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Elton John came through for Rosie
Friday, November 15 1996

November 15, 1996 - Elton John's interview on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show". Introduction by Reggie Zippo.

Anyone who is familiar with Rosie O'Donnell knows about the deep, but safe obsession that she has towards certain celebrities. She even refers to herself as "The Stalker Fan From Hell". At times, her obsessions seem to go way beyond what most people would consider "normal". Rosie, however, is quite careful not to cross over into the danger zone that some obsessed fans find themselves in. Through her television talk show program, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show", Rosie can often be heard talking about all of the famous people who she greatly admires. Elton John, of course, ranks right up there with the best on her list of favorites. It came as no surprise that she desired an audience with our beloved Sir Elton John.

At the end of the summer of 1996, Rosie decided to hold a "Suck Up To Elton" day during her show. On that particular program, she made a public appeal to Elton to be one of her guests in the near future. "Elton, can you hear me?" she would often say throughout the program. To some, it may have seemed slightly cheesy and a total waste of time, but it worked. Elton John came through for Rosie! What made his appearance on her show so extra special was the fact that he was given the lion's share of guest time. Usually, Rosie has three guests and one musical act for every hour long program. This time, however, she had only one other guest on that day, Sarah Ferguson, who came on during the last 15 minutes. Yes, indeed, this particular Elton John interview was far more entertaining than we fans could have ever hoped for.

So, for all of you fans out there who were not able to watch the program, and for those of you who would like to reflect, the following is the complete interview that took place on November 15, 1996 just after 10:00 A.M. at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, USA!

RO: Ladies and Gentleman, the moment has arrived! Please welcome a true musical genius, words I never thought I'd get to say, Mr. Elton John!

(With loud cheering and clapping from the audience, EJ strolled out as he grinned from ear to ear. He immediately sat down at a lone black grand piano to begin a solo performance of his latest single, "You Can Make History Young Again". He was flawless throughout the entire set.)

RO: Elton John!

(EJ got up from the piano, got down on his knees in front of Rosie, and began to do the "I'm Not Worthy" bow to her.)

RO: Oh stop it! Stop it! Don't even...! You get up! Don't even...!

(EJ began to giggle to himself as he and Rosie gave each other a big hug.)

RO: We're going to talk to Elton John right after this. Don't go anywhere!

(Commercial break. Nothing was going to keep me away from the television set on that particular day! After the commercial break, to open the interview, they showed a "clip" of Rosie singing a bad rendition of "Pinball Wizard" during that "Suck Up To Elton" day program.)

RO: So, Elton, did you happen to see that show?

EJ: I saw that show, yeah. I got a tape of it and I thought "How can I refuse to go on this lady's show?"

RO: That's what I like to hear, Elton. That's what I like to hear.

EJ: Uh, did Tom Cruise come on the show yet?

RO: Not yet. No.

EJ: See? Yeah.

RO: You're the first one to deliver.

EJ: Really?

RO: I only sucked up to really two people. You....Barbra Streisand.

EJ: Really?

RO: Tom Cruise is just sort of a lustful, childlike obsession, you know. But, you and Barbra I sucked up big time.

EJ: Yeah.

RO: And you came through! Barbra....hmm.

EJ: Maybe after new years coming up.

RO: Yeah. Do you know her?

EJ: I met her, yeah. Yeah.

RO: Were you nervous?

EJ: Uh, we were talking about having, you know, like, you know, Michael Jackson is just having this, you know, child and getting married....

RO: Yeah, uh huh. What do you think about that, Elton?

EJ: Well, you know, you know fatherhood sometimes, you know, could've appealed to me. I mean, Barbra and I, you know, were thinking about it, but with my luck we would've given birth to a 10 pound gay nose.

(Lots of audience laughter)

RO: Well, there's a few months to go. That may be happening. You never know.

EJ: Yeah, you never know.

RO: And they're married now.

EJ: Who?

RO: Uh, Mister Michael Jackson and....

EJ: Yeah, they got married in Australia. I got married in Australia. All loons get married in Australia.

RO: Sort of a requirement.

EJ: When are you going down there?

(Lots of audience laughter)

RO: I'll go with you if you want me to. We'll get married and have a baby. Bigger news. So, Elton, is it strange for you to have all of these people who adore you so much? I mean, not just the people here in the audience, but like all over the world? It must be an odd thing. You can never go anywhere without being Elton John....recognized. Right?

EJ: Sort of. In the jungles of New Guinea and places like that where I wouldn't venture because they eat people. Quite a prospect in sight of them there.

RO: You look good!

EJ: No, it's all right. I quite like it. Most people are real nice.

RO: You've got to get acclimated to it.

EJ: You can't chase it ever away. Living in England is really good because I live there most of the time and people are very irreverent now. So, you get used to it and they don't sort of hold celebrities up, you know, to be great sort of icons. Over here they tend to, you know, sort of hold that celebrity up to be great icons.

RO: Really?

EJ: Yeah. You're a great icon.

RO: I'm an icon? Are you kidding me? Look at what I have. These are all of my originals (tour books) when I seen you in concert. And I have to tell you that when you play one of the songs that I requested I probably will cry. So, I'm just fair warning the audience because every time I see you in concert I cry.

EJ: Why? Did you get bad seats?

(Lots of audience laughter)

RO: No.

EJ: No.

RO: Because it's so reminiscent. Well, you know, "Daniel" came out in '73, right?

EJ: Yeah.

RO: That's the year my Mom died and that's my brother's name. And it was always very sad. My dad would like listen to it and I would see him well up and it had so many emotional memories for me. Oh, "Levon", which I asked you to do, is my favorite song ever. It's so beautiful. I love it. I read that one of the songs that people thought was about....um, "Daniel" was about love and it was really about a guy coming back from Vietnam.

EJ: Yeah, because the song originally, when Bernie gave me the lyric, was very long and I obliterated the last verse, which explained everything. So, he's had to live with that for years. So, it was about a Vietnam Vet who lost his eyesight in the war and that was explained in the last verse, but it would've made the song seven minutes long. So, we cut it. Bernie never really complained about it. A lot of people thought it was a love song between two guys, but it wasn't. It was, in a way, because it was a brotherly love song.

RO: Yeah and it's what you see in it really. Because when you find out what the lyricist is thinking when they write, and what the song feels like with the melody, to you it's always a different thing.

EJ: Lyrics are always like that. I mean, take "Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da" for example.

RO: O.K. "Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da"...life goes on.

EJ: Life goes on...ah. Anyway, enough flattery. My inner child can't cope.

RO: Oh really? Well, what about "Philadelphia Freedom", a Billie Jean King song?

EJ: Yeah. I wrote that for Billie Jean when she had the world team tennis. She started that up and Philadelphia Freedom was her team and I went and played tennis against Bill Cosby, which was frightening because in the Philadelphia Spectrum it's O.K. singing, that's what I do, but playing tennis...OW! We can do that. So, that was frightening, but I love Billie Jean. She's been a friend of mine and she's a very honest person. She's told me when I've been...she's not afraid to tell me I'm being an idiot, which is what I like. She's a true friend.

RO: And you seem to be all right with that too. I saw that documentary that these friends of yours made of you.

EJ: "Tantrums...". It's not friends of mine. It's my, uh, the person I live with.

RO: Oh, I didn't know that. It's your lover that made that?

EJ: Yeah. My significant other.

RO: Oh, I didn't know that. I thought it was just a fan friend.

EJ: Yeah. He followed me around for a year and it's called "Tantrums and Tiaras".

RO: It's very funny and it's sort of biting at you.

EJ: It's very honest. I was fed up with doing documentaries or seeing documentaries, you know, where people would say "Now tell me when you met Debbie Reynolds. I mean, she must've been real great." "Oh, well, Debbie is such a great friend of mine." And it's like you never find out about the real person. So, I thought "Right! Enough of this!" I don't have any skeletons in the closet anymore. You know, I've nothing to hide and when you get to my age, I'm nearly fifty, you know you just want to live your life open and let your fans know something about you. So, we did that and, hopefully, it'll be shown in America soon.

RO: Yes. In fact, my friend Peter Kalean (spelling?), who lives in London, he sent it over to me. I had to dub it over because you don't have the same VCRs that we do.

EJ: No. We don't. We have a different line system.

RO: Yeah. It's very problematic. So, what was it like when you met Debbie Reynolds? I'm kidding you. I'm kidding you. I'm just going to sit with you here for a second.

EJ: Right.

(They both sit motionless for a few seconds)

RO: I'm just taking it in because sometimes I do my life and I meet people and then I think it didn't really happen. So, I'm just going to take the moment and just savor.

(EJ takes a drink from a cup)

RO: There! That was good for me. Was that good? That was nice.

EJ: If it was good for you it was good for me.

RO: Look what we have here from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. This is one of the Christmas ornaments that you sell.

EJ: I use that as an earring, actually. Yeah. You know you have to find a way to raise money without me going on stage because I don't go on stage all of the time. So, we....Lalique made this fabulous Christmas decoration so you can hang it on your tree and they made an angel and we have a credit card. We have everything. Ties....

RO: Yes. Here's the credit card.

(EJ picks up an oversized example of the credit card.)

EJ: Oh, it's a little big to get it in. Try going to the bank teller.

(EJ grunts as he shoves the large card forward as if he is trying to similate inserting it into a bank's teller machine.)

EJ: And we have that (the card) and it has a Rosie O'Donnell on it. Have you got one?

RO: They told me they printed one up for me.

EJ: We'll get you one. Absolutely.

RO: I would love one.

EJ: Don't be mean. Go Spend.

RO: I know how to charge, Elton.

EJ: I bet.

RO: You should see me at the Baby Gap. Boom boom boom!!!

EJ: Really? Cool. Well, get those diapers rolling then. O.K.? And we have the credit cards, we have ties, we have...it's like starting my own sort of business here with things, but you know you have to keep money rolling in. All the money that I...all my singles that are released, all the money from that goes to the AIDS Foundation 'cause that's a constant way, if they sell, of getting money to the AIDS Foundation.

RO: Which is wonderful. It's a great organization.

EJ: Thanks.

RO: Stay right there. You can't go anywhere.

EJ: I won't, I won't, I won't. I'm glued to the seat....good evening.

(EJ gets up while faking that he is actually glued to the chair.)

RO: We've got you for like the whole show whether you like it or not. More with Elton John after this break.

(EJ gives a big toothy grin then a fast wave to the audience.)

(Commercial break)

(A clip of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reciting "Rocket Man" during that "Suck Up To Elton" program opens the next segment of the EJ interview.)

RO: Buzz Aldrin, of course, came in to help us.

(EJ laughs to himself.)

RO: You've so many hits. Do you have a favorite song or is that a ridiculous question?

EJ: Um, you know, usually the favorite song is the one you've just written and because you've heard it less. Um, and then they kind of, after about two years, they kind of find their way into a sort of filing order. Not really. No. I don't really have a favorite song.

RO: "The Lion King" soundtrack that you did....so beautiful. Really. Brilliant. Did you....you've never done anything like that before?

EJ: Years ago, I wrote a soundtrack for a movie called "Friends" and that was....

RO: It's a pink cover.

EJ: It's a pink cover of course. Yeah.

RO: I know. I might have it here.

EJ: You do. There you go.

RO: I think....there it is.

(RO holds up the album cover.)

RO: What a surprise.

(RO hands the album cover over to EJ.)

EJ: Which is a nice album, but it was kind of a rough experience. So, I decided not to do any more film things, but "The Lion King" I couldn't really turn down. And now they're coming out with a stage version of that, which I've seen. A woman called Julie Taymore (spelling?), who's incredible, has come up with the designs for the characters and Tim Rice now writing three extra songs for it. So, I've been doing that this year. I haven't been doing much this year except writing. I've written another musical for Disney, of "Aida", which is the classical opera, but done in a very different way. So....and I've got a duet coming up with Luciano Pavarotti in England.

RO: Wow!

EJ: Yeah.

RO: That's something!

EJ: They had to shoot it in Cinemascope to get us both in.

RO: Oh please! You stop that! Now, who do you listen to when you're at home? What artists do you listen to?

EJ: I like to listen to new artists. You know, I've heard all of the great artists, and it's nice to hear them now and again, but I always buy....I go out every....In England, new release day is Monday and Tuesday in the States. So, I go out CD shopping on Mondays and Tuesdays, depending on which country I'm in, and buy the new releases. If I told you who I listen to now you probably wouldn't know them because....there's an English guy called Lewis Taylor (spelling?). You don't know him, right?

RO: No.

EJ: And a great girl from America called Amanda Marshall.

RO: Who I love! Birmingham!

EJ: Birmingham. But, there's a track on it called....it's track four on CD and Columbia or Sony Records have got a release called "Dark Horse". It's a number one record.

(Turning towards the camera, EJ makes a plea.)

EJ: Please release this record over here.

RO: Really. "Dark Horse". Well, you know what? When we have her let's have her sing "Dark Horse"

(RO looks towards her stage manager as if to say "Don't forget".)

EJ: "Dark Horse". Yeah. Yeah.

RO: I just choked on an Altoid, Elton. You almost had to Heimlich me. Did you see that moment of panic in my face? I went "We'll have her si..." and it stuck right there. Oh, that would've been such a horror for me. 'Cause people would've thought I did it on purpose.

EJ: Think of what it would've been for me. We'd a been front page, honey!

(Lots of audience laughter.)

RO: We would and that's what we're looking for. Isn't it? Yes it is. Will you sing my favorite song when we come back from the break?

EJ: Sure. Absolutely.

RO: Which is "Levon" as you know.

EJ: Yeah.

RO: O.K. We'll be back with Elton John singing "Levon" right after this.

(Commercial break.)

RO: Hi. Elton's new CD is called "Love Songs", but now doing my favorite song ever, which is not on the CD.

EJ: Right.

RO: That's O.K.

EJ: (Speaking to the audience) Great plugging, huh?

RO: (Giggling) Yeah.

EJ: (Speaking to the audience again) It's not on the CD.

RO: But I love it anyway....and Greatest Hits 1, 2, 3, and 4....buy it. "Levon"! Elton John! Thank you for being here.

(EJ performed an emotionally packed solo version of "Levon". He ended by thrusting his fists forward, got up from the piano bench, then clapped his hands above his head. The audience went wild with delight!)

EJ: Thank you!

RO: Thank you so much!

EJ: Woo!

RO: Really. Thank you!

EJ: Oh sure.

RO: Yeah! Elton John!

EJ: Thank you very much.

Elton gave a goodbye wave then did a short bow to the audience. Thus ended Elton's visit to the set of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show". Yes, indeed, Elton not only came through for Rosie, but also for us, his true fans!

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