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Sting’s ‘The Last Ship’ needs to sell more tickets
Friday, October 31 2014

Sting was perplexed by the lackluster ticket sales, sources say. He quietly checked in with some pop-star friends who’ve written Broadway shows to get the lay of the land.

Their response: People buy tickets to see you perform — not because you wrote the show.

Disney found this out years ago with “Aida,” which had music by Elton John. It didn’t sell all that well at first, and then Disney emblazoned his name above the title. Because the “s” in ­“ELTON JOHN’s” was so small, it gave the impression he was in the show.

“If they’re buying tickets because they think Elton’s in it,” someone who worked on the show told me, chuckling, “who are we to say otherwise?”

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Ben Babylon Band is now ‘The Episodes’
Friday, October 31 2014

Ben Babylon is changing channels. The son of Elton’s late keyboardist and arranger, Guy Babylon, has renamed his band “The Episodes”. But don’t expect to see a lot of reruns. The former Ben Babylon Band is developing new material.

“The name The Episodes could have any number of meanings,” Ben explained. “It could mean a period of time or a show, or it could be a mental breakdown type of episode. I think we, as The Episodes, will have many ‘episodes’ or chapters, as we continue to develop and try new things, musically.”

The Episodes’ new member, Jacob Staben, plays rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion. He joins long-time band members Alex Arnaout (bassist), Jagger Krusen (drummer), Brian Schwartz (lead guitarist), and, of course, lead singer and keyboard player Ben Babylon.

“Everybody in The Episodes contributes creatively, in different ways,” Ben says. “We still play some of the songs we used to perform as the Ben Babylon Band, but reimagined. We are also doing a lot of new material that our fans have never heard. I can’t wait for people to hear our new music.”

Ben describes The Episodes as a high-energy, piano-based alternative rock band that experiments with other musical genres. That musical versatility will be on display for the first time under the band’s new name on Saturday, November 22, 2014, when The Episodes open for GRAMMY-winning R&B artist Macy Gray at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California.

Meanwhile, Ben has been working on an album with members of the Elton John Band and Grammy-winning producer Matt Still, among others. The first single by The Episodes, with Still as producer, is titled “Never Stop.” It is available on Bandcamp at https://theepisodesmusic.bandcamp.com/releases.

“Matt Still did an amazing job and we look forward to hopefully working with him again,” Ben says. “We recorded four songs with him, and ‘Never Stop’ is the first one we released. The second song, ‘Jack’s Hit’, is actually available to download now when you sign up for our mailing list.”

Ben Babylon and The Episodes will open for Macy Gray at The Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills, CA 91301-3304, on November 22, 2014. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Also performing: Sayed Sabrina. Show starts at 7:15. Macy Gray goes on at 9:00. Tickets are $28 / $38 / $58 and can be ordered through www.BabylonMusic.biz or by calling The Canyon Club at 818-879-5016.

Information about Ben Babylon and The Episodes is available at https://www.facebook.com/theepisodesmusic.

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Elton: Pope Francis is my hero
Wednesday, October 29 2014

Elton John called Pope Francis "my hero" for his compassion and push to accept gays in the Catholic church, at his annual AIDS benefit.

Elton hosted the event, "An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation," on October 28, 2014 in New York City. He said Francis is pushing boundaries in the church and told the crowd: "Make this man a saint now, OK? Ten years ago one of the biggest obstacles in the fight against AIDS was the Catholic Church. Today we have a pope that speaks out about it," said Elton, earning cheers from the attendees at Cipraini's on Wall Street.

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays earlier in October 2014, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families. An earlier draft of the document offered a welcoming tone of acceptance, but that was stripped away after the bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals.

"He is a compassionate, loving man who wants everybody to be included in the love of God," Elton said of the pope. "It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that's what we need in the world today."

Elton, who wrote an op-ed for New York Times on October 28, 2014, also honored New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his plan to end the AIDS epidemic in his state by 2020. "Good evening to all of you, the queen of England," Cuomo said as the crowd laughed, "I'm from Queens, but I think there's a different interpretation there."

More jokes came throughout the night, where attendees included Elton's husband, David Furnish, Neil Patrick Harris, Alec Baldwin, Matt Lauer and host Anderson Cooper. A lunch date with newsmen was part of the auction, dubbed the "great anchor sandwich," and it sold for $40,000. "I will give a little extra with dessert if you know what I mean," Cooper said at the top of the event. "It could be a long, saucy lunch."

Mike Myers jumped onstage to offer himself for a lunch date following the bid for Cooper and Lauer, and his was auctioned for $50,000. A Damien Hirst painting sold for $270,000 and a Robert Mapplethorpe sold for $90,000.

Elton, who sat while the honorees gave speeches, said he was recovering from a knee operation that took place last week. He performed a rousing set at the end of the night, singing hits like "Tiny Dancer" and "Your Song" while playing the piano.

Related News

  • Don’t Forget About AIDS
        Tuesday, October 28 2014 at 13:32:59

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    Billy Joel tells of Elton John rivalry in biography
    Tuesday, October 28 2014

    Billy Joel’s new book, “'Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography,'” was out on October 28, 2014.

    In his latest biography Billy Joel describes of his rivalry with Elton John. Joel’s first rivalry with frenemy Elton dates back to 1976. Joel fumed that he was sick of being called ‘The American Elton John.'

    Despite that, his producer insisted on hiring Elton's band to back him, and rather than do that, Billy fired the producer. However, Billy Joel insists that he and Elton John have no bitterness with each-other anymore.

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    Don’t Forget About AIDS
    Tuesday, October 28 2014

    Elton John on the Unfinished Fight Against AIDS. By Elton John, from The New York Times, October 27, 2014.

    Last week Jennifer Mumaugh and A. J. McDaniel became the first same-sex couple to marry in Wyoming. They celebrated their union in Cheyenne, just miles away from where Matthew Shepard was left to die only 16 years ago. Wyoming thus became the 32nd state to allow gay marriage — explicitly or, by refusing to appeal court decisions, implicitly. Alaska. Arizona. Idaho. All have fallen this month.

    These are great advances, and there is no question that those who believe in marriage equality must be vigilant in protecting them. But as engaged as the gay community and civil rights activists have been in the fight for marriage equality, we have lost ground on the fight that so intensely galvanized the gay community to begin with: H.I.V. and AIDS.

    We need the same coalition that brought about marriage equality — from gay activists, human rights champions and social justice advocates to legal experts and courageous policy makers — to address the spiraling AIDS crisis again.

    Why? Because 30 years after the AIDS epidemic began, rates of infection in the United States are still at unacceptable levels. One in eight gay men is H.I.V.-positive, and yet a majority of gay and bisexual men say they are “not concerned” about H.I.V., according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Just a third of the men surveyed even knew that H.I.V. infections were increasing in the United States. Thirty percent said they had never been tested, and a majority reported that they hadn’t been tested in the last year, going against recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Many view the drug Truvada — often used in pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — as a miracle drug that will end AIDS. I share in this excitement, and have great hope for PrEP — and praise for leaders who advocate its wider use. But only a quarter of those men surveyed by Kaiser had ever even heard of PrEP.

    In short, as the gay community celebrates the march of marriage, we are failing to maintain the kind of basic awareness and education that is needed to save lives.

    Of course, the continued prevalence of H.I.V. should shake the conscience of all Americans — not just those in the gay community. For example, today AIDS is among the leading causes of death for African-American men.

    In the South, new infections are at rates rivaling the 1980s, fueled by a toxic mix of homophobia, poverty and poor choices by policy makers, like the refusal of many Southern governors to expand Medicaid.

    What, then, can be done?

    First, the gay community needs to take a hard look in the mirror and start to address these concerns in our own backyard.

    Last week my organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, announced a series of grants to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations to promote testing and prevention, spread awareness and fight anti-H.I.V. stigma. I hope other organizations will join us in identifying the groups at the greatest risk of contracting H.I.V. and working with people in those groups to find stability and hope. And while I hope that groups outside the lesbian and gay community join us, I do believe that those of us within the community have a special obligation.

    Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
    Second, all Americans need to recognize the AIDS epidemic for what it has become: a crisis of stigma, marginalization and inequality. Medical advances and treatments like PrEP can get us close to the end of AIDS, but only if enough people can afford them. That means going beyond AIDS itself to attack the root causes of these rising infection rates, like poverty, homelessness, addiction and limited access to health care.

    Finally, as a society we need to learn to view the AIDS crisis with compassion. What helped to win marriage equality were the images of loving couples being given a chance to exercise their humanity and their basic rights. So, too, can telling the stories of those with H.I.V. and AIDS striving to live with dignity help us reach the end of AIDS.

    Within just a few decades, we have moved from a nation with laws against consensual sex into a place where members of the gay community can marry, adopt children and expect to live a good life. That’s a wonderful thing, but we have to remember that it’s not the only thing.

    I came out publicly in 1976, just before the beginning of the AIDS crisis. The gay community I inhabited in those years never dreamed of marriage equality — we simply wanted to live, and to stop the terrible epidemic that kept killing our loved ones. We’ve come a long way. But as we celebrate these victories, we must also come together and redouble our efforts to end H.I.V. Only then will we truly have won freedom and equality.

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    EJAF makes a donation to the HRC
    Monday, October 27 2014

    Sir Elton John and partner David Furnish announced a donation to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights organization in the US.

    The Elton John AIDS Foundation will award the HRC Foundation $300,000 (€236,000). The grant was announced October 25, 2014 at the 18th Annual HRC National Dinner. The money will be used for HIV awareness and prevention programs, with a focus on young bisexual and gay men and transgender women.

    According to the 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV Surveillance Report HIV diagnoses for age groups 20-24 and 25-29 increased between 2008 to 2011. "We must put the same kind of resources and dedication and creativity that we put into the battle for marriage equality and apply it to the fight to end AIDS," Elton, said in a release. "Today, we have to fight stigma in the same way we did when we first took on AIDS 30 years ago – as if our lives depend on it – because they do. Now, as then, if we don’t lead this fight, no one will," he continued.

    Jeff Krehely, HRC’s vice president and chief foundation officer noted, in a statement, "the grant will make a profound difference to the lives of countless people, especially the members of our community who are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS and the stigma surrounding the disease."

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    Elton joins with U.S. agencies on new AIDS program
    Sunday, October 26 2014

    Elton John said on October 24, 2014 a new $7 million partnership between his foundation and U.S. government agencies will help create an AIDS-free society but urged more work to reach that goal.

    Elton met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department where they announced the joint project to help expand access to HIV services for gays and transgender individuals in Africa. The new program called Health4Men will involve PEPFAR, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and initially focus on South Africa.

    More ABC news videos | ABC Health News

    Elton said it was "a dream come true" to combine the efforts of his foundation with U.S. government initiatives. "We should be living in an AIDS-free world, and that people, no matter who they love, who they are, should have a right to be AIDS-free," said Elton, who is one of Britain's most prominent musicians and gay celebrities. "I think we will do great work, and we have a lot more work to do, but this is a good start," he added.

    Kerry thanked Elton for his leadership and commended his foundation for "bringing hope and help to a lot of people."

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    Elton: Too many gays don’t seem to care about HIV
    Sunday, October 26 2014

    Elton John has criticised parts of the gay community for failing to join the fight against HIV.

    Elton is due to speak at the dinner of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington DC, alongside his partner David Furnish. According to a copy of his speech released to the Washington Post, he will use the opportunity to lambaste gay people who don’t regularly get tested for HIV.

    Elton will say: “This is the critical moment in our fight, and so many of us don’t seem to care. Even in our own community. Especially in our own community. Only 30 percent of gay and bisexual men have had an HIV test in the past year. A majority of gay men don’t even talk about HIV with their friends or partners. More than 60 percent don’t even talk about HIV with their doctor. If a young gay man won’t get tested because he’s afraid of the stigma attached to HIV, that’s how the virus spreads.

    If a former prisoner can’t get the medicine she needs to bring her viral levels down, because no one cares about prisoners, that’s how HIV spreads. If a drug user won’t bother with rehabilitation or HIV prevention because he has been told time and again that his life is worthless, that is how HIV spreads.”

    David Furnish adds: “Thanks to advancements in science and hard advocacy work, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Unfortunately, some members of the LGBT community have taken that to mean they can ignore the AIDS epidemic, No one’11s going to save us but ourselves. It’s on us to put an end to HIV.”

    The Human Rights Campaign recently endorsed the use of a controversial drug that can minimise the risk of contracting HIV from others.

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    Happy Birthday, David!
    Saturday, October 25 2014

    Elton's partner, David Furnish, is turning 52 on October 25, 2014.

    On behalf of the visitors of eltonfan.net, we would like to wish David all the best and a wonderful birthday!

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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.

    2. BEN FOLDS
    9. TOM WAITS
    10. BILLY JOEL

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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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    Old Grey Whistle Test-1972/77 INPUT
    Wednesday, October 8 2014

    From 1972 to 1977 photographer Alan Messer had exclusive access to the Old Grey Whistle Test studio. During that period some of the most important artists in musical history appeared on the show.

    To celebrate this pivotal period in musical history a pledge is creating a very special photo book, entitled “INPUT”. This book will include largely unseen photos of such icons of popular music as Bob Marley & The Wailers, David Bowie, Elton John, The Who ... in fact the list is still growing.

    By pledging you are invited to join others in exploring this incredible archive of photos and support in the creation of this book.

    In addition to the collector's edition book a number of very special exclusive items and experiences will be created which hopefully will allow you to enjoy the magic which was and still is The Old Grey Whistle Test.

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    Watch Elton and more sing "God Only Knows"
    Wednesday, October 8 2014

    The BBC assembled a "We Are the World"–style cast of globally famous musicians to sing the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" with its 80-piece BBC Concert Orchestra for a spot promoting the network's newly launched BBC Music venture.

    The network has dubbed the ensemble, which sings in a classically fantastical array of settings from a jungle-scape on a stage to a hot air balloon, the "Impossible Orchestra." Pharrell Williams, Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Brian Wilson, Florence Welch, Stevie Wonder, Brian May, One Direction, Chrissie Hynde, Baaba Maal, Dave Grohl and Sam Smith are among the dozens of performers who comprise the ensemble.

    "All of the artists did such a beautiful job, I can't thank them enough," Brian Wilson told The Guardian. "I'm just honored that 'God Only Knows' was chosen. 'God Only Knows' is a very special song. An extremely spiritual song and one of the best I've ever written."

    "Once you start going into a song like we have been today, you come up on a new respect," Brian May said of the experience in a behind-the-scenes video, streaming here. "It's beautifully constructed, and quite enigmatic, really."

    The BBC has created a charity single of the song to raise money for its BBC Children in Need campaign. A physical copy of the CD is available for purchase in the U.K. and on Amazon, and it's also available for download and streaming.

    The BBC previously made a similar video in 1997, remaking Lou Reed's "Perfect Day." That campaign featured Reed, Bono, David Bowie, Burning Spear, Tom Jones and more. Elton John is the only performer to have appeared in both videos.

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    Elton tops list of most generous British celebrities
    Wednesday, October 8 2014

    There are perks to being a celebrity in Great Britain. You can drive or ride the most expensive cars, buy extravagant clothes or live in a dream house with a swimming pool.

    But there are a select few who have shown their generosity by giving back to the less fortunate ones, a part of their fortune.

    The Giving List is published by the Sunday Times and is based from the list of the people who appeared in the newspaper’s yearly Rich List. The list includes 165 millionaires who donated more than £1 million of their personal fortunse to charitable institutions with 48 donating £10 million and 20 over £25m. Here are the top 10 most Generous British Celebrities:

    10. Martin Lewis – £2 million
    9. Simon Cowell - £1.6 Million
    8. One Direction - £2.1 Million
    7. Eric Clapton - £2.5m
    6. Coldplay - £2.8 Million
    5. David and Victoria Beckham - £3.4 Million
    4. Colin Montgomerie - £3.6 Million
    3. Bono - £8.0 Million
    2. J.K. Rowling - £9.4 Million
    1. Sir Elton John - £24 Million

    Elton is valued at £260 million. He has sold over 250 million records worldwide. The veteran singer has already donated £14 million to his Aids Foundation in the US and in Britain.

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    Elton John and band performed in Los Angeles on October 4, 2014
    Monday, October 6 2014

    Following is the complete set list of the Los Angeles show on October 4, 2014.

    1. Funeral For A Friend
    2. Love Lies Bleeding
    3. Bennie And The Jets
    4. Candle In The Wind
    5. Grey Seal
    6. Levon
    7. Tiny Dancer
    8. Holiday Inn
    9. Philadelphia Freedom
    10. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    11. Rocket Man
    12. Hey Ahab
    13. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
    14. Ocean's Away
    15. Your Song
    16. Burn Down The Mission
    17. All The Girls Love Alice
    18. Home Again
    19. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
    20. The Bitch Is Back
    21. I'm Still Standing
    22. Your Sister Can't Twist But She Can Rock'n'Roll
    23. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

    24. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
    25. Crododile Rock

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    Tim Rice on casting Elton in "Joseph"
    Friday, October 3 2014

    Tim Rice’s West End production of "From Here to Eternity" is hitting the big screen October 2, 5 and 9, 2014, making its debut in movie theaters throughout the US.

    Although the tuner, adapted from James Jones' 1951 WW2 classic novel, with lyrics by Rice, music by Stuart Brayson and a book by Bill Oakes, had a short-lived London run, the legendary lyricist has hopes that it will have a new life in America. Since 1965 Rice has worked extensively with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Disney and Elton John and his many credits include "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Evita", "Chess", "Aladdin", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aida" and "The Lion King". The Tony, Oscar and Grammy-winning, cricket-loving Brit talked to Broadway.com about his projects, past, present and future.


    Congratulations on the recent milestone with The Lion King! With that show and of course all of your other successes, did you feel a pressure working on FHTE?
    Absolutely not at all. Regards Lion King, it was a great Disney thing which I was lucky enough to be involved with from the start and it’s just very nice to have happen. I think Elton and I made quite a bit of a contribution, particularly to the movie, but these things take off and have a life of their own.


    Elton John’s production company is making the Joseph movie—was it you that put everyone together?
    No, I didn’t have anything to do with putting people together. At least I don’t think I did. Elton rang up and said that he was thrilled that his company were doing it, but I don’t think he's going to be particularly involved. Maybe he’ll take a part, actually!

    What sort of stage is the Joseph movie at?
    We had the first meeting about it last week and it’s the very early days. Matt Lucas is doing a screenplay. Obviously if there are any new songs then Andrew and I will write them.

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    Elton and David to be honored at 18th Annual HRC National Dinner
    Thursday, October 2 2014

    HRC announced that Elton John and David Furnish will be honored at the organization’s 18th Annual National Dinner on October 25, 2014, in Washington, DC.

    “We are truly excited to honor such influential international AIDS activists and philanthropists at this year’s national dinner,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “As we celebrate the progress we’ve made over the last year while focusing on what we have yet to accomplish, their life’s work inspires us as we keep moving forward for equality.”

    In addition to being one of the most highly acclaimed and successful performing artists of all time, Elton John is also the founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a global nonprofit organization working tirelessly to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS . Elton and his longtime partner David Furnish have led the organization’s grant making initiatives awarding funds to innovative programs in over 50 countries around the world, raising more than $300 million to support the effort. One of the most visible couples of the LGBT community in the world, they are changing hearts and minds by living openly and honestly. Elton John and David Furnish will be honored with HRC’s National Equality Award.

    As previously announced, President Bill Clinton will deliver the evening’s keynote address - his second appearance at an HRC gala after attending the organization’s very first National Dinner in 1997. Other program participants will be announced soon.

    The National Dinner, which is already sold out and expected to draw over 3,000 guests, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center with receptions starting at 5:00 PM.

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