Elton John

ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM SOUNDS, November 27, 1971

A great little interview with Elton where he mentions several of the great artists of the time. He also have some interesting remarks concerning the concert scene.
Enjoy.

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Elton – a madman slowing down…

Interview by Penny Valentine

It`s been a funny old year for Elton John. I mean from the things you read you might be led to believe that Britain`s number one feted superstar of 1970 came a right cropper in `71. All those put downs, all that cynical reaction, all that knocking because he fancies walking out on stage in a teddy bear bow tie and white boots, kicking his piano stool away a la Little Richard.
Not on at all. British musicians should take their job seriously we all know that. People who actually look as though they`re enjoying themselves on stage always end up having a hard time. You`ve only got to look at Elton to realise why Bolan and Stewart weren`t going to be allowed to get away with it for too long. We build `em up and knock `em down in this country. Strange really. Remember Joe Cocker?
Of course Elton John has just returned from a complete sell out US tour, of course he did fill the Greek Theatre in LA every night for a week. Of course this time last year he did have four albums in the US charts at the same time (which nobody deigned to mention much) and he is one of those rare British artists who can pull in 10,000 people a night minimum in the States – can 10,000 people a night be wrong?
The parallels between Elton, Bolan and Stewart are obvious. Although they all appeared to leap out of thin air on to the rock circuit the fact was that conversely they`d all bashed away for years trying to break ground. Because, then, they were all successful they`ve all been shredded into neat pieces by critics who somehow object to large scale success. The nature of their climb had given them only a good back-up to take all the rubbish thrown their way.
Unlike both Bolan and Stewart though Elton is basically much easier to get at. He`s a susceptible man, easily hurt, vulnerable, nervous even in the friendliest company. That he`s sometimes in danger of sounding a bit bitter about all the knocking is something that nobody in their right minds could blame him for. Wasn`t he, after all, lauded and feted on one hand – the Great White Hope and all – and then smashed down with the other?

KNOCKS

On Wednesday he`s been back from the States for two weeks in which time he`s moved house, sorted out new recording plans, planned to add a new guitarist to his line-up and got ready for his British tour which opens this week and is a sell out. (In fact, Croydon`s Fairfield Hall said they could have sold out all over again.)
He`s lost a lot of weight and he`s toned down in his Yves St. Laurent shirt and trousers.
Elton John could, financially, give up his live work tomorrow and get out of the rock business for good – but it`s doubtful that he will just yet: “I still enjoy it and I`m certainly not going to pack up because I get knocked. I wouldn`t bow down to criticism in that respect”.

ACCLAIM

“Madman Across The Water” – his latest album – has surprisingly in a time when it really hasn`t been hip to praise him, had very good critical acclaim. It may well be the last orchestrated album he does. Paul Buckmaster wants to get into his own work and Elton himself feels he`d like to get back to pure rhythm section. After the tour he`s off to the South of France to record at the Stones` studio.
“I was amazed you know when `Elton John` came out that we didn`t get more haggled at for having an orchestra on it after `Empty Skies`. And although `Tumbelweed` did get more attacked on that score in fact there were only a couple of tracks – like `Burn Down The Mission` – where the orchestra came up on a large scale. Gus (Gus Dugeon) and I have already talked about the next album and we want to get back to basic sound. I mean I`d love to do a Rod Stewart or Neil Young type of album – it`s time for a change.
“Adding the new guitarist next year will give us more scope I think. We`ve proved better than anyone that piano, bass and drums can make it in a loud rock act, but there`s hardly any room for solos at the moment. I have to provide rhythm and solos on piano which is a bit of a drag and I think someone fresh in the group will take a bit of responsibility off me and give us a new lease of life.”
Future plans also include cutting out a great deal of the leaping about and extrovert stage act which Elton thinks has turned a bit sour on him over the past couple of months. I ask him if this is due to the criticism he`s had which has markedly pointed out its distaste with such paraphernalia…

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BITCHY

“No. I just like getting credit for what we`ve done and nobody seems to be doing it. We have been very successful in the States and I want people to own up because they tend to ignore it here. That kind of thing does upset me. I got very upset for the first couple of weeks and then the criticism reached a very bitchy level. I don`t mind album criticism which can often be helpful, but when they started saying things like Lesley Duncan`s album was okay even though I was on it – well that`s being bloody evil for the sake of it.
“The sad thing is that I`ve gone out of my way to be nice to everyone and I end up getting kicked in the teeth for it. Everything gets so out of hand in Britain. I mean all the dressing up started as a joke, something for a laugh, a spontaneous thing, and people have taken it seriously. They must be joking mustn`t they? The only thing about stopping the leaping about is that I think it stopped being spontaneous. I mean everyone knows now that at a certain point in the evening I`ll kick the stool away and go into frenzied antics. It`s wearing a bit thin – it is for me anyway.”
Whatever the decisions, the criticisms, whatever the future 12 months holds one thing`s certain – and that`s that the British rock scene should hold on hard to artists like Elton John. He is one of the very few musicians we possess that have brought the audiences back into the theatres and the main reason he`s done it isn`t simply by the music alone, good though it is, but because he brought with him some colour and excitement so sadly lacking in British music.
“The rock scene is stagnating in Britain. Since I`ve been back the only three new albums I`ve liked have been from America, Lindisfarne and Yes. There`s so much rubbish around. Music has become too technical and precise – I think I`ve been to blame too as far as records are concerned. It`s lost all that lovely rawness. T. Rex and Rod Stewart`s albums are the best rock albums I`ve heard all year – just raw raucous rock and roll. I think one becomes too polished and the awful thing is that there are no bloody young musicians bringing that energy back into music. Free were about the only new young band that were doing it and they went and split up.

PROSPECTS

“Why aren`t there any new musicians? Well for one thing it`s a bit of a closed shop – more a case of who you know. And I think it`s hard for a new band to get off the ground here. They have to flog themselves to death for two years before they have a chance and the prospect un-nerves kids that might come in. Anyway most of them are into football now – the kind of age group that were playing guitar when the Beatles started now go to football matches.
“Now it`s just a job and everyone`s saying `Oh how much advance are we getting on the album`. There`s no magic left. I mean James Taylor`s the biggest name in the world but he`s not really exciting, he`s a bit of a wet fish really to see live. I`m sure this is a reason festivals are dying – who do you put on to draw real crowds? The last two festivals I went to were Dylan at the Isle of Wight and the Stones in Hyde Park. They hit directly they came on stage. But the big artists that have come up in the last couple of years just don`t have that same identification. Fairport are very entertaining and I like watching them, so are the Faces and T. Rex. That`s about it. Marc Bolan is really our only hope if he can keep it up and forget about the knocks – and how long`s it taken Rod Stewart for god`s sake?
“These people are the new sex idols if you like, and it`s just as well they`re around. Well I`m not, that`s for sure. I don`t know where I belong”. He smiled suddenly for the first time in the conversation: “People seem either to love me or hate me but then I`m not so sure I`m not happy about that really.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Redbone, Frank Zappa, Redwing, Carl Palmer, B.B. King, Bill Williams, Alice Stuart, Fanny, Robbie Robertson, Lesley Duncan, Dave Burland.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM SOUNDS, September 18, 1971

A man capable of composing a song like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” will always be of interest to this blog, so it is with great pleasure that I give you this early concert review to read.

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ELTON – thrills his audience

By Chuck Pulin

A lady hurricane named Doria which dumped over six inches of rain in the New York area couldn`t dampen the fervour of Reg Dwight or the 8,000 members of the audience who turned out to rave at and over Elton John.
Asbury Park is about a two hour drive south of New York in the state of New Jersey. I would be correct in saying that Brighton and Asbury Park resemble each other. It was there in the neo gothic convention hall built in the 1920s that Elton gave the third concert of his latest American tour.
Having seen Elton at least a half a dozen times in the last few years, I had wondered if I would be bored by his stage performance. Would it lack lustre having gigged so many times in the last year?
I am able to report that Elton has not become dull and his performance on stage is one of the most exciting I`ve seen in recent months. With his mates Dee Murry on bass and Nigel Olsson on his ever expanding drum kit, Elton proceeded to thrill his audience, and got them cheering over and over again.

Dee and Nigel were introduced and finally Elton came out, this time wearing a purple cape, which he doffed revealing his electric green tee shirt and his “Woolworth Bermuda shorts” with high striped socks. Then started with “Friends”, moving into “Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun”, which was followed by “The King Must Die”.
He then asked the musical question “Can I Put You On” and sang a “Song For You”. Other songs were “Country Comfort”, “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Tiny Dancer” from his new LP due out in the first week of November.
“Take Me To The Pilot” was a prelude to a rave up version of “Give Peace A Chance” and in the middle Elton went into a ten minute free form piano riff, which stunned the crowd.
By this time I retreated from the audience to the safety of the stage and watched as Elton danced on the piano with his back to the audience.
Viewing Elton up close in concert is a must. He`s warm and humorous and works hard to please his audience. I am left with the vivid impression that Elton unlike many other musicians LOVES working before his audiences, and tries his damnedest to please the people who come to see him.

It`s hard to put in proper terms the physical excitement he creates and the huge amounts of energy he draws upon. Elton in my humble opinion joins Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Leon Russell in that same style of showmanship.
The two sets I saw at the Convention Hall, on August 28 in Asbury Park, topped the sets I`ve seen Elton do at The Fillmore or Carnegie Hall. I can`t ignore Dee and Nigel who have also improved along with Elton. Nigel`s drum kit has grown – but so has his range. The bass lines that Dee quietly plays make him the third important member of the trio.
If it seems that I`m biased about Elton, Dee and Nigel, you`re more than half correct. I would be delighted to be super critical of any band that does not earn your respect or your money. However, you`re safe with Messrs. John-Olsson and Murry. I`m just unhappy that I`ll have to wait perhaps six months to a year to see them perform here in the States again!

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Lennon, Humble Pie, Soft Machine, Albert Lee, Bob Dylan, Mountain, Titanic, Jim Gordon, John Coltrane, Brian Auger, Rankin File, Archie Fisher.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Nigel Olsson (Elton John) FROM SOUNDS, August 7, 1971

He had just limited success with his solo career, but through playing thousands of live shows and recording with Elton John, he is indeed a household name. With the name Olsson I guess he`s got swedish ancestors, and the name of his daughter, Annette, sort of confirms this theory of mine.
Not the most imaginative guy, naming his first four solo albums: Nigel Olsson’s Drum Orchestra and Chorus, Nigel Olsson, Nigel Olsson (second self-titled) and Nigel. Oh, well….
Still going strong in his 68th year – may he continue to keep the rhythm for Elton John for many years to come.

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Nigel Olsson`s Utopia

By Dick Meadows

“I don`t always want to be known as Elton John`s drummer and nothing else. I owe that man so much, but it would be nice if I could make it on my own with my own ideas and my own things.”
The speaker was Nigel Olsson, whose drumming with Elton has earned him in turn applause, respect and now not a little adulation. He is also a man with a pretty powerful vision of what he wants from the business in the future.
At the moment that means making a success of his first solo album “Nigel Olsson`s Drum Orchestra And Chorus” which has just been released. The album is really Olsson and Friends for among those who worked on it were Mick Grabham, Caleb Quaye, Dee Murray and Kathi McDonald.

URGENCY

Clutching a cup of tea, Olsson talked in Dick James` office where the album was recorded about the kind of music he wants to play. “I think people may have been a little surprised at the album. It`s not really heavy is it? I`m just not into heavy music. I just want to lay down the kind of stuff that I really enjoy.”
When Olsson talks you detect a sense of urgency in his voice. It`s as if he fears that if he stops talking and planning and working like a madman his success so far and his vision of the future may desert him with all the speed of a quick roll round the kit.
You can hardly blame him. He knows all about the instant rise-and-fall world of pop from bitter first-hand experience. For Olsson has been up, very down and now he is up again. But this time he reckons there is going to be no going down again.

VERY SHY

Olsson turned to drumming after making a botch of the guitar. “I was playing guitar and singing for a group in Sunderland. That was when the Beatles came in and I gave up guitar because I couldn`t get the chord sequences right! I was really shy then and didn`t like being out front singing. So I ended up at the back with the drums.
“When I joined Plastic Penny together with Mick (Grabham) it was a huge change for me. I jumped from being nothing to being something. At the time I was working in a garage fitting exhaust systems. So I went straight from underneath lorries with oil dripping in my face to the top of the business.

FOOLISH

“I was very foolish with my money then. I spent it like water and just didn`t care.”
But he began to care all right when Plastic Penny couldn`t keep up with the Great Hit Parade Carnival. They went down and down and Nigel went with them. It was a bad scene and when the group split it got worse. A star one minute. A nobody the next.
A tour of the States with Spencer Davis and some gigs with Uriah Heep brought in some bread but it was still nowhere land for Nigel Olsson. However at that time a guy called Elton John was beginning to make a big impact.
“Dee Murray and I joined him for a gig at the Roundhouse. We rehearsed together beforehand and it was incredible. Everything went so exactly right for us. We got right into it from the beginning.”
The rest is pop history. Elton took the band on tour to the States and was a fantastic success. Now he is in that strange aristocracy of the business which writers have labelled “The Superstars”.
Does Elton deserve to be a superstar?
“I don`t really like that description. It can mean a lot of things. But if anyone is a superstar then Elton is. He worked so incredibly hard for the band in the States. He never seemed to stop working. That man`s a lunatic but an incredible, marvellous lunatic.
“Things haven`t changed for us. It is like it has always been. We are all friends together and it is like a big family. There have never been any arguments. I guess that`s because we all know exactly where it`s at when we are together.”

FREAK

Later this month Olsson goes on the road again with Elton, this time around the world. The tour will take in America and then zig-zag about Asia.
Is the band more popular in the States than England?
“I guess it must be, simply because we have done so much work over there. I was absolutely knocked out by some of the receptions we got and some of the nice things said about me.”
And nice things they were too. The New York Times described his drumming as “beyond breathtaking” and Cashbox enthused: “He`s growing into one of rock`s finest drummers.”
Does it worry him that the band is more popular over there than in England?
“Yes, I suppose it does. It is always nice to make it really work in your own country, but there is so much work in the States and of course there`s a lot of bread to be made there.”
For his first solo album, Olsson used material mainly written by himself, Quaye and Grabham. The formula is broadly the same for his second Drum Orchestra album which he has already almost completed. All that remains to be done is to add vocals by Kathi McDonald and Claudia Linnear. It was hoped they could get over here for the cuts but now the plan is that they will do the vocals in the States during Elton`s tour.
The Drum Orchestra production is Nigel`s work and he is very enthusiastic about doing a lot more. He is also keen to put his own band on the road some time in the future. “I would like to have about 14 musicians travelling together. I know it would work and we shall see it through when we have got it together.”
Other plans gaining momentum are a farmhouse in Essex, part of which will be converted into a studio, and his own record company. In January he will also be recording a new album with Elton. The music business and Nigel Olsson certainly aren`t going to be parted for some time yet it seems.
“It is just that I am completely into music. There is nothing else I want to do. I`m utterly freaked out on music – a music freak if you like.
“I have never been so happy. Yet I realise that in this business one day you can be up and the next day everything may be ruined. I know I could never do a 9-5 job again.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Stu Cook (Creedence), Stray, Seatrain, Arthur Brown, Cambridge Folk Festival, Don Everly, Herbie Hancock, Rod Demick and Ernie Graham, Fairport Convention, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Dave Cousins, Taj Mahal, Kid Jensen, Ray Fisher.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

 

ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 4, 1975

There are a lot of concert and album reviews in the music papers that I seldom give any attention. This time I will make an exception, because this concert review mentions the song “Grimsby” that Elton John made. It so happens that Grimsby Town is my favourite football club in the English league. They have been struggling for some years now, but have fantastic support among their fans. Recently they started a Crowdfunding campaign to collect money for wages in the hope that they will be able to earn promotion from the 5th tier of the English Football League next season.
I have donated some money to this campaign and if you like this blog I hope you will help out too – here`s where you can read a little bit more and contribute: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/GTFC

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Elton John / Hammersmith

By Neil Spencer

Curses upon the Marylebone Road and all the traffic that prevented me catching the Elton John Christmas Special in its magnificent tinselled entirety.
Gigs as good as this one are rare enough, without spending the first twenty minutes stuck inside a mobile with the King`s Cross blues again.
Thus it passed that at least one reporter is unable to pass judgement on the opening numbers of what was the first EJ gig these shores had witnessed in no small age, and one of but a handful that the man had put together to celebrate his return to Britain, the festive season, and the third division.
No reservations about the rest of the three hours which John played though – sheer brilliance from him and the band; there must be very few acts capable of brewing up the sort of atmosphere that washed round the Hammersmith Odeon by the end of the night. Even at Christmas.

Hell, you saw it for yourself on the Christmas Eve Colour Stereo spectacular on telly on Christmas Eve, didn`t you?
You didn`t? Shame.
Previously I had been more than a mite sceptical about the continuing esteem in which the Elt was held, Charlie Murray`s superlatives notwithstanding, and was unwilling to grant anything more than lightweight status to the fellow and his ridiculous eyesight.
But, live at least, Elton John adds up to a lot more than a good voice and a bunch of trendy lyric sheets.
The guy has charm, he has style, he can sing and play with ferocity as well as delicacy, and goddammit, he can rock and roll.

He opened – or so I was reliably informed – with a clutch of solo numbers from the early albums; things like “Skyline Pigeon” and “I need You To Turn To” that the usual Elton gig allows no time for.
E`en so, it was not long before the band appeared for “Country Comfort,” “Highflying Bird” and a roaring frantic “Burn Down The Mission” which closed the first half.
Billows of dry-iced mist billowed forth as the curtain rose for “Funeral For A Friend” with the svelt Elt perched on his piano stool looking like he`s just fallen off the top of the Christmas tree in his little tin soldier glitter outfit, which struck a strange contrast with the dark yawning eeriness that came from the PA system and the raucous tones of Elton as he sang “Love Lies Bleeding,” with the band cooking behind him.
Then came the hits, one after another, so that you started wondering how many chart entries that guy must have to his name that you should know so many of his works without even trying.

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“Candle In The Wind”; a short break for “Grimsby” off the “Caribou” album; then “Rocket Man” with more punch and directness than ever came across from the radio, and a superlative “Benny And The Jets,” which is presumably Elt`s idea of a soul number (it made the US R&B charts) and sung in his best mock Donnie Elbert falsetto.
The audience lapped it up. Out came a relaxed nicely paced “Daniel,” a beautifully played “Grey Seal” (a number which certainly deserves wider recognition than some of the man`s more effete pieces), and a wistful “Yellow Brick Road,” likewise handled with loving precision and taste by the band.
Ah yes, the band; Dee Murray`s loping bass lines, Davey Johnstone`s restrained and always appropriate axe work; Nigel Olsson`s subtly understated drumming; and finally a special word for percussionist Ray Cooper, who is the only man (other than Roger Chapman) who can make playing a tambourine look like a definitive musical statement. And who can also blow a pretty mean duck call.

The introduction of the Muscle Shoals Horns put the final seal of mastery on the proceedings, and even though they did manage to blow a few bum notes during the rest of the show, their contribution certainly helped lift “Lucy In The Sky” and a frighteningly energetic “Saw Her Standing There” into another class altogether.
After which we had “Don`t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Honky Cat” and a “Saturday Night`s Alright For Fighting” which went on forever and which would have had just about everyone jiving in the aisles if the bouncers (I mean, Security), chaps hadn`t taken their job quite so seriously.
After which what could possibly follow in the encore but “Crocodile Rock,” “Your Song” and “White Christmas” itself, complete with a few hundred balloons and a couple of hundredweight of polystyrene snow just for good measure.
Nice one Elt. You may never get promotion to the second but you sure know how to put on a neat show. The Pope should never have tried to follow an act like that.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rod Stewart, Mike Heron, John Entwistle, Donovan, Ginger Baker, The Doors.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, APRIL 20, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This is the third article in a row on this blog written by Julie Webb and it is a pure co-incidence. It is just that I have found that those articles were the most interesting to share, and I never look at the writers name before choosing the article. So no – this is not some Julie Webb fetish.
I remember from my childhood that Elton John suddenly became involved in the beautiful game through Watford. It was a big thing at the time. Throughout the 70s there was only one TV channel in Norway, and every saturday at 4 o`clock local time there was a football match from England on TV. This explains why so many men of my generation became obsessed with English football. Even today, when travelling in England, I think of the cities in footballing terms; Nottingham will forever in my mind be Forest and Brian Clough, Liverpool are red and Kevin Keegan, Leeds are Peter Lorimer and so on.
My favourite team in English football today is Grimsby Town – they may not be at the top of the league, but it is a club you will love when you get to know them. Really wonderful place to visit too.
Enough of me writing about football – here is a gem from those golden days that were the 70s.

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The Stack-Heeled Striker

Portrait of the Star as a football tycoon. Viewed from the terraces by Julie Webb.

It was a classically tense moment. Slowly and forcefully, Elton John, big-wig of Watford Football Club, walked towards his seat in the directors` box. People nudged, winked and pointed him out; he regally carried on walking.
Only one thing broke the silence: a loud voice bawled, “You great poof.”
Football is well removed from the rock business, and since EJ is considered somewhat “us in the music industry”, he stands out like a soccer ball amid cricket stumps in the world of sport. Yet it`s a well-publicised fact that he`s now a director of the underdogs of the Third Division, a team who at times seem as competent as Inspector Clouseau and as exciting as a rotting egg.
And he takes it very seriously. You could tell that by the way he was half-way dressed in the hornets` colours of black and yellow – wearing black satin top and black trousers.

He`s already bought a Watford scarf and waves it on the slightest indication that there are any football supporters around. And believe me, it`s a bizarre sight, seeing a grown man wave a black and yellow scarf out of the window of a Rolls Corniche.
On this jaunt with Elton, we were coach-spotting on the M1 – diligently searching out the Watford coach. When he thought he`d sighted them, he slowed down to a sedate 50 m.p.h. and moved into the middle lane – only to be disappointed with the discovery that it was the Coventry City conveyance. This brought the petulant remark: “Couldn`t have been Watford, they haven`t got a toilet in their coach.”

It was at the end of last year that Elton first approached Watford – after hearing that they could do with some moral, if not financial, support. Now, he`s put in money, and has shares in the club.
“When I went down initially,” says Elton, “they were cautious because they thought I might want to do it for publicity – that it might just be a diversion, and I`d inject some money and then lose interest.”
So how many shares does he hold?
“Don`t know.”
Okay, well how much money has he sunk into the team?
“I don`t know that either. It was a five-figure fee, I know that.”

You`d think that money and shares would be enough – yet the man is so keen that he even phoned while he and the band were away in Japan and Australia, to keep in touch.
“I`ve also been to all the away games. In fact, I`ve only missed two games since I became involved. Anyone can join a club for six months and get fed up with it – but really you`ve got to be totally dedicated to it, and I am. It`s given me so much enjoyment. They say to me, `How can we ever thank you for all the publicity that you`ve got us,` but I honestly think they`ve done more for me than I could possibly have done for them.
“I`ve got pleasure from mixing with ordinary people again. You do lose the value of things when you are racing around all the time on tour. Your lifestyle changes. Your standard of living changes. And your appreciation of things lessens to a degree. You forget, for instance, how much joy you can give by giving an autograph to a person who is actually knocked out at getting it – or a record, and you think `Christ it`s only a bloody record.”

On May 5, Elton John will give his piece de resistance of involvement by playing at the Vicarage Road ground – capacity 36,000 – and donating all proceeds to the club.
“I promised I`d do this from the beginning, and I think that clinched the thing. I thought it would be nice to do it at the ground because it`ll draw more people to Watford. I mean, I could have done a week at the Hammersmith Odeon and given them the money from that – but it wouldn`t have been the same.”
Elton`s current paranoia concerns just how many people he`ll be able to pull in.
“I`m a bit paranoid about everything as far as concerts and records go. Like the record company phones me up from the States and says, `this record is going to be a million seller`, and I say `great` and jump around and think, `yeah, it`s going to be a million seller`, but I don`t really believe it till I`ve got the gold record stuck on my wall.
“So many times before I made it I was promised so many things that never happened, so I still have this built-in paranoia.”

It seems silly to think he won`t pack the place, since, as a direct result of the cancelling of the British tour, his gigs are rare events. Incidentally, he seems very apologetic about cancelling that British tour: “We`ve never really had a proper break since we hit the road, and it`s been very hard. We do two albums a year as well as tours and never get time off. None of us gets much of a personal life at all.
“We rushed off to America after the last British tour to record the new album – with the knowledge that we had to do it in ten days then fly to Japan.
“Then in New Zealand, when all the trouble started and my manager was sent to prison, we had time to talk and we all decided we were physically exhausted and the thought of going on another tour for the time being was just impossible.
“The band would have done the British tour and the European one, if we`d thought we could actually last out, but I don`t think we could have done. I think we`d have come home in the middle of the European tour and really buggered things up for the rest of the year.

Elton in the terraces.

Elton in the terraces.

“I`m very close to the rest of the band and they more or less said, `we can`t do it any more` and `can we relax for a bit?` and I think we all deserve a break. But we`re not going to become hermits – it`s just so that everyone can sit down and plan things a bit better.”
There is, says Elton, no danger whatsoever of them becoming just a studio band. He looks positively horror-struck at the mere suggestion.
“No, I really love playing, especially now because the band are getting better all the time. I`ve got somebody else in now – Ray Cooper – and we came off the road playing really well. Ray`s only playing percussion and vibes on the new album, but on stage he`s going to play electronic keyboards, vibes, clarinet and all sorts of things. In fairness to him, we had to come off the road to rehearse.”
The new album, scheduled for release end of June, and being previewed at the Watford gig, at the moment rejoices in the title “Old Pink Eyes Is Back”, and was recorded in the States.

“We did it at this ranch we heard about during the last American tour, and flew there in a helicopter to have a look. We were so knocked out that we booked it immediately. It`s about an hour from the nearest large town and very high up, completely isolated.
“It took seven days to do the tracks and voices. We had a lot of problems at the beginning – and I got depressed and did a moody for a day-and-a-half. Also, we had trouble adjusting to the American system of monitoring, so we lost three days. We literally did 14 backing tracks in three days, then did overdubs, and on the way to Japan we stayed at LA for two days and put some backing vocals on a couple of tracks.”
Highlights of the album are, according to Elton, “A rock`n`roll song called `The Bitch Is Back`, which will probably be a single, and a track we`ve already played on stage, entitled `Don`t Let The Sun Go Down`.”

This latter number he is particularly delighted with – and justifiably, since he managed the coup of getting The Beach Boys to do backing vocals.
“That came about because I know Bruce Johnston quite well – he goes out with the girl who runs Rocket in the States. In fact, at one time he was going to record for Rocket, but he`s so lazy he hasn`t done anything. Anyway, he arranged it all. Tower Of Power are also on the album and they really were fine, added a lot of balls.”
This will be the first elpee on which Elton and Bernie Taupin actually `own` their own songs. He explains:
“Songwriting really isn`t as lucrative as everyone thinks, especially when you don`t own your own songs. If you go to a publisher you have to give out – and I`m not having a go at Dick James, it happens with any publisher. It`s a 50-50 partnership, a stock publishing thing – it means he gets 50 and Bernie and I get 25 each. With songwriting you don`t get much per track. It`s much more lucrative recording. Probably Bernie has earned less out of it than anybody else.”

One project Elton is currently toying with is a song for – would you believe – the Watford football team.
“We`re thinking of writing a song about Watford, but it would have to be done in a special sort of way. I don`t want one of those awful footbally things. Just a track, not by me, by the Watford football team. I`d rather write a really commercial song and put the Watford song on the B side so that they`d earn a lot of money via the A side. I don`t want it to be one of those terrible naff football records.”
Other than being referred to loudly as “a great poof”, the most traumatic experience Elton has come across recently must have been the incident in New Zealand, where his manager John Reid was jailed for three weeks. So what really happened?

“It was at a Press reception in Auckland, held by Festival Records. And the incident occured because the reception was badly run. We ran out of booze and food after ten minutes and we just got into an argument over the fact – and the lady who was assaulted in the first place happened to be the girlfriend of the man who was running the reception.
“I didn`t see the incident and thought no more about it, then later we went to a reception for David Cassidy. Someone came up to a friend of mine and said to her, `are you connected with the Elton John group`, and she said `not really, why?`, and they said, `because of that incident this afternoon they`re all marked men!`
“And as we were going out the door, I heard that one of the roadies had been threatened with being beaten up.
“We asked who was doing the threatening, and apparently it was this little reporter who worked for a paper. I went up to him, seized him by the collar and muttered things like `you no good son of an Irish leprachaun – who do you think you`re doing`, and was just about to clock him round the face (me of all people) when my manager stepped in and hit him for me.

“So we left the club post haste, and were all physically threatened that anyone to do with the Elton John party had better watch it. Then when we got back to the hotel we got a phone call saying `there`s a car load of people on the look-out, so just stay inside your hotel`.
“The next day the police came down and we thought it would all be cleared up. They said they were just going to give me a warning and that would be that. And John Reid paid this girl a certain amount of money because she had a black eye, and that was it – but it all got out of hand.
“I was arrested the next morning for assault – even though it was a first offence – for hitting a guy and a girl we`d already paid damages to – and we`d been provoked in the first place.

“The magistrates just didn`t believe any of us had been provoked. The trial was over in 20 minutes without any of us having witnesses. It was just a joke, a farce.”
Despite all this, he says there`ll be no ban on New Zealand from his side. Still, Kiwi land was easily pushed to the back of his thoughts while Watford were on the field – even if they did only manage a goalless draw.

Purple on tour with ELF. All Purple fans knows what happened later.

Purple on tour with ELF. All Purple fans knows what happened later.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Graham Nash, Ian Maclagan (Faces), Bob Dylan, Hot Chocolate, Amanda Lear, Bill Wyman, Eddie Cochran, Mick Ronson, Sandy Denny, Roxy Music, Allen Toussaint, Lindisfarne, Alvin Lee.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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