Elton tells Matt Lauer he'll 'quietly' marry David
Monday, March 31 2014
Elton told TODAY's Matt Lauer that wedding bells will chime as early as May 2014 for him and David now that gay marriage is legal in England.
"We'll do it very quietly," Elton told Matt in an interview that will air in two parts exclusively on TODAY. "But we will do it and it will be a joyous occasion and we will have our children." They have two kids together, Zachary, 3, and Elijah, 1.
"I'm very proud of Britain and the laws that we've seen come into existence since we've been together," Elton said. "Having our civil partnership was an incredible breakthrough for people that have campaigned for a long time — through the '60s and the '50s in England when it was so hard to be gay and hard to be open about it. And it was a criminal act. So for this legislation to come through is joyous, and we should celebrate it. We shouldn't just say, 'Oh, well we have a civil partnership. We're not going to bother to get married.' We will get married."
The pair have been in a civil partnership since 2005, which Elton said had a "huge impact" on their commitment. "We didn't think it would make much difference to our relationship, but it solidified our relationship." Their friends and family have been waiting anxiously for the news since the law allowing gay marriage in England passed. "The phone's been ringing off the hook," Furnish said, who joined in on the interview.
Elton also discussed the 40th anniversary of his landmark album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." Calling music his "soul mate," Elton told Matt it has been with him through "sadness, through laughter, through love." Now 67, Elton said he is still as involved in his work as ever. "I love it as much now as I did," he said. "I don't like the fame part of it, and I don't like the technology part of it so much. But, the thrill of the music will never die for me ... when you hear somebody young, like Lorde, or someone like that, making a record like she did, and you think, 'You're 16,' I am flabbergasted. And it makes you want to write the best song in the world, because you just cannot believe that this music has come out of someone so young, and so brilliant."
Elton and David to wed in May
Saturday, March 29 2014
It looks like Elton John and David Furnish will get married in an English registry office in May 2014, with their two kids Elijah and Zachary in tow, plus a few friends.
David told Doug Elfman of the Las Vegas Review-Journal this news on March 28, 2014 while they sat in a luxurious booth at the Caesars Palace lounge he created, Fizz Las Vegas. Elton and David entered a British civil partnership eight years ago. But March 29, 2014 is the first day gay couples can legally wed in England.
“We don’t feel the need to take an extra step legally. But since we’re committed for life, we feel it’s really important to take that step, and take advantage of that amazing change in legislation. We all live by example,” David said. “We do like big parties,” he added. “Over eight years ago, we had 650 people on the 21st of December at our house in Windsor. But with the kids, everything is different. I think what we’ll do is go to a registry office in England in May, and take the boys with us, and a couple of witnesses.”
David wears large tattoos of the boys’ names on the inside of his forearms in Old Gothic script, “Elijah” on the left arm, “Zachary” on the right. Elton has their names tattooed on his back, David said. He and Elton entered a civil partnership as a symbolic way to support the movement that so many people had struggled to achieve, and to acknowledge their commitment to each other. Civil partnership changed them more than they expected.
“After we did it, we felt this amazing sense of commitment and happiness we didn’t anticipate happening. It’s a really nice thing,” David said. “Initially, the political side of you is like, ‘No, no, we must have equality.’ When you finally get it, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, this feels really nice.’ It’s a lifting thing.” When David was younger, he never thought he’d get the opportunity to marry. “I remember trying to come out to my mother and unfortunately going to all the negatives. ‘You’ll never get married. You’ll never have children. You’ll never be accepted by society. You’ll be prejudiced against. You won’t have a future.’ I resigned myself to having a different life. I found it particularly difficult and challenging, because I came from a wonderful marriage; my parents are madly in love still. They’ve been married over 60 years. I wanted what they had. I came from a happy union, and I loved the associations I had from that. I felt very loved and encouraged.”
He was frustrated when he found out marriage between two loved ones was forbidden. “I found it particularly painful.” But the world is changing. “We’re living in extraordinary times. My god, 20 years ago, when I started seeing Elton, if you asked me if I’d be able to get married, if I’d be able to have children, it was unthinkable, literally unimaginable.” David believes people’s exposure to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people through our “more media-intensive times” has helped many people reexamine previous biases. “With access to more information, the barriers come down.”
“I went to high school with Eric McCormack,” who starred on “Will & Grace,” Furnish said. “We were in the same drama program together. It’s funny how life works, coming from the same little conservative suburb of Toronto, but you find yourself years later in a room in L.A., saying, ‘OK, I’m in this super high-profile gay relationship, and you’re in this super high-profile gay TV series. Who’d have thought?’”
Gay couple turned down by wedding venue
Friday, March 28 2014
A gay couple who found their dream location to tie the knot were disappointed when the wedding venue refused to allow them to book it because the owner did not like the fact that the couple are gay - despite advertising their venue with a quote from gay married musician Elton John.
Owner of the Hochzeits-Schloss Altenhof (Wedding Palace Altenhof) in Upper Austria did not mince his words when giving the couple the reason why their booking for their special day had been cancelled, saying: "As a devout Catholic I have not the slightest understanding for such partnerships and we do not make our spaces available for such events."
Ironically, right at the top of the page advertising the venue for weddings is a quote from gay married musician Elton John. "Over the years I found that perfect invitations, to be remembered, combine comfortable tradition with refreshing new ideas," reads the quote from Elton John, who tied the knot with his partner David Furnish in a civil partnership ceremony in 2005.
During his five-decade spanning career in the spotlight, Elton John has rarely been seen without a pair of tinted glasses.
However he was photographed minus his favourite accessory on March 26, 2014 during a solo day out in West Hollywood. Blending into the background in a very casual outfit, the 67-year-old was seen browsing what store Book Soup had to offer, before leaving empty handed.
Elton was reportedly flanked by bodyguards for his solo outing, minus his partner David Furnish and sons Zachary and Elijah. Later in the day, Elton was back in business as he strolled through the sunny streets in a retro style blue pair of shades. He teamed the eye-catching look with a black Adidas hooded top, complete with zip-up front, and a matching pair of tracksuit bottoms.
Elton tweeted the previous day to say: 'Elton John 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' 40th Anniversary editions out now.' The post was in reference to his seminal double album, written by Bernie Taupin and recorded in just 18 days, which turned him into a pop legend. To coincide with the special date, Elton is set to perform five live dates across the UK from June 21, 2014, starting at Leigh Sports Stadium, before taking the show out to the US and Europe.
Despite enjoying some brief time off from looking after his children on the day, Elton told Ellen DeGeneres that he and David take their sons everywhere on her show late last year. 'Every moment of the day you think about them. Your whole priorities in your life change. It's all about them,' he said. 'It's just amazing.'
Gary Barlow To duet with Elton film on tour
Wednesday, March 26 2014
British pop star Gary Barlow will recreate his duet with Elton every night on his upcoming tour by broadcasting a recording of the Rocket Man on giant Tv screens.
The Take That star included a track with his hero, Face to Face, on his 2013 solo album "Since I Saw You Last," and he was determined to treat his fans to a rendition of the song when he hits the road.
However, Barlow knew he would not be able to convince Elton to join him on his upcoming U.K. tour, so he filmed Elton performing the track and will 'duet' with the video at every concert.
Barlow tells U.K. TV show This Morning, "I videoed Elton singing the song. He is going to be on screen - the big screen. I said to the production man, 'Don't make him bigger than me! It's my show, remember.'"
TODAY to air exclusive interview with Elton
Wednesday, March 26 2014
Matt Lauer sits down with Elton John in an exclusive interview to air March 31, 2014 on NBC's TODAY.
Elton will discuss the 40th anniversary of the release of his landmark album, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which is being specially re-released. David Furnish will also join part of the interview. The interview will be available on TODAY.com after it airs.
Elton extends record for most AC Hits
Tuesday, March 25 2014
Elton extends his record for the most appearances in the nearly 53-year history of Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, as "Can't Stay Alone Tonight" enters at No. 27. The song marks his 70th entry on the ranking.
The song is the second single from Elton's 30th studio album (and first on Capitol Records), "The Diving Board." Lead track "Home Again" reached No. 14 in September 2013. "[Bernie Taupin and I] wrote 11 songs and recorded them in four days," Elton told Billboard last year of the set. Mixing gospel, blues, jazz, brass band and pop the album is "everything I love about American music." The album has sold 142,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Here's an updated look at the artists with the most entries in the Adult Contemporary chart's archives:
70, Elton John 64, Barbra Streisand 58, Neil Diamond 53, Elvis Presley 50, Barry Manilow 50, Johnny Mathis 48, Frank Sinatra 47, Kenny Rogers 46, Herb Alpert/Tijuana Brass 45, Dionne Warwick
Elton first charted on AC with the No. 9-peaking classic "Your Song," which bowed on the December 26, 1970, ranking. Aloe Blacc has interpolated the ballad in his single "The Man," which last week hit the Billboard Hot 100's top 10, granting Elton and Bernie their first top 10 as writers since 1998.
OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder also confirmed to Billboard earlier in March 2014 that he's finished a dance song with Elton's vocals, produced and co-written with Swedish House Mafia's Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell for an as-yet-undetermined project.
Along with holding the record for the most AC visits, Elton also boasts the most No. 1s (15, a mark he shares with the Carpenters) and top 10s (39). When Billboard celebrated the survey's 50th anniversary in 2011, Elton was honored as the chart's all-time top performer.
Elton will turn 67 on March 25, 2014, but seems to be focusing more on the 40th anniversary of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" than on his own special day.
Having just finished a number of shows in the US during which he featured a number of songs from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", Elton is getting ready for another set of "The Million Dollar Piano" performances in Las Vegas late March to late April 2014.
On behalf of the Hercules team and all the fans around the world, we would like to wish him all the best and a happy birthday!
Hello Yellow Brick Road: Elton John's greatest work, 40 years on
Monday, March 24 2014
Forty years after Elton John released his biggest hit, The Independent hears how it continues to influence a new generation of stars, so much so that they want to do it all again.
It’s 40 years since Elton John released his seminal double album, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," written with Bernie Taupin. Astonishingly, it was recorded in just 18 days – despite its ambitious scope, taking in rock’n’roll, soulful melodies, prog flights, reggae grooves and piano balladry. The broad approach worked: it spent eight weeks at No 1 in the US, selling 30 million, and turned Elton into a pop legend.
To celebrate the milestone, a clutch of younger artists have skipped down his golden songwriting path, re-recording eight classic tracks for a special reissue of the album. While his credibility may have wavered over the decades, Elton’s star has arguably never been higher than now: his work is part of our musical make-up, a key influence on generations of recording artists. Here, some of those involved in the re-release reveal what Elton means to them.
John Grant - ‘Sweet Painted Lady’
“His music is just part of my musical vocabulary, inextricable from the fibres of my musical being. Elton John is a legend, a trailblazer. He’s been a superstar almost as long as I’ve been alive.
“It would have been in the 1970s [that I first heard Goodbye Yellow Brick Road], because my brothers had it. I remember looking at the vinyl and being fascinated with the pictures. I loved ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, it’s such an amazing song – but it doesn’t seem like there’s a weak one on that album. ‘Bennie and the Jets’ – ah man, I saw him do that live recently at Madison Square Garden and it’s just the most amazing groove.
“I found out through my manager that I’d been asked to cover ‘Sweet Painted Lady’, and I was just certain that it must be a lie! But it turned out to be true and it’s a huge honour for me.”
Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) - ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’
“Being a kid of the 1980s, [Goodbye Yellow Brick Road] was already so in the lexicon that I’ve never really had to get to know it.
“He has that many smash hits, actual quality smash hits, that it’s easy to forget they’re all from the same guy. Everything from The Lion King to ‘Rocket Man’ … he has a definable sound but he’s definitely versatile.
“When you’re brought up with someone like that, either you are influenced by it or you’re reacting to it: every time I sit down to the piano, I’m either trying to sound like Elton John or trying not to sound like Elton John. Those are really my only two choices. He’s left that big a mark.
“It’s important to have people who are more worried about being good at what they do than being cool. A lot of my favourite things weren’t cool in their era, that’s a badge of honour if anything ... [He’s] relevant and he stays relevant and pop music doesn’t have anyone else like that.
“When [the producer] Peter Asher contacted us about working on the album, I just said, ‘Oh sure, does Elton want to work with us on our record, too?’, totally bluffing, thinking the answer was no. But [he] said yes and I was stunned. It was surreal. He’s very easy to know – I mean, he’s still someone I respect immensely, he’s a freakin’ legend – but he’s also the nicest guy ever.”
Imelda May - ‘Your Sister Can’t Twist [But She Can Rock’n’Roll]’
“Elton John has always got the acknowledgement he deserves, but now you see the extent of his work, the volume of great songs and hits, and how varied the styles are along the way. And he’s still writing great songs. He’s also endlessly creative: he could have sat back years ago, said, ‘Made my money, I’m done,’ but his passion is music.
“This album has always been there, it was in the family home when I was a kid. I’ve always liked it but it was as I got older that I appreciated that the songs are absolutely fantastic. When you’re a kid, you sing and dance along, and then, when you get older, you think, ‘Wow, what a talent’.
“I got a call from Peter Asher, and he said, ‘I think this song would be perfect for you to do’. And I nearly bit his arm off! I was hugely flattered, and then the pressure was on. You think, ‘why am I re-recording something done so perfectly already?’ But I was dying to do it, and the song is terrific. It drives along like a steam train.
“This is the first time I’ve sworn in a song – so Elton John got me to say ‘shit’ in a song. It’s all his fault!”
Ed Sheeran - ‘Candle in the Wind’
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was cemented in my ears from the age of zero, pretty much. My dad was a massive fan. If you grow up with something, it can never not be cool. And I didn’t worry too much about that when I was a teenager, and I definitely listened to a lot of Elton. Melodically, you can hear him in all popular culture today – including my music – he’s left a magic stamp.
“[Elton] rang me up and said, ‘I want you to cover “Candle in the Wind”.’
“To be honest, it definitely intimidated me to begin with … that song’s so important to the country, so I just didn’t want to mess it up. I remember watching Princess Diana’s funeral and seeing [Elton performing] it.
“I approached it from a different angle, to detach it from [the original recording] and from the Diana thing. I wasn’t intending to give it a country twinge, it was meant to be a cappella … but it just turned out like that.
“Elton was really keen on getting me a spot to perform at the Grammys [in 2013]: he contacted them and said, ‘If you book Ed, I’ll play with him’.
“We’re also in email contact – he’s a lot more clued up on music than anyone that I know, including me! He runs the management company that I’m signed to, so he’s involved in every aspect of my career. It’s invaluable, I’d say, having someone with that amount of expertise around you.”
Peter Asher (re-issue Producer)
“I’ve known Elton John forever. I remember when he did the famous Troubadour date in Los Angeles that broke him in America – I was there and we were already friends. The place was packed, but no one knew quite what to expect. Elton and that band just blew the roof off the place. And the buzz spread as quickly then as if it had been today with the internet and tweeting: it just seemed, like within 24 hours, everybody had heard about this incredible, amazing, over-the-top British piano player and singer.
“The opportunity to reapproach those songs that you know by heart was just amazing. You’re not trying, in any way, to say that you could do anything better. But the idea of putting a new angle on them was intriguing. Hearing someone else re-sing them, you realise how good the songs really are.”
The U.S. and U.K. arms of the Elton John AIDS Foundation have raised more than $300 million in the past two decades, and a good chunk of that comes from the singer’s annual Oscar bash, a glitzy, celebrity-studded affair that ends up assisting some of the neediest among those afflicted with the disease.
In 2014, Elton’s party raised $5.1 million. Mid March 2014, Funders for LGBTQ Issues identified Elton’s foundation as the largest funder of programs for black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals. “In America, we’re now the biggest funder of African-Americans, other minority groups, IV drug users, people in prison,” Elton said in a recent interview. “I want to concentrate on the people who could get left behind because the funding’s being cut. We stand for those people. We’re not going to let them be forgotten.”
Blacks make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 46 percent of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A sample of young black gay men in Atlanta was found to have an annual HIV infection rate of 12 percent, indicating that a young gay man who becomes sexually active at 18 has a 60 percent chance of being HIV-positive by age 30, according to a new Emory University study. The study also showed that a lack of health care and high rates of incarceration and unemployment contribute to those high numbers.
Annual LGBT grant dollars pegged per black LGBT adult in America is $2.90, less than half the national average spent for LGBT adults in general.
Foundation Chairman David Furnish said in a statement, “We are committed to reversing the tide of HIV infection in the black LGBTQ community. That is why we awarded more than $1.3 million for programs focused on this disproportionately affected community during 2011-2012 and will continue our work until everyone has access to the prevention methods, care and treatment they need.”
Elton and foundation organizers continue to decry the slow pace of progress against the AIDS epidemic. The singer is more encouraged by gains in marriage equality. Same-sex couples can marry in 16 states, and polling shows majority support. “It’s a gradual process,” Elton said. “I’m a great believer in the public being good at heart. (Republicans) ran on anti-gay marriage and stuff like that, but more people are in favor of equality than the people who are against it. People may rail against it and raise their ugly heads, but the reality in America is that the dominos are falling. I’m not so sure about the rest of the world, in places like Uganda, Russia and India.”
Elton and David, partners since 1993, formed a civil partnership in England in 2005 and have two sons born to a surrogate mother. They plan to marry in England, where same-sex marriage legislation was passed last year and takes effect March 29, 2014.
“When we get back to England in the springtime, we’ll get married,” Elton said. “It won’t be a big occasion. It will be private. In my lifetime, I never thought I’d be able to have a civil partnership and also be able to marry my partner. You bet I’m going to take advantage of the laws that so many people have fought to change over the years. I’m thrilled.”
Taupin supports "Art in a Box"
Thursday, March 20 2014
Art in a Box brings together fifteen famous names from the worlds of music, comedy and sport for a fantastic, artistic extravaganza.
Having received a personally engraved art box – containing paints, an easel and canvases – the participants have each been invited to paint one or more pictures inspired by the theme Upbeat. Each piece of art measures 8″ X 8″ and will be framed to the highest of standards and will be issued with a certificate of authenticity.
The Art in a Box exhibition takes place at London’s Store Street Gallery – just off Tottenham Court Road – from May 19 to 23, 2014.
George Michael covers "Idol" on new "Symphonica" album
Wednesday, March 19 2014
George Michael’s new album "Symphonica" is his first in 10 years since the critically-acclaimed "Patience".
For his return to the charts, George has done something a little different with "Symphonica" which was recorded during the tour of the same name in 2011 and 2012. Working with producer Phil Ramone, George has recorded a mixture of his classic hits along with carefully selected cover versions backed by an orchestra. Many of the tracks on the album were recorded live allowing fans to hear George’s voice free from any studio manipulation of gimmicks.
Across the album George revisits hits from his catalogue including "Praying For Time", "One More Try" and "John and Elvis Are Dead". Backed by an orchestra these songs sound as incredible as they always have with George’s voice soaring and driving through the melodies.
Of the covers on the album George’s version of Elton John’s "Idol" is a standout moment, as is his foray into jazzier sounds on standard "My Baby Just Cares For Me".
Elton still wants to make Hip-Hop records
Wednesday, March 19 2014
"I just don't know how to do it," he says. "I might do a couple of tracks with Pharrell."
Elton's newest album "The Diving Board" is about as far away from hip-hop as you can get, but that doesn't mean Elton's longstanding fascination with the genre has died down. He's been thinking about somehow incorporating hip-hop beats into his music for years and even had recording time booked with Eminem in 2006, though he had the misfortune of landing in Detroit for the session on the very day that Em's best friend and mentor Proof passed away.
Kanye West sampled Elton's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" on his 2007 song "Good Morning," and three years later he invited him to his Hawaii studio to play piano and sing on "All of the Lights." Rolling Stones magazine recently spoke with Elton about his love of hip-hop, as well as his plan to slow down his tour schedule next year when his son begins school and the possibility of playing more shows with Billy Joel.
Have you given any thought to your next album? I haven't thought about it yet. I might do a couple of tracks with Pharrell. I don't know. I've got a couple of things coming up this year, one of which is a thing with a boy called Bright Light Bright Light, which is a record of the week in the USA Today. He's a friend of mine who is a singer/songwriter, but in electronica. I did that and it was pretty fabulous. I'd like to play on some more people's records. I just take it when it comes. I have no fixed plans to record.
We spoke in 2006 and you told me you wanted to incorporate hip-hop into your music. Are you still thinking about that? I'd love to. I just don't know how to do it. I do love electronica. So, for me, I'd have to work with someone who knows about it, like a Pharrell or a Kanye, who I respect tremendously. I'd love to do that. It's just a matter of when and where and, should I do it, the mood that I'm in. You can never tell. It's happenstance and luck, basically.
You've said in the past that you only want to work with T-Bone Burnett on your albums. Is that still the case? Yeah, when I make Elton John records. I like to do things outside of the Elton John genre. Doing other things is a challenge and a learning experience. Playing and singing on "All of the Lights" with Kanye, playing with Queens of the Stone Age, the Fall Out Boy record, they're all different kinds of music. And they were a challenge for me, so I loved it. It's also outside of what I do, so I learn something from that.
You never can knock anybody else's type of music until you try it. I could never do a rap record because I wouldn't know where to start. You can learn so much from working with somebody that does. In the studio with Kanye, when I was doing that in Honolulu, he was just on fire. It was amazing to watch. You knew you were in the presence of greatness. I knew once I heard four or five tracks from that in the studio, I knew it was going to be a motherfucker of a record.
He's in a similar place to you in the early 1970s where everything he does just works, and it's all very different from each other. Yeah. 808s & Heartbreak came out of left field and just blew my mind. I was like, "What?" And then each album he does is a little different. With us, Elton John was different than Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water was different from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. We tried to change with each record. When I did Rock of the Westies, it was a heavier sound. Then I did Blue Moves, which was probably my most sophisticated record. But, yeah, I love Kanye because he's not afraid of taking a chance and pushing barriers. Working with people like that is something that I really enjoy.
You seem to do as many shows a year as Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson, but nobody seems to ever say you're on a never-ending tour like those guys. I do a lot, though it's gradually coming down because of the children. I'm only doing about two-thirds this year of what I did last year. And by the time Zachary goes to school, which is next year, I wanna be there. But, yeah, I do tour a lot. But I also like spending time with the children. It's all about getting a matter of balance and sorting things out.
With your career, it's clear that you're no longer trying to write the kind of songs that'll work on Top 40 radio. I'd imagine that's a burden off your shoulders, realizing that it's just not going to happen. It's never going to happen, though I am on the radio with Aloe Blacc because he samples "Your Song" [on "The Man."] I'm very grateful for that. It's a Top 10 record, and those little things come along and they give you a big kick up the bum and that's great, fantastic. It means your music is still relevant, but in a different form, in a different way. And I'm all for moving on.
I always read about those amazing acoustic shows you do with Ray Cooper overseas. Might those ever come to America? Yeah. He does play in Las Vegas with me. We'll do some more shows together, yeah. He's just an amazing man and an amazing musician. He's been with me for so long. His experience and talent and his humor and his camaraderies are something that I cherish.
How is the Vegas show going? I really like playing it because it's such a beautiful mixtures of things. I do things like "Indian Sunset," "Better Off Dead" and "Empty Garden" that aren't very well known. That's the challenge that I want. I did the David LaChapelle show, which was edgy and dangerous. It had Amanda Lepore with her cunt on fire, which is what I wanted. It led to people walking out. [Laughs]
This new show is more musical. If you can do "Indian Sunset," which most of the audience doesn't know, and they gave it a standing ovation even though it's just two people on the stage, that's an achievement for Vegas. We play the hits, too. It's beautifully staged and the films are great, it's exquisite. But to be able to get there and do three or four songs that they don't know, and those songs are probably the best-received, that's what I love about it.
Do you think about doing concerts where you play your albums straight through? I did that with Captain Fantastic not so long ago. Everyone does it. Someone else did it with Yellow Brick Road to raise money for AIDS on Broadway Cares. And it was fun because I got to see Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright and Scissor Sisters and people do my songs. God, it's too much fucking music to learn. I don't wanna go back. I'll never say no, but it really doesn't appeal to me that much.
People would love to see something like The Tumbleweed Connection straight through. I know. We don't even play anything from that album on our current tour, and it has such great songs on it. It's a bitch because you can't play everything. And most people who come to your shows don't want to hear new stuff. We do play two new songs from The Diving Board and they go down very well, but any more than that and they're running for the toilets. And their shrink! They do not want to hear it. [Laughs] Also, those songs from The Diving Board are not arena songs. They are more for a venue like the Beacon Theater or something like that.
Right. So, are you ever tempted to play the Beacon and perform different material? Yeah. I do solo shows with Ray Cooper. I do orchestral. I do Vegas. I do my band shows. I've done Billy Joel shows. There's so much to do and it's never boring. And when I do my solo shows, I usually play completely different stuff how what I do in my band shows. Otherwise you'd probably kill yourself.
So, you think your touring schedule is going to really scale down when the kids begin school? Yeah, it's going to be slowing down a lot — I'm not retiring, by any means. But I am slowing down.
Do you see yourself doing this at 75, or even older? Who knows? Everyone's made that stupid comment of, "I hope I die before I get old." I've read an NME interview saying, "By the time I'm 40 I'm not gonna want to do this." It's like, I'm a musician. This is what I love. This is what I do. And we say all stupid things when we're young. I mean, people don't say that about B.B. King and they don't say that about Buddy Guy. Think of Tony Bennett!
I've seen Leonard Cohen a bunch in recent years. He's about to turn 80. Leonard Cohen's concert was probably one of the best things I've ever seen in my life. It was like a religious experience. It's probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen at a concert. It was the quietest concert I've ever seen, and probably the most beautiful.
Do you think that you and Billy Joel are ever going to tour together again? I don't know. He's doing all these things at the Garden. I have no idea. That's up to the future, whatever happens. It's not ruled out. It's still a possibility. He's doing his thing at the moment, and good for him.
Elton record survives Sandy, becomes Long Beach emblem
Sunday, March 16 2014
"I'm Still Standing." That's been the slogan for Long Beach since superstorm Sandy roared ashore, and it's about to become the city's unofficial theme song.
Barbara and Bill Lewis, a Merrick couple doing post-storm relief work, found an intact copy of the Elton John 45-rpm single of his 1983 hit, "I'm Still Standing," in the rubble of the battered city streets. Earlier in March 2014 they gave the record to city officials, who plan to have it framed to hang in City Hall as a testament to Long Beach's recovery.
The couple were helping with relief work on Thanksgiving 2012 when Barbara Lewis' husband "started walking over to me, and I saw him weeping," she recalled. He was holding the record in his hand. "He said, 'Look what I found,' " she said. "It just touched me so much."
The Lewises said they thought of the song -- an upbeat anthem in which Elton exclaims "I'm still standing better than I ever did" -- as a perfect theme for Long Beach, which has spent the past 17 months working to recover from the storm's estimated $200 million in damage. City officials agreed with the sentiment. The record "serves as a wonderful symbol of our recovery," City Council Vice President Fran Adelson said in an interview.
The city hasn't decided where it will display the record or when, Long Beach spokesman Gordon Tepper said. The Lewises presented the record to the City Council during its March 4, 2014 meeting. Recovery efforts in Long Beach continue. The city's 2.2-mile boardwalk has been rebuilt, its schools have reopened and thousands of displaced residents have returned home.
But work remains to be done, especially in the hard-hit West End, where a civic association reported that about 20 percent of homes are still empty. Former Long Beach resident Colette Lee left her flooded apartment to move to Seaford, but said she hopes to return to the city. She organized the 2012 relief group that included the Lewises, and said the city's comeback is why "I'm Still Standing" resonates. "Being a Long Beach resident, it really hit my heart right in the center," Lee said of the song.
Bill Lewis, 51, said he found the record lying on East Park Avenue, east of Long Beach Road, while filling garbage bags full of the mangled metal, shards of destroyed furniture, and broken toys that littered the city's streets after Sandy. The couple said they haven't tried to play the 45 -- they don't own a record player -- but were impressed that it was in one piece after being thrown around in the storm.
"It was muddy, but it's intact," Bill Lewis said. The Lewises -- both fans of Elton John -- said they kept the record for months, unsure of what to do with it, before deciding that it belonged to Long Beach. "It could be a keepsake for all of Long Beach," said Barbara Lewis, 67.
Elton on AIDS funding, marriage equality, pending wedding
Sunday, March 16 2014
The U.S. and U.K. arms of the Elton John AIDS Foundation have raised more than $300 million in the past two decades, and a good chunk of that comes from the singer's annual Oscar bash, a glitzy, celebrity-studded affair that ends up assisting some of the neediest among those afflicted with the disease, reports USA Today.
In 2014, Elton's party raised $5.1 million. In March 2014, Funders for LGBTQ Issues identified EJAF as the largest funder of programs for black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.
"In America, we're now the biggest funder of African-Americans, other minority groups, IV drug users, people in prison," Elton said in a recent interview. "I want to concentrate on the people who could get left behind because the funding's being cut. We stand for those people. We're not going to let them be forgotten."
Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population but account for 46% of people living with HIV. A sample of young black gay men in Atlanta was found to have an annual HIV infection rate of 12%, indicating that a young gay man who becomes sexually active at 18 has a 60% chance of being HIV positive by age 30, according to a new Emory University study. The study also showed that a lack of health care and high rates of incarceration and unemployment contribute to those high numbers. Annual LGBT grant dollars pegged per black LGBT adult in America is $2.90, less than half the national average spent for LGBT adults in general.
EJAF Foundation Chairman David Furnish, a film director/producer and Elton's civil partner, said in a statement, "We are committed to reversing the tide of HIV infection in the black LGBTQ community. That is why we awarded more than $1.3 million for programs focused on this disproportionately affected community during 2011-2012 and will continue our work until everyone has access to the prevention methods, care, and treatment they need."
Elton and foundation organizers continue to decry the slow pace of progress against the AIDS epidemic. The singer is more encouraged by gains on the marriage equality front. Same-sex couples can marry in 16 states, and polling shows a majority support the cause. "It's a gradual process," Elton says. "I'm a great believer in the public being good at heart. (Republicans) ran on anti-gay marriage and stuff like that, but more people are in favor of equality than the people who are against it. People may rail against it and raise their ugly heads, but the reality in America is that the dominos are falling. I'm not so sure about the rest of the world, in places like Uganda, Russia and India."
Elton and David, partners since 1993, formed a civil partnership in England in 2005 and have two sons born to a surrogate mother. They plan to marry in England, where same-sex marriage legislation was passed last year and takes effect March 29, 2014. "When we get back to England in the springtime, we'll get married," Elton says. "It won't be a big occasion. It will be private. In my lifetime, I never thought I'd be able to have a civil partnership and also be able to marry my partner. You bet I'm going to take advantage of the laws that so many people have fought to change over the years. I'm thrilled."
Elton and Bernie look back at "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Saturday, March 15 2014
Elton John was on a historic roll when he traveled to France in early 1973 to make what would become one of rock's great double albums.
He'd scored seven Top 40 singles in the previous two years, and "Don't Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player" had just topped the album charts. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" somehow managed to become even bigger than everything that came before, selling more than thirty million records and topping the album charts for an incredible eight weeks. Elton John has been a superstar for nearly forty-five years, but this was the peak.
On March 24, 2014, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" will return to stores in a super deluxe edition featuring unheard demos, a live concert from 1973, and a bonus disc featuring covers of nine of the tracks by Fall Out Boy, Zac Brown Band and Ed Sheeran, who turned in a stripped-down version of "Candle in the Wind." "It was actually Elton who suggested I do it," Sheeran says. "I was apprehensive because it’s such an important song – to fans and to Great Britain after its [rerelease] around Princess Diana’s death." Elton himself was thrilled with the covers. "Imelda May made 'Your Sister Can’t Twist' much more rockabilly than we ever did, and Emeli Sandé made 'All the Girls Love Alice' into a slow song," says Elton John. "That really took me by surprise."
In separate phone conversations, we Rolling Stone magazine with Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin about the creation of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".
Elton John: "I didn’t even know what a joint was when I made Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. That all changed when I made the next record, but in 1973 I was very naďve. And the naiveté is the most pleasant thing about this record, probably."
Bernie Taupin: "That's very true. Drugs didn't really come into play until right afterwards when we made Caribou and Rock of the Westies. The only thing I ever remember him doing was smoking a little dope back in the late 1960s in the studio with Dick James. But that’s about it."
Elton: "On my first few albums, I didn't get to use my touring band. When I came to America in 1970, we’d been playing live for about a year or so in England and really doing the opposite to what the Elton John album was about. We played the same songs, but we played them in a completely rock n' roll style, piano, bass, and drums. When I did go to that momentous day at the Troubador in Los Angeles and I got the review from Robert Hilburn, it was a shock to people in the audience. They weren't expecting it, but that was how we were. I do think the band was a little wounded since they weren't on The Tumbleweed Connection or Madman Across The Water. It was important to me that they play on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
The Jamaica Sessions
Elton: "We went to Jamaica to write and record at Dynamic Studios in Kingston. That's where the Rolling Stones had done Goats Head Soup and Cat Stevens had done Foreigner. And we thought we’d have a change of climate from the chateau where we’d done the last couple of albums."
Bernie: "My memories of this are slightly fragmented. Obviously, we had grand intentions that came crashing to the ground once we got there and saw the studio, which was, to put it bluntly, abysmal."
Elton: "I don't know what happened. Both the albums I mentioned are really good. The studio workers were on strike, so we had to cross a picket line to get into the studio. That wasn't very pleasant. Then some of the equipment broke down. They kept saying they'd fix it tomorrow, but in the Caribbean, tomorrow can mean three days."
Bernie: "The climate was hospitable, but the natives weren't. To use the terminology of the time, it was not a 'good vibe.' I remember a lot of barbed wire around the studio and armed guards. We spent a lot of time congregating around the pool area of the hotel, feeling there was safety in numbers. The Stones did manage to record there, but in retrospect I think they had a mobile unit with them. The only thing I remember trying to record was 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting.' It was an aborted attempted, just atrocious."
Elton: "We just didn’t have time to wait around down there. So we thought, 'We’re running out of money, we’ve got to cut our losses.'"
Bernie: "It really was an escape, more or less."
Elton: "I have no memory of ever feeling like we were in danger down there. I found a centipede in my bed one night, but that’s about as frightened as I got. There was no fear factor. It was just purely monetary and budgetary. There were no hard feelings about Jamaica whatsoever."
Bernie: "I remember everybody sort of jumping into whatever vehicles they could get in. It was a bit like the sort of Cuban revolution, trying to make it to the airport. I imagine it was like the scene from The Godfather Part II,where everybody is just racing for the airport. It was our mini version of that!"
Life At The Honky Chateau
After the disastrous Jamaica sessions, Elton, Bernie, producer Gus Dudgeon, bassist Dee Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson and gutiarist Davey Johnstone headed back to Château d'Hérouville, a 18th century chateau in northern France where they'd recorded their previous two albums, Don't Shoot me I'm Only The Piano Player and Honky Chateau.
Elton: "When we got there, we really had to make up for lost time. I think that probably accelerated the writing process and the recording process even more."
Bernie: "There was definitely the comfort of retuning to a place that you really were familiar with. So we basically set up camp, and everything really went pretty swimmingly."
Elton: "During a typical day the band would come down, there'd be instruments around the breakfast table, Bernie would be writing at the typewriter, I’d be sitting at the electric piano, and as the band came down for breakfast, I would write the song, they would pick up their instruments and play it."
Bernie: "There was a piano in the corner of the dining room and there was a long communal table where all the guys used to sit and eat breakfast. Elton would come up with a tune during breakfast. I'd write my songs longhand. I'm pretty sure I didn't have a typewriter. One of the few things I remember very clearly, and this is easy to visualize now, is sitting on the side of my bed with a notepad, just writing. I'd just write stream-of-conscious lyrics."
Elton: "We'd record about three or four tracks a day. They were mostly made up on the day they were recorded. We were a very tight band with a lot of touring experience. We'd capture more songs in two or three takes. The whole record took about eighteen days."
The Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tracklisting almost looks like a greatest hits collection. The album features "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle In The Wind," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and fan favorites like "Harmony," "Sweet Painted Lady" and "Roy Rogers." Unlike previous albums, the tone shifts wildly from pop to reggae to hard rock and even prog. Also, many of the lyrical images come straight from movies and television shows that Taupin loved as a child.
Bernie: "I wrote 'Candle In The Wind' about Marilyn Monroe, but she is absolutely not someone I admired a lot as a kid or anything. She was just a metaphor for fame and dying young, and people sort of overdoing the indulgence, and those that do die young. The song could have easily have been about Montgomery Clift or James Dean or even Jim Morrison. But it seemed that she just had a more sympathetic bent to her, so I used her. And she was female, and that was more vulnerable. But it was really about the excesses of celebrity, the early demise of celebrities, and 'live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.' And that was really the crux of the song."
Elton: "I was a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, as well as Elvis Presley. When you saw them, they looked like they came from another planet. In the Fifties when I had my hair cut and I first saw a picture of Elvis Presley in Life magazine, I thought, 'My God, who is this guy?' And with Marilyn Monroe, it’s like, 'That’s the most glamorous woman that’s ever been.' I mean, her and Elizabeth Taylor…There will never be two more glamorous people. And they kind of changed the world."
Bernie: "I’m sure there are people out there that would be happy if they never heard 'Candle In The Wind' again. But the thing is, if a song gets into the lexicon that way, that means it’s probably a good song. I think it’s one of the best marriages of lyric and melody that Elton and I have ever put together. But it doesn’t change the fact that I wasn’t particularly enamored by Marilyn Monroe."
Elton: "When I saw the lyrics for 'Bennie and the Jets,' I knew it had to be an off-the-wall type song, an R&B-ish kind of sound or a funky sound. The audience sounds were taken from a show we did at the Royal Festival Hall years earlier. The whole thing is very weird."
Bernie: "I saw Bennie and the Jets as a sort of proto-sci-fi punk band, fronted by an androgynous woman, who looks like something out of a Helmut Newton photograph."
Elton: "I didn't think 'Bennie and the Jets' should be a single. I had an argument with MCA and the only reason I caved was because the song was the number one black record in Detroit. And I went, 'Oh my God'" I mean, I'm a white boy from England. And I said, 'Okay, you've got it.' It just shows you that you can't see the wood through the trees. To this day, I cannot see that song as a single."
Elton: "I vividly remember recording "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting.' I couldn’t seem to get the piano part right, so when the band played bass, drums and guitar, I laid on the floor did the vocal live. And then I put on my piano part afterwards. It's an odd way of doing it. But I remember doing that because it felt, for some reason, the four of us, me playing live, it just didn't work. So I overdubbed my piano afterwards and sang the vocal live."
Bernie: "Over the years you tend to invent your own myths about songs because you feel it's necessary to come up with a reason why you wrote a certain song. It's been said on so many occasions that 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' relates to my English past. People says, 'Oh, Bernie wrote it about a pub he used to hang out and get into fights at.' It's quite possible there's a germ of truth in that. Did I say to myself, 'I'm going to sit down and write a song about my childhood watching the mods fight the rockers?' No, I don't think that I did. With so many of my songs, the lyrical content has been misconstrued, misinterpreted and you get to the point where you feel like you have to make something up in order to make somebody happy."
Elton: "I didn't intentionally write the songs on that album in different styles. I grew up loving all sorts of music, and then I'm classically trained as well. That’s where 'Funeral for a Friend' kind of comes in. And then 'Love Lies Bleeding,' the two of them weren’t written together, we just stuck them together, and it worked. Things like that sometimes are a great surprise in the studio, little things just happen like that. Things like 'Sweet Painted Lady' is a very traditional kind of song. And then you have things like 'Bennie and the Jets,' which is completely off the wall."
Bernie: "I have no memory of writing 'Love Lies Bleeding.' I have no idea where that came from. The same goes for 'Jamaica Jerk Off,' but I would imagine it was inspired by our adventure in Jamaica. A lot of the songs began when I came across a great first line. The perfect example is 'The Ballad of Danny Bailey.' I don't know if I'd seen a movie or read a book, but I came up with the first line, 'Some punk with a shotgun killed Danny Bailey/In cold blood in the lobby of a downtown motel.' And that was it. It would have gone a number of different ways, but it ended up being a tune about a bootlegger. Again, it was one of those cinematic stories."
Elton: "I really don't know where his lyrics come from. I was just the guy who wrote the melodies, that was my job. I just love writing to his lyrics. I really don't analyze them much. He's never told me what sort of song to write. He just gave me the lyrics. It's nice when you're creating something that comes together like a jigsaw puzzle very quickly."
Bernie: "A lot of my lyrics did come from the TV and movies I saw when I was younger. Like any other child of my generation in England, I grew up on American music, American movies and American television. All of my cinematic ideas were things like 'Roy Rogers,' 'Candle In The Wind' and 'Danny Bailey.' It's been said many times, but Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a cinematic album. The lyrics to the title track do say that I want to leave Oz and get back to the farm. I think that's still my M.O. these days. I don't mind getting out there and doing what everybody else was doing, but I always had to have an escape hatch."
Elton: "I don't think that Bernie ever really liked the fame. He was always the quiet one and the more thoughtful one. I was always the one that said, 'Let's go out!' I used to go out with Divine and dance at clubs. We'd both burn the candle at both ends, but I did it far more than he did."
The album was the biggest hit of their career, staying at #1 on the charts for two months and turning "Bennie and the Jets," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" into worldwide hits. There would almost certainly have been more had they released "Candle In The Wind" and "Harmony" as singles.
Elton: "It was a very exciting time in my life. It was a time that we had no fear, nothing was beyond us. It’s a wonderful thing the young have when they get on a roll. We were running on momentum and adrenaline. And then if you're a talented enough artist, you find your place within the playing field. And this was our example of being at the height of our creative powers."
Bernie: "I don’t know if we set out to make a double album. I think it was just the quality of the songs and the amount of them that we had in in the end…I think it was the pinnacle of our career at that point."
Elton: "We could have put out other singles like 'Harmony' and sold even more records. In those days, a record was off the radio after eight or nine weeks. These days, you look at the Adult Contemporary charts and it's like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? This record came out two and a half years ago!' We could have kept going with singles, but we'd already finished Caribou by the time 'Bennie and the Jets' came out as a single. We were ready to move on."
Elton's tour manager talks about the new show
Friday, March 14 2014
When Elton and his team were planning his latest tour, the Magic City was on his mind, according to his tour manager DC Parmet.
“Birmingham was always at the top of the list to go back to because Elton owes it to the fans,” he said. “He hates to disappoint the fans and I think that’s one of the things that’s given him such longevity.”
Parmet, who has worked with Elton since 1997, promises that those attending Elton’s Birmingham concert on March 15, 2014 at the BJCC at 8 p.m. will be treated to a totally different experience than the concert that was cancelled exactly one year ago due to illness. “This is a brand new show and realized that the last time we were supposed to be in Birmingham and Elton got sick,” he said. “We’ve spent a couple of million dollars on a state of the art stage and a video wall. The production is top-notch.”
According to Parmet, the set for the Diving Board tour was one of the last to be designed by architect and set designer Mark Fisher, who was responsible for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” tour and other work for U2, the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga. He said Elton was looking for something that was both easy to transport during the 14-day outing and visually stunning.
“A lot of thought, time, effort and money was spent on making a really killer show to go with the soundtrack that Elton and the band are providing,” he said. That soundtrack is sure to be a mix of the hits that span decades and newer material such as the songs that make up his 2013 album “The Diving Board.” Parmet said creating a set list is about striking a balance between favorites and challenging material. “Elton will certainly give them hits but he also likes to challenge himself with deep album tracks and new songs too,” he said. “He gives people a lot of music for their money,” he said. “The show is about two hours and 45 minutes. There’s no intermission, there’s no filler. It’s all substantial material.”
Parmet describes Elton as a passionate performer who loves putting on live shows. “He tries to hit it out of the ballpark every show,” he said. “He wants to make sure that when people go home that they’re like ‘Wow, we just had an amazing journey through Elton’s career.’” Elton feeds off of the energy of the crowd during his shows, according to Parmet.
“It’s like in sports where you can feel momentum shift,” he said. “If a football team recovers a fumble and all of a sudden the Alabama fans are going crazy and the Auburn fans are quiet. But in this case, everyone’s an Elton fan so there’s no shifting like that.” He’s also punctual, which is why Parmet suggests ticketholders get to the BJCC on time before Saturday’s show.
“He’s very respectful of the fans and there’s none of this if it’s an 8 p.m. show, he’ll show up at 10:30 p.m.,” he said. “If it’s an 8 p.m. show, he’s ready to go at 8.”
Elton John party offers sublime, surreal moments
Tuesday, March 4 2014
The Academy Awards were on at Elton John AIDS Foundation's viewing dinner party, but the real entertainment came from the performances, celeb watching, and the surreal moments of the evening.
Lady Gaga, members of the Kardashian clan (including new mom Kim), Steven Tyler, Britney Spears, Heidi Klum, Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg and more were among the celebrities taking part in the 22nd annual event, which raises funds for those afflicted with HIV and AIDS.
The event was held in a cavernous tent a few miles away from where the actual awards were taking place. Huge screens adorned the venue as party-goers watched the Oscar action. "If Pharrell Williams doesn't win best song, then I'm (expletive) going home early," Elton bellowed to the crowd after Williams performed his nominated song "Happy" (Williams didn't win, but thankfully for the crowd, the award was handed out late in the ceremony, making Elton's threat moot).
The crowd laughed with host DeGeneres and whooped when various winners took the stage (and let out a loud moan when a brief technical glitch knocked out the telecast for a few minutes). But the night got more interesting when the broadcast ended and the party got into full swing. First there was an auction of key items; Neil Patrick Harris jokingly offered to make out with the top bidder (and go a bit further than that) for an item featuring tickets to his upcoming Broadway show, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
Not to be outdone, Steven Tyler told a few bawdy jokes of his own as he helped to auction off five nights in his Hawaiian getaway, which raised $100,000. Elton John also got in on the auction act, taking crowd requests and playing a few of his hits on a piano that was auctioned off for $220,000.
It seemed as if that brief instrumental performance would be the only one from Elton on the night. But late, he joined the night's performer, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, for a rendition of Elton's classic "Candle in the Wind"
The party didn't end there. Dinner was followed by dancing, as more celebrities came: Among those who were on hand included Olympic ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, along with bronze boblsedder Aja Evans, all with their medals, holding up for medals for admirers to see — and take selfies as well.
The evening raised $5.1 million for the foundation, according to organizers.