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Tom Hardy on "being" Elton
Thursday, April 24 2014

In an interview with Wall Street Journal actor Tom Hardy is talking about his upcoming roles and acting inspirations.

After "Mad Max: Fury Road" he'll be in an adaptation of the videogame Splinter Cell. And he's just finishing "London Road," a musical. "It's a little bit of a warm-up for Elton John," he says.

Steve Hamilton Shaw, a producer of the Elton John biopic "Rocketman," says it will be a musical look at Elton's emergence, "coming out of rehab and going from there. The direction we felt we had to go was not somebody who you felt was playing Elton. He had to be somebody who was becoming Elton. For us there was really nobody better at delivering that right now than Tom. He was kind of the only name on our list."

Does this mean Tom Hardy will be singing Elton John classics? "Yeah, I hope so," the actor says. "Otherwise I'll have probably failed, right? But that's terrifying me. I can't hold a tune to save my life. God knows how I'm going to do that. But then I couldn't cage fight before I'd gotten in with 'Warrior.' And I still can't. I'm not supposed to be a cage fighter. I'm only playing one."

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Poll: Your favorite cover track from GYBR (2014)
Monday, April 21 2014

Over the past month more than 500 fans took part in the latest Hercules Poll. The final results are in now.

The question we asked was "What is your favorite cover track from the GYBR 40th Anniversary release?"

  1. Harmony (Zac Brown Band) 21.6%
  2. Candle In The Wind (Ed Sheeran) 15.8%
  3. All The Girls Love Alice (Emili Sande) 12.2%
  4. Grey Seal (The Band Perry) 12%
  5. Sweet Painted Lady (John Grant) 10.4%
  6. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Hunter Hayes) 8.2%
  7. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock And Roll) (Imelda May) 7.1%
  8. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (Fall Out Boy) 6.2%
  9. Bennie and the Jets (Miguel) 6%

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Bright Light Bright Light set for big city tour with Elton
Monday, April 21 2014

Welsh musician Bright Light Bright Light picked for prestigious support slot on Elton John UK and European tour.

He's the Welshman from the small village of Crynant who has been taken under the wing of one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll. Bright Light Bright Light – aka Welsh musician Rod Thomas – was named as the support act for Elton’s forthcoming UK and European tour, which means he will be playing the biggest shows of his life at some of the largest arenas both home and abroad.

The tour announcement comes after he pulled off something off a masterstroke by teaming up with the music legend on his new single - "I Wish We Were Leaving." Thomas is a close friend of the star – a relationship that can be traced back years.

“Elton John and I have been friends for quite a while, actually,” explained the singer, who grew up in the village which is near Neath. “A couple of years ago I was managed by a company that Elton John owned. When he heard that the album I released in 2012, "Make Me Believe In Hope," was coming out – he rang me and said that he loved it.”

And the pair have since stayed in touch with Thomas, who is now based in New York, believing that the piano man was perfect to duet with on his new track – part of a five song EP, which was released recently. “I kept hearing his voice on the track. In time I played him 'I Wish We Were Leaving' and he added his vocals. Although it wasn’t written as a duet, I love that his voice taking lead in the second verse is a reminder that every relationship has two sides and two voices. It’s the hardest secret I’ve had to keep, and I’m very thrilled,” he added.

For Elton it also meant working outside of his comfort zone.
“Working with Bright Light Bright Light was a challenge for me as I love electronica but am quite ignorant on the recording process,” revealed Elton. “I had to sing in a completely different way which I really enjoyed. I think that the combination of our voices is ethereal and beautiful.”

Thomas releases new album "Life Is Easy" in July 2014. Find out more at www.brightlightx2.com.

Related News

  • Bright Light Bright Light interview: 'Elton John duet blew my mind'
        Friday, April 11 2014 at 05:34:08

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    "The Million Dollar Piano" DVD & Blu-ray
    Wednesday, April 16 2014

    "The Million Dollar Piano" is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-ray on June 30, 2014.

    Amazon UK is already accepting pre-orders today. Further details are expected to surface over the next few weeks.

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    AIDS activist Scott Campbell speaks out
    Tuesday, April 15 2014

    In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Scott Campbell, Executive Director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation which has been identified by Funders for LGBTQ Issues as the largest funder of programs for black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer individuals.

    EJAF founder Elton John stated, “We are immensely proud to be recognized by Funders for LGBTQ Issues for our work focused on the needs of black LGBTQ communities. At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we see the fight for equality for black Americans and LGBTQ people and the effort to achieve a world without AIDS as one and the same, because racism and homophobia are major drivers of the epidemic.” Black Americans represent only 13% of the population but account for 46% of people living with HIV in the United States. Outtake talked to Scott about addressing this alarming statistic and his spin on our LGBT issues.

    When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBT equality Campbell stated, “I think that every person should care about each other. Whether that’s in our families, our communities, our societies, we have an obligation to think about others, not just ourselves. I really think that it is the basis of all civil and human rights but I think it’s also interesting to point out that in the US we have a constitution and laws and these provide certain rights and recognition on issues that range from marriage and adoption all the way to protection from violence and recently with the whole discussion on healthcare reform and just healthcare in general, the US has started to define a right to healthcare. The US Supreme Court says that people shouldn’t be discriminated against because of who they love or because of their gender. So to me that’s sort of my perspective on LGBTQ civil rights but civil rights in general. That’s the kind of thing that I would be committed to both personally and certainly on behalf of the Foundation.”

    The Elton John AIDS Foundation believes that AIDS can be beaten. They act on that belief by raising funds for effective programs and policies and also by speaking out with honesty and compassion about the realities of people’s lives. Sir Elton John created EJAF over twenty years ago, first in the United States in 1992 and then in the United Kingdom in 1993. The two foundations together have raised more than $300 million over the past two decades to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment services and motivate governments to end AIDS. The U.S. foundation focuses its efforts on programs in the United States, the Americas and the Caribbean, while the U.K. foundation funds HIV-related work in Europe, Asia, and Africa.


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    Pharrell Williams explains full meaning behind son Rocket's name
    Tuesday, April 15 2014

    Oscar-nominated hip-hop star Pharrell Williams named his son Rocket Ayer to honour his favourite musicians, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Herbie Hancock and Roy Ayers.

    The Happy hitmaker reveals he and his wife, model/designer Helen Lasichanh, wanted to give the five year old a name that would symbolise the success they hope he will have in life, while also paying tribute to Williams' pop icons. In a new interview with TV titan Oprah Winfrey, he says, "In the same way that the Indians name their children like behind a force or an animal or an element, we named him after a manmade machine that was meant to go up. Meant to ascend.

    "And metaphorically, it was because of, you know, Stevie Wonder's 'Rocket Love', Elton John's 'Rocket Man' and Herbie Hancock's 'Rocket'. All of my favourite musicians. And his middle name is not Man. It's Ayer after Roy Ayers."

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    And ferris wheels just took us up and down
    Saturday, April 12 2014

    Elton John treats his little boy Zachary to a ride on a ferris wheel at the Vegas Loves Brazil Festival.

    By night, he tickles the ivories for thousands of adoring fans at the massive Colosseum arena in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. By day, Elton John is a father of two little boys. And on April 6, 2014 he treated his eldest, three-year-old Zachary, to a ride on a ferris wheel at the Vegas Loves Brazil Festival.

    The 67-year-old looked like any other dad in his black Adidas zip up sweat shirt and matching exercise trousers. The only thing that gave away the normally flamboyant dresser was his blue-framed sunglasses - but even they were more subdued than Elton's usual eye wear. Elton put his arm around Zachary to reassure the toddler, who seemed a little worried about the ride, as they rocked in the open gondola on a beautiful sunny day.

    It was just as well dad didn't take him on the new 550ft High Roller, the biggest ferris wheel in the world, that Caesars has recently opened on the Strip.

    Elton is presently completing his 2014 residency at the 4,000-seat Colosseum, where his Million Dollar Piano show wraps on April 26, 2014.

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    Elton on 'liberating' recording of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'
    Friday, April 11 2014

    Revisiting 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' for its 40th anniversary deluxe re-release was 'very beautiful,' Elton John says in talking to Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic. In it, he hears a band 'full of confidence, full of joy, full of positivity.'

    Last fall marked the 40th anniversary of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Elton's multiplatinum double album that propelled the singer to superstar status. Featuring some of his most enduring hits, including "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind" and the title track, the album is considered by many to be a cornerstone album of the 1970s.

    The album was one of the most acclaimed of a particularly inventive period in pop music. Building on broad, conceptual ideas forged by the Beatles, Kinks and Beach Boys in crafting thematically linked songs to be experienced in single sittings on long playing albums, Elton and others delivered big narratives featuring multi-part suites, album-side compositions and recurring musical motifs.

    In the same three-year period in which Elton dropped "Road," albums including the Who's "Quadrophenia," Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" and "Tales From Topographic Oceans" by Yes all brought a range of furrow-browed concepts to the market.

    Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin's creation was one of the biggest of the bunch, even if it presented work less ridiculously imagined than deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizards and artsy spacemen with shocking red mullets. The album's front cover, created by British illustrator Ian Beck, opened into a glorious triple-gatefold sleeve dense with art and information, suggesting a children's book.

    The just-released deluxe anniversary reissue may be a little late (the original came out in October 1973), but what's a few months in the life of an album that addresses the passage of time, nostalgia and loss? Featuring a remastered version of the original album, the five-disc set also offers the requisite B-sides, a demo of "Grey Seal," a series of covers by artists including Miguel and Ed Sheeran. Two additional discs present a 1973 concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon, and a DVD contains the documentary "Elton John and Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye to Norma Jean and Other Things."

    Such repackaging of nostalgia, which last occurred with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on its 30th anniversary, is particularly notable given the album's themes. Forty years on, Elton and his fans have endured more funerals for friends than necessary, and the album's biggest hit, "Candle in the Wind," became intertwined with the wake of Princess Diana after her death in 1997. Its fans have also had to wade through many deluxe and/or remastered versions.

    In a recent phone conversation, Elton, who is playing the Colosseum at Caesars Palace throughout April, recalled memories of working on "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

    It's a little odd to reminisce about a record itself so infused with a feeling of nostalgia.

    Yes. I'm not a nostalgic artist by trait. I don't listen to my old stuff at all. But this had been planned for such a long time I had to go back and listen to the record all over again, and figure out what I'm talking about. And it was wonderful to revisit an era that was so magical, so innocent, so exciting, and it brought back lots of really wonderful, positive memories.

    Was your tour stop at the Hollywood Bowl in 1973 one of those great memories?

    Yes, and that really launched us, and it led to me playing Dodger Stadium [in 1975]. We were big, and then we got really big. It led to "Captain Fantastic" coming in at No. 1, and launched us into the stratosphere. I had the privilege of having a wonderful band and lyric writer and a wonderful producer. I can't say enough how it was a team effort. And I'm very proud of that, and very emotional about it. I still have two of the boys in the band with me, and it's so great that they're still with me.

    You and the band were originally supposed to record it in Kingston, Jamaica, right?

    We did go to Kingston. We went to Byron Lee's studio. The Stones had just done "Goats Head Soup" and Cat Stevens had done "Foreigner." We'd done two albums at the Chateau in France. "Let's go somewhere else." And it just didn't work out. The studio was on strike so we had to drive through picket lines to get in — it was a record factory as well — and the equipment, if it broke down we couldn't get it back for a couple of days. We always had budgets to work with, so we thought we had to regroup and go back to the Chateau. Lucky enough it was empty, because otherwise we're going to spend our budget before we even start recording.

    We decamped from Kingston, went straight to Paris and made up for lost time. And boy did we. We wrote and wrote and wrote. In the situation in which we were writing, we'd always stay in different bedrooms. I would get up in the morning, Bernie would be typing away at a typewriter. He would give me a lyric. I would have my breakfast. I'd go to the electric piano. I'd start writing the song. [Bassist] Dee [Murray], [drummer] Nigel [Olsson] and [guitarist] Davey [Johnstone] would come down for breakfast and join in. We'd learn the song after breakfast and go over and record it. It was really, really a wonderful way to write and record. We did four tracks a day, probably

    Four tracks a day?

    Yeah. It was written and recorded in 17 days. We put pedal to the metal, but at that time we had so much momentum going for us as a band. We'd made two band albums — "Honky Chateau" and "Don't Shoot Me …" — and I think we turned into a new direction when Davey joined us. We had pop hits with "Rocket Man," "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock," and this album was a mixture of pop and what I loved to do — Southern music, Americana, drama. It was just a mixture of everything. Happenstance and momentum made us make this record. We were going toward the top, and this was the record that pushed us even further.

    Recording with that kind of confidence has to be liberating.

    It was so liberating. We didn't have any doubts in our abilities. We were full of confidence, full of joy, full of positivity. It was pre-drugs and drink for me. We had two fifth members of the band. We had Bernie and we had Gus Dudgeon producing. We had a team that was so together. The boys knew what to sing on the backing tracks, and apart from "This Song Has No Title," where I did everything — they would do the backing vocals — I would go to bed and I would get up the next morning and hear what they'd done. We all knew what to sing, what to play. I didn't tell them what to play. I never did that with my band. They contributed equally musically. It was a genuine band.

    Was it difficult at all to go back and critique your work from nearly 40 years ago?

    It wasn't difficult. It was very beautiful, actually. It made me realize how good my band was — how good we all were — and it brought tears to my eyes because the production from Gus and the sound of the record and just the musicianship made me realize that, yeah, we were doing something really great back then. I felt a lot of gratitude for my life, and the people in my life — my band, my producer, my lyric writer. It made me feel as if I'd accomplished something really good. And as you said, I don't really listen to many old things, but I had to because I have to do interviews about it, so I better know what I'm talking about.

    What were your thoughts after listening to it with fresh ears?

    There are things that I'm so blown away by. Just drum sounds, and piano sounds, the little things. It's over 40 years old and the sound of the record is phenomenal. That's what I loved. The only thing that bothered me was my voice, because it sounds so high. And when people review [my] show they say, "Well, he doesn't have his falsetto." And I've said it time after time: I had an operation in the 1980s in Australia which lowered the timbre of my voice. And I so much prefer my voice now.

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    Bright Light Bright Light interview: 'Elton John duet blew my mind'
    Friday, April 11 2014

    As far as lead singles for a new album go, a duet with Elton John is a seriously strong statement.

    Bright Light Bright Light - real name Rod Thomas - has teamed up with Elton for his new EP, ahead of his forthcoming second studio album "Life Is Easy." Digital Spy caught up with the Welsh musician to talk about the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and what we can expect from his new material.

    First off, we have to ask what it was like working with Elton John on your new single 'I Wish We Were Leaving'?

    "It was amazing, working with him. I've said to people that it's funny, because I've known him for quite a long time through music stuff, so I've got used to knowing him. Then, when you take a step back and remember who he is and everything he's achieved, it blows your mind. We talked about music a lot. We've got a lot of things in common in terms of bands we like listening to, records that we like. We talked about doing something, and the song seemed to me like it might fit his voice, so I sent it to him, and he liked it, and he sang on it."

    Elton has said that he found recording it challenging because he had to sing in a different way. Did you help him out?

    "No, not really, it was just something he hadn't done before. I know he's working with other dance producers, but maybe for like bigger tracks, which require him to use his really powerful voice. It's really cool to listen to him being held back a bit, and having a bit more calm in his delivery. It makes his voice sound so majestic."

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