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ELTON JOHN NEWS
40 Years Ago: John Lennon makes his last concert appearance
Friday, November 28 2014
Dual legends initially grew up around John Lennon‘s November 28, 1974 appearance on stage with Elton John at Madison Square Garden: That he only appeared there after losing a bet. And that a backstage moment marked Lennon’s reunion with Yoko Ono, after his co-called “Lost Weekend.”
One turns out to be true, while the other most certainly is not.
Sadly, history replaced them both. The beauty of this night, the fun, and even the hagiography of a romance rekindled would be tragically obscured by Lennon’s awful murder a little more than six years later. A hail of assassin’s bullets ensured that this offhand stage performance — unannounced that night, until just before Lennon came on stage — would be the former Beatles star’s last.
It began with the bet. Elton John sang and played piano on both ‘Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)’ and ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’ for Lennon’s 1974 album ‘Walls and Bridges.’ To that point, Lennon had been the only former Beatle who’d never achieved a solo No. 1 single — a streak Elton suggested would be snapped by ‘Whatever Gets You.’ So confident was Elton, in fact, that he suggested a little wager.
“He sang harmony on it and he really did a damn good job,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “So, I sort of halfheartedly promised that if ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ became No. 1, which I had no reason to expect, I’d do Madison Square Garden with him. So one day Elton called and said, ‘Remember when you promised …’” “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’ had moved past Bachman-Turner Overdrive‘s ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ that November to top the Billboard singles charts.
At this point, 40 years ago, Lennon hadn’t made a full-length performance since 1972′s ‘One to One’ concert, also held at the Garden. To get over the pre-show jitters, he’d actually slipped into an earlier Elton John show at Boston. “I was thinking ‘Thank God it isn’t me,’ as he was getting dressed to go on,” Lennon told Scheff. “I went through my stage fright at Boston so, by the time I got to Madison Square, I had a good time — and when I walked on they were all screaming and shouting. It was like Beatlemania. I was thinking ‘What is this?’ ’cause I hadn’t heard it since the Beatles.”
Carrying a black Fender Telecaster, Lennon performed a total of only three songs, opening with the new hit then following with ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ — which Elton John had recently covered with Lennon on vocals and guitar, releasing it just 10 days before this show — and a surprise nugget from even further back in the Beatles catalog.
“He suggested ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’” Lennon told Scheff, “and I thought ‘great,’ because I never sang the original of that. Paul [McCartney] sang it and I did the harmony.” On stage, Lennon introduced the old favorite with an impish quip: “We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick, and we thought we’d do a number of an old, estranged fiance of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang, it’s an old Beatle number, and we just about know it.”
Lennon later admitted his on-stage partner was in tears. “I just went up and did a few numbers,” Lennon told Pete Hamill in 1975. “But the emotional thing was me and Elton together. Elton had been working in [early Beatles music publisher] Dick James’ office when we used to send our demos in, and there’s a long sort of relationship musically with Elton that people don’t really know about. He has this sort of Beatle thing from way back. … Well, it meant a lot to me and it meant a hell of a lot to Elton.”
The setlist was actually a point of contention, as Elton initially insisted that Lennon perform his 1971 anthem ‘Imagine.’ Lennon demurred, telling Scheff that he “didn’t want to come on like Dean Martin doing my classic hits. I wanted to have some fun and play some rock and roll — and I didn’t want to do more than three, because it was Elton’s show after all.” Their live take on ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ later appeared as the b-side to Elton John’s single ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ in February 1975.
By then, Yoko Ono and John Lennon were back together — ending a separation that began in the summer of 1973. In truth, however, this concert provided only the first stirrings of reconciliation after a lengthy period away. That period, often referred to by Lennon as his “Lost Weekend,” was dotted with the headline-grabbing foibles of a single man on the prowl again. But Lennon had also been on a creative tear.
Beyond the success of ‘Whatever Gets You,’ this same 16-month era of reckless second bachelorhood found him scoring a Top 10 hit with ‘#9 Dream’ and a Top 20 hit in his remake of ‘Stand By Me’; making important assists on a pair of other No. 1 smashes (David Bowie’s ‘Fame,’ as well as Elton John’s update of ‘Lucy’); giving away notable songs to Ringo Starr (the Top 10 hit ‘Goodnight Vienna‘), Johnny Winter (‘Rock and Roll People’) and Keith Moon (‘Move Over Ms. L’); and producing Harry Nilsson’s 1974 album ‘Pussy Cats.
’ Most of that was obscured, however, in a haze of booze-soaked debauchery. “Suddenly, I was out on me own,” Lennon told Hamill. ‘Next thing, I’d be waking up, drunk, in strange places or reading about meself in the paper, doin’ extraordinary things — half of which I’d done and half of which I hadn’t done, but you know the game, anyway.”
Lennon subsequently insisted that he was unaware that his wife was in the audience on this historic occasion at Madison Square Garden. But Lennon had actually arranged for tickets, and Ono in turn had sent the orchids that Lennon and Elton John memorably sported on stage. Nevertheless, what happened following the show was undoubtedly real. “She was backstage afterward, and there was just that moment when we saw each other and like, it’s like in the movies, you know, when time stands still?” Lennon said, “and there was silence. Everything went silent, y’know, and we were just sort of lookin’ at each other.”
After the concert, however, Lennon and May Pang — the assistant with whom Lennon had been in a relationship while living and working in Los Angeles — actually left together for a party at a New York hotel. There was even a rumor that the couple was planning to buy a home in one of the city’s buroughs, before Lennon returned to Ono. In the interim, Lennon reportedly wooed Yoko as if they were unwed singles, taking her to a exhibition of work by Man Ray, and to the movies.
Years later, Ono would admit that it was actually McCartney who had played a critical role in saving this marriage. She says Paul and his wife Linda visited Ono in early 1974, and the subject of reconciling with John loomed large. McCartney then traveled to L.A., advising him to return to New York and work on his relationship. McCartney might have figured that Ono was the only one who could save his old friend. Certainly, a drug-fueled attempt at collaborating — also, alas, Lennon and McCartney’s last together — had gone nowhere.
After the release of Lennon’s oldies package ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ also in February 1975, he filmed a three-song television appearance in honor of latter-day Beatles music publisher Sir Lew Grade, which aired that summer. In the fall, Ono gave birth to their son Sean — on the elder Lennon’s birthday, no less. A five-year retirement followed, as Lennon focused on being a father, and then a short-lived comeback before he was tragically gunned down by a lunatic fan on the streets of his adopted hometown.
John Lennon would never perform on stage again — making his first words after the Elton John collaboration eerily prophetic. “When I came off stage,” Lennon told Scheff, “I said to the waiting journalists, ‘It was good fun, but I wouldn’t like to do it for a living.’”
Elton John and band performed in Munich on November 27, 2014
Friday, November 28 2014
Fan report by Stephan Heimbecher.
Almost exactly six years after Elton took "The Red Piano" to Munich's Olmpic hall, he returned to the major concert arena of the Bavarian capital with his "Greatest Hits Live" tour on November 27, 2014 - for which turned out to be my 119th Elton concert since May 1984.
I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical at first as the setlist I had seen him perform during the European shows so far wasn't the most exciting for a die-hard fan with that many previous concert experiences. And as much as it hurts to put it that way, I wish I had a fast-forward button for songs such as "Daniel", "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and even "Tiny Dancer". I simply heard those too often.
Earlier in the day the concert announcement in the local newspaper had put a condescending smile on my face as they treated Ray Cooper as a regular member of the Elton John Band - I wish! But then there he was, not on stage I'm afraid, but sitting in the audience just two rows behind me, obviously enjoying the show, which began at 8.00 pm sharp.
Bright Light Bright Light had started the evening with a 20-minute set at 7.30 pm before Elton came on after what felt like the shortest stage conversion ever. And he wouldn't leave until 10.35 pm and a set which - despite my aforementioned "let's skip this" attacks - was quite entertaining and energetic.
The first real highlight for me was "Rocket Man" - another song that I have probably heard too often, but tour after tour Elton and the band manage to give this opus a whole new touch. This time it wasn't only for the new piano intro, but much more for Elton's singing style that gave me goosebumps during the song.
Another highlight was his brief solo set of "The One" and "The Greatest Discovery", which I like to refer to as the David-Zachary-Elijah double feature. "The Greatest Discovery" certainly isn't a crowd pleaser, but it's an island of joy for the real Elton fans. The general public, however, was becalmed by songs such as "Your Song" and "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" shortly afterwards.
Elton came on stage with one of those grumpy faces that makes you fear that he will throw a trantrum over whatever the next minute and cut the show short. However, sucking up the energy of the 12,000+ in the audience, which he later referred to as "Bavarian roar", he soon warmed up and was extremely thankful for the support he had received from his German fans over the 46 years of his career.
So all early scepticism aside, I could book another great Elton John concert experience in Munich last night thanks to an enthusiastic Elton and band. Sadly, Davey seems to have not overcome his back problems yet and was taking a seat during many of the slower songs. Get well soon!
Following is the complete setlist of the Munich show on November 27, 2014:
Funeral For A Friend
Love Lies Bleeding
Bennie And The Jets
Candle In The Wind
All The Girls Love Alice
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
The One (solo)
The Greatest Discovery (solo)
Burn Down The Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
The Bitch Is Back
I'm Still Standing
Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll)
Statoil Masters Tennis 2014
Wednesday, November 26 2014
With a week to go until the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, Elton John and Billie Jean King have selected their teams for finals day on December 7, 2014, when a special Mylan World TeamTennis charity match will be held.
The charity match – Mylan WTT Smash Hits presented by Walgreens and AmerisourceBergen – will pit Team Billie Jean against Team Elton, with proceeds from the night going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. This is the first time the event will be held outside the United States in its 22-year history.
Team Billie Jean will be represented by Kim Clijsters, Tim Henman, Sabine Lisicki and Jamie Murray, who is in for the injured Greg Rusedski. In the ATP Champions Tour draw earlier in the week, the 2002 Wimbledon semi-finalist Xavier Malisse will replace Rusedski. On Team Elton John are Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis and Heather Watson.
The match will feature men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The order of play is:
Women’s doubles: Hingis/Watson (Team Elton) vs Clijsters/Lisicki (Team Billie Jean)
Men’s doubles: McEnroe/Roddick (Team Elton) vs Henman/Murray (Team Billie Jean)
Women’s singles: Watson (Team Elton) vs Lisicki (Team Billie Jean)
Mixed doubles: McEnroe/Hingis (Team Elton) vs Murray/Clijsters (Team Billie Jean)
Men’s singles: Roddick (Team Elton) vs Henman (Team Billie Jean)
The Statoil Masters, an IMG-owned and staged event which is now in its 18th year, runs from 3-7 December, 2014. It features Roddick, Henman, Fernando Gonzalez, Thomas Enqvist, Xavier Malisse and Sergi Bruguera in an ATP Champions Tour event, with McEnroe taking on Pat Cash and Henri Leconte in exhibition matches. Mansour Bahrami, Jamie Murray, and former British Davis Cup player Ross Hutchins are all part of the doubles field.
The Statoil Masters Tennis has enjoyed record ticket-sales so far in 2014 and the last remaining tickets are still available, with prices from £18.50 per person, at statoilmasterstennis.com/tickets/ or by calling the Royal Albert Hall box office on: +44 (0) 20 7070 4404. Hospitality packages are also available via www.statoilmasterstennis.com/hospitality or by calling +44 (0) 20 8233 5854.
"Billy Elliot The Musical Live" DVD/Blu-ray
Tuesday, November 25 2014
What could be better than seeing Billy Elliot tap his little heart out on stage?
How about 25 Billy Elliots tapping their little hearts out on stage? This extraordinary musical moment came in a recent one-off show that was broadcast live around the world - topping the UK box office in the process.
Past stars, including all three original Olivier Award winning Billys (James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower), are joined by current stars Elliott Hanna, Bradley Perret, Ollie Jochim and Matteo Zecca for this show-stopping number.
And now you can enjoy all the leaping about from the comfort of your own sofas with the home entertainment release of Billy Elliot The Musical Live.
Billy Elliot The Musical is, of course, based on Stephen Daldry's smash hit film from 2000. Daldry himself gives a special introduction to this unique filmed performance. The film made a star of Jamie Bell and featured the fabulous Julie Walters as his cranky dance teacher in a small northern mining town in the midst of the 1984/5 miners' strike. West End star Ruthie Henshall plays the role in this special production.
Billy Elliot the Musical has been packing them in at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre since 2005. The show has been seen by more than 10 million people in productions around the world and has won 10 Tony and five Olivier Awards.
With music by Elton John, its tale of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true takes Billy out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.
"Billy Elliot The Musical Live" is out on DVD, Digital Download and Blu-ray on November 24, 2014.
Lady Gaga: Sir Elton John 'saved' me
Sunday, November 23 2014
Lady Gaga has revealed Elton John "saved" her, following her two-year battle with a drug addiction.
Lady Gaga was "saved" by Elton John. The 'Pokerface' hitmaker - who battled a drug addiction for two years - has revealed how he helped her through the hard times.
She said: "It's pretty messed up being friends with people who used to have drug and alcohol problems, like Elton. He got me on the straight and narrow. He was telling me: 'Gaga, you're smoking too much'. He saved me."
Lady Gaga - who is the godmother of Elton and his partner, David Furnish's son Elijah - has revealed that she realised she needed help for her addiction at her best friend, Bo O'Connor's wedding last year. She said: "I've been friends with Bo for 20 years but when she got married I was her maid of honour. I was going through a really hard time and I was high and I was f***ed up throughout her whole wedding. For the rehearsals, for the planning, for the day - and I look back on that day and I remember it, but I'm really sorry I was f***ed up at her wedding because she deserved a sober maid of honour."
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old singer has revealed that she is still on the road to recovery. Speaking at her artRAVE tour in Sheffield, England as reported in the Sun newspaper, she said: "I'm sober now. Sometimes. Not always. Just when I'm on stage."
Billy Joel to set Madison Square Garden record
Saturday, November 22 2014
The 65-year-old piano man will surpass the record set by his former tour mate Elton John with a show on July 1, 2015, which will be part of his residency at the New York venue.
Billy Joel will set a record for the most performances by any artist at Madison Square Garden with this upcoming 65th show scheduled for this summer. Tickets for the record-breaking show, as well as his performances scheduled in May and June 2015, will go on sale to the general public on November 22, 2014.
The Grammy-winning artist was announced last year as the first-ever music franchise of the Garden. The July 1, 2015 show will be the 19th performance as a part of the residency, which has included monthly concerts from the singer songwriter throughout 2014.
ABC to celebrate Disney musicals on Broadway with TV special
Friday, November 21 2014
Disney will celebrate 20 years of making Broadway magic with a prime-time, hour-long special next month on ABC that highlights many of its musicals, including "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," "Aida," "Tarzan," "The Little Mermaid," "Mary Poppins," "Newsies" and "Aladdin."
"Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years," will air December 14, 2014 at 7 p.m. It will be hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson of "Modern Family" and have performances by Elton John, Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen ("Nashville"), Ashley Brown ("Mary Poppins") and Adam Jacobs ("Aladdin").
Viewers will get to see the touring cast of "Newsies" prepare for opening night in Philadelphia, see backstage during a performance of "Aladdin," and witness a special rehearsal of "The Lion King."
Elton fan gathering in Munich
Thursday, November 20 2014
With Elton and band performing two shows in the south of Germany on November 27, 2014 (Munich) and November 29, 2014 (Nuernberg), there is the opportunity for a fan gathering on November 28, 2014.
When we proposed to have a bigger fan convention back in the summer (see "Elton Fan Convention in Munich?") the feedback was rather disappointing. By far there were not enough people to justify the organisation of a major event. However, we don't want to cancel these plans altogether.
So if you will be attending the Munich show on November 27, 2014 and if you will still be in town the following date, let me know if you are interested in an informal fan gathering in Munich on November 28, 2014. Simply drop me a mail at email@example.com. And if you are local, please feel free to recommend a place to meet, or if you are from abroad, let me know what kind of Munich experience you would be up to.
Would you like to buy Elton John's Ferrari?
Tuesday, November 18 2014
A Ferrari originally owned by Elton John is set to fetch around a quarter of a million pounds at auction on Sunday, November 30, 2014.
The Dino 246GT Coupe - in Hornets' yellow - was bought new by the former Watford FC owner-chairman for an undisclosed sum in November 1972, the month he entered the record charts with "Crocodile Rock". Six months later, on June 15, 1973, Elton "gifted" the car to his loyal drummer, Nigel Olsson.
Since then the car has had five other careful owners but has done only 29,200 miles in 42 years. Elton clocked up 5,600 miles were during the six months he owned it. Now the car is up for sale again and it is expected to fetch between £220,000 and £280,000 at Bonhams in London.
The auctioneers say it is "a rare opportunity to acquire a fully documented, low-mileage example of this iconic V6 Ferrari, possessing the additional cachet of A-List celebrity ownership".
Nigel Olsson owned the Ferrari for less than a year before selling it to a Mr Doug Hodson in May 1974. Mr Hodson kept the car for five years until May 1979, when he sold it to Mr J.J.Baynes, of Surrey. Five months later, in October 1979, Mr Baynes sold the car to a Miss V.J.Carlaw, of Glasgow. Miss Carlaw held on to it until December 1993, when she sold it to Mr R.J.Matthews, of London. Mr Matthews sold the car to its present owner - whose name has not been revealed by auctioneers Bonhams - in 2002.
At Christie’s in London, on June 5, 2001, Elton John sold 20 of his cars - including three other Ferraris - for almost £2 million. These included his 1986 Ferrari 412 Sports for £42,300; his 1987 Ferrari Testarossa for £49,350; and his 1992 Ferrari 512TR for £89,550. His 1978 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe - which Elton once had re-sprayed in the yellow and black colours of his beloved Hornets - sold for £80,750.
It was comparatively inexpensive to run a Ferrari Dino, when Elton John bought the car new in 1972, because in a gallon of petrol - a gallon, not a litre - cost just 36 pence.