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30 Apr 2009

Please, Eltonites, get up, stand up to receive one of the greatest musicians of the world... the fabulous... David Paton!!!!!!!!!!!

When I was younger, I bought my first record. It was by Alan Parson project. Songs like "Eye In The Sky", "Ammonia Avenue" and "Let's Talk About Me", were some of the most played in my jukebox. One of the members of Alan Parsons Band was a guy called David Paton. When I became an Eltonite, I found that name again in Elton's band as a bassist. Being a member of Elton's band, it was my way to learn more about him and I discovered Pilot, really a great group from the 70s, and it was great to discover that he sings really well. I always wondered why he didn't sing backing vocals with Elton. All we remember the Australian Tour de Force with Elton and his solo bassist lines on "Rocket Man"... Now, we have the opportunity to learn more about him... his thoughts, his memories, his projects... the doors of AllSongsLIst are all wide open to receive one of the greatest bassist of world music and a really talented guy... Ladies and gentlemen... the fantastic... David Paton!!!!

Welcome David, nice to have you here, it is really an honour, and thank you for being my guest in the Week Of Scotland... First, I would like to ask you at what age you decide you wanted to be a musician, David? And what were your musical influences?

I was 11 years old and travelled to San Sebastian with my parents for a vacation. One big impression left on me and a kind of awakening was seeing a Spanish boy about my age playing a guitar. He was sitting on a window sill and I sat on the pavement watching and listening to this beautiful sound. I pestered my parents to buy me a guitar until they relented. It was placed in a cardboard box for the journey back to Edinburgh and amazingly emerged on the airport conveyor belt without a scratch. I sat for months learning how to play from the guitar tutors, and any kind of tablature I could get my hands on ‘The big Rock candy Mountain’ ‘ It’s a long long road a winding’ ‘On top of old Smokey’ just a few of the titles I practised back then.

I remember when I was very young my parents going out for the evening and I was looked after by a neighbour. She played me her Elvis records. I wanted to hear the albums over and over again. Then the Beatles came along and they really had a huge influence on me.

You were starting out in a number of bands including Boots and Christian, but the band that launched your career was Pilot, a truly fantastic pop group, where you were the vocalist. Pilot first hit was the single "Magic" (1974) and had the biggest British hit with “January”, that reached #1 in 1975, without forgetting the fantastic 'Just A Smile'. Both songs written by you, precisely. After releasing four albums, Pilot broke up in 1977... What do you recall from that period? In 2002, with Ian Bairnson, you were re-visiting an old Pilot album "Two’s A Crowd", if I am not wrong...

Billy Lyall (keyboards player with Pilot) and I did spend a lot of time listening to and playing music together. Elton John was a big favourite and we loved his album “Madman across the water”. Pilot signed to EMI and we recorded in Abbey Road, studio 2 with Alan Parsons producing. I was so excited, the Beatles meant everything to me and here I was in their workshop and about to record my own music, using the same microphones, pianos, seats, floor, banister, toilets, canteen, we even had the use of the Mellotron they used on ‘Strawberry Fields’.

I achieved my lifetime ambition so in that respect it was a dream come true. The biggest pity is that it was the best time of my life but it was also the worst. We had many problems with management and they made it impossible for us to continue. The only escape from the management was to finish with Pilot and move on to session work. The reason for re-recording “Two’s a crowd” is that it was deleted and many Pilot fans were asking where they could get it, so we recorded it again together with a few bonus tracks.

In 1975, you joined Alan Parsons in the making of the first of many Project albums up to the 1986 "Stereotomy" album, playing bass most of the albums and doing vocals in some tracks as “Let’s Talk About Me” for example, a favourite of mine. On the “Eve” album, along with other ex-Pilot players, Lesley Duncan, well-known for being the writter of “Love Song” from “Tumbleweed Connection”, featured as vocalist. How it was to work with a producer like Parsons? Why do you think he did a selection of guest vocalists in his albums, from Woolfson, you or David Townshend to Gary Brooker? And why he didn’t go on tour with a band playing live, in your opinion?

Alan is a quiet man, no, reserved, and only spoke when necessary. You could sit for hours with him on a mix and after a while you’d get “any thoughts?” no Alan it sounds great, and it did, very seldom, if ever, did we have any negative comments about the mixes. Alan generally let me play what I wanted to play and always seemed happy with the ideas the musicians came up with. He was very easy to work with and excellent at his job. Having a variety of singers was a good move. A lot of the names you mentioned had a good fan following so they would add to the AP album sales.

The recordings got off to a great start and I was very impressed with Eric Woolfsons song writing and piano playing. He had a happy way of putting over his music to us, sitting at the piano playing one note and saying “right guys, what can you do with that?” We did spend a lot of time reshaping the songs and arrangements. We had a great working relationship and most of the times the music went well. I remember recording the thunderclap for “Tales of mystery”. Eric and I were outside the back door of studio 2 with an umbrella and an android head on a stand with a mike built into each of its ears. We were in the middle of one of the best thunder storms London had seen or heard in a long time. Alan was up in the control room with the tape running in record and waiting for the ideal thunderclap. It came and was so spectacular that Eric and I looked at each other and burst into uncontrollable laughter, like a couple of school kids. Needless to say we ruined the recording. Alan was none to chuffed and stormed down the stairs very angry, a rare sight. We did capture another clap just a few minutes later and all was forgiven, Eric and I always had a smile on our faces whenever we listened to the playback.

I tried my hardest to convince everyone that it would be a great idea to take the Project on the road, my voice fell on deaf ears, Alan and Eric didn’t have much enthusiasm for live work at that time and the band wouldn’t make a move as they thought Alan and Eric would object. I knew it was possible and was very frustrated with all of them. It wasn’t until record sales tailed off that Alan approached me to do a one off gig in Antwerp in 1990 with the original line up. It could have happened 15 years earlier when the Project was going strong.

You also played guitar on the McCartney classic 'Mull of Kintyre', a very Scottish kind of track...

No, I sang on “Mull of Kintyre. I’d met Paul a couple of times and he invited me to sing on the track.

You had the challenge of working with more variety of main stream artists through the 80's and 90's, from Camel to The Pretenders, from Kate Bush to Chris DeBurgh, Jimmy Page or Chris Rea, to name a few. What about all those experiences?

It’s the variety that I enjoyed and the challenge of working in different styles of music. I never really wanted to commit full time to one particular band. Working with such talented people is a joy. They are at the top of their profession because they are really good at what they do and for me to be invited to play for them is an honour. There is nothing better than working with people you have great respect for and knowing they like my playing.

Could you tell us please, how you got involved with Elton and how you ended up recording and touring with him? Also, how do you value that experience from a personal point of view?

I was asked to do the session by Rocket records. I think Gus Dudgeon might have had something to do with it as I’d worked with him before. I was in the studio setting up my bass when Elton appeared. He said hello and sat down at the piano. I was tuning my fretless bass at the time and Elton started to play a sequence of chords. I played along with him for about 20 minutes. He stopped and said “I think you’ve got it, the chords he’d been playing were for “Nikita” and we were going to record that song first. Elton is a wonderful person and he knew I was a bit tense and he went out of his way to make sure I felt relaxed and comfortable. When he had the playback for “Ice on fire” he invited my wife and I along. When “Nikita” was played he jumped up and said to everyone ”a big round of applause please for an excellent bass player”. I felt on top of the world as the room was full of notable musicians. My time with Elton was like a fantasy world. Every whim was taken care of and the concerts and music were wonderful. I was asked to continue with the band after the world tour in 1986/87. It couldn’t be done for one reason or another. I think Elton was angry with me for not being able to rejoin the band so I was delighted to play when he asked me back in 1996. He did make it plain to me that Bob Birch was his bass player now and I was only there to fill in until Bob was better, I was happy with that. I signed Bob’s get well card and genuinely wished him a speedy recovery.

Have you been an Elton fan before? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music, in that case?

I was always an Elton fan. As I said earlier, Billy and I listened to “Madman across the water” many times together. It was the skill of his songwriting that attracted me. I was learning how to write my own music and was attracted toward good song writers. Also the production and orchestrations were fantastic for that time.

The “Ice On Fire” sessions were under the influence of so many problems with Geffen Records. Because Chris Thomas wasn’t available, they ended up with Gus Dudgeon and also, Elton decided to change the rhytm section, with a new drummer and a new bass player. But it surprised the diversity of musicians who recorded the album: Charlie Morgan/Paul Westwood, Roger Taylor/John Deacon, Mel Gaynor/Deon Estus or Dave Mattacks/David Paton... Do you know the reason? Was it difficult to replace Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson as the original band members? On “Tell Me What The Papers Say”, “Candy By The Pound” or specially “Nikita”, your bass licks were simply brilliant...

Well I know that Elton was looking to replace his rhythm section and he chose Charlie and myself. I don’t know the reason why he chose me but I suspect it was for many reasons. I’d always liked Dee’s playing and it was a great thrill to play classic bass parts like “Rocket man” with Elton. I find I play better when I’m working with great players. The better the song is the better the performance from me. I was inspired by Elton and wanted to play well for him. The quality of the songs demand a quality bass part and I gave my best.

Duets were rumored to have been recorded during these sessions and it was talked abounded that Elton would release an album of them... Do you have any info in particular? Tina Turner rejected “Act Of War” while George Michael and Elton recorded a Roy Orbison’s cover of “Dream Baby”. Elton’s alliance with Cher, on that time, yillded several songs... Were you involved in those sessions? If so, do you have in mind the name of some of the tracks they were recording? And you know why these projects didn't come out?

I wasn’t involved with any of these sessions. I did an award show in New York in 1996 and Tina joined Elton on stage, that was fun. I met many stars while I was with Elton, Roy Orbison, George Michael, Tina Turner, there are too many to list here but it was always a great thrill to meet these people. Elton made a point of introducing us to Princess Diana. I think he knew how much a thrill it was for us and that gave him pleasure.

Leather Jackets sessions were in the middle of Elton's worst drugs days. Lot of material from those sessions weren't as good as Gus Dudgeon should expected, and Elton's mood was up and down. Also Elton wrote songs not only with Bernie’s lyrics, Gary Osborne was there too... What do you remember about that period? And how it was to work with Elton recording in the studio?

I lived fairly close to Elton and he’d phone me when he’d written a new song and ask me round to demo it with him at his house. He’d be at the piano when I arrived and when we stopped for lunch he’d still be at the piano. When I left to go home in the evening he’d still be at the piano. Such dedication is rarely seen. Elton could muster more enthusiasm then younger guys I know. But that’s what sets him apart from the others. I arrived at Air studios one day and Elton was at the piano in the studio. He’d just written “Heavy Traffic” and motioned me into the studio. I listened and thought it was excellent. He said “I need another verse, will someone get Bernie on the phone”. They got hold of Bernie in LA and I could hear Elton saying to him that he needed another verse. Elton motioned and said “pen, pen” Bernie dictated another verse to him over the phone there and then. When the others arrived we recorded the song, written and recorded in the same day.

If that wasn't enough, Elton began to have serious problems with his voice, at the America's leg of the Tour. How the band received Elton’s announcement of his throat problems and he had to been operate? It should be hard when he collapsed in the middle of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra introduction on december 9, 1986...

He had to cancel a couple of gig’s at MSG in New York. Yes it was worrying from a health point of view.

Renata called me while we were in New York and asked me to come up to their penthouse with my video camera. Elton was dressed as Harpo Marx, complete with wig, trench coat and Klaxon horn. He also had an etcha sketch and he wrote on it “follow me” I followed him along corridors as he knocked on various doors and looked at the surprised faces when they were confronted with Harpo Marx.

Elton’s live performances were reminded for its band, with a new brass section since 1974 Muscle Hornets, new backing vocalists since 1976, and because Ray Cooper was back. Also for Elton’s costumes, one time dressed as Tina Turner, other time with a facsimile of Mozart... Do you remember one show in particular for some of Elton’s wigs? And how it was to play live with a full orchestra? A lot of rehearsals, I suppose... Any experience playing live with Elton you could share with us, David?

I particularly remember the Australian gigs. The Mozart look was very impressive. I’d watch him on the monitor backstage as he performed with the orchestra. He is fantastic and it really was an important part of my musical career being with him, I only have happy memories. We also had some great jam sessions during rehearsals. When we performed “rocket man” in Australia I didn’t realise that Elton was saying “Play a little bass Davie Paton” The song would run for about 20 minutes and he wanted a bass solo. I was improvising, well all of us were, but I never really heard what he was saying so didn’t really launch into a solo. It wasn’t until the tour was over and I heard a monitor mix of one of the gigs, then I heard him “play a little bass Davie Paton”.

“Reg Strickes Back” marked a new start for Elton in a personal point of view. He was separate from Renate, he battled against the tabloids for untruth reports, ... The album was originally recorded at James Newton Howard’s House in L.A. and twenty-two songs were recorded, in addition to older material already selected for the album. How it was the recording of that new album? Was really Bernie writing in the same room as Elton, for first time? And do you know the name of any Elton’s unreleased track that you were working on and didn’t see the light? “The Ballad Of William Howard”, “Welcome To My Haunted Heart”...

Sorry I don’t remember much about extra tracks and Elton and Bernie writing together in the same room.

In 1995, while “Made In England Tour”, Bob Birch crushed his legs and his lower back was broken when a truck spun out of control while he was walking down a Montreal sidewalk. You replaced him and you had to boarded from Scotland to Detroit... Should it be a surprise when they called you for joinin’ the band again, really? Remember what you were doing then and how it was to reunite with the band again?

I had just finished a strenuous tour of Eastern Europe with Fish. It wasn’t a happy tour and the offer to play with Elton was refreshing. Yes I was surprised to be asked to help out but I wasn’t the first bass player they asked, I was the first bass player they asked who was able to do the tour at such short notice. Of course I was delighted. It was a very different tour from the one I did in 1986. Nobody wanted to party! I came off stage after the first gig and I was buzzing. I really expected everyone to say “see you in the bar at the hotel”, it never happened, they locked their room doors and probably went off to sleep. Sleep! That was the last thing on my mind. I went down to the bar and was delighted to see Davey sitting there with his roll-up cigarettes and a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice. I didn’t really feel a part of the band in the same way I did on the world tour in 85/86. Well it was understandable. I just made the best of it. John Jorgenson and I got on well and had a couple of nights out together but all in all it was quite a solitary experience. I shopped a lot on my own. Sorry, I do have a habit of telling it like it is. But don’t be mistaken, it was still a lot of fun for me, I loved touring in such luxury and for that brief moment I was the bass player for Elton John, an honour.

In 1991, you released the first solo album called "Passion's Cry", which was in the style of traditional Scottish music. Why the best tracks were re-recorded onto 1997's "Fragments" album? I listened your “The Search” solo 2003 album, where you played all the instruments on it... A really peace of art...

I had recorded the Scottish songs with my father in mind. He was a singer and would sing in clubs around Scotland. When he died I recorded the songs as a kind of tribute to him, he was very happy that I was a successful musician and I know he would have been delighted to hear me sing these Scottish songs. I was proud of “Passions cry”, the initial pressing sold out and when the record company decided not to re-press the CD I asked them if I could licence it from them. The said “no we have plans for Passions cry”. I felt anger with that response. The songs were recorded with passion and they wouldn’t let me release them. So, I recorded them again as “Fragments”. I’m happy to hear you like “The Search”. I’m not searching any more, I have more in my life than I ever dreamed would be possible.

What about your future projects, David? You’re a singer, songwriter, producer... what it will be next?

I toured Australia and Japan last year as Pilot and had a great time doing it. It helped blow away all the bad memories and I felt good singing all these songs again. I have my own record label and I’m writing and recording for my next CD to be released at the end of the year. I’m gigging and working as much as I want to, I have been married to Mary for 37 years and we are very happy together. There is nothing more to wish for I’m in a very happy place.

I really like your official website... specially the David’s live studio diary. Could you explain us, please, what we fans could find there? That’s on

I write about what is happening to me now. I include mp3’s of the songs I’m writing and who I’m working with. Many CDs are available on the site. My other web site is and here is my past, my history as a musician, discography, etcetera.

Oh, finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, where I tried to find the best of Elton’s songs ever?

I’m still standing
Blue eyes
Madman across the water

Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to the eltonites?

Maybe I already said enough. Thanks. must go.


Well, it was fantastic to be in touch with you, David. You were so kind with me, and, before we go, I would like to give you a little surprise. I have here three dear friends of you, that they left me some words in your honour... Please, read it, and if we make you smile, then, I will be very happy... Thanks for your patiente and, specially, for being in the music...

Kenny Herbert, musician: ”Over the last few years David Paton has supported and helped me improve both my writing and musical ability. We have formed a great friendship and through his musical talent and help I now have a catalogue of self penned songs that I really love, as being able to make your own music is the greatest reward. Davie has been a real inspiration to me time and again and working with him is a real joy and something that I always look forward too. For me it is the fulfilment of a life long ambition to play with someone as talented as Davie, long may we continue". Davie is a great friend and someone that I wish I had met many years before we did"

Charlie Morgan, drummer: “David Paton? One of the best bass players out there! What a great singer, too. I really enjoyed the time we had together in Elton's band. We were very close friends. One of the nicest people in the Music Business!"

Eric Woolfson, songwriter / musician: "David Paton is one of the great un-sung heros of The Alan Parsons Project. He is a multi-talented individual - songwriter, singer and bass player. His work with PILOT was an important milestone - not only did they have a number 1 chart record, but more importantly from my point of view, it brought him into contact with Alan Parsons. When The Project began, David was the natural choice as the bass player Alan most wanted to be involved. David played bass on nine of the ten Project albums, sang lead on several tracks and backing vocals on many. I have nothing but the highest regard for David's talents, despite the fact that he comes from Edinburgh and I am from Glasgow!"

Thank you Kenny. Thank you Charlie. Thank you Eric...

29 Apr 2009

Unforgettable People (XXXIX): David Paton

David Paton was born October 29, 1949 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Most notably with three different bands: Pilot, Alan Parsons Project, and Camel, he has also worked as a solo artist, session musician, and sometime vocalist.

Pilot signed to EMI at around the same time as Queen and Cockney Rebel, and there was a feeling of a new generation taking over Britain's most establishment label. The crowd knew the song 'Magic' from the first few notes and then sang the words to both 'Magic' and his other Pilot hit 'January'. Before the band broke up in 1977, Pilot had released four albums.

In the late eighties, David began working with Elton John, and played on a number of albums, and tours, including the show performed in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

More recently David Paton has been working in the area of traditional Scottish music, as well as pop music. In 2002, we could find David working with Ian Bairnson, and together they were re-visiting their old Pilot album "Two’s A Crowd".

He was so kind and gave us, eltonites, a really interesting interview. This is the first step of my homage to a greatest musician, singer, songwriter and bassist... Thank you David: this is your week!!!

27 Apr 2009

Famous Scottish Eltonites

Ewan Gordon McGregor was born March 31, 1971 in Crieff, Scotland. At 16, he left Crieff and Morrison Academy to join the Perth Repertory Theatre. McGregor studied drama for a year at Kirkcaldly in Fife, then enrolled at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a three-year course. In 1999, McGregor starred in the blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally made famous by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. He crooned with and pined for Nicole Kidman in the award-winning Moulin Rouge.

David Sneddon was born on 15 September 1978, in Paisley, Scotland. He is a singer songwriter and one of the most musically gifted contestants to win a TV talent search. Sneddon has written chart hits worldwide for other artists and co-wrote the international hit "The Message" for UK soul artist Nate James. He studied music at school, and played lead roles in musicals both at school and at PACE Youth Theatre. "The person who has inspired me the most is Elton John. I love the Beatles, but as I was growing up, I always wanted to play the piano like him. I've never had any lessons, so he has been my only teacher.

26 Apr 2009

AllSongslist is glad to welcome one of the greatest eltonites... from Illinois... the fantastic... David Hallstrom!!!!

Illinois is a special place for Elton. He has been there several times and Poplar Creek is a nice place... So I had to bring on an eltonite from there. I thought about him, who I really love his thoughts and comments about Elton and asked. He said yes. He's a member of the "EltonjohnAllSongsList Friends" in Facebook community too so... I am glad to have him here. Then, everybody, a big applause for a fantastic eltonite...

Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

David Hallstrom, Evanston, Illinois

Thank you! And when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music?

Your Song was the first I heard; I was around 11 at the time of its release. Rocket Man was the first song I really recall being crazy about. Bought that and the Honky Cat and Daniel singles; Don't Shoot Me was the first album I bought. I evntually bought them all - on vinyl and CD.

Tough to say what moved me; after all, I was barely a teenager when I first bought an Elton record. But there was something about his music - and Bernie's lyrics - that really tocuhed me. Still does.

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And have you ever been in touch with him, or someone of his band?

I first saw Elton in 1976 at the Chicago Stadium, the summer between high school graduation and beginning university. That was a magic time, as Elton was at the top of his game, musically and I was begin that rapid change from child to adult. He opened with Grow Some Funk, played guitar on Love Song. Remember Hercules, Empty Sky and some other songs he doesn't do enough these days. And of course Kiki joined him for Don't Go Breaking My Heart.

Best guess as to how many times I have seen Elton: 12

During the Breaking Hearts tour, I was walking in to the Ritz-Carlton Chicago to meet a friend when Elton came out the door. I said hello and shook his hand and he got in a limo. That is the extent of my being in touch with Elton.

Caleb Quaye lived in Chicago between the breakup of Hookfoot and Rock of the Westies, playing guitar for Bill Quateman. Quateman was a regular at a music club I worked in while in high school, which allowed me the chance to meet Caleb once.

I am genetically a businessman - if I worked for Elton, my mind would be focused on sales, royalties, etc. I have met a few of his business associates over the years, only one of whom remains in Elton's employ.

Wow!!! Remember some anecdote going to see one of his shows? And, more than this... Which concert do you think now you should been there, for its rellevancy... for the particular show... for a funny costume he wore...?

I would have loved to have seen the Elton/Ray Cooper shows in the late 70s, but was away at university. His closest show was several hundred miles from the school and I couldn't get there.

Had always heard Madison Square Garden was the place to see him; saw him there once, for the Leather Jackets tour, when he was at the top of his drug use. That aside, Elton was more energized for the MSG show that he was for his Chicago show on that tour.

Right! 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?

Signed Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy brown vinyl lp.

Nice!! Looking back the years, Elton and Bernie affronted different genres of music, from pure pop, to classic rock, country, reggae or disco... Which could be the secret of their worldwide success, because they made a classic song most every year? What part of Bernie is on Elton's success?

Elton's success is greatly based on his talent and the fact that he could not be pigeonholed. He is an incredibly gifted pianist, is superb at writing melodies and unparalleled in his ability to mimic all styles of music. He didn't fit the bill of rock star. He was not tall and skinny and handsome. In a way, it doesn't make sense, but there's something innate that worked.

Bernie is a fair part of Elton's success, perhaps more than half. The tunes are memorable, the early voice was beautiful, but without touching, memorable lyrics, Elton may have had a hit or two and then been done.

Ok!! 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 have always found this puzzling. Elton broke huge in America. But it took quite a while before he made it big at home. This may in part be due to Bernie's obsession with the American West, although that can't be all of it.

I heard Bennie and the Jets on the radio last night. I hear Elton's work from the 1970s and some of his 1980s hits on the radio with frequency, but really nothing after I Don't Want to go on with You Like That.

And what do you think about Gus Dudgeon, the producer? He was one of best producers Elton worked with? An other producers... which do you like most and what do you think about Elton self-producing? And what could we expect from the new producing team Mark Ronson – Elton John?

Gus Dudgeon was the perfect producer. He crafted Elton's sound. There is not a dud among the albums made with Gus. Each album is a perfect portrait of Elton the Artist at a fixed point. Each album had a theme and Gus crafted that theme well. He knew exactly the sound he wanted on each record before they entered the studio. No doubt, some things were left to in studio inspiration and artistry, but the structure of the albums were designed prior to arriving in the studio. They made a great combination.

Chris Thomas did solid work with his contributions to The Fox and Jump Up! and Sleeping With the Past. I don't hear a lot that Chris added to tjhes other efforts. Part of this may be Elton and the drugs, part of this may be the heavy hand of David Geffen. Maybe who was behind the board on those records wouldn't have mattered.

Greg Penny did a great job with Made in England. The structure of that album reminds me very much of a Gus production.

Am not a fan of Patrick Leonard's work. Songs from the West Coast sounds too much the same; the album lacks for variety in time and tempo.

Elton self-producing, at least the early efforts, were inconsistent. A Single Man isn't a very good album. There is some good work on 21 at 33, but not a full album's worth. The Elton/Clive Franks tracks on The Fox are their best work on an Elton record (Loving and Free is the best non-Elton work they did). Peachtree Road is better, but a lot of that is Matt Still's contribution. The Captain and the Kid is his best self-produced effort, but again, a lot of that credit goes to Matt Still.

Mark Ronson creates some nice organic albums. I hope for the best on their collaboration.

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

Five is tough, but here goes:

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Come Down in Time

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

I could go on for ever with an open question like this. I have been a fan for over 35 years and still get near giddy when I hear a new album is coming out. There are several artists I love - David Ackles, Little Feat, Kiki - whose work I would not know were it not for Elton. He helped to create a broad taste in music for me. I'm glad to have had the chance to watch his rise and continued career.

Thanks a bunch, David. Really a pleasure to chat with you again. I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience. Thank you. Take care.

Elton Tourin' Illinois: The Statistics

Elton John has done 50 concerts live in Illinois State while on Tour.

He has been in Chicago (37 times), Moline (3), Carbondale (2) and 1 time in Champagne, Hoffman States, Normal, Peoria, Rockford, Rosemont, Springfield and Urbana.

The Elton's favourite place is Poplar Creek Music Theatre, Chicago (7), Allstate Arena, Chicago (6), Auditorium Theatre, Chicago (5), Chicago Stadium, Chicago (5), Arie Crown Theatre, Chicago (4), Amphitheatre, Chicago (2), Poplar Creek Music Center, Chicago (2), Rosemont Horizon, Chicago (2), The Mark of the Quad Cities Arena, Moline (2), United Center, Chicago (2), University of Illinois Assembly Hall, Champagne (2), Urbana (1), Allstate Arena, Rosemont (1), Arena, Chicago (1), Arena, Springfield (1), Civic Center Arena, Peoria (1), I Wireless Center, Moline (1), Illinois State University, Normal (1), Metro Center, Rockford(1), New World Theatre, Tinley Park Chicago (1), SIU Arena, Carbondale (1) and Southern University, Carbondale (1).

First time he played in Illinois State was on April 1971 with Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson as a band (4 concerts), it was the "Spring 1971 Tour" (4). Then, it came "Honky Chateau Tour" (4), "Yellow Brick Road Tour" (2), "Caribou Tour" (2), "Louder Than Concorde Tour" (3), "A Single Man Tour: Back In The USSA" With Ray Cooper (2) in 1979; "21 At 33 Tour" (3), the "Jump Up! Tour" (2), "The Breaking Hearts Tour" (1), "The 1985/86 World Tour" (1), "Reg Strikes Back Tour" (2), "The 1989-90 World Tour" (2), "The One Tour" (2), "Made In England Tour" (2), "The Big Picture Tour" (3), "An Evening With Elton John"(2), "The Medusa Tour" in 1999 (4), "Face To Face With Billy Joel" (6 along 2001-2003), "Peachtree Road Tour" (1) and "Rocket Man Tour" (1); also it was the 2003 - Clinical Oncology Benefit Concert and the 2005 - 50th Celebration of the Golden Arches (90' show echoed by 4200 McDonalds' employees, friends and suppliers).

The largest set list was "Face To Face Tour" with Billy Joel with 38 songs in the set, played by both artists, and the shortest in 1970, while promoting "Spring 1971 Tour" album, with only 18 songs on the set list.

He has played 158 different songs in Illinois State on Tour.

The song most played is Your Song (with 46 times).

Then it comes: Rocket Man (43), Bennie and the jets (37), Saturday night's alright (36), Daniel (33), Don't let the sun go down on me (33), Funeral for a friend (31), Philadelphia freedom (30), Love lies bleeding (29), Crocodile rock (28), Tiny dancer (28), Take me to the pilot (27), The bitch is back (26).

Follows: I guess that's why they call it the blues (25), Levon (23), Goodbye yellow brick road (22), Candle in the wind (21), Honky cat (21), Mona lisas and mad hatters (21), Someone saved my life tonight (20), Burn down the mission (17), Sorry seems to be the hardest word (17), I'm still standing (16), All the girls love Alice (14), Border song (14), I don't wanna go on with you like that (13), The one (13), Blue eyes (12), Sad songs (say so much) (12), Better off dead (11), Tonight (10).

And the rest: Harmony, Hercules, Sacrifice, Ticking, Elton's song, Great balls of fire, Pinball wizard, Skyline pigeon, The last song, Whole lotta shakin', Can I put you on, Carla / Etude, Circle of life, Country comfort, Have mercy on the criminal, Madman across the water, Simple life, Sixty years on, The greatest discovery, Empty garden, Holiday Inn, Just the way you are, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Mona lisas and mad hatters part two, My life, Piano man, You may be right, Ego, Friends, Grey seal, Honky tonk women, Island girl, Talking old soldiers, The king must die, Believe, Can you feel the love tonight, Come down in time, I saw her standing there, I want love, Love song, Recover your soul, Suzie (Dramas), Sweet painted lady, Teacher I need you, Twist and shout, Where to now St. Peter?, A hard day's night, Amoreena, Bite your lip, get up and dance, Captain Fantastic & Brown Dirt Cowboy, Don't go breaking my heart, Empty Sky, Get back, Grow some funk of your own, I think I'm going to kill myself, Imagine, Little Jeannie, Made In England, My baby left me, Nikita, Rock me when he's gone, Roy Rogers, Sartorial eloquence, Something about the way you look tonight, Tell me when the whistle blows, The honey roll, The wasteland, Uptown girl, We all fall in love sometimes / Curtains, White lady white powder, A word in spanish, Ball and chain, Brown sugar, Chloe, Crazy water, Dear John, Dixie Lily, Elderberry wine, Goodbye Marlon Brando, Grimsby, Healing hands, He'll have to go, High-flying bird, House, I fell like a bullet, I heard it through the grapevine, I need you to turn to, Idol, Mama can't buy you love, Pain, Part time love, Restless, Sleeping with the past, Song for Guy, Stone's throw from hurtin', The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34), The show must go on, When a woman doesn't want you, Where have all the good times gone, Whitewash county, Written In The Stars, You're so static, All that I'm allowed (I'm thankful), Answer in the sky, Ballad of the boy in the red shoes, Blessed, , Freaks in love, I only want to be with you, If the river can bend, I'm going to be a teenage idol, Kiss the bride, Li'l'Fridgerator, Love's got a lot to answer for, My elusive drug, One horse town, One more arrow, Original sin, Paris, Porch swing in Tupelo, Sand and water, Song for you, The bridge, They call her the cat, This town, Too low for zero, Turn the ligths out when you leave, Weight of the world, Who Wears These Shoes ?.

Also: Back In The USSA (excerpt), It's your thing (excerpt), In the mood (excerpt), Oh Susannah! (snippet), Singin' in the rain (excerpt) and Close encounters theme (excerpt). Other artists played their songs in Elton's set list, as Kiki Dee with "I've got the music in me" (8) in 1976 and Nigel Olsson in 1980 ("All I want is you" and "Saturday night", 1).

21 Apr 2009

Famous Illinoisans Eltonites

Jimmy Connors he was born James Scott Connors on September 2, 1952, in East St. Louis Illinois. Jimmy Connors won his first title in 1972 in Jacksonville, Florida. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest tennis players of all time: he won Wimbledon twice, in 1974 and 1982, and the Australian Open in 1974, also, he remained unchallenged for thirty years with his 161 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings. While Connors has been an eltonite since the 70s, Elton regarded Jimmy Connors as his Favorite ever Male Tennis Player, so they have mutual admiration and respect.

Born Cynthia Ann Crawford on February 20, 1966, in DeKalb, Illinois, Cindy Crawford was America's most celebrated fashion model and one of the most famous in the world. In 1983, she was a finalist in Elite Model Management's Look of the Year competition. She was discovered by chance by a newspaper photographer, who noticed then 16-year old Cindy at work during her summer job of detasselling corn and took a picture of her. Crawford became one of the first major "supermodels" and has appeared on over more than 600 magazines worldwide including Vogue, W, People, Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Allure. A friend of Elton and a truly fan, Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber attended Elton John's birthday party at Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles, CA on March 27, 2009.

11 Apr 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen, get up to receive the fantastic, incredible... TheFox!!!!!!!

Being an elton fan, I have the opportunity to meet great people, from different countries. I always recall how much eltonites know about Elton: about his personal life, his successes, his songs, ... It's always an enrichment feeling. Now, we have one of those eltonites who know so much about Elton. He help me in the article of dutch music charts and he's a great people. Welcome TheFox, nice to have you here. It's always good to chat with you and I am glad you be my guest on the eltonite's day of Holland...

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

I am Wim Greven and I live in Holland in a place called Emmeloord 3 metres below sea level. (Can you imagine?)
It’s called a polder. For 50 years ago it was a sea and they build dikes around it and now It’s dry land. It’s a agricultural land, potato fields and also flowers fields in April and May)

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

For the first time I heard Eltons music was in 1976 when I was 11 years old.
It was on a holiday in Sweden. It was of course “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. Nice catchy tune.
But I became a real fan of his music when I heard Song for Guy on the radio.
Such a moving melody. BTW I never understood why this melody wasn’t a success in the USA.
But when I bought one of my first LP’s it was a collection of Elton John hits. Strange but I heard then (1981) for the first time Your Song. I did already know Sorry seems to be.
And after playing those great songs again and again, you start to collect all his music.
In those days it was not as easy as it is nowadays. Every music store I went in to I look for new Elton stuff.

Beginning with his latest work than “The Fox” I was impressed by his classical piece of music “Carla/Etude”. But also his duet with France Gall “Donner pour Donner” impressed me much. The way the saxophone goes into the voice of France Gall is so perfectly done . When I bought this single I could not sleep.
I had to go out of my bed to listen with headphone this song everytime.
Every album of Elton I captured in my heart, It’s been a part of my life.
Blue Moves is one of my favourite album of Elton.

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?

I saw Elton 4 times. 3 times in Holland and 1 time in Belgium.
In Holland I had always one of the best places at his concerts first or second row
due to one Elton fan who had a good connection with the organisation of the concerts
in Holland.
I have a signed autograph on a tour book and one autograph on the single Song for Guy.
Unfortunately I didn’t speak Elton or any band member.
From those concerts I was mostly impressed by his solo concert in 2000.
He played 3 hours without any break. Fantastic! What a great artist.

And which songs do you think Elton should add to his current set list, and what would it be life if Elton suddenly played a song that he has never played before? And your favorite live songs to be in? And, for you, which member of the band is (or was) irreplaceable? Miss someone, now?

I hope if Elton would add more album tracks to his current set list instead of only hits.
I would like that he add Belfast, Basque, Sweetheart on Parade and You gotta love someone (he never played this songs live but these are really great compositions) and some tracks from Blue Moves like Cage the Songbird, Crazy Water or Idol. But I am very unsure if this will happen one day?
By the way I miss Ray Cooper! My favourite concert he played with Elton is Live At The Greek in Los Angeles in 1994. This was a concert full of less famous and less frequently live played Elton songs.

How it was, and still is, the success of Elton in your country? Which have been his hits in sales terms? And which are dutch’s favorite Elton's albums or songs? And could you still hear Elton's music in the radio, nowadays? And which should do Elton's next step in his music career?

Although he had his biggest successes worldwide in the seventies he became more well known. In the Netherlands after his huge success with Nikita. I think it peaked the dutch charts for 7 weeks at # 1, it never happened before in the dutch charts with other artists.
Yes you hear still Elton songs on the dutch radio.
I think Elton made in the 90’s a big step to go more in the direction of to compose great music
without only a commercial success. Albums like “Made in England” and the last three albums are a good example for this.

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 got from another fan a mirror with the cover of Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy printed in it. But simply listening to his music and see him perform live. (also on dvd) gives me enough satisfaction and energy.

What do you think about news of Elton going to studio again for a 2009 album? What type of album would you expect? And the record's company release of more DeLuxe editions, without forgetting an special box of Elton's duets and rock numbers, and so on?

It’s always nice to hear new work of him. Maybe he will work for the first time not live but in the studio with Billy Joel.
I prefer more special boxes with rare Elton demo’s of his songs.
(the release of more live shows, no parts but the complete concert)

for example:
Edinburgh 1976
Rainbow rock 1977
Live at the Greek Theatre L.A 1994

Oh, once you said: “Elton is still standing and he makes music on his albums nowadays that he likes!! (and I like) and that's better than any Chart list at this moment. But he needs also a hit that's true”. So, what type of song needs Elton to climb the music charts, as he did?

He needs to compose another great ballad I think Just Elton and his piano.
When I listen nowadays to great songs for example to a artist like
Adele – “Make You Feel My Love”
I think Elton could wrote it, but I am sure he will make another smash hit again!

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

Song for Guy
Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word
Your Song

(as you can see ballads are my all time favourites)

Good choice, thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I hope Elton will make more new albums in the future and continue to perform live (also in the Netherlands! because we miss you )and I hope to meet more Elton fans one day from many countries.

Ok, thank you very much for sharing your time with us, Wim. Really a pleasure to chat with you, an enjoyable experience. Take care my friend.

9 Apr 2009

Elton John In Dutch Charts

Top 1

Something About The Way You Look Tonight - Candle In The Wind 1997
Nikita / The Man Who Never Died
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me /I Believe
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word / Sweet Thing

Top 2

Don't Go Breaking My Heart / Snow Queen

Top 3

Sacrifice / Dancing In The End Zone

Top 5

Circle Of Life / Circle Of Life

Top 6

Song For Guy / Lovesick

Top 8

I'm Still Standing / Earn While You Learn

Top 10

Your Song / Take Me To The Pilot
Blue Eyes / Hey Papa Legba

Top 11

That's what friends are for / Two Ships Passing Throught The Night
The one / Suit Of Wolves
True love / The Show Must Go On

Top 12

Crocodile rock / Elderberry Wine
Cry to heaven / Candy By The Pound

Top 14

Can you feel the love tonight / Can You Feel The Love Tonight
Daniel / Skyline Pigeon
Sorry seems to be the hardest word / Shoulder Holster

Top 20

Goodbye yellow brick road / Screw You

Top 24

Don't let the sun go down on me / Sick City

Top 26

Someone saved my life tonight / House Of Cards
The bitch is back / Cold Highway

Top 28

You gotta love someone / Medecine Man

Top 29

Border Song / Bad Side O The Moon

Top 31

Nobody Wins / Fools In Fashion

Top 33

Club at the end of the street / Give Peace A Chance

Top 36

The Last Song / The Man Who Never Died

Top 37

Runaway train / Understanding Women

courtesy of TheFox, from Holland

7 Apr 2009

Famous Dutch Eltonites

Jamai was born on June 30, 1986 in Gouda, the Netherlands. He was the winner of the first series of Idols (Netherlands), the Dutch variant on Pop Idol. The rising star has since performed in a jam-packed stadiums and with his quadruple platinum single 'Step Right Up' he topped the charts for weeks on end. While he became a Holland's celebritie, Jamai can now visit his own wax statue at Madame Tussaud's in Amsterdam. He claims Elton as his hero and sang some of his songs, "Your Song" and "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word", in the program's competition. He's said to own 28 pairs of glasses just to be like him.

3 Apr 2009

Elton Tourin' Israel: The Statistics

Elton John has done 6 concerts live in Israel while on Tour.

He has been in Jerusalem (3 times) and in Tel Aviv (3).

Elton's favourite places are Philarmonic Hall, Jerusalem (3), Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv (2) and HaYarkon Park, Tel Aviv (1).

First time he played in Israel was on May 1979 on "A single Man Tour" (5 shows). Then it was “The One Tour” (1, 1993).

The largest set list was on "A Single Man Tour", with 27 songs and the shortest "The One 1993 Tour" with only 19 songs on the set list.

He has played 38 different songs in Israel while on Tour.

The songs most played are Don't let the sun go down on me (6), Funeral for a friend (6), Pinball wizard (6), Rocket man (6), Saturday night's alright (6), Take me to the pilot (6), Your song (6).

Then it comes: Bennie and the jets (5), Better off dead (5), Candle in the wind (5), Crazy water (5), Crocodile rock (5), Daniel (5), Get back (5), Goodbye yellow brick road (5), I heard it through the grapevine (5), I think I'm going to kill myself (5), Idol (5), Part time love (5), Roy Rogers (5), Sixty years on (5), Skyline pigeon (5), Song for guy (5), Sorry seems to be the hardest word (5), Tonight (5), Where to now St. Peter? (5).

And the rest: Empty garden, I don't wanna go on with you like that, I guess that's why they call it the blues, Love lies bleeding, Philadelphia freedom, Sacrifice, Sad songs, Simple life, The bitch is back, The last song, The one, The show must go on.