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22 Sep 2011

Unforgettable Video Guests: Remember Them? (& Part Three)

"To make a chain of fools / You need a matching pair" reads the lyrics of "Passengers" (1984). Not habitual to see Bernie Taupin on an Elton's video, but a cameo appearance was due this time. Directed by Simon Milne in St. Tropez, France, the success of the video meant the success of the single in music charts. Passengers where black people of South Africa who were literally passengers on a train, traveling from desolates homelands to their jobs. Bernie caught the idea and symbolized a route to the freedom. The anti-apartheid message of the song is well reflected on the video, where dancers in half-black/half-white faces are dancing along Elton, who's playing a kind of cross-cultural facilitator between different cultures. Also, it was funny to see Elton dangling from an helicopter.

Born in 1950, Bernie Taupin grew up in the Lincolnshire region of the north of England. Taupin is best known for his 40-year collaboration with Elton John, although he has released several solo albums and has written lyrics for others. Taupin's association with John has made him one of the most prolific lyricists of the 20th century. Also, he has expanded his artistic horizons and found it's way onto the canvas.

A word spoken in another language, on an imagined movie scene, brought a girl to tears. "A Word In Spanish", the multi-coloured video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, find Elton on the street, singing in the background, as two good-looking latino boys are fighting for the girl.

George Perez was born the seventh son of nine siblings in Tijuana, Mexico. He was accepted into the Los Angeles High School of the Performing Arts at 15 years old. While attending school, he was discovered by Kenny Ortega, Director and Choreographer of the "High School Musical" franchise. That same year he also appeared in his first break out role as the lead in Elton John’s music video “A Word in Spanish", and a string of guest starring roles followed on hit TV shows like "China Beach, "ER", "JAG", and "Walker Texas Ranger."

Born in Puerto Rico, Remmy Palacio is a multi-talented entertainer, mastering a variety of instruments and writing his own music. In 1986, Remmy and two other musicians created the group “Nice N Wild”, whose album "Energy, Love & Unity" produced two 1 radio hits: “Diamond Girl” and “Oh Baby”. He studied under choreographer Vince Patterson, who choreographed Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. Remmy also studied with Kenny Ortega, known for his choreography in “Dirty Dancing” and many other music videos. Remmy appeared in two of Ortega’s music videos: “A Word in Spanish” by Elton John, and Chayanne’s “Este Ritmo Se Baila Asi”. Remmy began his career as a soloist in the English market with “Another Lover” an original song of his, and one of the most important hits of his career.

Thomas Jane and Teri Hatcher made a cameo appearance on Elton's video"Turn The Lights Out When You Leave" (2005). The promotional video of the song was lensed by Sam Taylor Wood and reflected the disagreements of a young couple in their relationship. Elton unveiled Hatcher as his celebrity choice for the video because he was a massive fan of the hit show "Desperate Housewifes". Hatcher said she enjoyed every moment of it: "It was really surreal, very arty".

Thomas Jane was born in 1969 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. He ended up in Hollywood and wound up working the streets, acting mentally disabled and asking for money. Working in local theater productions as well as a few commercials (although the commercials never aired on television) provided money for the bills. Jane first attracted the attention of audiences when he was cast in the starring role of real-life strike writer Neal Cassady in the Sundance-premiered The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997). He's also best known for The Punisher, Deep Blue Sea, Boogie Nights and Original Sin.

Teri Hatcher was born in Palo Alto, California, USA, in 1964. She studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while taking a degree course in mathematics and engineering at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. Hatcher went to Hollywood to lend moral support to a friend during a open casting call. She, however, auditioned and won the role of the singing and dancing mermaid for the television series, "Love Boat" (1977). Her portrayal of a divorced mother, "Susan Mayer", was consistently named as America's favorite "Desperate Housewife".

17 Sep 2011

Unforgettable Video Guests: Remember Them? (Part Two)

"Healing Hands", Bernie's update of the Four Tops' "Reach Out I'll Be There", is an anthemic soul number about the redemptive power of love. More than anything, it's a song of resolve and positivity, of never giving up into the darkness. Elton, in need to getting sober and, Bernie, surviving the failure of his second marriage, decided to pay tribute to the black music they grew up with. The video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, features backing vocalists Marlena Jeter, Mortonette Jenkins and Natalie Jackson, in a black and white film. Musetta Vander makes her appearance near the end of the video.

Born Musetta van der Merwe, May 26, 1969, a South African actress and model who is best known for her roles in science fiction and fantasy films. Musetta first notable role was as 'Zander Tyler' in the action-adventure TV series Super Force. Also she's appearing as the "dream girl" in more than 20 music videos for such top recording artists as Rod Stewart, Tina Turner or Chris Isaak. In 1999, she had a supporting role in Barry Sonnenfeld's film 'Wild Wild West' in which she played an assistant to Kenneth Branagh's character, "Dr. Loveless". In 2000, Musetta played a seductive Siren in the critically acclaimed 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' directed by the Coen brothers.

"Something About The Way You Look Tonight" (1997) featured Sophie Dahl alongside a host of other models including Kate Moss or Cameron Alborzian, and it was filmed during the summer of 1997. It was due to be released as the first single from Elton’s “The Big Picture” album, and promotional copies of the single were issued prior to a planned release in September. The picture to the left features the photo used on the promotional sleeve. The death Princess Diana, changed the course of history. Nonetheless, it remains one of Elton’s more obscure videos - even more bizarrely, the 1998 Japanese reissue of "The Big Picture" features an edited version of the video on the enhanced section of the CD, which fades out before Sophie even makes it on screen! All of Elton’s various Video and DVD collections have neglected to include the song.

Sophie Dahl has successfully transitioned from former model to actress and author. Dahl was born in 1979, the daughter of Tessa Dahl, a writer, and actor Julian Holloway. She was discovered in 1995 on a London Street at 18 by Isabella Blow, a stylist at Vogue; rebels against usual model standards with 38DD bra size. Isabella was awestruck by Sophie's beauty. Soon after, she referred Sophie to Sarah Doukas of the Storm modeling agency in London. Her most famous campaign was with Yves Saint Laurent which was contraversial for her poses. In addition to modeling & acting, Sophie also writes short stories, several of which have been published in various magazines. With Jamie Cullum, they celebrated their wedding at a country house in 2010 following a secretive marriage ceremony.

Paul Reubens appeared in the music video of Elton's single "This Train Doesn't Stop There Anymore", taken from "Songs From the West Coast" album (2001). In the video Paul plays the manager of a younger Elton, who in turn is played by Justin Timberlake. David LaChapelle and Elton created the concept of a nostalgic and moving journey, set in 'Elton world' during the Seventies, recreating a younger Elton in his wild and extravagance life on the road. Near the end of the music video, he is seen opening a door which reveals an implied orgy, white snow flying through the air, and a person in a rabbit suit (all a metaphor for cocaine use). Elton closes the door, and proceeds on to perform a song. The video was shot over two days at the famous Ambassador Hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, where Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was murdered in 1968. Timberlake studied videos and archive footage about Elton for weeks to perfect the mannerisms.

Born Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952 in Peekskill, New York, his acting career grew slowly and steadily with small roles in theater productions, gigs at local comedy clubs and four guest appearances on "The Gong Show" (1976). Paul is widely known as starring as Pee-wee Herman, an innocent man-boy who enjoyed playing tricks on his friends, in the CBS live-action children's program, Pee-wee's Playhouse, which lasted several seasons from 1986-1990. He also has appeared in such films as 1996's Matilda, 1999's Mystery Men and 2001's Blow.

12 Sep 2011

Unforgettable Video Guests: Remember Them?

I've always liked music videos. I still remember me recording the videos on my old VHS record player when they were aired on the TV. Maybe I could say that I became an eltonite for the videos. It was so amazing to see Elton dancing on "Who Wears These Shoes?", falling on the sea on "Passengers" (not mention the helicopter), playing the piano on "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That"; the list could be so extensive. But I could not forget the video guests credited on Elton's videos: Robert Downey Jr. on "I Want Love", Bernie Taupin on "Passengers", Justin Timberlake on "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore"; another extensive list. Those were celebrities, of course, but what about the others guests? Who are they and what they've been doing now?

Bruno Tonioli, was 28 when he starred as one of Sir Elton's dancers for the top ten hit video "I'm Still Standing" (1983), which was filmed in Nice and Cannes, France. He wore a number of outrageous outfits including the ripped leotard, complete with studded belt and leather military-style cap, which he wears to greet Elton outside the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. In another scene, he sports some very tight and revealing orange trousers for a dance on the beach, while in another, he gyrates semi naked on a sun lounger. Bruno starred in the video when he was working as a freelance dancer in the Eighties.

He is a renowned choreographer and has worked on countless films, plays, music videos, commercials, concerts, trade shows and television series with such music icons as Elton John ("Please"), Michael Jackson ("Give in to Me"), Sting ("This Cowboy Song"), Tina Turner ("Steamy Windows") and Paul McCartney ("Hope of Deliverance"). He also works in theater and television: Tonioli has been a popular judge on all seasons of the ballroom US dancing competition, Dancing with the Stars and its UK counterpart Strictly Come Dancing.

On "Ice On Fire" (1985), Elton released a love song who reached the top of the music charts across the world: "Nikita", featuring George Michael as a backing vocalist. It's undeniable that video helped in the success. Directed by Ken Russell, Anya Major features an East German female Border guard, on one side of the Wall during the Cold War conflict, with her "ten tin soldiers in a row", while Elton, a rich westener, is taking photos on her at the border crossing, as he is refused to entry. Only in dreams they could get together sharing their love. As a spin-off, Major released a single, "Moscow Nights", using the name Anya. "Nikita", a russian male name indeed, was not the first guest appearance by Major. In fact, Ridley Scott provided Major, then a discus-throwing athlete, the role in Apple's famous 1984 Macintosh commercial, for being the only one capable of running up to a large video screen, swinging a sledgehammer in a wide spin, and releasing it at the video screen of Big Brother.

Major was born in UK at 1966. There was a widely-circulated rumor years ago that she had died of breast cancer, but happily this was false. She's living in England with her husband Kim Rajah and their three children: Luke, Georgia and Oliver. Anya Rajah, graduated from Central St Martins, has exhibited her artworks in Tunbridge Wells (where she lives now), Brighton and London.

Singer and actress Mandy Moore appeared in the promo for Elton's Original Sin landing roles in the video as the daughter of Elizabeth Taylor and Elton, following her journey as an awkward teen circa 1976 (complete with braces, acne, bushy eyebrows, and wig) to her dream like fantasy of transforming into a rock groupie front row center of the VIP section of an Elton concert. The video, directed by David Lachapelle, let Moore to be close to her idol, as she explained about the experience: "Being the geek I am, I had him sign a copy of his ‘Yellow Brick Road’ album and [I] am getting it framed immediately", while adding "I remember sitting alone in the living room portion of the house we shot in and listening to Elton play ‘Crocodile Rock’. It was like no one else was listening.. like a private concert… too cool!!!".

Born April 10, 1984 in Nashua, New Hampshire, she grew up in Orlando, Florida when she made a name for herself, from appearances in local theatre productions to singing the National Anthem at professional sporting events. Her first single, "Candy", from the CD So Real (1999), was released when Moore was only 15 years old (it was certified platinum in Australia). Her early films included the teen romance A Walk To Remember (2002). She has appeared in Romance & Cigarettes (2005) and American Dreamz (2006), including a role as Diane Keaton's daughter in Because I Said So (2007). Her fourth album, Coverage (2003), received a less than enthusiastic response for its musical maturity. Additionally, Moore has modeled, appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan, started her own fashion line, Mblem, as well as the women's social network Upumpitup.com.


End Of Part One
To Be Continued

10 Sep 2011

The Eltonites' Day With Jody Towles!!!

Hello Dear Eltonites, welcome to the new season, the 28th this time. Long time ago I began recollecting newspapers, magazines, pictures, cards, everything related to Elton. As a fan of music charts list, I created my own only about Elton. But I was alone, people I knew were not fans of Elton, just like some songs and so on. But Internet changes everything. I've been so much lucky meeting other people, Eltonites I call them. Good people, good friends, with a lot of things to depart and share. As a way to say thank you to Eltonites, lately I've been starting the season with one of them, as I do this time. I take this opportunity to introduce someone very special, a passionate, so welcome Jody, so nice to have you here.

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

Hey, My name is Jody Towles and I am from Tampa, Florida.

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

I can remember Elton as far back as memory allows. My earliest memory of hearing EJ was of hearing the song Little Jeannie playing on radio stations growing up. I also remember the Lion King coming out and I think that for my generation, that's where we really started to know who Elton John Was. The first time I remember clearly seeing Elton Play on TV was probably at the Funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales. I had always knew about Elton John, but when I was in my last year of college, I remember going to a local retailer, I was just getting into music heavily at the time and I saw Elton's compilation Greatest Hits 1970-2002 on the sale rack, so on a whim I picked it up. I didn't quite get it at first, but I listened to it over and over and over and finally one day, it clicked for me. I realized that so many of the lyrics fit my life. The first EJ song i truly connected with was Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Little did I know that from buying that one album, my life would change.

And what was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

I’ll never forget my first show. It was Birmingham Alabama in 2007, a few weeks after the MSG 60 show. He sang almost the exact set that he sang in NYC a few weeks prior. I remember that I wanted to see him, so the closest show that he was currently playing to me was in Alabama, I went on ebay and bought 2 tickets, row 13 floor and i talked my mother into taking a 10 hour road trip with me. It was not my first concert but It was my first EJ show, I can still remember it clearly today. Recently I got the bootleg of that show from another Eltonite. Fast forward almost 5 years later and by the end of this year, I will have seen EJ in concert 33 times.

What would you do if you meet Elton sometime? What would you talk about and which question would you like to ask him?

This is a question that I have thought long and hard about. When I first started Seeing EJ, All i wanted to do was meet him, now at this time I no longer pursue that, I figure that If It is meant to happen then It will happen. I've long thought about what I would say, but honestly, I think a simple hello and introduction is enough, I believe that Elton would lead the conversation.

How should be your dreamt concert? Which could be a great set list, for example? Or the best Elton’s band? And which one of Elton's live shows you thought you should be there, if you could, even back in time?

Those who know me, know that As far as albums go, Peachtree Road is by far my most favorite album, so any show where he could add any song from that record in, I would be happy. I don't have any specific requirements for any show, as I am truly blessed any time that I am able to hear him live. Too many fans climb on the soapbox about EJ not changing the set list, so what? At least he still plays live, i’ll take anything as long as he's still out doing what he does.

I have always said that I was born in the wrong decade, If I could go back to one show, it would October 26th 1975 at Dodger stadium in LA. EJ was god to people then, he was at the height of his stardom, I can only imagine what It would have been like on that day.

Elton said in 2008 he was “too old for sequins and skintight clothes”. Let’s talk about Elton’s stage oufits. What’s the most extravagant fancy dress costume of Elton you could remember? And do you like the jackets he uses now on stage?

I would say that my earliest recollection is of EJ in the Donald Duck costume, He was such a showman in those days, he still is of course, just in a different way. In the case of his current wardrobe, I love it. Part of the excitement for me is when im in the audience waiting for him to come out to see what he is wearing that particular night, On my facebook page I have an EJ's jackets album that I compiled for reference purposes. I still get a huge thrill when he wears something that we have not seen yet.

So great!!! Looking back to Elton’s catalogue. Which are your favourite albums and the most underrated songs? And your favourite “B” sides?

I would say that my Top 3 albums in order are Peachtree Road, Captain Fantastic, and Don’t Shoot Me. I have always said that PTR was seriously underrated. Each one of these 3 albums have songs that are very personal to me. In addition, Captain Fantastic includes We All Fall In Love Sometimes, quite possibly one of the most underrated and best songs ever written in my opinion. As far as B-sides go, my favorites are; So Sad The Renegade, Things only get Better With Love and The Retreat.

What could we expect from the new album Elton and Bernie are preparing, due to record next January 2012? Only two albums have to release Elton to fullfill his contract. Which could be a better end?

With Elton, I have no expectations as far as what he puts out, If It's one thing we've learned the last 40 years, its that EJ keeps us guessing. I Loved The Union, and it took me a while to understand it, but I think It's great. I loved the organic and simple feel of the record, so I would say that they found something that worked and absolutely keep it going and continue that feel into the next album.

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

I think EJ has firmly planted himself into the top Ranks of the Rock Music Hierarchy. He is truly rock royalty. Seldom do you go out in public and not hear Elton John, Seldom do you not meet someone who does not know who Elton John is. His influence is far reaching and is truly global, places that I've seen him in still roll out the red carpet when he comes to town. I think History will remember him as an incredible entertainer and most importantly an amazing human being through his gift of his music and his charitable works.

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?

My most valued EJ possession is my LATW poster I got signed by him and the band in Tallahassee and Gainesville Florida at the very first shows where I ever set first row. It was also the very first time that we met the band.

Fantastic! Well, you know I am a fan of Ben Babylon too, and he has a record ready to be released, and a single coming out in September/October. We eltonites really appreciate him. Which would be your advice to him, about music, about life, about the starting of his career?

I'm not sure that I am really qualified to answer this but i’m gonna try anyway. I would say to never give up, set goals, and don't let anybody stand in your way. Life will throw a lot at you, you just have to learn to manage it the best you can. In the end its the journey not the destination. I believe its best to be good to people and treat them right, and most importantly as EJ said in Letters To a 16 Year Old Me: Stay away from Drugs.

Thanks. Apart from music, which are your interests? What you like to do with your off time?

Music is my primary passion, I also enjoy reading, and I am a huge stand up comedy and movie buff. Other than my passion of music, I also love photography. My perfect day off is spent in the company of friends or searching for that one album in a vintage vinyl store.

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

Its hard to choose only 5 but here they are...

Freaks in Love
We all fall in Love Sometimes
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
High Flying Bird
Sixty Years On

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

The last 5 years of my life have been some of the Highest and the lowest, but the journey has been amazing. I've met the most fantastic people and have been to the most fantastic places. I have seen the best and worst people, Its most important I think to treat each other with respect. Share the fun, there's plenty to go around.

I can say that 5 years ago Elton changed my life, seeing him made me truly realize who and what I was. When in times of darkness, it has been he who has pulled us out. In times of great Joy, his music has been there to lift us up even higher, It is he who brings us together and makes us feel like one big family. Thanks to all the fellow Eltonites who have shared this journey with me.

Thanks so so much for sharin' your time with us, Jody, and for your collaboration. Really a worth experience for me this interview. Take care and good luck.

Pictures courtesy by Jody Towles