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30 Jul 2011

Paul Bacon, or when the difference is hard to find

Hello Eltonites!!! That's the end of the season and I thought about inviting someone very special. It's truly amazing to see him perform and he does it very well. You can close your eyes and listen: complicate to find a difference. I am so glad to invite him here, please, eltonites, a big applause for the fantastic and incredible: Paul Bacon!!!!!

Thanks so much for the acceptation, an honour to have you here, Paul. How much of a pressure is it imitating a celebrity of Elton’s status? Is it difficult to copy and why?

I am first and foremost a massive Elton John fan and have been since the early 1970’s. I have always loved his music and followed his career. This is just as well, because when I perform people do interact with me as though I am actually Elton! Of course 99% of people know I’m not really Elton, however I guess they like to enter into the spirit of the occasion!

It does give me a tiny insight into what it must be like to be celebrity of Elton’s stature, as everyone recognises Elton even if they are not necessary a fan of his music. So posing for photos with people and answering ‘Elton based questions’ has become a part of the job!

I’ve always looked a little like Elton, and I have a similar tone of voice, so I don’t have to alter my appearance too much to look like him and I talk and sing in my normal voice when performing, although of course I copy Elton’s style of singing to the best of my ability.

Having literally grown up listening to Elton’s music and watching him perform, I think I have ‘absorbed’ some of his on-stage persona. I don’t try to present a ‘caricature’ of Elton, or indeed send him up in any way. As well as being a fan, I have too much respect for him to do that. For me it’s about celebrating and sharing Elton’s music in the very best way that I can.

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

The first time Elton’s music had a major impact on me was when I first heard the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in late ’73 or early ’74, when I was 12 or 13 years old. I must have heard Elton on the radio before that (Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Rocket Man), but when I heard Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding for the first time I was completely mesmerized! GYBR became the first album I owned, and then I began collecting Elton’s earlier albums – Don’t Shoot Me, Madman, Honky Chateau, etc. I got hold of a tape of Tumbleweed Connection and practically wore it out!

From that point forward I bought Elton’s albums as they were released, with Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy becoming my favourite, as it still is.

It’s very difficult to explain why a particular artist moves you. Elton is of course an incredible songwriter, great musician, wonderful singer and amazing performer, yet he also has that indefinable quality that very few artists possess.

Does he know about you, or don't you know?

I’ve no idea if Elton has heard about me. I’ve not received any flowers, so I guess not!

Hahahaha ;-)

Seriously, I would be very surprised if he has, as he is always incredibly busy and as we know he is not a fan of the internet.

Sure. Have you ever been mistaken for Elton? Some funny anecdote to share with us?

I recently went to see Elton and his band perform at Hatfield House as part of the Magic FM Summer Live Concert here in the UK. I was persuaded by friends to dress as Elton but didn’t anticipate how many people at the concert would want to have a photo taken with me! In fact I got so many requests that we quickly decided to raise money for the Magic FM Cash for Kids appeal that was featured at the event, by asking for a donation for a photo. I don’t know exactly how much we raised for the charity, but I’m sure it was easily over £200. Of course most of the people knew that I wasn’t the real Elton, however one or two thought I was and also asked for an autograph! I declined politely (I don’t sign autographs as Elton, that would be wrong!)

Although of course I am presenting myself as Elton when I perform, I do feel slightly uncomfortable when people believe I am actually Elton!

How do you choose the set list and which songs become a part of the set? Any obscure song, you play?

The set list is dependant upon the occasion and how long I’m asked to play for. If I’m only playing for thirty minutes or one hour, my problem is not what to play, but what to leave out! I guess just like when Elton performs there are certain songs that the audience want and expect to hear, for example Rocket Man, Candle in the Wind, Crocodile Rock, Your Song etc. However, if I am doing a two hour set I have the flexibility to add one or two lesser known songs (I mean lesser known to non Eltonites!). I love singing Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Original Sin or Sartorial Eloquence, and also songs like Empty Garden, Pinky, I Need You To Turn To, Captain Fantastic… You see the problem! It’s nice when I do get asked to play a certain song, for example I do sometimes get requests for Skyline Pigeon, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Little Jeannie, Blues for Baby and Me, Cold as Christmas, and even recently, Chloe. I know these are not particularly obscure songs to ‘Eltonites’, but to a non Elton audiences they might be unfamiliar. No one has requested Regimental Sergeant Zippo yet!

Don’t give ideas, Paul hehe. And how do you manage to get your costumes?

I’ve had some of my costumes made for me, however I did buy three suits from Elton and David’s ‘Out the Closet’ sale in London in December 2009. In particular two beautiful silk Versace suits from I guess the 1990’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were a perfect fit! I also bought several pairs of shoes at the same sale, including a wonderful pair of Versace boots.

It was a great way to get some authentic ‘Elton’ clothing and to support the EJAF at the same time. I hope they have another sale soon!

Time permitting, I try to make at least one costume change during a show.

Explain to us a bit about the Blue Moves band, the band you travel with. How many gigs do you play in a year?

I’m very lucky to know a group of great musicians who have totally got into the spirit of playing Elton’s music. They were not necessarily all dedicated Elton fans when we started, but through working on the songs and gigging they have now become big fans of his music.

For example when we began to rehearse Tiny Dancer, the band was not so familiar with it, however now if I suggest leaving it out of the set due to time restraints they complain!

I play far more gigs on my own than with the band, (seventeen over the past two months) but that is changing I’m delighted to say. Playing Elton’s music with a full live band is a fantastic experience.

As well as playing clubs and corporate events, we have also performed at music festivals and indeed will be appearing on the main stage at this year’s Tribfest in August in Yorkshire, England - which has become Europe’s largest tribute festival attracting some 5,000 people. So that should be fun!

Have you taken your act overseas yet?

Not yet, but we would certainly love to. There are opportunities in the pipeline to visit France, Spain, the US, and maybe even Barbados! With Elton being a global superstar, the world is our oyster!

What kind of place do you see for Elton John in the History of Rock Music?

As a fan I may be biased, but I really do see Elton John up there with Elvis and The Beatles. His record sales and popularity speak for themselves. After over 40 years in the music business he is still able to sell-out venues, including stadiums, all over the world.

Elton has produced some of the most recognised and best loved popular music ever written. His awards, including an Oscar, are too numerous to mention.

Although supremely talented as a songwriter, musician, singer and performer, Elton has also become a global figure not only respected for his music but also for his commitment to his aids foundation and other causes.

You have a highly recommended website on http://www.ultimateelton.com/ What could we find there?

My website is designed to give people an insight into what I do as an Elton John tribute artist. Visitors can see what I look and sound like. I have also recently added a diary to enable visitors to see where and when I am performing.

It is also a way for people to contact me or indeed leave messages and/or feedback.

Fantastic! Oh, finally, your favourite top 5 Elton John songs, in running order, please, for my all songs list?

Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Your Song
Tiny Dancer
I’m Still Standing
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

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

I consider myself very lucky to be doing what I do. As well as the opportunity to sing all my favourite songs, I also get the chance to meet fellow Elton fans and share the love and appreciation that we all have for Elton and his music.

Let’s all hope that Elton keeps doing what he’s doing for many years to come, because nobody does it better!

Thanks so much, Paul, for sharin' your time with us. It's amazing to see one of us playin' Elton on stage with that success, and also it's an opportunity to listen songs live that Elton has no intention to do in his performances. Oh, but before you go, I have people here who kindly agree to send you their salutations. Please, Stuart, Tony, Will, it's your turn.

Stuart Epps, record producer: "I've known Elton for over 40 years and this guys is as close as you can get both in voice and in Looks"

Tony Wood, playmate: "Paul is a great Elton tribute. Looks and sounds like the man and I am pleased to be part of the band playing with him :)"

Will Howes, video producer: "Working with Paul Bacon is a joy. He is such a fun guy and is unbelievably similar to Elton, the way he speaks, sings and the small manorisms are spot on. Paul came to me in 2009 and we had a meeting in a local pub about his plans for 'Ultimate Elton'. I was happy to oblige and thought it would work perfectly. He knows the ins and outs of Elton and owns some of Elton's actual outfits (as seen in the video) so it was exciting to work on the video. We filmed the 'Im Still Standing' video in Bournemouth, England and tried to make it have that same feel of the original video but at the same time to create something fresh and original. It was a wonderful day and many people mistook him for being the real Elton. Since then Paul has been touring the UK with his act at events and festivals. I am also currently editing the second video for 'Ultimate Elton.'"

Thank you Stuart, Paul and Will. I truly recommend Will Howes' work, along with Greg Holgate, an up and coming student comedy duo producing video content for the world wide web, that's on:

http://www.youtube.com/user/HolgateAndHowes

Bye to all, have a good holidays the ones they have, and my best wishes for everybody. See you in September!!!

Pictures courtesy of Paul Bacon

29 Jul 2011

Ultimate Elton: looking and sounding like his idol

"I just saw him live in Thame, brilliant !!! just like being with my old mate, great band too". When record producer Stuart Epps says words like these of a new talented artist, we must take a listen. And the listen is surprising: he has an extraordinarily similar singing voice to Elton’s. But more than this, his staging is fantastic, including all the costumes needed to reflect Elton’s flamboyant stage presence and style. Some tribute artists look like their idol, he sounds like his idol. Paul Bacon aka Ultimate Elton, is a lifelong Elton John fan. He first started singing and performing Elton’s songs whilst studying Performing Arts at University, in the early 1980’s. Having worked in the corporate events industry for almost 20 years, producing everything from sales conferences, product launches, awards ceremonies... he decided at the start of 2009, to do something completely different and invested his time and money in creating the Ultimate Elton John tribute. Since that time, the shows have got bigger, the costumes more spectacular and the platforms even higher. He is available for shows both large and small, including themed parties, corporate events, weddings and all family celebrations. Also, he has been delighted to help with Children in Need, Help for Heroes, and the London and Slough run for homeless people. He performs solo with backing tracks for a ‘full band’ sound, or with his four-piece band, Blue Moves, for a fully live sound with drums, bass guitar, keyboards and lead/rhythm guitar. The set list comprises an extensive repertoire from every period of Elton’s career: since hits like "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", "Philadelphia Freedom" or "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to tracks like "Teacher I Need You", "Made In England", "Blues For My Baby And Me" or "Cold As Christmas", for example. "It's an absolute joy to perform so many wonderful songs including Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man, Your Song and Candle in the Wind" he explains, while adding "as well as other classics such as Tiny Dancer, Honky Cat, Daniel, I’m Still Standing, Don’t let the Sun go Down on Me and Bennie and the Jets, and to share in the love and appreciation that audiences have towards Sir Elton and his music". His new music video "I'm Still Standing", created by Paul Bacon, Lucina Pearson & Will Howes, is available on:

video

Join us to the weekend of... Paul Bacon!!! We gonna have fun!!!