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 ELTON JOHN NEWS 

"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.

AUDIO LINK:
http://voices.outtakeonline.com/2014/04/aids-activist-scott-campbell-speaks-out.html

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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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"The Million Dollar Piano" in Las Vegas on April 9, 2014
Thursday, April 10 2014

Following is the complete set list of the "Million Dollar Piano" show on April 9, 2014.

  1. The Bitch Is Back
  2. Bennie And The Jets
  3. Rocket Man
  4. Levon
  5. Tiny Dancer
  6. Your Song
  7. Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters
  8. Better Off Dead
  9. Indian Sunset
  10. Empty Garden
  11. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  12. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
  13. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
  14. Philadelphia Freedom
  15. I'm Still Standing
  16. Crocodile Rock
  17. Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
  18. Circle of life

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Elton John PonoPlayer - Artist Signature Series
Thursday, April 3 2014

Neil Young has been working on developing a new portable digital music format to bring back the real sound of the music as the artists recorded them and wanted them to be heard.

He started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the launch of the new format called PONO later this year. One of the premium "rewards" for those who pledge $400 or more is a choice of a limited edition artist signature series chrome PonoPlayer. Each artist is limited to 500 numbered units with the artists signature laser engraved and is shipped pre-loaded with the artists two favorite albums.

Just about everyone who is anyone in the music biz and has heard the PONO loves it and is onboard with lending their name to the artist signature series to help it sell. Elton just added his name and signature to the series so there are 500 numbered units up for grabs. To learn about PONO and see the full list of rewards go to ponomusic.com and follow links to the video of all the artists (including Elton) describing the experience of hearing the player for the first time and the link to the kickstarter page to see all the limited edition players.

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