Elton John

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.

 

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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!

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, JANUARY 20, 1973

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. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog!

Some interesting points in this interview – espescially seen in a historic light. As usual I try not to tamper too much with the original text, and some of the most enlightened of you will notice a couple of mistakes when reading it through. It has nothing to do with me – it was there in the original article!
Have a nice read!

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THE ELTON JOHN INTERVIEW

KEN EVANS recently visited New York at the invitation of Elton John especially to see his performance at Carnegie Hall which was an outstanding success. In this interview Ken talks to Elton about his `live` performances, past and future.

Ken Evans: Carnegie Hall, New York, has been the scene of many big concerts. Last year Elton John spelled such a huge hit there he promised to return soon. He did just that last November and if anything `72 eclipsed `71. Elton, you really have good cause to love New York haven`t you and especially Carnegie Hall?

Elton: Well this is the smallest venue we have played in on the tour but last year it was such a magical place. You kinda walk into the Carnegie Hall and it`s just got the right sort of feeling in it and we`ve got to play in it next year. We`ve already played in New York once on the tour but we came back to do just two days here.

Ken: You love New York probably more than any other city in America?

Elton: No, not at all! The audiences in New York really drive me crazy. I think the audiences are a breed of their own. I think they`re really crazy. But I would prefer working on the West coast of America where there`s a bit of sunshine.
New York is a place to get out of once you`ve been there for three or four days. I don`t mind it now – but I used to hate it.

Ken: I noticed you included very early in the programme a new song called “Daniel”.

Elton: It`s off the new album called “Don`t Shoot Me, I`m Only The Piano Player” which will be released at the end of january, world wide, and is the single to follow up “Crocodile Rock”.

Ken: Why did you choose “Daniel” as the single?

Elton: When we did the album, “Daniel” was always going to be the single until we did “Crocodile Rock”, which was one of those freak things when you try and recreate something. Usually, it never works but everything fell into place on that one.
“Daniel” is a grower, it`s not an instant single. But most people who`ve heard it two or three times around the house, have gone away singing it. Also, it`s quite different from “Crocodile Rock”.

Ken: What made Dick James upset about the choice of “Daniel” as a single?

Elton: “Crocodile Rock” was already taken from the new album, and Dick didn`t want another song from it released. But I wanted it out, whether it`s a hit or not. As far as I`m concerned, it`s one of the best songs we`ve written. He said “no” and I more or less forced him to put it out. So he said “Right, I`m not going to advertise it and as far as I`m concerned, I`m disowning it.” I told him that I was going to take full page ads in the trade papers. But the funny thing is he said he will pay for the ads if the song makes the top ten. Christ, isn`t that nice?

Ken: That song (“Crocodile Rock”) was the one that really got you away in Britain. Until then I suppose your success really meant America. What were your feelings about that? Were you annoyed to think that Britain followed America in this regard?

Elton: No, I wasn`t really annoyed at all because we happened so quickly in America. I was sort of coming up in England, you know gradually working my way doing something and then we came over here and Wam Bam! – it all happened. Then we went back to England and it all happened. No, I`m not really worried at all. You know, it`s just one of those things.

Ken: Elton, what`s the story behind “Levon”? It`s a beautiful song.

Elton: Well, “Levon” is one of Bernie`s lyrics. It`s about a guy who just gets bored doing the same thing.
It`s just somebody who gets bored and just fed up with blowing up balloons and he just wants to get away from it but he can`t because it`s the family ritual thing you know. Well, that`s really the story behind that.

Ken: Your first album, Elton, was a live session. Any plans to record one of your concerts at Carnegie Hall for example?

Elton: That wasn`t the first album, the first album was “Empty Sky”, the live album was about the fourth. I don`t like live albums very much.
I was pleased with the way that ours came out because we didn`t have any pre-conceived ideas of recording a “live” album.
But, I don`t know, you`d really have to record a concert on five or six nights to get the best because so many things could go wrong each night.
There`s been so many, and so few good “live” albums, it`s just a rehash of old material, so I`d rather do new material.

Ken: I noticed that on the piano at Carnegie Hall you had a picture of Doris Day. Was there any significance in this?

Elton: Not really. Legs Larry Smith and I went out in Montreal and went to Woolworths and found the most amazing junk you could find, I mean it had been there for years, it was all dusty, and we found a great picture of Elvis Presley and a great picture of Doris Day so we decided to buy it and Legs just stuck it on the piano one night and it`s been there ever since.
It`s been the sort of mascot for the tour.

Ken: Does she know anything about it?

Elton: I don`t think so. She keeps me company up there!

Ken: Has it been as successful everywhere else in America as it was at Carnegie?

Elton: Oh yes, the kids can`t believe Legs, he`s crazy anyway, and as soon as he came out with his crash helmet with the wedding couple on top, they just couldn`t believe it.
They don`t expect it, they don`t expect to see a tap dancer come on. Yes, it`s been really nice, it just came at the point in the set where everybody`s, well if there`s any ice left to break, it completely breaks it. Everybody has to smile at that.

Ken: Do you vary the show from town to town?

Elton: Not that much, no. We`ve had to vary it some nights when we`ve had to play a shorter set when we`ve got a plane to catch, usually we play for 2 1/4 hours.
But really it`s been the same format for the tour, and then every tour we change formats because we couldn`t play the same numbers all the time. For example, “Take Me To The Pilot”. We won`t do it any more because we`re so fed up with playing it, so we`ve got new numbers ready to work in, but you can`t play all new numbers in a set because people come to hear the ones they like.
It`s a bit infuriating playing the same number for two years!

Ken: Earlier last year I saw you performing at London`s Festival Hall. Now that was a completely different type of show to the one you`ve just given at Carnegie Hall. It was at that concert that you first played the music from “Honky Chateau”.
Did everything go in that concert the way you wanted it to go?

Elton: Yes, it was a bit of a trial and tribulation, it always is with an orchestra, but from the group`s point of view it was the first time that David Johnston had played on stage with us.
We`d just finished making the album when we came out and gambled and played more or less the whole album for the first set, didn`t play any old songs. It was received very well, but the orchestra part was very nerve-racking because there`s such a barrier between pop musicians and classical musicians. I was glad when it was over.
It was like a two weeks nightmare building up to it because it was such a hassle to get together.
We rehearsed for three days and it was still a nightmare. I mean, I enjoyed it in the end, it was a great experience, but I don`t think I`ll be repeating it again.
Life`s too short to go through all those dramas, I think.

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Ken: “Honky Cat” was, of course, from “Honky Chateau”. Did it go over that night the way you hoped that it would, because I thought myself that was the one that stood out.

Elton: “Honky Chateau” is the title of the album and “Honky Cat” was a smash in America and it was the first track on the album. It was the stand out track on the album as far as air play went even though “Rocket Man” sold more.

Ken: I think you took everyone in the audience at Carnegie Hall by surprise by starting a very spectacular song and dance setting of “Singing In The Rain” with chorus girls and all the full Hollywood bit. Now this is a departure isn`t it from what you`ve been doing before?

Elton: Yes, I must admit that this wasn`t my idea, it was Legs Larry Smith`s idea, he used to do it with the Bonzo Dog Band with Viv Shanshall and he just said at the start of the tour: “Wouldn`t it be great to do `Singing in the Rain`?” and I thought he was stark raving mad.
Anyway, I said all right and we recorded the back track of it “live” on stage in Boston which was at the beginning of the tour. As we got more into the tour we thought it would be great to have the whole bit, you know, girls, and glitter and midgets and things and we decided to do it in Los Angeles and it worked so well we thought well, Carnegie Hall`s ideal to do it, we`ll do it to New York as well.
It`s just a great number, I mean we fall about laughing half the time, but we try and be a bit more serious when all the girls and the glitter are on. It`s just something I really enjoy.

Ken: I suppose it`s unlikely that we`ll ever hear it on a record?

Elton: I wouldn`t mind doing an album of things like that, but I don`t think the kids would understand it, it`s really just for your own humour. I`d like to do a really big production musical spectacular but I don`t know if that will ever come about.

Ken: I was very glad you included “Country Comfort” in the programme from the “Tumbleweed Collection” album. Is there any story behind that?

Elton: I don`t know, it`s just that Bernie has always lived in the country. I never ask him about the lyrics, I just sit down and play.
“Country Comfort” is a Country Freak so, well actually the words are more American influenced, the old Western influence again from the “Tumbleweed Collection” album which had all that sort of influence on it. He`d love to live in that time.
Go back 80 years and dump Bernie in the mid-West and he`d be perfectly happy.

Ken: Is it true that six months had gone by before you and Bernie actually met? He was posting lyrics to you?

Elton: Yes, that was completely true, we eventually met up in a little studio at Dick James`s and we got together from there, it was very strange.

Ken: Who designs those spectacular clothes of yours?

Elton: I used to shop in Mr. Freedom a lot, and I still get tee shirts and stuff there. My suits and everything, and most of my clothes are now made at Granny Takes A Trip in the Kings Road, and I also have three Nudie suits, this guy in California who makes Elvis Presley`s gold lame suits etc., and all the country and western clothes – all the sparkly things. Mostly if I wear clothes outside I usually shop at St. Laurent.

Ken: The suit you wore at Carnegie Hall was a red, white and blue one.

Elton: That was a Granny Takes A Trip Suit. They design all my stage clothes now.

Ken: “Crocodile Rock” was an enormous hit in Britain where it was released first. That`s unusual isn`t it? Usually it is an American release before Britain.

Elton: This is the first time it has ever happened. They could have released it at the same time but it was planned very carefully over here. It was released later to coincide with the album.
When it is in the top twenty, if you have an album and a single out it really does make an enormous amount of difference over here because if people see the single and know there is an album coming out, they will buy the album.
The single will suffer but I prefer people to buy the album.

Ken: You must be very happy at the success of “Crocodile Rock” in Britain.

Elton: It`s funny – I have never been in the country. I have had three big hits: “Your Song”, “Rocket Man” and this one – it`s amazing, I am hardly ever there.

Ken: With the American tour coming to a close have you any plans to tour Britain?

Elton: I`ve never really done a major British tour so I really would like to do one of about three and half weeks and do ballrooms and places like that.
There`s definitely going to be a big tour, either in February or March. We do neglect England but it is just finding the places and the time to play.
I find touring rather boring, not the gigs but driving to Bolton isn`t quite as glamorous as driving to Santiago. But we really have got to get our finger out and do it.
We did a short tour of England just before we came on this one and it really was amazing. There were great crowds and we owe it to them to go out there and do it again.

Ken: Have you got any plans to turn to acting at any time? I noticed Adam Faith and Dave Clarke over recent times have gone into the acting business. Would you like to?

Elton: No, not on a full scale, I would never neglect music and as you know my whole life is music. I`d like to do it, I`d like to dabble, I have some ideas.
I could never do it with people I didn`t know – I would have to know them. Acting can be so boring getting up at eight in the morning – I can`t really foresee it. I might do one next year, it all depends.

Ken: Of all your albums which one have you been most satisfied with?

Elton: This is a question that always crops up. I really haven`t got a favourite out of any of them. I don`t listen to them anymore.
I remember each one as I make them and everything that went on during the session and each one has a different sort of atmosphere about it.
I`m still very fond of “Empty Sky”. I suppose nostagically that`s not my favourite album but it was the first album I ever made and I remember recording it late at night and I also remember walking up Oxford Street at 4 o`clock in the morning and going to a Wimpy Bar.
I still think it`s a great record as far as I was concerned – there are a couple of things which are highly awful on it but then there is on anybody`s first album – it`s just a feeling album, and I`m very proud of it.
I usually get wrapped up in the one I`ve just done and then they all level out. I`m glad we did “Honky”. I got rid of everything everybody wanted me to get rid of – not the strings, but it`s good to do an album without strings. There are strings on the new one but Buckmaster is so good I can`t resist having him on the albums.

Ken: You walked onto the stage at Carnegie Hall and said: “It`s going to be a fun night.” Are you always confident of going out front and having fun?

Elton: Sure. I`m never nervous. I don`t think it`s possible to get nervous in my position because they`re there because they like you and the only danger is of getting over confident I SUPPOSE.
Some audiences are harder. San Francisco audiences traditionally are harder but you just have to go out there and if you have any trouble you just have to work a little harder. I starred there for four hours before I had them eating out of my hand, that`s my attitude.

Ken: “Shake, Baby, Shake” is one of the greatest numbers you do. Do you always do it as an encore?

Elton: Yeah, well it`s a Jerry Lee Lewis number. He`s always been one of my idols and it`s always a great one for the crowd to sing along. That`s another one that is going to hit the dust after this tour.
I`ve got a couple of numbers to do. One of them is a Chuck Berry number, but it depends. I will always close the show with somebody else`s song as an encore.
I would always rather do this as a tribute to other artists as I don`t really get the chance to sing other people`s songs.
It`s a great way to do it.

Ken: What about you and Bernie in the future. Will you be doing your own writing as well?

Elton: I would love to do an album of entirely my music, but I don`t think I am capable of writing the lyrics. I`m quite happy working with Bernie as a team. We haven`t really started yet.
We have only been successful for two and a half years – we`re babies really. I would love to do a completely self-indulgent album but would it be successful?
Perhaps a self-indulgent album would have to be called the “Elton John Solo Album” because Elton John and Bernie Taupin are a complete unit. I would love to do it one day, sure.

Ken: There must be a lot of people that you are close to and would like to mention.

Elton: Well, the band. I really have an incredible band. I`ve got Dee Murray on bass, Nigel Ollson on drums and David Jensen on guitar.
They really are incredible guys to work with, really great, they don`t get enough credit as far as musicianship goes. They really are one of the best rhythm sections in the world and they are getting better.
We have the odd argument but we are always happy together. I couldn`t work with a band who had arguments all the time.
David has only been playing the electric guitar seriously for about six months as a lead guitar. Before he used to play acoustics and he is now coming along strong and he will probably have a band of his own one day and so will Nigel. It`s great. As far as I am concerned I want them to be successful.

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This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Gary Glitter, Suzi Quatro, Kid Jensen, Chuck Berry, J. Geils Band, Rod Stewart, Moody Blues, Silverhead, Bryan Ferry, Average White Band, Tempest, Madeline Bell.

This edition is sold!

ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MARCH 11, 1972

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. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog! Thank you!

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Elton John and his near fatal mistake
By Julie Webb

The day someone tagged the word “superstar” alongside Elton John`s name was the day they signed his death warrant. People expect “super” things from superstars. They don`t make allowances for a bum gig, because “superstars” don`t play bad gigs.

Subsequently the downfall of Elton John “superstar” began. It seemed that if there was any mud to be slung, Elton John was the nearest target.
Only now, therefore is John, singer-songwriter (no superstar tag), into his second wind.
Amazingly he seems unaffected by all his adverse publicity. Obviously some of the criticism hit home but he has remained remarkably unchanged and not bitter towards his critics. He did, however, retaliate in one small way by including a track on his “Madman” album entitled “All The Nasties” which was dedicated to the press.

NASTIES

“It`s a very tongue in cheek number,” he says. “I just said to Bernie let`s write a song about the press and call it `All The Nasties` because at that time we were really pissed off”.
Whilst John hasn`t exactly got the skin of a rhinoceros he has now reached a stage where criticism is absorbed and then forgotten.
“You do get hurt – but only for about five minutes. It`s no good moping about it. You have to take the good with the bad, otherwise you shouldn`t be in this business.
“Sure, I think I`ve had more than my fair share of criticism but that`s all right with me. I think now I`ve got over the bulk of the bad criticism – I hope so anyway. What you`ve got to realise is that no two people are alike and nobody likes exactly the same as you.
“Sometimes you get so involved in what you`re doing you think `this must be it` and perhaps it isn`t.
“You have to take people`s opinions, if people didn`t like `Madman` then there must have been something wrong with it. I don`t really think the public didn`t like it, so much as the public didn`t hear it. Probably they went out and bought a Cat Stevens album or a Carol King album instead.”

“Madman” was a disappointment for John as it didn`t make the album charts in Britain. One of the main criticisms levelled against it was that it sounded very samey – does he think this may have had some affect on the sales?
“I don`t know really – I was disappointed that it didn`t make the charts because I know the sales it did should have got it into the charts. I wouldn`t have worried if it didn`t sell at all but it did sell. Not as well as we hoped, of course, but I really think it`s because we stayed away and people do tend to forget.
“Jethro Tull did that – they did a year in America and they`d always had No. 1 albums, and when they released an album after they returned, it didn`t do as well. You`ve got to be very careful.”

Does that mean he will concentrate more on Britain this year?

“Yes, I hope to do more work here. We`ve got an incredibly loyal following at home. We did the tour before Christmas and more or less sold out and it was great – really restored my confidence.
“And our albums do sell well – `Madman` sold over 40,000 and is still selling and the other two have done nearly 100,000.
“I think the fatal mistake last year was concentrating on America and neglecting England. I don`t think you can neglect England because there`s always someone who can step into your shoes. Like this time a year ago we had two albums in the top five – well, now Cat Stevens is there.”

How does he propose to stop this happening in the future?

“I`m not sure – there`s nothing I can do except really sell the album and play a bit more and hope the next one really goes into the charts. I think you need a hit single – I`d really love a hit single and I think we`ve got one on the new album. It would be good to get a hit single as a trailer for the album.”

Originally John was going to use the Stones mobile to record the album – what made him change his mind?

“Yes, we were going to use it but it was so complicated – it would mean having to hire a house and hope that the house had good acoustics and that`s a bit of a risk. Then somebody told me there was a good studio outside Paris.
“Eventually we recorded it at a chateau where the Grateful Dead recorded last year – we chose it because we thought it would be a safer bet.
“It worked really well because everyone was able to live there, I`ve never done an album like this at all. Usually it`s done in the Studio with session musicians, this was the first time that Dee, Davey, Nigel and I have ever recorded together.
“We rehearsed for about seven days and Bernie and I wrote most of the songs over there. Only two numbers were written before we went – all the rest were written in three days.
“It was like a Motown hit factory. Literally, Bernie upstairs, me downstairs and the band playing. It was great and I really enjoyed it – I couldn`t believe how everything began to flow.
“We`d got to the point in writing where nothing flowed any more, and I was having a really hard job writing one song a week whereas on the Elton John album some of those songs, I was writing five a day.
“I think everyone gets to this point – even people like James Taylor. If you work on the road a lot your writing is always affected. I know I saw Cat Stevens the other night and he said `Yeah`, he felt exactly the same. He worked a lot last year and slowed down because of it.”

Is he happy now with the way his writing is progressing?

“Yes, after `Madman` we`d gone as far as we could with that particular style of writing. I don`t think there`s anything comparable to `Madman` material on the new album.”

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Has he managed to counteract “sameyness” on the next album?

“Yes. For a start there`s no orchestra and there are rock`n`roll tracks which we`ve never done before on albums. I don`t want to say it`s the best thing I`ve ever done because that`s what I said and felt about `Madman` but people didn`t agree.
“It`s just with this album no one can turn around and say, `oh it`s Elton John with his bloody 100-piece orchestra again`.
“There`s one number on the album called `I Think I`m Going To Kill Myself` which I think is going to have tap dancing on it. A sort of vaudeville number. I guarantee the numbers on the album will get many covers because the songs are more or less light pop.
“If I could write like Barry Mann I`d be instantly happy because they are, for me, the best kind of songs because they last for years. You`ve got to remember Bernie and I have only been writing together for three years, we`re still really novices.
“When someone says the tracks on `Madman` sound the same I always disagree – the only reason I might agree is that sometimes the piano starts and then the bass comes in and then the drums and in that way it follows a format. But if you listen to say a James Taylor album – you could say he sounded samey. Personally I thought `Madman` was one of the different songs.
“That album was wrenched out of us because we had to produce an album for our record company and we`d only had `Madman` done as far as songs were concerned.
“Usually, when we do an album we`ve got a stockpile of songs we can choose from. But because of touring so much we didn`t have a stockpile.
“That`s one reason why we are going to cut down a bit on touring because it does slow up writing. Even the days off you just want to die, collapse into bed and never get up.
“After `Honky Chateau` Bernie and I decided we`ve really got to get down to writing again. It was great writing for that album because it was as if an era had passed. It was like this album was my `Revolver`. The Beatles did six albums and they were great – and then they did `Revolver` and it was completely different from anything they`d ever done.”

But Elton had said his last album was completely different.

“I still maintain it was different – to me it was the best album I`d done and I was most satisfied with the recording and the songs on it. It`s incredible, people have the impression that there`s somebody behind me with a great big button saying `you must wear this and you must wear that` and I think it was Roy Carr who said they are pushing the destruct button. Well that`s me – if anyone, because there`s nobody behind me.”

How does Elton feel about being described as a latter day Liberace?

“People can compare me to who they like – I just think it`s a bit of fun. I couldn`t go out on stage in a pair of grotty denim jeans and a moustache and beard and sit there and be serious. I just don`t do it.”

So is he still very much into the show bizzy, glamour side of the business then?

“It is glamour, but I refuse to say it`s show bizzy.”

But surely the clothes he wears are nothing but show bizzy?

“No I`m just sending show business up – I hate show biz. I hate the `and now here is so and so with…`”

But doesn`t he think that by glamorising it he is making it more show bizzy?

“I don`t think people take it seriously. I mean Rod Stewart is exactly the same – he`s very flamboyant and wears pink satin suits and that`s show biz and yet it`s not. You can`t say I`m show bizzy – I`m so bloody clumsy and there`s nothing graceful about me with a pair of flying boots on.
“I think what Gilbert O`Sullivan wears is show bizzy – perhaps I come across in the same way but to me it`s all a bit of a giggle.”

If he regards that as a send up what does he take seriously?

“My music – I`m very into what I`m doing. But even that you can`t take too seriously – I`ve never regarded pop music as an art form – I think it is just entertainment, and I think that is why pop groups are coming back, because people are fed up with moodies and they`d rather go out and have a good time.
“I know I would, for example, I`d rather go and see a James Bond film than go and see a film that made me think. It`s got to the point where you go out and you`re made to think about everything.
“I don`t think people are entertained any more. That`s why the Faces score because that`s just what they do – entertain.
“I`m not a serious performer anyway – just somebody who is having a go on the piano. I do the best I can. I never wanted to be a performer, I just wanted to write. I don`t consider myself as a dedicated performer – I can`t see myself performing till I drop dead.”

So does he regard the thought of going out on stage with dread?

“No. I always go on stage looking forward to it. I dig playing to people. I do tend to get a bit nervous in this country now – certainly for the past four months. I really wonder what people think of me in this country. I go out and think `what are they expecting?`
“In the States I have no qualms at all. I just go out on stage and it all happens but I do tend to wonder what people think here. You either loathe me or you like me – there`s nothing in between.”

Does he find it a bit of a bring down playing in Britain after playing in America?

“No – in the States we don`t play to less than say 10,000 a night – over here it`s much less but I maintain that even if you play to fifty people you can get them screaming and shouting at you.”

What sort of reaction does he go after?

“I like them to sit down and listen to the songs we play seriously and bop at the end. I think English audiences have loosened up an awful lot recently. London audiences are very funny but in the provinces they are always wild. But even then they are nothing like the audiences in America. There are people there who are jumping up and down whilst they are knitting. It`s such a completely different thing.”

If John has finished his album, why wait till May before releasing it?

“Well, in the States `Madman` is doing well and we have to release everything simultaneously – and also we haven`t really done any gigs on `Madman` here. We did the tour before Christmas, of course, which was good, but I still think there`s a bit of life in `Madman` here even though it hasn`t done as well as the other albums.
“May is a good time I think because it hasn`t been mixed yet and we haven`t done the art work yet, so we`re able to take our time.”

The album that Elton released May 19th that year was called “Honky Château”, and it was his most successful to date. Honky Château became the first of a string of albums by Elton John to hit No. 1 in the Billboard Charts in the US. In the UK it went to No. 2 in the charts.

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ELO on the road in Britain in the first half of 1972.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Isaac Hayes, Stephen Stills, Incredible String Band, Marc Bolan, Traffic, Randy Newman, Gilbert O`Sullivan, Paul Williams.

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