Total Pageviews

30 May 2008

Unforgettable People (XXII): Sheila Harris, Elton’s mum.


Stanley and Sheila Harris met in 1942 when he was serving in the Royal Air Force and she, just sixteen years old, was working for United Dairies delivering milk. When Reg was born, his father was absent overseas on RAF service. In contrast of Stanley, Sheila was his mentor and confident, and she encouraged his love for pop music. She loved Rock’n’Roll and brought home two new 78s that impacted Elton: “ABC Boogie” by Bill Haley and “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. But Sheila found love with a local builder and decorater called Fred Farebrother. The divorce between his parents, caused fifteen-year-old Reg enormous pain: “I lived in fear the fights, but finally we had peace at home” said Elton. But very quickly he described Fred as “my dad”, when they lived in flat number 30 in Frame Court.

When Elton met Bernie, they went to live with Elton’s parents, in the only vacant space the house had: the bedroom with bunk beds, where Bernie used to write lyrics and Elton, in the living room sat at the piano to write music for them. “Bernie was very deep thinking” reminded Sheila, “He used to love to sit up the trees outside the flat, and write lyrics up there”. When she came home, in the evening, from her job in the Ministry of Defence, she listened the day’s compositions: “They used to wait for me out of the window and as soon as I got in it was come and listen to this, come and listen to this. If i was one I cried at, they’d say well that’s a winner, we’ll have that one”. When the pair signed for Dick James Music, Sheila and Bernie’s father, Robert, had been represent to countersign the contracts

“I confinded to her that I might be gay and she was very understanding about it. I was very lucky in that respect” explained Elton about his mother. Sheila accepted Elton’s friend and partner John Reid as a family member. They lived together at Hercules, the new house in Virginia Water, and did the bookkeeping, laundry and look after the dogs.

Sheila suffered too much on Elton’s dark periods, when it was drugs, alcohol, depressions and suicide attempts. “It was a terrible, terrible time, those days” explained Sheila for “Tantrums and tiaras” documental, “it’s an awful thing to see someone you love unhappy. There were drugs (...) I knew he was taking drugs but what can you do? I didn’t see him all week until backstage before he went on and I remember his hands were just split from playing the piano so hard and he was putting this stuff onto his skin. He looked terrible. I thought he was going to die”, at this time she began to sob... In 1986 they decided to emigrate to Minorca, Spain for the scandal and harassment of some British tabloids, but they returned the self-imposed exile in 1990 when Elton began attending Alcoholics Anonimous.

Elton confessed himself as a mummy’s boy because "nobody has stood by me as much as my mother". When Elton tied the knot with David, in 2005, both mothers, Sheila Farebrother, a retired civil servant, and Gladys Furnish, a retired housewife, were named as official witnesses.

27 May 2008

The Story Behind "Skyline Pigeon"


Bernie’s inspiration came from a 12th Century clocktower he often climbed as a child to admire the sunsets. Producer Steve Brown suggested they should write the music they would like to listen to instead writing English bubblegum pop they were trying. “(The song) got a lot of airplay. It was covered by two people. It has a lot of pretention but hell, you are pretentious when you’re sixteen or seventeen years old and in 1967, everyone was pretentious” justified Bernie. “From that song, songwriting became our bread and butter” added.

Elton never happy with the original rendition, was to re-recorded the song three years later and it was released on the “B” side of “Daniel”. Elton played it on Ryn’s White funeral, in 1990: “if I am not mistaken” said Bernie on Rare Masters album “there’s a quote from it (the song) on Ryan’s grave”

25 May 2008

Nigel Olsson's Fan Club/ Website: Noreen's Interview


Nigel was Elton John's original drummer. With guitarist Davey Johnstone and bassist Dee Murray, Nigel played on all the classic Elton albums. To me, one of the best drummers of the world, a great vocalist singer... So, we have to bring on someone who knows everything about Nigel, that drummer: Noreen Romano

Nigel first contact to music was working as a vocalist, before taking the drums. He started his career, as a drummer, in bands such as Plastic Penny and Spencer Davis Group. Then, Nigel became Elton's tour drummer in the Spring of 1970. What represented Elton in Nigel’s career as a musician and how they met?

Nigel met Elton (and Bernie and Dee) through Dick James Music in London. As you just mentioned, Nigel was playing drums with the DJM group Plastic Penny, and he would hang out at Dick James' studio and help out on Elton's demos along with Penny bassist Tony Murray (no relation to Dee), who went on to play bass on all of Empty Sky. Plastic Penny also recorded an early Elton/Bernie tune, "Turn to Me" which Nigel sang backing vocals on as well as playing the drums--it's a great song. When Nigel found himself out of work after Spencer Davis broke up his group, Elton recommended him to his friend, vocalist David Byron, who was looking for a drummer for his band Uriah Heep. Nigel recorded a couple of songs and played several gigs with Heep, and then Elton asked him and Dee to play a gig to promote the Elton John album at The Roundhouse in London in April 1970. And the rest is history!

Nigel is the drummer who best captured the art of tasteful rock drumming. He said: ”I hate clicks! I just hate them. They're too mechanical and too confining”. How could you define Nigel as a drummer?

What I love about Nigel's drumming is its soulfulness. He's a self-taught drummer, which I think is great, because he can't get bogged down by technique or what he "should" be playing...as he's said, he plays from the heart. He's a very emotional person, and he pours himself into every song. I love when he does something you wouldn't normally expect...you'll wait for a beat that doesn't come, or you'll notice he's tapping out an odd pattern on his bass drum or a cymbal. He's always been so inventive and exciting to listen to, and I don't think Elton's music, especially the classic albums, would have been the same with another drummer.

And how about Nigel’s drawings on the drums? Do you know if himself does it? And why always an orchestral leader?

Oh, you mean Nigel's caricature... we call it the Stick Guy. It's a cartoon of himself viewed from the back, with his once-trademark long hair, wearing headphones and holding up drumsticks. Yes, whenever you see the Stick Guy on a drumhead, Nigel has drawn it himself (and signed the drumhead) just before the concert. It's a ritual he has. DW Drums has also embedded the Stick Guy on the actual shells of Nigel's kit, which gives it a very cool look. If you like the Stick Guy, keep checking nigelolsson.com, as we hope to be launching a new merchandise line this year.

Great! Explain us something about Nigel’s solo career, please. Which songs could you recommend us from Nigel’s catalog and why? And Nigel spent much of the '90s away from music, aside from the occasional recording session, what does he did?

Unfortunately, hardly anything in Nigel's back catalog is available on CD--each album he released was on a different label!--but his albums on vinyl do pop up on eBay from time to time. You can easily get the compilation Golden Classics, which is really the 1979 Nigel album, on CD. Some of my favourite tracks are "China" and his cover of Spirit's "Nature's Way" from Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra and Chorus; his cover version of Neil Young's "Alabama," which was only released as a single in the UK in 1972; his single "Only One Woman" and the b-side "In Good Time" (written by Davey Johnstone)--this was the closest we got to hearing Nigel, Dee & Davey as their own band, and they really rocked out; "Something Lacking in Me" and "Tides" from Nigel Olsson in 1975; "Rainy Day" from 1978's Nigel Olsson; "Dancin' Shoes" and "Thinking of You" from Nigel in 1979; "Should We Carry On" from Changing Tides; an unreleased song called "All I Want Is You" which he sang onstage in 1980 during his reunion tour with Elton; "If I Was Love," "Building a Bird," "Say You Feel the Same," and the title track from Move the Universe in 2001.
Nigel spent much of the '90s on the vintage racecar circuit in America as well as working with his father-in-law, reknowned Nashvile producer Larry Butler.

Why do you think Nigel’s reaction was different from Dee, when Elton replaced them of the band? Dee was very upset... Nigel was a great friend of bassist Dee Murray, who unfortunetly passed away. Miss he Dee, does he?

I don't think Nigel had a diferent reaction...I think both he and Dee were very surprised and upset when Elton fired them in the spring of '75; neither of them saw it coming, even though Nigel was working on his solo album for Rocket Records at the time--he'd meant it to be a sideline project. Nigel and Dee were very close, in both their professional and private lives; in the '80s they married American twin sisters and were brothers-in-law for several years before Nigel's divorce. Nigel has said he thinks about Dee every day. I think that shows when he plays the classic songs in concert that he and Dee recorded together.

The Nigel Olsson Fan Club/website was launched in March 1998 by Lisa Ann Nespoli, along with Noreen(the person who knows more about Nigel than he does, according to him). In May, Mark & Kim, next-door neighbours of Nigel's best friend Cris, discovered the 'beginner' website and chat room and informed Nigel & Schanda of the club's existence. They "went official" in July 2000, and Nigel bestowed his new domain name (nigelolsson.com) on him in August 2003... Could you explain us what we could find in that great website, nigelolsson.com?

I'm so glad you like the site! We certainly have the most comprehensive collection of photographs of Nigel, by both professional and amateur photographers, none of whom have ever charged us a cent for their work, bless their hearts. We know we're maintaining the definitive archive when Elton's people come to us for a photograph for a tourbook or a press release, or ask for our help identifying a photo. We like to think that anything you need to know about Nigel can be found on the site, but we always welcome questions and suggestions if something is missing.

Thank you very much for being here in the EltonJohnAllSongsList... oh... do you like Elton? Which are your favourite songs?

I certainly wouldn't be working for Nigel if I didn't like Elton! I've been a huge fan since I first heard "Crocodile Rock" in 1973 when I was a little girl in grammar school. Some favourite songs that spring to mind are "Harmony," "(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket," "High Flying Bird," "Tinderbox," "January," "Look Ma No Hands," "Come Down In Time" and "I've Seen the Saucers." My favourite album is probably Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. For the record, I wish Nigel had been in the band and played on Made in England!

Bye Noreen, it was an enjoyable experience to chat a little with a Nigel fan. Greetings to all your community.

Thanks Miquel!

You're welcome!!! Well, eltonites, we really must check out this great website: www.nigelolsson.com We have Nigel's Bio | Discography | Album Tracks | Singles | Pre-Penny Days | Plastic Penny | Warpipes | Holiday Greetings | Picture Galleries | Drum Clinic Pix... and if you would, they could forward an email to Nigel for you.

24 May 2008

The Eltonite's Day: The One & Only... Pam Quier!!!!!!

Welcome to the “21 At 33” Week. Elton worked with 4 lyricists here: Tom Robinson, Judie Tzuke, Gary Osbourne, and Bernie Taupin. Also It was said that Elton, at that time, had great songs to deliver for a new album, but he kept it because he would to fullfill his contract to his old record company and wanted the material for the new one. He recorded duets with France Gall and even, sang in french. This is a good album, in my opinion, but it didn’t have the recognition it should have... We have here a very special guest, to bring light to all of this.

So thank you for coming, really a pleasure to have you... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?


Hi, my name is Pam, I'm 58 yrs old and I am from California.

Ok!! When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

Well, my first time I saw Elton in concert, wasn't until Oct. 30,1992. I was a rather late bloomer as far as being an Elton fan is concerned. When Elton was in his hey day, I was busy raising a family, and did not pay attention to his music. I mean, sure, when they played his songs...back then it was AM radio...there wasn't anything that I didn't like. It was when I was done raising my family and I had time on my hands...I found Elton!! It was after I became a fan, that I found I had to buy all of his back catalog....could not get enough of it. What made me turn to Elton's music, believe it or not was that Billy Joel had stopped touring and I needed someone to fill that "hole". I've always had music in my life, but the last greatest thing to me that I had paid attention to, had been the Beatles. Elton has a way of putting his beautiful music to Bernie's or anyone's lyrics, that comes from his soul...it's a natural gift. What makes me want to go out and buy new Elton music is....wanting to hear what he could possibly come up with that he hasn't already!!?!? It always amazes me, because it is just such a gift he has given to this world...his talent, his music and it's like here is this song that has been in his heart and soul and is just bursting, waiting to be presented to the world...come and listen!!

Great! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him, get a signed autograph or even, speak with him or with other member of his band?

The first time I saw Elton in concert, like I said before, was Oct. 30, 1992 in Oakland, CA. My oldest daughter became my concert going buddy when I started going to concerts again. When Elton first took to the stage, I was in awe...there he was....and I was in the nosebleeds!! He was bigger than life...I just couldn't believe I was actually seeing Elton John in concert!! How many concerts have I gone to, honestly, I've lost count BUT, if I count my ticket stubs, because I have this special little "album" now, that holds tickets, I'm up to 30? Seems like it should be more!!!
I have met Elton. He did the El Dorado cd signing in Los Angeles at Tower Records in 2000. We were allowed 2 cds each to be signed. My girlfriend and I were amongst the first 10 inside Tower to meet and get our cds signed by Elton. We gave him flowers and some cards and notes from other Elton fans from Elton John Online Community...as it was close to his birthday. That, was truly an amazing experience!! Elton was as warm and genuine as I'd ever imagined him to be.
I have sent Elton some gifts (birthday, Christmas) over the last 10 years or so, and I have been delightfully surprised to be the recipient of Thank You notes personally written by Elton. It warms my heart to know that at that moment in time...for those couple of minutes that he is writing this note....to me...that what I sent to him, moved him enough to write to me. Thank you, Elton, for that...
In addition, yes, I do have autographs. A few on "stock" photos that he'd send after I would write him a letter, and a few on special items I'd sent him asking him to autograph for me. For instance, when I won the trip at eltonjohn.com to anywhere Air Tran flew, I chose to fly to Atlanta, because Elton was going to perform a concert there, and it being his "hometown" when he's in the states, I knew he'd perform a knock out concert for the hometown crowd. I had found a model of the Air Tran Jet that had Elton's picture on it, and I packed it out to Elton and wrote him a letter explaining what I had won and why I'd like him to sign my airplane, and he did and sent it right back. I think it's one of the most beautiful autographs I have from him!! Of course, they all are very precious to me.
I have met a couple of the band members. Back in Feb 2001 at the San Jose Arena, Elton and Billy Joel were playing one of their infamous "Face to Face" Concerts. While we were standing in line waiting to collect our tickets for the evening, Ken Stacey, at the time, backing vocalist and acoustic guitar, came out to say hi to his Dad and Step mom who happened to be standing right behind us!! We'd seen him perform with Elton's band, one other time, in NYC at "One Night Only" in Oct. of 2000. He obliged us with pictures with him. Nice guy. When I was in Las Vegas at the "Red Piano" show in July of 2005, I was hanging out on the stairs hoping any of the band would pass by before the concert. My friend who was with me spotted Nigel Olsson, his drummer, coming up the steps!! He was very kind and stopped and autographed our tickets, and I was brave enough to ask for a hug, which he did!! A few minutes later, John Mahon, his percussionist, was walking swiftly by the stairs and my friend called out to him. He stopped and we asked if he'd autograph our tickets and he did....and once again...I asked for a hug...and got one!! I had run into John again in San Jose in 2006 at the HP Pavillion when he was coming out the back to greet some friends who had come to see him before the concert. I reminded him of meeting him in Vegas, and that I'd email him on occasion, and he asked me my name, and I told him and he said oh yeah, ok...so he put a face to a name. He was kind enough to stop for a photo with me. Genuinely nice guy!! This was the 2nd night of "The Captain and The Kid" concert. It wasn't slated as such, but they had played 7 of the 10 songs off the new album, which is a FANTASTIC album by the way, if you haven't heard it...go out and get it!! I'd been to the first one, the night before, in Sacramento, and they had done 9 out of 10...what a treat!!

Nice. As you know, this is the “21 At 33” Week. Bernie had returned, after a four year absence, to write some of the tracks here. What’s your opinion about the break of Elton & Bernie and the reunition? It was for jealousy, inconsistent characters...? What do you think about Elton working with other lyricists? And whose were the strongest momentos of that album?

To be honest, until I became a big fan, I did not even know that Elton had someone else write the words to his songs. So, needless to say, I did not know anything about other people writing the words and the temporary absence of Bernie in Elton’s songs. It didn’t matter to me that someone else was doing the writing. If anyone has heard Elton sing the “cooker” song, this man can put music to words and make a song out of anything!! The music, to me is foremost, the words, secondary…..not that I am dismissing the importance of Bernie’s or anyone else’s lyrics, but to me, it wasn’t an issue. Elton has written some beautiful songs, as we all know to lyrics written by Tim Rice. Hardly a bad one in the bunch!! As Elton had put it, he and Bernie needed a break from each other, and it was ok with them both if each of them wrote with others. I think my favorite song off of that album is “Two Rooms”, and that is one that Bernie wrote.

Perfect!! Elton was a big star in the U.S. in the 70s, and in the U.K. did well. While “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was number 2 in the US, was number 16 in UK; while Elton had 7 consecutive number one albums in American charts, in the UK were only four? Other while, Elton had to expected to 1990 to have his first solo number one single in Britain. Why that difference? And could you still hear Elton’s music in the radio, nowadays?

I really don't know why Elton did better in the US than in his home country. It amazes me, when you think back to the music, I mean, music is so universal, and you'd think he'd do well all over. It puzzles me as well!! I think Elton's music would do extremely well on the radio today. A lot of the young artists and people, are picking up on the old rock and roll songs and style, and going back and listening to what they had to offer. So, I think if you had some of the young artists redo some of Elton's songs...I think they would be hits all over again. I mean, you know they just had David Archuleta, one of the two finalists on “American Idol” sing Elton's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", which was picked for him to sing by Clive Davis, one of the biggest, well known people in the record industry....so you know, Elton has some classics that will be around forever!!

I see... In Elton’s albums... Which are the songs that should have been singles and weren’t? What do you think about the “B” sides... Were they good songs, any in particular? Do you think it was an error not to put out singles from recent albums?

Personally, I'd rather buy albums. However, when I was a teen, I guess buying a single would have been easier, financially, but looking back, I think I had more albums than singles. When I started buying Elton's records, they were already on CDs. The only time I bought a single would be when there would be exclusive releases in the UK, and not in the US that you couldn't get on a CD. Unfortunately, I’m not up on Elton’s singles or B sides, even though I’m sure I have them. “I know I like “Big Man In A Little Suit”, “Peter’s Song”, “God Never Came There”. Looking back at Elton’s discography, I’ve notice that singles were released a lot more over in UK than in the US. From what I understand, his sales on singles here in the US were not as big a seller as in the UK…I may be wrong, but I believe that is what I heard why he didn’t release more singles in the US. I think if Elton would have released more singles from his current albums, ie on “Songs From The West Coast“, “Peachtree Road” or “The Captain and The Kid”, perhaps the albums would have sold better. I never really listen to the radio anymore, but from what I read, and talk about with other Elton fans, there was hardly ever any air play from songs from those albums on the radio…so yes, I think more singles should have been released from the current albums.

I see... What do you think about the title of Elton’s albums... “Tumbleweed Connection”, “Jump Up!”, “Peachtree Road”... Do you like it?

I like the titles of Elton's albums. Like I said, I was a late bloomer fan of Elton's, and when I went shopping for his back catalog, seeing these titles were very intriguing....and I remember seeing the names and trying to figure out what type of music would possibly be on an album with that name...you know? So, it sparked curiosity...ingenious!! I love "Peachtree Road"...after having visited Atlanta, and seeing Peachtree Road EVERYWHERE...the songs fit the title of that album perfectly.

And what should be Elton’s next step in his career, in your opinion? What is the place for Elton in the world music, today?

Elton's next step in his career...hmm, of course it will be whatever he wants, but I kind of like the direction he's taking right now with writing music for musicals. He's got "Billy Elliot" in England..now in Australia, and pretty soon, this fall it'll be on Broadway!! "AIDA" is incredible as well, and regardless of how the critics felt, I enjoyed the music of "Lestat". It was dark and different...and very evocative at times. The music is incredible!! I've really enjoyed music he's written for movies as well, "The Lion King", "The Road To El Dorado" to name a couple. I still of course don't want him to stop performing live, and new music is always welcome. His fans believe he still has a lot more to offer the music world. I think Elton is a mentor for some of the upcoming young artists. As I said, a lot of them are looking back to classic rock and learning about the basics and how to really play and entertain people (learn their craft, as Elton has put it) to stay in the music industry, not just be a fly by night one hit wonder. As long as Elton wants to continue to play, and write music, the hearts and souls of the world will continue to listen.

Wow!!! And which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

I think I‘d have to say that the “Thank You” notes Elton wrote to me are the most precious to me. When I think of the millions of fans he has all over the world, that he's taken time out of his very busy life, to respond, to me...that, is very special and it touches my heart deeply. I also want to say, that because of Elton, I have met some of the most incredible people who I am proud to call friends. We all share such a common bond, and to be able to know and share with these people my love and respect that I have for Elton John, the artist, the man, and the humanitarian...it just means so much to be able to call them my friends. Elton, truly brings together, with his love and his music, the best people in the world.

And finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList?

Miguel, trying to pick five favorite songs of Elton’s is like trying to pick your favorite child. It is so hard, because each song can mean something special, or remind me of a certain event. I can’t narrow it down to five, I tried, but couldn’t cut any of these songs to make it just five, sorry!! So, right now, these are what I can come up with:

We All Fall In Love Sometimes
Believe
Live Like Horses
Friends Never Say Goodbye
The Greatest Discovery
Answer In The Sky
Electricity
The Bridge

Thank you very much. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to your other eltonites?

First of all I’d like to thank YOU for contacting me to do an interview!! There are a lot of other Elton fans in the world who are much more knowledgeable about Elton and his older music than I, so I do feel honored that you asked me to participate. I’d just like to tell other Elton fans to keep on loving him, keep on introducing him to anyone who hasn’t heard his music, or think of him only in the sense of Diana’s “Candle In The Wind” or who wrote the music for “The Lion King” There is so much more of his music that people have to hear, and they will learn what it is that has given Elton John the following he has accumulated over the years of his FANTASTIC career!!

Thank you very much Pam, really a worth experience for me this interview. An honour you share your time with AllSongsList. Take care and good luck.

22 May 2008

Unforgettable People (XXI): Nigel Olsson



Nigel Olsson was born on February 10, 1949, in Wallasey, Merseyside, England. Nigel began his music career as lead vocalist for the Fireflies in Sunderland, England, where he spent his teen years. One night when the group's regular drummer quit before a gig, Nigel decided to give the drums a go, and thus began his drumming career. When Nigel was 17, he got a job as drummer for Plastic Penny group. Nigel then joined Mirage bassist Dee Murray and guitarist Ray Fenwick in a post-Stevie Winwood version of the Spencer Davis Group, touring the United States with them in Autumn 1969. Dissolved the group, Nigel joined the nascent Uriah Heep and had been performing on Elton's studio demos. Nigel became Elton's tour drummer in the Spring of 1970, forming a hot rhythm section with Dee Murray. The trio debuted at the Roundhouse in London on April 21st. Nigel was finally "promoted" to Elton's permanent session drummer in 1972 with the release of Honky Chateau.

Elton replaced Nigel and Dee in 1975 after releasing the straight-to-#1 album Captain Fantastic, and Nigel proceeded to make a name for himself as a studio musician as well as record several albums as a solo artist. In this time away from Elton, Nigel released 4 solo albums: "Nigel Olsson" and "Drummer's Can Sing Too" in 1975; "Nigel Olsson" in 1978 and "Dancin' Shoes" in 1979.

Then he and guitarist Davey Johnstone formed the group Warpipes in 1991 and they released one album, "Holes in the Heavens". Recently, Nigel began work on "Move the Universe" singing an Elton John/Bernie Taupin song: "Building A Bird": "I’m not sure what Bernie was thinking when he wrote those lyrics!" told Nigel to George Matlock Hercules Interview in 2001. "We were being dined by Elton at a hotel in New York after October’s MSG show. Davey said he remembered a song called “Building a Bird”. Elton said he had no clue about the song and asked Davey, “When did I do that?” Davey explained the song was never recorded, and then asked whether we could use it. Elton replied: “If you can remember it, go for it!” Davey had remembered the song from the sessions, and Davey made the call to Elton’s archivist Adrian Collee. It’s a great song, a big ballad".

Nigel made a big comeback on the stage of Madison Square Garden for Elton's One Night Only concerts in 2000, and now he is touring again with Elton and the band; apart, Nigel does occasional session work; donates his time to various charitable causes; and races vintage cars in California, where he lives with his lovely wife Schanda and his son Justin.

All the info and more in the fantastic website: http://www.angelfire.com/ca/nigelfanclub/albumtracks.html

20 May 2008

The Story Behind "Little Jeannie"



Written with Gary Osborne in Elton’s new particular way of composing: the melody first, thinking about a title and a couple of lines for Gary to work about “And I want you to be my acrobat”. “Little Jeannie” is about love of a higher order, singing by a man whose life has been transformed by the younger Jeannie, hurting her instead of welcoming her into his life.

The Story Behind "Les Aveux"



France Gall released her new album “Paris, France” with a song tribute to Elton “Il Jouait du Piano Debut” (“He Plays The Piano Standing Up”), explaining Elton’s fidelity to music and the way he attached the piano keys”. Elton met Gall and his husband, Michel Berger, in St. Tropez and decided to record a duet.

“Les Aveux” has his english predecessor, “Reach Out To Me”, but Berger wrote a new set of lyrics, talking about love, in the context of a couple lovers sharing thoughts of the strenght they expect to gain by their reunion. The single was a big success in France, topping the music chart lists, and selling six hundred thousand copies. Even its “B” side, “Donner Pour Donner”, again a duet with Gall, reached the charts and became a huge success.

The Story Behind “Two Rooms At The End Of The World”



Bernie was exhausted with fame and his lifestyle and decided to take a break. After “Blue Moves”, Bernie got away from Elton and started working with other people, like Alice Cooper, for example. At Elton’s instigation, three years later, Bernie and then he’s wife, Toni Russo, were invited to Elton to stay with him in Nice, where finally Elton recorded his new album. They reconciliated and Bernie collaborated with three songs.

“Two Rooms” is an autobiographical song, chronicling while they were apart from each other, they had inevitably made contact again (“for where there’s is one room, you could find another”). Two rooms for two different lifes, in oposite sides of the world, but connected again somehow. It also refers to his songwriting method of composing in separate rooms.

15 May 2008

Unforgettable People (XX): Bob Halley

"Sir Elton John has launched a massive legal battle against his business manager of 30 years Bob Halley". When eltonites read this headline on the papers, we have a surprise.

Bob Halley, born on November 9, 1947, began working for Elton as his driver in 1974, and over that time, he has acted as personal assistant, director of operations, and business manager, and developed a close friendship, specially when Bob joined Elton on tour in the 80s. They started doing drugs together, and also both together, they decided to stop the drug use: Elton in Chicago and Bob in England.

But this wasn't the first time Elton has taken an aide to court: in 2000 he filed a High Court battle against ex-manager John Reid, after claiming Reid had mishandled his business affairs.

It was Bob Halley's idea, after years of attending to John's needs on the road, to develope a sitcom for ABC inspired by the turbulent lives of himself and his contemporaries like Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury, and David Bowie.

14 May 2008

The Catherine Britt Interview


Catherine Britt, born December 31, 1984, is a country music artist from Newcastle, Sydney, Australia. She began singing in front of an audience as an 11 year old with the Steel City Country Music Club. With producer Bill Chambers, Catherine recorded “That Don’t Bother Me”, written with Kasey Chambers, that became a Top 5 hit at the beginning of 2001. Her first album, “Dusty Smiles And Heartbreak Cures” had most of the songs written by yourself, and this album received rave reviews around the world. Five of the songs have reached the Top 5 in the Country Charts - "That Don't Bother Me", "Easy Living", "46 Miles From Alice", "Hillbilly Pickin' Ramblin' Girl" and "Help Me I'm Falling". At the beginning of 2003, Catherine was signed to the biggest successful country label in the world: the RCA Labels Group in the U.S. Firmly rooted in country tradition, she gives me the enjoyable opportunity to chat with us, eltonites...

So, thank you very much Catherine. It’s a privilege and an honour for me to do this interview. I’d been looking for you for a long time, first, trying to find information about you, hearing your records, and then, excuse me the pretention, to contact you. At the end, God heard me and guided me to his angel.

Though... Your father, Steve Britt, once said you became hooked on country music after you saw the movie Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), the biopic of Loretta Lynn's life, when she was very young. Was that film the beginning, then?

Yes. That's when i realised i wanted to sing country music... i just fell in love with that storey and the music and it all went from there!!

When you were a child, you listened to Dolly Parton and Hank Williams albums as your mom, Ann, drove you to school each morning. Were those country stars whom derived the inspiration? Were you trying to emulated their singing and writing styles?

Definetly!!! i am very influenced by other artists all the time... it effects my music, how i write, how i perform... all those things!!! i just love talent...

"I'm stubborn," once you recognized when you were explaining when you walked into RCA Records, and you sat down with Joe Galante, sang him some songs, and he said, 'That's all I need." You answered "I'm not here to be anything that I'm not. I want to be a country singer, and that's my thing. I'm so glad to be here, and I feel so privileged, but it's not worth changing myself to get a record deal.' You have clear ideas, have you? Time gives you the reason...

I have always known what i want musically and who i want to be and yes, i have gotten off track a few times unfortunantly....but i never lose sight of the real deal.... making GOOD music....

You were invited onstage, first by Bill Chambers, then by Chris Isaak. With Chambers you were only eleven when you go to his first concert. What is was to tour with him in 1999? And what’s the story meeting Chris Isaak? Did you duet?

Bill and Chris are both incredible guys and huge influences on me.... i have been on the road with both of them and loved it!!! i have also dueted with both of them.... once with chris on tour and i recorded a duet with bill on my album 'dusty smiles and heartbrake cures'

One of my favourite songs of your catalogue, is called 'Too Far Gone,' that starts out with the lines, 'I know there's music playing/I can hear it in my head/I can see you lying on your bed.' What’s the story behind this incredible song? Do you captured other influences, apart from country?

This is a song about my parents and missing home... i was very lonely when i wrote this song and it means a lot to me...i will never forget the feeling when i sing it live...

How do you met Elton? He has a good taste of music and he’s also a country fan. I heard Elton was impressed by you and extol your virtues to the press throughout his Australian tour... What do you thought when you get a call form your record company there was Elton talking about you on TV? Did he help you someway?

Elton was touring in Australia when i was 16 and came across my record and fell in love with it he then got in contact with my label to meet me and i went to sydney to see his show and meet him... he is an incredible person and i owe him so much!!

Were you an Elton fan? Do you like his songs with country influence like “Birds”, “Country Confort”, “No Shoe Strings On Louise” or “Turn The Lights Out When You Leave”?

I'm a huge fan!!! and always have been!!!!

Wow!!! How do you felt when you becoming the youngest Australian performer to ever appear on the legendary Grand Ole Opry in Nashville?

One of the best feelings in the world!!!! im so grateful!!!

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John’s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

tiny dancer
saturday night's alright
your song
daniel
rocket man....

but i love them ALL!!!!

Thank you very much Catherine, I will never forget that.

thanks!

CB x

The Story Behind "American Triangle"





"American Triangle", initially to be called "American Tragedy" was about the murder of young Matthew Shepard, born on December 1, 1976. He was tragically murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998.

His parents created the Matthew Shepard Foundation, as it is described in the official website (that's http://www.matthewshepard.org/), "to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations".

The website described also the day of the horrific event: "that took place shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 went against everything that Matthew embodied. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matthew died on October 12 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. His entire family was by his side for the last few days of his life. His funeral was attended by friends and family from around the world and gained the appropriate media attention that brought Matthew's story to the forefront of the fight against hate."

Bernie related this story and made his particular homage, according to Elton's desire. Elton put beatiful and moving music to his lyrics.

13 May 2008

The Story Behind “I Want Love”



“Despite all the success, I think I just wanted to be loved. I wanted someone to love me” declared Elton with sincerity. Elton and his lyric partner Bernie Taupin had been together for thirty-five years, and passed through different periods of life: Bernie was then married for three times and Elton finally found the one.

This Beatle-esque song was only Elton and piano, and the first chords were memorable. It had great reviews: by Barry Walters for example, from Rolling Stone magazine "With its pensive George Harrison-esque guitar, Ringo-y drum thud and authentic Preston organ, "I Want Love" showcases John's hookiest chord progression in years, and the toughest Bernie Taupin poetry in decades: "A man like me is dead in places other men feel liberated," John spits out, owning every succinct phrase. Other tracks miss admirably".

Surprisingly, Elton didn’t appear on the video, his place was taken by actor Robert Downey Jr. lip-syinching while he walked around a desert mansion. Asked about this new strategy of not being involved in making videos, Elton explained: "I knew that the videos for this album were going to be important-videos are a great way of getting your music shown. So the strategy was, for each video we'd get people who are really artistic in their own right, to represent the idea of the song. I didn't have any input whatsoever, except I chose the director Sam Taylor-Wood and suggested Robert Downey Jr. for the first one, "I Want Love." After that, I wanted Sam to be totally free to do what she wanted".

COPYRIGHT 2002 Brant Publications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group, of the Elton's interview extract

11 May 2008

The Eltonite's Day: The Duet Interview about two of the greatest: Sue.uk & Lukesbox!!!!

This is a very special week for EltonJohnAllsongsList, that’s the “Duets” Week. Since Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, there always have been great duos performances: Cliff Richard & Olivia Newton-John, Bono & Luciano Pavarotti, George Michael & Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald, Rod Stewart & Tina Turner, David Bowie & Queen, Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond... an endless list. Elton has sang over 200 duets in his career and even did make a record of only duets. For this reason I have to bring on two very special guests for this Eltonite’s Day: Hi Sue, Hi Lukesbox.. Nice to “meet” you two and thank you very much for the acceptation, I am glad and happy to interview you..

But first... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?

Sue.Uk: I'm Sue I'm 46 and I'm from England

Lukesbox: I often wonder who I am! Being 50 years old has given me ample time to ponder that question. Do I answer that by what I do? If so then I am an emergency room physician. Or my family? If so I am married to a nurse and we have 5 children between us, ages 15-26 and a year old grandson. Or my passions? That would be music, writing, gardening, bird feeding, biking and running. So I guess I am all of those. I currently live in Minnesota, USA, which is in the northern part of the states just below Canada.

Ok!! When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

Lukesbox: About 1969 or 1970. I bought the Honkey Chateau album and was hooked. Bought every album prior and since. Learned to play the piano by listening to Elton's LP's and playing along on the piano, much to my parent's chagrin. I play by ear and my technique is very syncopated much like Elton's.

Sue.Uk: My older brother first introduced me to Elton's music he was abig fan and when our mum died when we were kids in 1973 I remember sitting with my brother in his room playing Elton's albums over and over thru our tear's,It got us through some very very sad dark times , Elton was there for me in his music in the worst time of my life and has also been there in the best times of my life too and for that I thank him ..his music shall always be very personal to me and be forever in my heart.

Nice. What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him, get a signed autograph or even, speak with him or with other member of his band?

Sue.Uk: Although I have been an Elton fan for many years the first time I got to see him play live wasnt until 1998 and I have since been to 9 concert's and in July he's playing my home town making it my 10th! I love the buzz of seeing and listening to him play live,he totally mesmerises me,I have seen many live performances by differant musicians but none that compares to Elton! :-)

Lukesbox: First concert was in 1973. Total number of concerts has been 55. Numerous autographs from the stage by Elton. Never met him personally though it is a life long dream. Have met all the current band members and have pictures and autographs with them.

Jesus!!! Luther, Which songs Elton should added to his current set list, that songs you thought you would never hear it live in yours 40 years of elton fan and, suddenly, he played it? And you Sue.Uk, your favourite songs to be on? And, for you, which member of the band is (or was) irreplaceable? Miss someone, now?

Lukesbox: Always wanted to hear Roy Rogers and finally heard it at Madison Square Garden. Would love to hear "All the Nasties" and "Skyline Pigeon" live. Also a medley of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy along with The Captain and the Kid.

Sue.Uk: I love hearing Empty garden live,even though Elton always say's that he only ever plays that song in NYC, I have infact heard him play that live a couple of times here In England so Elton was fibbing ..haha
I think the great Dee Murry will always be missed and of course it just wouldnt be the same without Davey the long haired Scot up on stage ! and Nigel who BTW grew up a stones throw from me :-)

Great! Well, you know that’s the “Duets” week. Do you like duets, or prefer an Elton “Duet For One”? In that case, which song and which partner have Elton to duet with? Which Duet have not to be happened? Do you detested anyone?

Sue.Uk: I would always choose to hear Elton play alone but Its also nice to hear him duet with lots of differant styles of singers.I always loved his duet with George Michael "Dont let the sun go down" just for the way George introduces him mid song and the moment you hear Elton's voice you think WOW!

Lukesbox: Well I can't say I like "Duets" at all. "Duets for One" is ok but not in my top 100. The only songs that I like as a duet are "Written in the Stars" with Leann Rhymes which is not on the CD. I also like "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Kiki Dee.

What about Kiki Dee? Are you a Kiki Dee’s fan? Do you have her records?And, for extension, do you follow band member’s solo careers, for example Nigel as a singer, or Bernie singing his own songs, or Davey with Magna Carta?

Lukesbox: My only experience with Kiki Dee and her music is "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Elton. I don't follow her career. I also never followed the solo careers of Nigel, Bernie or Davey outside of their musical relationship with Elton.

Sue.Uk: I dont have any of Kiki Dee's record's apart from when she has dueted with Elton.I do have Bernie Taupin's farm Dogs albums and digest any info I can on his life and career as I have so much admiration for him.I am a lyric lover :-)


Perfect!! Elton was a big star in the U.S. in the 70s, and in the U.K. did well. While “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was number 2 in the US, was number 16 in UK; while Elton had 7 consecutive number one albums in american charts, in the UK were only four? Other while, in the 90s Elton had number Top 5 in UK while in America they rarely enter the Top 10... Why that difference?

Sue.Uk: Well music in the 70's and 80's in America was rubbish and England already had so many great musicians so of course Eltons music stood out a mile across the pond and it wasnt until the 90's that Brit music went thru a rubbish patch so of course Eltons music stood out more here then ...ha ha just teasing :-)

Lukesbox: When Elton hit the states in the 70's it was almost like "Beatlemania" all over again. As long as there was an album out there by Elton, it was going to sell and sell big. In the 90's it took a long time for Elton to regain his popularity in the states. It never really started to take hold again until "The Lion King". Since then, Elton has regained his popularity but never like in the 70's when he was worshipped as a teenage idol.

Right! And which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it? One of those in your eltonite room, Lukesbox for example... And you Sue.Uk, have got an eltonite museum room at home, like Luther?

Lukesbox: I've posted pictures of my study with numerous autographed items. My most cherished is the LP version of "The Captain and the Kid" which was signed by all of the band members and Elton on the same day. I also have a bigger than life picture of Elton in my living room which I won on the night Elton debuted "TCATK" at The Rose Garden. There were a lot of items to bid on for "Fashion Rocks" and I was lucky enough to win the picture. I'd love for him to autograph it someday but it is far to large to carry into a concert!

Sue.Uk: dont have an impressive Elton " Museum " on the scale of Luther's ,his collection is truly amazing ,but I do have quite anice collection consisting of all of Eltons studio albums,many bootlegs,most of the Elton books, tshirts,autographs,pictures and files of clippings and all the usual mugs,keychains,bobbleheads,ticketstubs,programmes ect ect as Im a great book lover I would love to own acopy of "A cradle to haloes" by Bernie Taupin and also "the complete lyrics".

Fabulous!! And finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList?

Sue.Uk: This is always a difficult question as there are so many favourites and you just want 5!..ok well these are some faves of mine.
Made In England, high flying bird,Empty Garden,Indian sunset and Levon.

Lukesbox: WOW, this is tough but I'll give it a go:
1. Skyline Pigeon
2. Your Song
3. Ticking
4. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
5. The Captain and the Kid

Thank you very much. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to your other partner of the interview?

Lukesbox: This has been great although I had to write my answers in between patients in the ER. I can't wait to read Sue's replies. Thanks for allowing me to participate!

Sue.Uk: I would like to thank Luther for being my partner in this interview ,we are rather like two people sat in two rooms at the end of the world but hey it worked for Elton and Bernie,look how succesful they are :-) Thankyou for having us Miguel

You Sue, does your children like Elton? Have you bring them to an Elton show ever? Which was the first Elton’s song you played to them? Is “Steal Away Child” a good song for babies to go to sleep? And what do you think about Elton helping in young musicians career, as with Blue, Ronan Keating, James Blunt or Catherine Britt? Which song would you recommended to young people overdays?

Sue.Uk: My son (26) and daughter (20) both love music but prefer indie and techno ect which is fine by me as I would hate to think I had just brainwashed them with Elton music all thier lives ..lol but in july my daughter will be coming with me to see Elton in concert for the first time and shes really looking forward to it ,I have been to many concerts with her but it will be so wonderful for me to be able to sit with my beautiful,wonderful daughter and share with her the amazing Elton in concert ..It doesnt get much better than that..

Thank you very much Sue and Luther, really a worth experience this interview. Wow!!! It was a funny thing and my great priviledge to meet you two. An honour you share your time with AllSongsList. I have no words, to tell thank you is just a little thing, you deserved more. Take care and good luck.

10 May 2008

Unforgettable People (XIX): Kiki Dee


Born Pauline Matthews, 6 March 1947, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. She made her first public appearance at the age of ten at a Spot The Stars contest in Bradford. She got her big break at the age of sixteen when she was discovered by big-time British music mogul Mitch Murray. Murray had insisted on a stage name. Based on either her then-permed hair or her predilection for wearing Honor Blackman-style "kinky boots" (the story varies), Murray suggested the name Kinky Dee! They arrived at a compromise and Kiki Dee was born. She sang backing vocals for Dusty Springfield, among others, until Kiki released her first single, "Early Night," in 1963. She became the first British Caucasian signed to Motown, before hooking up with Elton John, who signed her to his Rocket Records label and produced her first notable hit, "I've Got the Music in Me."

In 1977, after some well-received concerts premiering some new material, Kiki released her new, self-titled album, with heavy assists from boyfriend Davey Johnstone and musical director James Newton Howard. Kiki contributes six originals this time round, four solos and two co-writes featuring lyrics by Gary Osborne. Davey Johnstone contributes one tune, "Keep Right On," while Bias Boshell contributes two of the album's best tunes: the upbeat "Standing Room Only" and another corker, "First Thing In The Morning." An outside composition was "Chicago," a very powerful blues-rock number with a devastatingly funky bass-line. Various problems, including the rise of disco, the sudden "persona-non-grata" status of Elton John in the States following his coming out in a highly-publicized interview, a glut of other Kiki Dee-related releases on the market ("Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and the reissue of Loving And Free) and good old-fashioned lack of promotion made the album die an undeserved death commercially.

By this time, Kiki was living as a tax exile together with Davey Johnstone in an L.A. apartment. It was only a matter of time before the Southern California lifestyle caught up with her sound, which is where Stay With Me, the disappointing 1979 follow-up to her great self-titled 1977 album, comes in. After breaking up with Davey Johnstone, and perhaps disappointed by her falling fortunes in the States, Kiki returned to the U.K. full-time. Her next album would have her getting a fresh start, back in Britain with a new label (Ariola) and a new producer (Moody Blues associate Pip Williams). It seemed that she was finally emerging from the shadow of Elton John and forging an strong new individual career path. “Perfect Timing” eventually surfaced in 1981, with a lifeless version of the old Four Tops tune "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," which just happens to be another Elton John duet.

This bio is extracted from the kikideeinfo.com website, which I proudly recommend it. I had the opportunity to chat a little with his web’s owner, Peter Mitchell and asked him a few questions about Kiki...

Kiki Dee Fan Interview:

Elton' name was inmediatily associated to Kiki Dee's name when we think about duetting. Kiki Dee is a very loving person for us, eltonites, and we have to bring on a special guest star to chat a little about Kiki... Peter Mitchell, who owns the Kiki Dee's best fan website we could find in the website univers. That's http://www.kikidee.info/. So thank you, Peter, for the acceptation...

I was surprised to see how many languages has Kiki sang on... even that she represented Britain abroad in song contest... Didn't know it...

First off, thanks for having me. Once I started digging into Kiki's back catalogue, I too was surprised at how many languages Kiki has sung in. back in the 60's many english speaking artists did record the occassional 'foreign language' record, including The Beatles. But Kiki was different, her first 'foreign' record was of course "Aspetta Domani", sung in italian, which she represented the UK at the San Remo Song Festival in 1965. This single was released, initially only in Italy, later still in italian in Holland, then rerecorded in german as "Warte bis morgen" and in spanish as "Espera a manana". Later she did an ep in french, though only two songs, and fairly recently she sang in hindi and still does in her live shows, along with an english/french version of "Amoureuse". Kiki has actually represented the UK in three song festivals, San Remo as mentioned, the "Cerbul De Aur" in Roumania in 1970 and finally in the "Tokyo World Popular Song Festival" in 1980. Whilst she didn't win outright at any of them did secure final placings. Foe the last two this meant that she appeared in the winners concert and recirded live for an album of the festival.

Kiki has a career before singin' "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Elton... "Amoreuse", "I've Got The Music In Me"... and had also worked backing Dusty Springfield, Alice Cooper, Tom Jones, among others... What was Elton's help? What represented the success of that single in Kiki's career? Did the duet single impulsed her?

Kiki had a long career by some standards before Elton. She had two recording contracts, with Fontana and Tamla Motown and had been in the business for some ten years before meeting up with Elton. As Kiki puts it, it was a refreshing change to work with similarly minded and aged people, Elton just a few weeks younger than Kiki. Elton also encouraged Kiki to write as well, the famous story told by Kiki was when she was singinmg "Loving And free" to Elton and Elton misheard one line "Like an ox in a stream" and remarked about the unusual imagery used by Kiki. kiki then had to explain that she had in fact sung "Like a knot in a string". Elton helped Kiki a lot, he was the brother who showed Kiki the ropes, he introduced to a lot of different music, on of the types of music was the duets of Tamla, which leads onto "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". As far as Kiki's attitude towards that song, that has varied over the years, initially she saw it as a nioce little pop song, which went mega-global, giving Elton his first number one in the UK. During the eighties and sometime into the nineties I believe that Kiki saw it as an albatross around her neck, mention Kiki Dee and that is the only song anyone remembers Kiki singing, forget "Amoureuse", "I've Got The Music In Me" even "Star". Over the last ten years Kiki has accepted that this is one song he has to do, and with the arrangement being restyled by her musical partner Carmelo Luggeri, she now embraces the song.

At that time Kiki had a relationship with Elton's guitarrist Davey Johnstone... for how so long and why they ended? The were rumours about being with Elton too... do you think was that so?

Yes Kiki had a relationship with davey Johnstone. It lasted about two years, during which time both of them had gone to live in America. I believe that the reason for the split was more in terms of Kiki missing England than of any problems in their relationship, though little has actually been written about any part of Kiki's private life. As for a relationship with Elton, sorry I just laugh at this, as mentioned previously Elton is a substitute brother and they remain on very good terms. Whilst they dodn't see each other a lot when they do it is "family". A good example of this happen last year when Kiki turned 60, she went out for a quite meal on her birthday only to be interrupted by Elton landing by helicopter to wish her happy birthday.

What's Kiki Dee doin' now? Could you explain us a little bit the Kiki's project with Carmelo Luggeri? Are they touring?

For the last ten years Kiki has had a new musical partner, the very good guitarist Carmelo Luggeri (Italian, by the way), and between them had found a new musical direction for both of them. They have toured extensively in the UK with occassional jaunts abroad and released three albums. The 'unplugged' live "Almost Naked", the indian influenced "Where Rivers Meet" and two years ago "The Walk of Faith". The music they play live is a variety of styles and musical eras, Kiki still sings some of her Rocket material, interspersed with her and Carmelo's work, along with covers from the likes of Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, doing the odd song by Frank Sinatra, the BeeGees, etc. I must mention that this year sees a lot of re-issues of Kiki's material, with the whole of the back catalogue of Rocket coming out shortly as well as Kiki and Carmel's DVD "Under The Night Sky".

And finally, could you explain us what we could find in that great website, kikidee.info?

The Kiki Dee Information Bureau brings together everything I have found out Kiki. this includes rare photographs, audio of every track that Kiki has appeared on (one track still eludes me though, "Espera a manana"), rare video of Kiki, either in TV shows, film, promo videos, and the occasional case of Kiki in concert. A comprehensive recording history which has involved a lot of tracking down of rare records, including and of interest to Elton fans, the rare twelve inch issue of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" which seems to be missed out of most discographies. There is a year-by-year timeline history of Kiki, detailing concerts, tv appearances, recordings plus the occassional surprise interview which Kiki has given in the past.

Thank you very much for being here in the "Duets" Week... oh... do you like Elton? Which are your favourite songs?

Sorry to say I am not a great fan of Elton. I do love however the album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and adore the video for "Nikita". As for my favourite song, that has to be "Candle In The Wind", everything about it is magical. Thanks for having me on.

Bye Peter, it was nice to chat a little with a kiki's fan. Greeting to all your community.

8 May 2008

The Story Behind "Snow Queen"



"Elton and I were going to a Paul Mc Cartney's concert, and on the way home he was saying he wanted to apologize, that it wasn't his fault" explained Cher in 1990.

"Snow Queen", an outake from "Blue Moves" sessions, painted a nasty portrait of Cher and expressed Bernie's compliments: "Where everything's perfect / And nobody's talking; "You're a cushion uncrumpled / You're a bed that's unruffled / The finest bone china" or "But how about proving / That passion means more than / A wardrobe of gowns, TV ratings, / A fragile waist, and a name" were Bernie's pearls. "Elton then explained he have written that terrible lyric about me... I've never heard it, but I know it's real nasty" added Cher.

Cher’s relationship to Elton John back then was friendly, he was a guest on Cher's debut of her Show back in 1975; but I read somewhere that Cher wanted to open for Elton John when she was promoting "Black Rose" and he refused. "Taupin, for Christ sake, I can't sing that" was Elton's reaction when he got through the lyrics. In 1973 there was a rumour of Bernie's being the boyfriend... Precisaly, there wasa song on the mentioned album called "You Know It", with lyrics provided by Bernie:

"You're the kinda of girl / You can't get next to
Shylying when I walked by you / But you danced in my dreams
Ooh you're smile so nice to see / Send the deepest part of me in a trance / In a trance
Pretty baby, but you know it / But you know it
So if you want me baby / Well then show it
You know it, you know it /Well I love to love you
But I'm no fool / Seen this game
And what it can do to romance / Tomorrow menace
How can you love someone else / You don't give yourself a chance
So take a chance
"

Cher written a lyrics for Elton too. That was on "Leather Jackets" and the track was "Don't Trust That Woman": "She's a man-eater, oh don't you cheat her / She'll cut you just to watch you bleed"; "She's a liar oh you can't buy her / `Cause she'll bring you down to your knees" or "Don't trust that woman boys / `Cause she'll hurt you / And turn you into little toys"
... was there a connection between those lyrics?

6 May 2008

The Story Behind “Where We Both Say Goodbye”



"It's my whole life. I listen to music, I read biographies, I read country music history. Most of the time, I just don't pay much attention to the outside world. So I didn't even know that Elton John was touring in Australia" said Catherine Britt when she was surprised to see Elton speaking about she on TV. Elton, who by chance was given a copy of her album, spoke about "this new girl, Catherine Britt, I heard her album the other day and just flipped out."

So enamoured with Catherine, he invited her and her family to a Sydney's show and dedicated a song to her. Elton and Catherine met backstage after the show, he asked if she was interested in signing with an American record label. Catherine told Elton she didn't have any contacts in the United States and didn't know where to start. The next day, thanks to Elton, she had three label offers and within a week she was in Nashville, signing with RCA.

When Catherine asked Elton if he wanted to record a duet with her, he said he'd love to. About what kind of song, he was happily to sing on a real country duet because he always has been a fan of country music. "This was, of course, a huge honor" reminded Catherine." We did the tracking, so all we had to do was get his vocal, and then we went in the studio and sang it live, to each other. I think that had a lot to do with the way he really got into my vibe and my style, because how often does Elton John do that? But he came into my world for a minute, and then you start to hear some of the phrasing and you think ah, there it is, there's Elton John". The result was "Where We Both Say Goodbye",and it was at number 42 in R&R and 43 on Billboard's Country Singles Chart.

The Story Behind "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"



The song came when Elton, at the Rock Of The Westies sessions, asked to Gus Dudgeon to listen a new tune. "I was messing around in the studio on the electric piano and came up with the title line" explained Elton. "Don't go breaking my heart" he sang and played. Agreeing that the tune had potential, he put the tape on. It was another time that Elton obligue Bernie to turn a title into a song, this a duet for him and Kiki Dee. Bernie, who got the call in the midnight because he was vacationing in Barbados, wanted to listen first the tune before working on the lyrics. At last, Bernie send off the lyrics signing as "Carte Blanche" (a do-what-you-wanted-to-do), and Elton signed with the pseudonym Ann Orson.

The voice of Kiki was added before Elton's recording, who first sang the whole song while Dudgeon buttoned out Kiki's part. The string arrangement provided by James Newton-Howard was added later. The first time Kiki sang with Elton together, was for the video shoot.

The single became the years' most popular in sales and airplay terms in the U.S. In England, Elton got finally his first number one single: "When I heard it was number one, I rang everybody I knew to tell them" said Elton very excited.

3 May 2008

The Eltonite's Day (XVI): ladies and gentlemen... kissybissy!!!!!

Hi kissybissy. Welcome to the “Billy Elliot” Week. Nice to “meet” you and thank you very much for the acceptation. You live in a country that released a fantastic collection of singles called “Top Hits From England” and even “One Day At A Time” was an “A” side single, then in the 70s. Also, you know that, for Elton, “Billy Elliot” is a special story because he reminded his childhood and his relation with his father. I guess you like that musical too.

But first... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?

I’m Ana Sousa, from Brazil.

Well, when did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?


It was in 1973 when the first chords of Crocodile Rock and Daniel hit the radio waves. When I watched Elton on TV I was enthralled by his persona, his feathered suits, platform shoes. I just kept staring at the television screen, which back then was still B&W. I was only 9, so my fascination about Elton was not in the least sexual; it was only about his persona, his music, his piano playing. I didn’t understand the lyrics as I had never studied English, but it didn’t matter. His music always fascinated me and it’s the main reason that moves me to buy his music. I love his voice, his versatility, his performances. He wows an audience like no other performer and refuses to lip-synch. He’s a real talent, not a pretty face, made by record companies to make a quick buck.

Right. What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? Have you even been front row? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him?

I attended 5 concerts; one regular concert and four “The Red Piano”. The first time I attended an Elton concert was on July, 1st, 2004, in London at Wembley arena, one of the summer orchestral concerts. I didn’t have a good seat. Elton looked like dot on stage, but being at my first, I refused to watch the big screens. I wanted to see the man, real, live. It was a great experience, though. The excitement of being at one of his concerts, singing with him, dancing to his songs, it was an experience I will never forget. After the concert I left the arena singing his songs and I didn’t mind of people seeing me, I was happy and nothing could ruin that moment.
After four years without attending any concert, I finally went to Vegas, in March, this year, where I met some friends. The Vegas experience was the best, I have to say. Apart from spending great moments with my friends, I went to see Elton again. I had great seats and was able to go on stage twice. The view of Elton on stage is simply amazing. The feeling is hard to describe. We can see his face expression; his body`s moves. He smiled at me a few times. I could feel how pleased he was of having us there on his side. I could feel the vibration of the song when I touched the red piano. During the piano`s solos, he went nuts, pounding the keys so hard and fast that we could feel his excitement.
On his birthday, on March, 25, I was lucky enough of getting a first row ticket, in ORCH3, just on the aisle to OCH4. I was so excited. Elton was a little hidden behind the piano. I could see part of his head and his legs and feet working on the piano pedal and accompanying the beat. It was great anyway. The view I had from the first row, without having anyone in front of me is amazing, especially when Elton walked around the stage. I could almost touch him. Also, I went on stage for the second time, which was a treat!
I’ve never been in touch with him, apart from a hand shake at the end of each of the Red Piano concerts I attended, but actuallyh talk to him, it never happened. I sent him a letter to Atlanta a few years back, but didn’t get a reply. I intend to write him again and with lucky I’ll get my first autographed picture, which I long for years.

Wow!!! Then... which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

Living in South America is hard for an Elton fan, not only because he does not perform here regularly, but also because it’s very difficult to find items related to him, except for his albums. I started working late, when I was 29, so I didn’t have money to buy any of them, before that time. When I got my first payment I bought the compilation, “The Very Best of Elton John.” I didn’t even have a CD player back then. I was living in a hotel room, as I had just moved to the South of Brazil, but I wanted so much to get one of his albums, even if I couldn’t play it. Now I have all of them, except for the compilations and live albums.
I’m especially fond of “Sir Elton” book, by Philip Norman, cause it was my first and it was the most difficult to get. When I started surfing the web, I visited all of the websites on Elton and got to know there were many books on him. However, at this time I hadn’t bought anything on the web and considering here in Brazil you cannot find any books on Elton, it took me years to get the Norman’s book, which was back then, considered the best book. Then, some years ago, I found a bookstore that imported books. It was the great find that year. I ordered the Norman’s book and when it arrived, I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s a huge book, and in less than a month I finished. When I started buying stuff from the web, I got many other books on him and now I have a cupboard full of them, lol.

Ok! Elton had such success in Brazil between 1972-1975 and his singles reached the charts. “Skyline Pigeon”, “The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”... had great success in the music charts... Have you got any notice about chart results? And now? Does radio still playing Elton’s hits?

I didn’t have access to charts back then, apart from gossips magazines, that even now and again, printed articles about him. On the radio though it was a different story, as he was constantly on, his music was always a huge hit around here and still is. It’s not difficult to go into a store or a supermarket and find an Elton song playing. He’s still very popular in Brazil and sells millions of records, one of the reasons I don’t get why he does not play here since 1995.

Great! Well, you know that “Billy Elliot”’s week. Elton said he was crying when he first saw the film of Billy Elliot because he saw himself in Billy... And what is your opinion about Elton doing musicals? Have you seen anyone? Your favourite one?

I haven’t seen any yet, but I read about them. The Lion King used to be my favorite musical of Elton, but when Billy Elliot came out, it became my favorite. It’s not that I can relate to Billy Elliot’s story, but it moved me, when I read what it was all about; a drama about a boy who wants to be dancer, but suffers because of the prejudice. It’s happens so much. It’s a real drama for many boys and girls who decide to follow a career against their parents’ will. Elton is a real example and I understand why he got so moved when he saw the film.
I think it’s great for him to be writing musicals. It gives him an opportunity of doing something different. Some fans complain that it takes too much of his time and there’s not much time left for him to write for regular albums. It may be true, but I’m of the opinion that the most important is to do what gives you pleasure. It makes him happy and enriches his musical knowledge as writing for a musical is a totally different experience from writing for albums.

Nice!!! And if an extraterrestrial come someday on earth, and wanted to learn something about Elton... What do you would explain him about Elton? And which were the unforgettable songs you let him to listen, to make him an opinion?

I would talk about his music, the man passionate about his work and that is always willing to help those in need. I would certainly let them know about his wonderful work with the Elton John Aids Foundation and how I’m proud of Elton for all the hard work he’s done.

Fabulous!! And finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList?

There are so many songs, but if I had to pick just five they would be, Skyline Pigeon, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, High Flying Bird and Roy Rogers.

Thank you very much. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I would say to all of the Elton fans around the world to never lose an opportunity of attending one of his concerts. They are the best, you won’t regret. It’s the best experience you can ever live.

Oh, once you said “I love studio albums & demos. I'm not too fond of live albums”… Why do you said that?


Because his concerts have to be enjoyed live. You have to be there, listen to the music in the arena, feel the atmosphere, the excitement, dance and sing to his songs; if you are close enough, you see his face, his expression, his body moves. It’s what his concerts are about. On the album, you miss all of the excitement; you do not hear the sound like it’s heard in the arena, you cannot see him. It’s like listening to him on the radio with a better quality sound. You miss the best part. On DVD is not the same as being in the arena either, it does not even comes close, but at least you can see the picture, which in a way makes up for the fact you are not present at the concert.

Thank you very much Ana, really a pleasure to chat with you. Very interesting things we talked on. It was an enjoyable experience for me. Take care.

You’re welcome. It was a pleasure.