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Elton: "Ed Sheeran will have a career as long as mine"
Friday, May 22 2015

Elton John praised Ed Sheeran during the Ivor Novello Awards ceremony in London on May 21, 2015, declaring that the singer-songwriter will have a lengthy career.

Sheeran was at the show to collect the prestigious Songwriter of the Year award, after the success of his chart-topping album and its two number one singles "Sing" and "Thinking Out Loud".

"I have a vested interest in him becasue my company manages him," Elton told the crowd when introducing Sheeran. "He's a delight to work with becasue he has so much enthusiasm for what he does. He loves to embrace other artists, and is always collaborating with other people. Whenever I speak to people when they start out, I say to them, 'Please enjoy it. It's a really special time. For five or six years you will be doing no wrong, and then someone else will come along and you'll find your feet'.

"But this boy next to me will have a career - if he wants to - as long as mine. I am quite confident about that. I hope he doesn't get into half the trouble I got into, and he'd have to marry a man and a woman! But he is an exceptionally wonderful person and an immense talent. We should all be proud of him."

Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran has revealed he regularly receives hilarious emails from Sir Elton John - and he once got caught in an embarrassing situation at US customs when a few contained dodgy videos. "The worst email he ever sent me was, I got to customs in New York once and I had 17 new emails from him and I was like, something must be important. And they were all video attachments, and I downloaded the first one, and yeah - it was good. And I was at customs and it's pretty hard to get in to America anyway without those sort of videos. It happens quite a lot."

But The A Team singer said he had had an even more bizarre encounter at the ceremony in London on May 21, 2015. He said: "To tell you a weirder thing, I went to ACM college for about a month when I was 18 and some dude from ACM just came up to me and told me I'd overpaid my student fee and he gave me 200 quid. So that was a nice surprise and now I've got 200 quid," he laughed, brandishing a wad of cash.

Clean Bandit, Hozier, Black Sabbath and Annie Lennox were among the other big winners at the 60th Ivor Novello Awards, which took place at London's Grosvenor House.

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Happy Birthday, Bernie!
Friday, May 22 2015

Elton's lyricist Bernie Taupin turns 65 today, May 22, 2015.

On behalf of the Hercules team and the Elton John fans all over the world, we would like to wish him a happy birthday!

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Elton John biopic to be turned into stage show
Wednesday, May 20 2015

Elton John's biopic 'Rocketman' is already being turned into a stage show, despite the film, starring Tom Hardy, not even having been released yet.

The film - which will tell the story of the 68-year-old superstar's life and will include classic songs like 'Your Song' and 'I'm Still Standing' - will be moving to Broadway and then the West End with the help of the creative team behind the music adaptation of 'Billy Elliot', including its writer Lee Hall.

Producer Sally Greene, who runs London's Old Vic, told The Sun: "It is in the works right now. It will be called 'Rocketman' but we will do the film first. It will open in Broadway before London. It will be Elton's back catalogue... he will never end his career."

While Tom is starring as Elton - whose real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight - in the film of the singer's life, it's unlikely he will be in the stage version, have previously revealed he struggled with the role, due to his lack of singing abilities. The 'Mad Max: Fury Road' star said: "I'm not a singer. I have no idea really. I'm really trying but it's hard to open my mouth in that way. I'm not really drawn towards singing and musicals and that stuff."

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    Corn flakes and classics ...
    Tuesday, May 19 2015

    ... on the 40th anniversary of “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” - by Chris Vobe.

    “Captain Fantastic, raised and regimented, hardly a hero
    Just someone his mother might know
    Very clearly a case for corn flakes and classics
    "Two teas both with sugar please"
    In the back of an alley.”

    Elton John's "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" was released 40 years ago this week.

    For those who don't know the album (and if you don’t, where have you been all this time?!), here’s a quick summary: it’s an unrivalled, seminal masterpiece. Yet for one so successful at the time of its release, it still surprises me how often it gets overlooked in favour of Elton and Bernie's Citizen Kane, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".

    You see, "Captain Fantastic" was ground-breaking. It was written - just over 40 years ago - on a boat, on the last voyage of the SS France as she sailed from Southampton to New York. The lyrics to its ten tracks were penned chronologically, in the order they appeared on the album, and subsequently recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Colorado the summer before release.

    It is an autobiographical album, charting the early years of Elton and Bernie (the titular "Captain Fantastic" and "Brown Dirt Cowboy" respectively) as they learned to cope with failure and, later, success. It's a bittersweet forget-me-not to the 1960s (when the Denmark Street of "Bitter Fingers" was still standing) and an honest reflection of two people who fought to break into the business, and then navigate the forest of fame. As Elton himself acknowledged, he and Bernie lived this story.

    “Wise men say
    It looks like rain today…”

    To hear any one of the ten tracks now, it is staggering to think that Elton was only 27 when he wrote the album. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is a sweeping, elegant masterpiece; the only single released, and the only track from the album which has since become a staple of “Greatest Hits” and “Very Best Of” collections, deservedly earning itself the accolade (from Elton himself) that it is “one of the best songs [Bernie and I] have ever written together.” But spare a moment for the epic duology that is “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” and “Curtains” – the interlinked closing tracks – the former of which has been labelled “one of the greatest love songs ever written”, but which both undeniably demonstrate a musical and lyrical maturity unmatched by Elton and Bernie’s peers.

    “I used to know
    This old scarecrow
    He was my song
    My joy and sorrow…”

    “Captain Fantastic” is also (take a deep breath now, here comes heresy!) better than "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". There is not a weak link in its chain or a sub-par entry to be found, from the opening country-infused bars to the closing notes. The first side of the album is, I’d argue, probably the strongest A-Side of any album that Elton John has ever released. And it has some formidable competition.

    Here, unlike “Yellow Brick Road”, was an album which wasn’t trying – in any way – to be a commercial success. It didn’t need to. Not surprising, then, that it made history. "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" was the first album ever to enter the U.S. Billboard charts at Number 1, staying in the top spot for seven weeks. It has been certified 3x platinum, and even found its way onto Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

    On a personal level, it was the first Elton John album that I owned on vinyl when I first started collecting. I have a copy of the poster mounted and framed. I raced to buy the Deluxe Edition re-release in 2005 (complete with a whole second disc of live performances!). I cheered when Elton last played the title track in concert, and grumbled that I hadn’t been there to hear it. I even have the limited edition brown-pressed vinyl they released, still in its shrink wrapping.

    But no, alas, I don’t have the pinball machine.

    One of my most abiding memories is of my teenage self, slipping the (original) vinyl from that elaborate gatefold sleeve and resting it on my (still functioning to this day!) turntable. Boasting its gloriously assembled book of lyrics, the “Scraps” collection which gives tantalising insights into the diaries and personal mementos of its authors, its poster, and astonishing Alan Aldridge-designed wraparound artwork, I can only imagine the sense of wonderment that 1970s record shoppers must have had when they first lifted it off the shelves. Whilst Elton was already acknowledged for the lavish packaging of his albums, here was something so completely different, the mind boggled.

    So perhaps it was the album’s tumultuous debut performance that has led to it being amongst the less featured during Elton’s 4,000 plus concert performances. In the summer of ’75, as Elton headlined the Midsummer Music festival at Wembley, he made the daring and unprecedented decision to showcase the album as part of his set – in its entirety. The crowds left (unfairly) in droves. It’s a memory which, I think, still resides in Elton when he mentions this particular work today. The 1975 tour was soon overtaken by the release of “Rock of the Westies” and, following the “Wembley walkout” by a crowd who had expected a much more hit-infused set, “Captain Fantastic” never quite got the concert showcasing it richly deserved. Which is why, on its 30th anniversary, Elton’s decision to play eight of the ten tracks during a series of special shows at Madison Square Gardens (to a wildly appreciative audience, it should be noted) was a gamble that more than paid off. Elton and the band could do a lot worse than repeat the act when he sets off on his Summer Tour this year.

    The title track has seen the occasional light of day on stage over the years and, of course, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” still stands its ground in Elton’s concert repertoire. Even “Better off Dead” has made a late resurgence through the Vegas-rendered “Million Dollar Piano” show, a staple of Elton and Ray Cooper’s on-stage collaborations.

    But despite its more limited familiarity amongst UK listeners, 40 years since it hit record stores (selling over a million copies on the day of release!), “Captain Fantastic” remains the very best in Elton's catalogue. It’s a superlative, original and captivating piece of work, which ironically stands the test it set for itself. The eighth track, a sometimes tongue-in-cheek self-analysis of how well songs meet the test of time asks: “Will the things we wrote today / Sound as good tomorrow?” In this case, if you need to ask, you haven’t listened hard enough.

    And yes… I’d still love to own the pinball machine.

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    Elton meets old school friends
    Monday, May 18 2015

    Elton has invited his old classmates from Pinner County Grammar school for lunch at his home.

    On Instagram he posted the following picture: "Lunch at home with dear old school friends. Many of whom I haven't seen for 50 years! It was as if we never left school. So much laughter and so many wonderful memories. #ShareTheLove #PinnerCountyGrammarSchool #Classof58".

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    Elton John performed a private show in London on May 16, 2015
    Monday, May 18 2015

    Following is the complete set list of the corporate show for Laing O'Rourke's May Ball at the Hilton park Lane hotel in London on May 16, 2015.

    1. The Bitch Is Back
    2. Bennie And The Jets
    3. Candle In The Wind
    4. Levon
    5. Tiny Dancer
    6. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    7. Rocket Man
    8. Your Song
    9. I'm Still Standing
    10. Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
    11. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

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    Elton wants Prime Minister David Cameron to be considerate to the working classes
    Wednesday, May 13 2015

    Elton John has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to be considerate to the working classes when thinking about his new policies over the next five years.

    Speaking at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Billy Elliot the Musical on May 12, 2015, the 68-year-old said the new Conservative Government should learn from the struggles faced by the miners in the 1980s. “The new government needs to be compassionate towards people who don’t have much in the world,” said Elton, who composed the show’s songs, who was accompanied by his husband David Furnish, the musical’s producer. “The haves and have nots should not be important. The new government should not go off on a tangent.”

    He added those running the country could learn from the “emotional” and “heartwarming” musical set in Thatcherite Britain during the miners’ strike of 1984 to 1985. “It was relevant before and it is just as relevant now as when it was written,” he said. “There are still struggles going on. “It is a story about a community in crisis and inequality, and grace as one of the things we all have to embrace.”

    Elton added the musical highlighted how far gay rights have come during his lifetime, an issue explored by Billy’s friend Michael in the musical. “There was not a lot of tolerance of homosexuality before,” he said.

    “I am a married man and I am very proud of my country. But there is still a lot of love and tolerance to be spread about and this is what the show does and we need that message, especially in the world we live in today.”

    Furnish added: “I think the musical’s message about people fulfilling their dreams and overcoming obstacles is sometimes what people find difficult to face. But breaking out of conventions is something some people have to face every day so the musical has an unbelievable message. I love the number ‘Solidarity’ as it gives a message for everyone.”

    Solidarity is a song sung by the miners and the working class characters in the musical and features the lyrics ‘Solidarity solidarity, Solidarity forever. All for one and one for all, Solidarity forever.”

    Jenni Falconer, Laura Bailey, Tom Hooper, Brian Friedman, Sam Bailey, and Richard Buckley were among the celebrities who attended the special performance. The star-studded red carpet event at the Victoria Palace Theatre in Westminster was also attended by the 40 young men who have played Billy during the musical’s 10 years in the West End as well as several cast members past and present.

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    Elton: Homophobia could have stopped my father seeing my shows
    Wednesday, May 13 2015

    Elton John has suggested that his father's homophobia stopped him from coming to see any of his shows.

    Elton told how, unlike the father in his hit musical Billy Elliot, his father, Stanley Dwight, never came to terms with his choice of career and didn't see a single one of his son's performances before he died.

    Writing in The Times on the 10th anniversary of the musical adaptation, Elton said the relationship between Billy and his father in the original film spurred him on to write a musical version because, he said, Billy Elliot "gets what I never got - and so many gay men of my generation were denied."

    He said: "The moment when Billy's dad sees him perform, and sees the beating heart of his son for the first time, and understands what his son will achieve, never came for me. My father was sealed off from my talent and I never knew why. Was it homophobia? Was it fear? That was a painful loss for me. But it was also a painful loss, I think, for my dad. That's what prejudice does to people. It cuts them off from sources of joy — from friendship and kindness and love. It even cuts off fathers from their sons. It makes the whole world a little colder."

    Elton, who wrote the music for the stage adaptation in 2005, spoke of his joy at being able to marry his husband David Furnish and raise a family with him, saying the days of homophobia in Britain were ending. He said: "I never thought I'd be married to a man — I never imagined such a thing was possible. I never imagined I'd be raising kids with my husband. I never imagined the people of Britain would accept us. All these things came to pass, and I am so grateful, and so proud of my country. The days of homophobia in Britain are ending, because so many people fought against it and so many decent people opened their hearts for us."

    Elton, who has sons Zachary, four, and Elijah, two, with husband David, said he was grateful that his children were growing up in a very different world to the one he grew up in. He said: "When my boys grow up, among their friends, the idea you shouldn't dance, or cry, or hug, because it's "poofy", will seem like something from the distant past — because what's wrong with being gay? All over Britain and all over the world, dads learnt their sons were gay and they chose not to hate them, but to love them, and the world got better. They should be proud of themselves."

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    Eric Fellner - Billy Elliot musical 'could be made into a film'
    Saturday, May 9 2015

    The 'Billy Elliot' musical could be made into a film, the producer of the long-running hit has confirmed.

    A big-screen version of the 'Billy Elliot' musical could be made. Eric Fellner - the producer of the long-running hit - has held discussions with a number of the musical's key people, including composer Elton John, about transforming the stage production into a fully-fledged film. He told the Daily Mail newspaper: "We just need to act on it."

    However, Eric explained that scheduling issues mean a potential movie remains some years away, if the idea does come to fruition, and he also expressed surprise that the stage show is set to celebrate its tenth anniversary. He said: "None of us had any inclination that a show like this could ever run as long in the UK, and I think it has tapped into a social undercurrent of British life."

    What's more, Eric said that the show has been a worldwide success because the central character - a coal miner's son who takes up ballet - is simply "a kid who wants to follow his dream". The stage production was spawned by the 2000 British dance drama film starring Jamie Bell as 11-year-old Billy, while author Melvin Burgess was commissioned to write the novelisation of the film in 2001.

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    Elton John meets Jerry Lee Lewis
    Saturday, May 9 2015

    What makes Elton John nervous? Meeting Jerry Lee Lewis, one of his musical heroes, for the first time during the 2015 New Orleans Jazz Fest.

    As he hustles around the Fair Grounds on a golf cart, Quint Davis, Jazz Fest's longtime producer/director, hears as much music as anybody. But he's also privy to backstage moments and encounters that the average fan never sees.

    On the afternoon of May 2, 2015, the festival's massive second Saturday, Jerry Lee met with an apparently star-struck -- and Adidas track suit-wearing -- Elton John for the first time in a dressing room trailer behind the Acura Stage. "Elton said it was the most nervous he's ever been, more than any gig," Davis recalled.

    Earlier, Davis paid a courtesy call on Jerry Lee prior to the rock 'n' roll legend's short set on the Acura Stage. In a backstage trailer, Lewis' wife, clad in black and gold, introduced herself as "Mrs. Killer." Davis had had some concerns about scheduling Lewis just before Elton John on Acura, a high-profile slot with an enormous audience. But those concerns evaporated as soon as he encountered the Killer.

    "That was a big risk on my part, to put a 79-year-old walking with a cane on before arguably the biggest act we've ever had," Davis said. "But when Jerry Lee shook my hand, it was not an old man handshake. It was solid and it was strong; there was no mushy in his hands. Right there I thought, 'Oh, yeah. He's got it.' He played a smoking set. I don't how long it was, 35 minutes, but he just pounded it out."

    Davis' longtime friend Ken Ehrlich, the producer of the Grammy Awards show, was at the festival to direct AXS TV's coverage. As Lewis pounded away on the nearby Acura Stage, Ehrlich was chatting with Elton in the star's trailer. "Elton said 'shhh,' and put his hand up," Davis recounted. "He listened out of the trailer for two or three songs. I think that's a big reason why we got what we got" from Elton, who delivered a powerhouse show. When he first walked onto the Acura Stage, "he almost did a double-take," Davis said. "When you see that crowd, and all the flags, and the poles, and the vibe.... I'm not saying he needed Jerry Lee to go to the level he went to. But he played the first song like you would play 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting' at the end. I remember saying, 'Where's he gonna go from there?'

    "He played a thousand percent from the very first song. His piano playing was nuts. When he would get way down deep in it for a little bit, his face would be contorted as he played something hard. Then he'd get it, and he'd smile. He was just wailing."

    Sunny skies greeted Elton and Jerry Lee on the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell. Many first weekend acts weren't so fortunate. On the opening Friday, April 24, 2015, lightning forced Davis to pull the plug on the closing acts an hour early. Forecasts called for the rain to clear out early Saturday, but it hung around most of the day. "It was supposed to clear at 11, then noon, then it never did. It rained all day, except when The Who came on."

    Some fest-goers were surprised that Davis didn't turn up for either an intro or outro for Elton John. "So was I," Davis said. "I had rehearsed an Elton intro for months, literally." But Elton's show begins with a fanfare of recorded symphonic music. "So it was one of those situations where you don't actually introduce the artist, but you can go out five or 10 minutes before, say something, and, 'In a little bit, Elton John.' I was going back and forth on whether to do that, on whether that was the right thing. At some point I decided, 'I'm not going to that.' In retrospect, I should have. For 40 years, we've gathered in that field to have a special experience powered by music by some of the greatest ever. Because for us in New Orleans, music is not entertainment. It's sustenance. How can you have 40 clubs that have five or six bands a week? Because it's like food to New Orleanians."

    Elton "was going to be one of these festival moments where you really take something in that nourishes you, that you can use. But this one was more than that. This was one prophecy. His name was on people's lips for decades: Will Elton ever come to Jazz Fest? It was the coming of a prophecy. And this was that moment. "That's what I would have said. And then I didn't."

    At the end of the show, Davis considered delivering a short speech to wrap up Jazz Fest's biggest day in a decade. But when Elton sprinted from the stage following his final song, Davis decided to scrap the speech. "When they take a bow or wave or something, or they're standing there, it makes sense to do it. But when people are running off the stage before you can get out there, it's a little tricky. If you've got an empty stage and (the artist) is already jumping in the Escalade (to leave), it's a little bit different. It was a momentous moment, a prophecy come true for the festival population. I kind of regret that I didn't say anything. But I go back and forth on that. It's Elton John coming to Jazz Fest – does it really need me to go say something?"

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