Backstage with Elton John

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Sat Apr 07, 2018

12_Elton-John

Sir Elton Hercules John CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his five-decade career Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. He has more than fifty Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 Top 10, four No. 2 and nine No. 1. For 31 consecutive years (1970–2000) he had at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100. His tribute single “Candle in the Wind 1997”, re-penned in dedication to the late Princess Diana, sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single in the history of the U.K. and U.S. singles charts.[6][7][8] He has also composed music, produced records, and has occasionally acted in films. John owned Watford Football Club from 1976 to 1987, and 1997 to 2002. He is an honorary Life President of the club, and in 2014 had a stand named after him at the club’s home stadium.

Raised in the Pinner area of London, John learned to play piano at an early age, and by 1962 had formed Bluesology. John met his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, in 1967, after they had both answered an advert for songwriters. For two years they wrote songs for other artists, including Lulu, and John also worked as a session musician for artists such as the Hollies and the Scaffold. In 1969 his debut album, Empty Sky, was released. In 1970 a single, “Your Song”, from his second album, Elton John, reached the top ten in the UK and the US, his first hit single. After decades of commercial chart success, John has also achieved success in musical theatre, both in the West End and on Broadway, composing the music for The Lion King (film and musical), Aida and Billy Elliot the Musical.

22EltonJohnJEltonDzhon_7

He has received five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards – winning two awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music and the first Brits Icon in 2013 for his “lasting impact on British culture”, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, a Disney Legends award, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him Number 49 on its list of 100 influential musicians of the rock and roll era.[9] In 2013, Billboard ranked him the most successful male solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists (third overall behind the Beatles and Madonna).[10] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Having been named a Order of the British Empire in 1996, John was made a Knight Bachelor by Elizabeth II for “services to music and charitable services” in 1998.[11] John has performed at a number of royal events, such as the funeral of Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997, the Party at the Palace in 2002 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in 2012.

He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s.[12] In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation and a year later began hosting the annual Academy Award Party, which has since become one of the highest-profile Oscar parties in the Hollywood film industry. Since its inception, the foundation has raised over US$200 million.[13] John, who announced he was bisexual in 1976 and has been openly gay since 1988, entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish on 21 December 2005, and after same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in 2014, wed Furnish on 21 December 2014. On 24 January 2018, it was announced that John would be retiring from touring and would soon embark on a three-year farewell tour, which is set to begin in September 2018.

Debut album to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1969–1973)

Elton_John_Bernie_Taupin_1971

On the advice of music publisher Steve Brown, John and Taupin started writing more complex songs for John to record for DJM. The first was the single “I’ve Been Loving You” (1968), produced by Caleb Quaye, former Bluesology guitarist. In 1969, with Quaye, drummer Roger Pope, and bassist Tony Murray, John recorded another single, “Lady Samantha”, and an album, Empty Sky. For their follow-up album, Elton John, Elton John and Bernie Taupin enlisted Gus Dudgeon as producer and Paul Buckmaster as musical arranger. Elton John was released in April 1970 on DJM Records/Pye Records in the UK and Uni Records in the US, and established the formula for subsequent albums – gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads. The first single from the album, “Border Song”, made into the US Top 100, peaking at Number 92. The second single, “Your Song”, reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US, becoming John’s first hit single as a singer.[37] The album soon became his first hit album, reaching number four on the US Billboard 200 and number five on the UK Albums Chart.


Elton John – Border Song


Elton John – Your Song

Backed by former Spencer Davis Group drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray, Elton John’s first American concert took place at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in August 1970, and was a success.[39] The concept album Tumbleweed Connection was released in October 1970, and reached number two in the UK and number five in the US.[37] The live album 17-11-70 (11–17–70 in the US) was recorded at a live show aired from A&R Studios on WABC-FM in New York City. Sales of the live album were heavily hit in the US when an east-coast bootlegger released the performance several weeks before the official album, including all 60 minutes of the aircast, not just the 40 minutes selected by Dick James Music.

John and Taupin then wrote the soundtrack to the obscure film Friends and then the album Madman Across the Water, the latter reaching number eight in the US and producing the hit songs, “Levon”, and the album’s opening track “Tiny Dancer”. In 1972, Davey Johnstone joined the Elton John Band on guitar and backing vocals. Released in 1972, Honky Château became John’s first US number one album, spending five weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, and began a streak of seven consecutive US number one albums.[41] The album reached number two in the UK, and spawned the hit singles “Rocket Man” and “Honky Cat”.[42] both of which were recorded at Trident Studios in London.


Elton John – Tiny Dancer


Elton John – Levon (1971) Live at BBC Studios


Elton John – Rocket Man (Official Music Video)

The pop album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player came out at the start of 1973 and reached number one in the UK, the US, Australia among others.[37] The album produced the hits “Crocodile Rock”, his first US Billboard Hot 100 number one, and “Daniel”; number two US, number four UK.[37][43] Both the album and “Crocodile Rock” were the first album and single, respectively on the consolidated MCA Records label in the US, replacing MCA’s other labels including Uni.[4 Top 100, peaking at Number 92. The second single, “Your Song”, reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US, becoming John’s first hit single as a singer.[37] The album soon became his first hit album, reaching number four on the US Billboard 200 and number five on the UK Albums Chart.

 


Elton John- Daniel

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, released in October 1973, gained instant critical acclaim and topped the chart on both sides of the Atlantic, remaining at number one for two months.[45] It also temporarily established John as a glam rock star.

The Rocket Record Company to 21 at 33 (1974–1979)

John formed his own label named The Rocket Record Company.
In 1974, MCA released his Greatest Hits album, a UK and US number one which is certified Diamond by the RIAA for sales of 16 million copies in the US.[37][48] A collaboration with John Lennon took place, resulting in Lennon’s appearance on Elton John’s single cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the B-side of which was Lennon’s “One Day at a Time.” In return, John was featured on “Whatever Gets You thru the Night” on Lennon’s Walls and Bridges album. Later that year in what would be Lennon’s last major live performance, the pair performed these two number 1 hits along with the Beatles classic “I Saw Her Standing There” at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lennon made the rare stage appearance with John and his band to keep the promise he made that he would appear on stage with him if “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” became a US number one single.

Pete Townshend of the Who asked John to play a character called the “Local Lad” in the film of the rock opera Tommy, and to perform the song “Pinball Wizard”. Drawing on power chords, John’s version was recorded and used for the movie release in 1975 and the single came out in 1976 (1975 in the US). The song charted at number 7 in the UK.[37] Bally subsequently released a “Captain Fantastic” pinball machine featuring an illustration of John in his movie guise.

The 1975 autobiographical album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy debuted at number one in the US, the first album ever to do so, and stayed at the top for seven weeks.[53] Elton John revealed his previously ambiguous personality on the album, with Taupin’s lyrics describing their early days as struggling songwriters and musicians in London. The lyrics and accompanying photo booklet are infused with a specific sense of place and time that is otherwise rare in his music. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” was the hit single from this album and captured an early turning point in Elton John’s life. The album’s release signalled the end of the Elton John Band, as an unhappy and overworked John dismissed Olsson and Murray, two people who had contributed much of the band’s signature sound and who had helped build his live following since the beginning.

The rock-oriented Rock of the Westies entered the US albums chart at number 1 like Captain Fantastic, a previously unattained feat.[53] Elton John’s stage wardrobe now included ostrich feathers, $5,000 spectacles that spelled his name in lights, and dressing up like the Statue of Liberty, Donald Duck, or Mozart, among others, at his concerts.[56][57] In 1975, Elton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

To celebrate five years since he had first appeared at the venue, in 1975 Elton John played a two-night, four-show stand at the Troubadour. With seating limited to under 500 per show, the chance to purchase tickets was determined by a postcard lottery, with each winner allowed two tickets. Everyone who attended the performances received a hardbound “yearbook” of the band’s history. That year he also played piano on Kevin Ayers’ Sweet Deceiver, and was among the first and few white artists to appear on the black music series Soul Train on American television.[45] On 9 August 1975, John was named the outstanding rock personality of the year at the first annual Rock Music Awards at ceremonies held in Santa Monica, California.[59]

In 1976, the live album Here and There was released in May, followed by the Blue Moves album in October, which contained the single “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”. His biggest success in 1976 was “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, a duet with Kiki Dee that topped both the UK and US charts.[37][60] Finally, in an interview with Rolling Stone that year, one entitled “Elton’s Frank Talk”, John stated that he was bisexual.[61]


Elton John – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Besides being the most commercially successful period, 1970–1976 is also held in the most regard critically.

In November 1977, Elton John announced he was retiring from performing.

In 1979, accompanied by Ray Cooper, Elton John became one of the first Western artists to tour the Soviet Union, as well as one of the first in Israel.[64] In 1979, John and Taupin reunited, though they did not collaborate on a full album until 1983’s Too Low For Zero. 21 at 33, released the following year, was a significant career boost, aided by his biggest hit in four years, “Little Jeannie” (number 3 US), with the lyrics written by Gary Osborne.

The Fox to Sleeping with the Past (1980–1989)

His 1981 album, The Fox, was recorded.

He was able to return to the charts with the 1983 hit album Too Low for Zero, which included “I’m Still Standing” (No. 4 UK) and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”, the latter of which featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and reached No. 4 in the US and No. 5 in the UK.[37][60] In October 1983, Elton John caused controversy when he broke the United Nations’ cultural boycott on apartheid-era South Africa by performing at the Sun City venue.[68] He married his close friend and sound engineer, Renate Blauel, on Valentine’s Day 1984 – the marriage lasted three years.


Elton John – I’m Still Standing


Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

In 1985, he was one of the many performers at Live Aid held at Wembley Stadium.[70] John played “Bennie and the Jets” and “Rocket Man”; then “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee for the first time since the Hammersmith Odeon on 24 December 1982; and introduced his friend George Michael, still then of Wham!, to sing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”.[70] In 1984, he released Breaking Hearts which featured the hit song “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”, No. 5 in the US and No. 7 in the UK.[37] Elton John also recorded material with Millie Jackson in 1985. In 1986, he played the piano on two tracks on the heavy metal band Saxon’s album Rock the Nations.

He placed other hits throughout the 1980s, including “Nikita” which featured in a music video directed by Ken Russell, No. 3 in the UK and No. 7 in the US in 1986, a live orchestral version of “Candle in the Wind”, No. 6 in the US, and “I Don’t Wanna Go on with You Like That”, No. 2 in the US in 1988.[37][60] His highest-charting single was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For” which reached No. 1 in the US in 1985; credited as Dionne and Friends, the song raised funds for AIDS research.[60] His albums continued to sell, but of those released in the latter half of the 1980s, only Reg Strikes Back (number 16, 1988) placed in the top 20 in the US.


Elton John- I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That

“Sacrifice” to Aida (1990–1999)

In 1990, he achieved his first solo UK number one hit single, with “Sacrifice” (coupled with “Healing Hands”) from the previous year’s album Sleeping with the Past; it stayed at the top spot for six weeks.[76] The following year, John’s “Basque” won the Grammy for Best Instrumental, and a guest concert appearance at Wembley Arena he had made on George Michael’s cover of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” was released as a single and topped the charts in both the UK and the US.[77] At the 1991 Brit Awards in London, Elton John won the award for Best British Male.


Elton John – Sacrifice

In 1992, he released the US number 8 album The One, featuring the hit song “The One”.

Along with Tim Rice, Elton John wrote the songs for the 1994 Disney animated film The Lion King. At the 67th Academy Awards ceremony, The Lion King soundtrack provided three of the five nominees for the Academy Award for Best Song, which he won with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.[88] Both that and “Circle of Life” became hit songs for John.[89][90] “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” also won Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.[88] After the release of The Lion King soundtrack, the album remained at the top of Billboard 200 for nine weeks. On 10 November 1999, the RIAA certified The Lion King “Diamond” for selling 15 million copies.

In 1994, Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose.[92] In 1995, he released Made in England (number 3). The title track, “Made in England”, is an autobiographical telling of his growing up, parts of his life and what it is like in England. The album also featured the single “Believe”.[93] John performed “Believe” at the 1995 Brit Awards, and picked up the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

In early September, he contacted his writing partner Bernie Taupin, asking him to revise the lyrics of his 1973 song “Candle in the Wind” to honour Diana, and Taupin rewrote the song accordingly.[97] On 6 September 1997, John performed “Candle in the Wind 1997” at the funeral of Princess Diana in Westminster Abbey.[98] The song became the fastest and biggest-selling single of all time, eventually selling over 33 million copies worldwide,[91][99] the best-selling single in UK Chart history,[100] the best-selling single in Billboard history and the only single ever certified Diamond in the United States – the single sold over 11 million copies in the US[7][91][101] The Guinness World Records 2009 states that the song is “the biggest-selling single since UK and US singles charts began in the 1950s, having accumulated worldwide sales of 33 million copies”.[8] The song proceeds of approximately £55 million were donated to Diana’s charities via the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.[102] It won Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards in 1998.[99] “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” was released as a double A-side. Elton John has publicly performed “Candle in the Wind 1997” only once, at Diana’s funeral, vowing never to perform it again unless asked by Diana’s sons.


Elton John – Candle in the Wind/Goodbye England’s Rose – Princess Diana’s Funeral 1997

On 4 June 2012, he performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, performing a repertoire including “Your Song”, “Crocodile Rock” and “I’m Still Standing”.[142] On 30 June, John performed in Kiev, Ukraine at a joint concert with Queen + Adam Lambert for the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation.

On 24 January 2018, it was announced that John would be retiring from touring and would soon embark on a three-year farewell tour. The first concert is set to take place in Allentown, Pennsylvania on 8 September 2018. John cited spending time with his children as the reason for his retirement saying, “Ten years ago if you asked me if I would stop touring I would have said no. But we had children and that changed our lives. I have had an amazing life and career but my life has changed. My priorities are now my children and my husband and my family.”

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Video source: www.youtube.com

Elton_John_performing,_2008_1

Posted by Teri Perticone

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