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Elton extends "The Million Dollar Piano" Residency
Wednesday, October 22 2014

Caesars Entertainment and AEG Live have announced that Elton John will extend his original three year contract at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace and will return with his critically acclaimed show, "The Million Dollar Piano," for three more years.

Tickets for the following January, March and April 2015 performances will go on sale October 26, 2014 at 10 am PT.

Elton made a triumphant return to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace with his all new show, "The Million Dollar Piano" in September 2011. At the centerpiece of the performance is the show's namesake piano, an engineering marvel featuring more than 68 LED video screens created by Yamaha.

Elton is accompanied by his band, which includes Davey Johnstone on guitar, Matt Bissonette on bass, John Mahon on percussion,Nigel Olsson on drums and Kim Bullard on keyboards, with a special appearance by percussionist Ray Cooper.

"The Million Dollar Piano" features iconic hits and classic album tracks from throughout Elton's incredible five decade career, including a selection of songs from his highly-acclaimed 16 times platinum remastered album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Showtime is 7:30 pm. Tickets range in price from $55 to $250, not including taxes and fees. There is an eight (8) ticket limit per guest. VIP packages are available.

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Andrew Lloyd-webber and Tim Rice reunite on animated" Joseph"
Sunday, October 19 2014

Hit British songwriters Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice have teamed up once more to work on Sir Elton John's animated production of "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat".

It was announced in February 2014 that Elton would be bringing an animated adaptation of their 1968 musical to the big screen through his production company Rocket Pictures.

The duo broke into the theatre business together, writing hit musicals "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Evita" and "Joseph" in the 1960s and 1970s but have been working on separate projects since 2005.

In 2012, Rice insisted, "We're not relevant as a team any more", but they have now moved on and are collaborating on the animated feature. Rice tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "Andrew and I are like any marriage - we have our ups and downs ... we're actually working together at the moment on an animated treatment of Joseph and have done the deal with Rocket (Pictures) so I think it will happen. It's put together through Elton John's production company. They approached us, we've had two or three meetings, and Andrew and I have been through the score together... we've got to the point of, 'This is what we think' and now need to get it past the director, who hasn't been picked yet.

"It is a bit strange working together again, especially going back on something we did as kids. But it's exciting."

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Meet Elton on New Year's eve in New York
Sunday, October 19 2014

Secure your New Year's Eve plans today! Bid now for two tickets and a personal meet-and-greet with Elton John on New Year's Eve.

The two tickets are Vault tickets. The Vault is Barclays Center's most exclusive destination on the Arena event level. Your seats will be located within the first ten rows of the stage!

The New Year’s Eve performance will include renowned hits and classic album tracks from throughout Elton’s incredible five-decade career, as well as a selection of songs from his highly-acclaimed album, the recently re-released 40th Anniversary CD, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Elton’s band includes Davey Johnstone on guitar, Matt Bissonette on bass, John Mahon on percussion, Nigel Olsson on drums, and Kim Bullard on keyboards.

Make your bid before October 22, 2014 at 2:00:00 PM EDT.

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Gary Barlow sings remote duet with Elton
Sunday, October 19 2014

Gary Barlow made his debut concert at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on October 17, 2014.

At one point during the show Barlow even sang a duet with Elton John as Elton’s pre-recorded video was playing in the background — it was a nice touch from the legendary singer, who’s a close friend of Barlow’s, apparently.

According to reports, Elton was performing at a private party for the Oracle company at the Fairmont Orchard in Hawaii that same day.

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Jamie Cullum reveals the ten pianists who have influenced his career
Sunday, October 12 2014

Amy Winehouse introduced him to Ray Charles, Billy Joel conjures up memories of a university sweetheart... but it’s Elton who has pride of place in the jazz man’s pantheon of pianists.


Piano man numero uno

KEY TRACK: Tiny Dancer. After playing it for him at a charity event he gave me a huge bear hug.

My mum introduced me to Elton’s 1971 album "Madman Across the Water," and I entered the rabbit hole of Reginald Dwight’s genius. I’ve been lucky to spend time with Elton. He has spoken very highly of me in good company, and he’s phoned up after my albums came out to congratulate me.

He’s a true music fan and a genuine supporter of other music-makers. He’s always searching, always making new music and trying out new collaborators. He’s also a mean piano player. My photo with Elton is the only ‘me with famous person pic’ on my wall.


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Open letter to Elton John
Sunday, October 12 2014

In the 45 years since "Empty Sky" in 1969, Elton John has sold more than 300 million albums - and now the 67-year-old's music bridges the generation gap. Ahead of his latest New Zealand show, Michelle Duff and Siena Yates asked New Zealand musicians to share their favourite memories.

Kara Gordon, solo guitarist

When Elton John shook guitarist Kara Gordon's hand and said "You remind me of my friend Jimi", you could say Gordon was excited. Over the moon, even.

"My head almost exploded, what can I say," admits Gordon. "When I was a kid I wanted to be like Jimi [Hendrix], that was the plan. It was pretty amazing, he just said it and then he jumped in his limo and sped away and I was like ‘wow, that's Elton John'."

Gordon opened for Elton at his 2011 concert at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr stadium. The guitarist rose to notoriety after winning a national guitar competition in 2008, and since then had opened for Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd.

One of the managers who was organising Sir Elton's concert saw him playing and asked if he'd like to open for him in Dunedin. Gordon had always been a fan.

"My parents are absolutely right into Elton John, and I think Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one of the hugest rock albums ever made. For me it was an honour to be opening for one of the biggest names in music, he's in the same echelon as The Beatles and Elvis."

He is also an admirer of Bernie Taupin, who collaborates with Sir Elton on lyrics. "From a songwriting perspective I'm a huge fan, he's one of the greatest songwriters of all time."

Before the concert, he was sitting in the changing room and got talking to Davey Johnstone, Sir Elton's guitarist. It was a buzz talking to one of his guitar heroes, who had seen him play on YouTube, Gordon says. He's been an inspiration for Gordon's solo album, Settle the Score, out in December.

At the sold-out gig, he played a medley of tunes. "I threw in a few tricks like playing my guitar with my teeth, behind my back, with my arms in the air, I was a big guitar show-off for a day. It was cool. Of course playing in front of 35,000 people was a buzz as well."

What was amazing about the concert was that every song was so well known. "It's just hit after hit after hit, he plays 40 songs in a row and you recognise them all. Usually at a gig there are a couple of clangers, but not with Elton John."

Suzanne Prentice, country singer

Overnight fame is difficult at any age, but Suzanne Prentice was only 12 years old when she became New Zealand's darling after performing on television talent quest New Faces.

While still at intermediate, the Invercargill schoolgirl was jetting all over the country every weekend.

She has sung many Elton John songs in her long career - which includes being made an Officer of the British Empire for services to music at the Queens Birthday Honours in 1995 - but says Candle in the Wind is the most special.

For her, it reminds her of that time when she was young and overwhelmed by fame, encapsulating that feeling of powerlessness.

"I'd get on a plane on the Friday and get back to school on the Monday, and I did that for three years in high school. Being so young you're at everyone's whim really, you were told what to sing and how to do it and you just sort of went along with it.

"When I was in my teens I resented my career a lot but when I look back on it I've had a fantastic life, I'm really lucky. But it's funny, Candle in the Wind really takes me back."

She went to see Sir Elton when he was in Auckland in 2008 and came very close to meeting him while at a meeting at the BBC at the same time as the star, who was in another room. She missed seeing him, and had to make do with a glimpse of British actor Eric Sykes instead. "It wasn't quite the same."

Andy Lovegrove, singer in Breaks Co-op

It was supposed to be a quick trip to the video store, a quiet night in. Then the phone rang and Andy Lovegrove found himself talking to a musical hero, in a conversation that would change his career.

"It kind of freaked me out. I just thought it was someone having a laugh with me really, one of my mates winding me up, you know? And I was standing there going, ‘yeah, of course it's you Elton, whatever'. But, no, it was him and we actually sat and chatted for about half an hour," says Lovegrove.

That call gained Lovegrove's band Breaks Co-Op international attention, after Sir Elton himself sang the praises of their 2005 album, Sound Inside, and called the band his favourite "in the world".

That led to their track, The Otherside, hitting No 9 on the UK airplay charts and it was in the UK iTunes top 30 for more than a month. "As much as I wanted to talk about him, he was really only interested in talking about Breaks Co-Op and the [Sound Inside] album which he really loved. He said he bought like 40 copies of the album and had given them out to various friends, and then he wrote a beautiful article about us in Billboard magazine. He was just so enthusiastic, I was bowled over, I still buzz off it now when I think about it. It was pretty outstanding," gushes Lovegrove.

"I kind of grew up listening to Elton John, he was a big influence, especially from a songwriting point of view. Something like that is quite a difficult thing to comprehend; as a kid I'd never imagined I would ever speak to him, you know - you just don't, really, do you? It really freaked me out, but it was a pretty good confidence boost."

These days, Lovegrove is busy working on a new production company called Revolution in Auckland but will be going to the show and hopes to meet the legend face to face.

Benny Tipene, singer/songwriter

He may be young, but Benny Tipene has always had Elton John in his life. From early memories he couldn't quite make sense of, to vague TV references and his own foray into music, the Kiwi singer who shot to fame after featuring on the first New Zealand season of the X-Factor spent a lifetime being followed around by a familiar classic.

"Every time I would say my name as a kid, people would sing Bennie and the Jets to me and I wouldn't understand what they were doing - when I was 5 years old I didn't really know who Elton John was, you know? But that was throughout my whole school life, which was actually pretty cool. Eventually I finally listened to it and I dug it," he laughs.

The other memory he had was less of a laugh - more of a cry, actually.

He recalls sitting glued to the TV at 7 years old as Candle in the Wind played at Princess Diana's funeral.

"I'm pretty sure I cried when he played that. My mum would've cried, my dad would've cried, and I probably would've joined in.

"But every time I hear that song I think of Princess Diana."

And later, as he began to try his hand in the world of music, it was Elton John that lent some inspiration, and something to aspire to. Fans will be able to make their own mind up when Tipene's debut album, Bricks, comes out on October 17.

"I learned piano before guitar and he was one of the guys that sort of blew me away the most. I couldn't really tackle his music because he's pretty good.

"I mean, I learned the chords but I couldn't do all the fancy fills and that sort of thing - he's a bit of a legend. I'd love to see him some day."

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17 years ago: "Candle In the Wind 1997"
Sunday, October 12 2014

"Goodbye England's rose, may you ever grow in our hearts / You were the grace that placed itself where lives were torn apart."

With those words, Elton John rechristened "Candle in the Wind" from 1973's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as "Candle In the Wind 1997," a tribute to the late Princess of Wales, Diana. And 17 years ago on October 11, 2014, that homage to the late princess began its 14-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

"Candle In the Wind 1997" may be one of the biggest anomalies in music history. In a year dominated by Spice Girls, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Puff Daddy, a 24-year-old song from a 50-year-old classic rocker dominated the charts. Not to mention it's the rare No. 1 hit that was performed just once in a live setting -- at a funeral.

Furthermore, it remains one of the most divisive hits of the decade. While "Candle In the Wind 1997" sold in excess of 10 million units in the U.S. alone -- it achieved diamond status and remains the best-selling physical single of all time in the U.S. -- British listeners voted it one of the most-loathed No. 1 hits just four years after its international success.

Haters aside, the rewritten "Candle In the Wind" came from a place of deep reverence. Like most of the world, Elton was shocked when a car crash claimed the life of 36-year-old Diana on August 31, 1997. But unlike most of the planet, Elton was a close, personal friend of Lady Di's.

So while the world mourned and coverage of Diana's death dominated the news, Elton called up his longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, with the idea of rewriting their ode to Marilyn Monroe (which was not released as a U.S. single in the '70s) as a tribute to Princess Diana. George Martin wrote a string arrangment for it, and less than three weeks after her funeral, it was officially released.

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