all on this album. The deluxe releases are very well put together and I like them very much. I think that yes, that should be continued with other albums for sure.

Right! Which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

The item that I cherish most that I have of Elton's is the first concert program that I got of his. It reminds of how special it was to see him live in concert for the first time. My first Elton concert was the first real concert I had seen live.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

My top five Elton songs are: 1. "The Bridge" 2. "Recover Your Soul" 3. "Grey Seal" 4. "Believe" 5. "I Want Love"

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

To other Eltonites I would have to say keep up with the love and support you show to Elton. He truly deserves it and really loves his fans.

Thanks a bunch, Shea. Really a pleasure to chat with you again. I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience.Thank you. Take care.


12 Jun 2008

Unforgettable People (XXIV): Robert Hilburn

Considered one of the most influential pop music journalists of all time, Robert Hilburn wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1960 until his retirement in 2005. He is on the nominating committe of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Elton John had made his U.S. debut at a legendary six-night sold-out run at Los Angeles’ famed Troubadour club in late August of 1970. After the first night, Robert Hilburn, music critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He's going to be one of rock's biggest and most important stars". And added: "He has, to be sure, borrowed from country, rock, blues, folk and other influences, but he has mixed them in his own way. The resulting songs are so varied in texture that his work defies classification... While his voice most often resembles Jose Feliciano, there are at times touches of Leon Russell and Mick Jagger... John's songs are co-written by lyricist Bernie Taupin, whose lyrics often capture the same timeless, objective spirit of the Band's Robbie Robertson... Beyond his vocals, melodies and arrangements there is a certain sense of the absurd... that is reminiscent of the American rock stars of the mid-1950s...".

Commemorating the 5th anniversary of Elton's American debut at the Troubadour, Hillburn's released a fully-illustrated account of Elton's superstar status after only five years of performing his hits. The book was issued as a souvenir at Doug Weston's Troubadour in Los Angeles, August 25-27, 1975.

One of his favourite rock and roll trips, was Elton John in Russia in 1979, that was the first time a Western rock star performed in the Soviet Union. He reminded when "in his third floor dressing room after the show, Elton heard the chanting of thousands of fans in the street below. At first he thought they were fans from the show, but he learned that they couldn't get tickets (most of which went to Communist Party VIPs). They had come just on the hopes of seeing him. He was touched more by this affection by the strong audience response to the actual performances".

In Hillburn's interview in 1992 titled "Elton John on His Days Of Drugs and Despair", he got an emotional and sincerely confidence by Elton: "Despite all the success, I think I just wanted to be loved," he said finally. "I wanted someone to love me."

Unforgettable People (XXIII): Lesley Duncan

Lesley Duncan is a British singer / songwriter. She was mainly a singles artist with recordings dating back to 1963 but with a string of unsuccessful singles. She was more successful in the session field, doing backing vocals for a number of British artists including Elton John, Dave Clark 5, Pink Floyd.

After Elton John recorded "Love Song" this landed Lesley Duncan a recording contract with CBS / Columbia Records. Her first album "Sing Children Sing", released in 1969, included Elton on piano; "Sing Children Sing", "Love Song" and "Help Me Jesus" would all be released as singles in the US. Other artists like Olivia Newton-John and Long John Baldry covered some of Duncan's songs. In 1976 MCA released her next two albums "Moonbathing" which again included the help of Elton John, and in 1977 "Maybe It's Lost". Lesley Duncan also did a short tour in the US in 1976.

The last album Lesley Duncan appeared on was the 1979 release by Alan Parsons Project called "Eve" where she sang the track "If I Could Change Your Mind". Lesley currently resides in the U.K. with her husband and her half border collie, quarter bearded collie, quarter sheltie, totally drop-dead gorgeous puppy.

11 Jun 2008

The Story Behind Songs: Bernie's Fascination For Old West

"Where To Now St. Peter"
The song features a soldier killed in action as he faces St. Peter, revolves around an ethereal theme, so Dudgeon adds echo to John's stunning falsetto vocals and swirls them around the speakers as Caleb Quaye's guitar licks flicker like the flames of hell itself.

"Son of Your Father"
That is a moralistic tale which, after describing a fight between friends that leaves them both dead, concludes that "... charity's an argument that only leads to harm". Elton's demo was a gospel-flavored ballad.


It's about a countryside young woman "a lusty flower with a bronze body". Bernie suggested then manager's Ray Williams should name his daughter Amoreena. He did it, and Bernie wrote the song. This song opened the movie "Dog Day Afternoon" in 1975.

Ballad Of A Well Known Gun:
It's about an outlaw on the run who is finally tracked down and apprehended. Madeleine Bell and Lesley Duncan provided backing vocals.

My father's gun:
The setting is the American Civil War. A young man whose father has been killed by the yankees determinates the avenge the death by joining the fighting in New Orleans.

Burn Down The Mission:
In this western epic tale, Elton seems to be vaguely echoing the sentiments of revolution. It remained a concert staple throughout his career.

10 Jun 2008

The Story Behind "Come Down In Time"

“Come Down In Time” is a deceptively complex tale of unrequited love. "I love Bernie's lyrics (on that song), its one of those songs you wished you'd written" said Sting asked why he choosed his song to cover on the Two Rooms Project. "I love the line: "a cluster of ight jars singin' out of tune", it's a strange story. It creates some very evocative images. I think everyone has their own version of what it could be about". And lyrics are timeless, as he meticulously constructs his hopeful narrative with an underlying sense of impending noir. The ultimate disappointment begins to fully surface in the lines “And I’ve walked most of the way / And I ain’t heard her call / And I’m getting to thinking / If she’s coming at all”. The story's resolution is tragic at the end: “There are women and women / And some hold you tight / While some leave you counting the stars in the night”.

The power of the song is in its unusual melody and production. Paul Buckmaster added the orchestration before Elton finished the song.

The Story Behind "Country Comfort"

"Country Comfort" concerns the pleasures of the farm. It includes some references to the countryside of Bernie childhood in Lincolnshire: "that ain't natural well so old Clay would say / You see he's a horse-drawn man until his dying day" and "The hedgehog's done in clay between the bricks".

"Things like Country Comfort"still don't seem out of date to me" explained Bernie. One of its verses brilliantly announces the coming of industrialization: "Down at the well they've got a new machine / Foreman says it cuts manpower by fifteen".

Elton has always said that Rod Stewart's version is far superior to his original song.

8 Jun 2008

Guy Babylon Fansite. Interview with his owner: the great Jan Kemp

Guy Babylon has been touring with Elton since 1988. Apart for Davey and Nigel, is one of the oldest of the band. He's an incredible musician, an orchestral wizard as Elton definated sometime. I was wondering if it was a website about him and... it is!! It's an incredible website, all about Babylon, on: I have the honour to interview his owner. Hello Jan, thank you very much for the acceptation.

In truth, I really love your website, Jan. We can read: "This is a fan site in appreciation of the talents of Guy Babylon, keyboardist for the Elton John band". He is a talented boy of course, with a solid formation. How could you define Babylon as Keyboardist?

Guy is a multi-keyboardist, he programs a number of keyboards to represent strings, bass, horns, etc., as well as use of the synthesizers, to re-create the rich orchestral sounds of Elton's earlier works, as well as to fill in on more modern recordings. He plays four separate keyboards at a time, using not only the four boards, but also his feet! He is highly respected in his field and continues to amaze me as I watch him play!

Great!!! How Davey Johnstone met Babylon? I think it was on a Davey's self-produced session but, what's the story of this meeting and how he got in Elton's band?

As Guy has told it, Davey was producing a band called Jace, which Guy had previously worked with. The band had asked Davey if it was alright to invite Guy to play keyboards on the session and Davey said yes. Per Guy, he and Davey got on well during the session, but he didn't talk to him after that, until about a year or so later when Davey called to ask Guy if he would be interested in doing some live stuff with Elton. As Guy often says, his motto is to always be ready for anything, so he jumped at the chance. Can you even imagine Elton's band today without Guy?

Fantastic! Is Guy Babylon he's real name? In the 1989 World-Tour, in his presentation, articulist wrote "he insists that's his real name". Is that so?

Yes, he is listed in his high school yearbook as Guy G. Babylon.

I figured! What's the process of the rehearsals? I mean... Elton give them free hand to work? Are the band preparing the songs before Elton come in? Who decides the songs of the set lists and if Elton isn't in the rehearsals... who sings?

Guy has previously mentioned that there isn't much rehearsal - the current band has been together for quite a long time and works well together. I believe for the Captain and the Kid tour, the band rehearsed a couple of days, and Elton joined them for one or two days, and off they went on the road. Davey is the musical director, he and Elton discuss the songs for each tour, but Elton is the boss and ultimately decides what stays in the set list and what doesn't.

Wow! What is Babylon doing when he's not touring? He's an impressario, is he?

Guy is definitely a keyboard impressario! Unfortunately for Guy, he doesn't have much free time and Elton is constantly touring. He does have his own recording studio and per Davey Johnstone, Guy and Davey have been working on some material that we hope to hear sometime in the near future! Guy also enjoys bike riding, swimming, and music!

Explain us, please, what we could find in your great website. I really like "Music", with all his discography, and the variety of photos you have. It's very complete website, with all the information we need. He co-wrote a song with Ken Stacey called "She Is", an incredible ballad. I didn't know that.

Thanks so much, I try to keep the web site current, so if Guy is touring with Elton, I like to include some news and photos from the tour. I am also in touch with Guy about a few items to add to the site, although he is quite busy and on the road, so it may be a while before he is able to do that. In the meantime, if you see Elton in concert and are able to get some photos of Guy, I would be happy to post them on my web site! Regarding the song Guy co-wrote with Ken Stacey, Ken plans to release his new album this summer, so keep an eye open! Ken's web site is and I am sure he will post details as soon as the album is released. The song She Is was recorded by Guy in his studio and I have heard it, it is a beautiful song. As you may remember, Ken was briefly a member of the Elton John band, playing acoustic guitar and singing backing vocals.

Oh, finally, could you tell me which are your favourite top five Elton's songs, in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

Hard to pick five songs, with Elton's huge catalogue! But here goes:

Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Philadelphia Freedom
Blue Eyes

Thank you very much for sharing with us your time, Jan. A really pleasure to chat a little with you. I will never forget that. Is there something you would like to say to the eltonites?

Thanks so much for the opportunity, I hope everyone stops by to learn a little more about Guy, he usually stays in the background but he is a huge talent and definitely deserves some recognition!

Thanks a lot!!

You're welcome. Lovely experience!!!

7 Jun 2008

Aujourd'hui, c'est dimanche et mon eltonite est: Patrick!!!!!!

In confession, there are many fansites out there, which is great. We eltonites spent our freetime talking about Elton: news, concerts, bios, ... Most of them are in english. Years ago, I found a great eltonfan website, in french, this time. I just understand french a little, but it's an amazing and interesting website about Elton. That's "Made In England". It's an honour for me to have his owner, Patrick, to chat a little about the website and about Elton, of course.

So thank you for the acceptation, really a pleasure to have you... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?

Hey Miquel, thank you for your kind words. My name is Patrick Andrey and I’m living in Lausanne - A beautiful little town located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. I’m 38 years old, married, one child (10 y.o.) and I work as Manager in a Consumer Electronics Shop.

Great! When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

Well, I was 13 years old when I became “Elton addict”. At that time (1983), I liked “I’m Still Standing” who got a lot of radio airplay at the time. I liked the energy and this great voice. My sister bought me “Too low for Zero” on vinyl. Since then, I was hooked: I bought every new album on the release dates. I recorded every TV shows, etc…

Ok!!! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him, get a signed autograph or even, speak with him or with other member of his band?

The first time I saw Elton live was in my home-city, In a small venue called “Théâtre de Beaulieu”. I was so ecstatic! It was a memorable night. A dream came true. Amazingly, I recently managed to buy the actual cap Elton wore this evening (see the pictures).
I really don’t know how many Elton concerts I attended but I can tell you that I have seen all his tours since 1986. I have seen him in all the configurations: solo, with his band, with an orchestra and choir… I travelled a lot to see him live: France (Paris, Grenoble, Divonne), UK (London), USA (Las Vegas this summer) and of course in my Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich, Basel, Vevey and Lausanne).

I have never been directly in touch with him. I only managed to shake his hand twice (in concerts) and got a lot of autos from him and his band. The most memorable was in Grenoble (France). I wore a Watford T-Shirt for the concert. When Elton began to sign autographs, I pull it off to handle it to him. I took the shirt in his hands, look at it then show it to the crowd (with a lot of cheers from the public). He then signed it for me (see the picture). At the end of the concert, when I was leaving the venue, a young lady came toward me and asked to have a look at the T-Shirt. She told me that I was filmed in the giant screens when Elton signed the shirt so she recognised me…

Wow!!! As you know, this is the “The Lestat” Week. From all the musicals Elton composed, that was the only one not successful. In my opinion, there are several good songs on it. Maybe Taupin wasn't the suitable writer Elton could choose, or maybe he couldn't condensed the three Anne Rice's books in one single story. What do you think about this musical and the bad reviews it received?

To be honest with you, I don’t really liked Lestat. I only listened it twice and It doesn’t sparkle for me. I don’t really have an opinion; I will maybe give it a second chance one time.

I see... In France there's "The Lion King" ("Le Roi Lion") doing very well, in critic and public acceptance. Isn't it?

Yes, it’s a huge success in Paris. 350’000 spectators attended since last October. The comedy recently won 3 “Molières” (French Awards – Equivalents to the Tony Awards) for “Best Musical”, “Best Costumes” and “Best Lightening”. The second season began this August at the Théâtre Mogador.

Nice! Elton became very popular in France since the "Blue Moves" album, especially at the time of "21 At 33" and "The Fox". Even he duetted with French star France Gall with two singles that became a huge success then; they reached the top of the charts I believe... did they? And which are the people's favourite Elton's albums or songs, in your countries? And could you still hear Elton’s music in the radio, nowadays?

Well That’s right, Elton became popular in France with “Tonight” from “Blue Moves”. Strangely, the France was a very difficult market for him to win. It was painful for him because he really likes the French culture. He even likes to speak in French. He recorded a lot of songs in this language: "Donner pour donner" & "Les aveux" with the lovely France Gall, "J’veux d’la tendresse", "La vie en rose"…
People’s favourite songs in France: Certainly “I’m Still Standing”, “Nikita”, “Sacrifice” and “Candle In The Wind 97”. Nowadays, Elton is not widely broadcasted on the French radios. Apart from adult-contemporary music stations like “Nostalgie”.

And what should be Elton’s next step in his career, in your opinion? What is the place for Elton in the world music, today? I think he is thinking to write music only for other people, musicals for examples, or more collaborations with other singers, but no more Elton albums... May I am right?

Even if he said that he doesn’t want to make new records, I’m sure he will: Music is his life!!! But I think he changed his way to do it. Previously, he was making commercial music: always trying to make THE hit and trying to top the charts. Now I guess he matured. He understood he could makes music for his (and his fan’s) pleasure. That’s not the same goal and his latest albums are far better. He could continue to write Movie Scores or Musicals (He’s so proud of Billy Elliot).

Please, tell us what we could find on "Made In England" website... that's on I particularly like "The Museum"... You have really good items about Elton, have you?

I launched “Made In England” in 2000. At the time, I wanted to provide something for the French-speaking community and I had big successes with this site. It became the biggest Elton John related web-site in French, often cited in the medias (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Books) in France. “The Museum”, (it’s pompous, isn’t?) is dedicated to my collection. I have some nice new items and I really have to update this part of the site. The idea was to show my visitor’s collections as well but it doesn’t seem to attract active fans. If you want to show your treasures… then you’re welcome.

And finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList?

That’s a tough question. It’s difficult to pick only five songs but let’s try:
- Funeral / Love Lies Bleeding
- Circle Of Life
- The Last Song
- Electricity
- Skyline Pigeon

Thank you very much. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to your other eltonites?

Firstly, I want to congratulate you for your site, I had a good time browsing it. Secondly, I want to thank you for contacting me, It’s a nice idea to build this bridge between the fans (aka Eltonites).

PS: My English is terrible, I’m sorry ;o)

No it isn't, Patrick. Thank you very much, really a worth experience for me to do this interview. An honour you share your time with AllSongsList. Take care and good luck.