Saturday, March 22, 2008
A Special Date With Sir Elton
Excitement was in the air for a few hours on Monday when Sir Elton John stopped in Willits, passing through on his way back to San Francisco after working with the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Humboldt County earlier in the day.
Sir Elton stopped to look for a special necklace or earrings with an ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyphic character that symbolizes "life" for a friend, dropping in first at the Headroom and then Natural Choice.
"I didn't believe it was him," says Pam Grover of the Headroom. "He was so sweet, he was very nice!"
Linda Byrnes owner of Natural Choice was the first to figure out it was really Elton John, but didn't make a big scene because she could tell he was trying to stay out of the limelight.
"After he left my shop," Byrnes explains, "Pam [Grover] came over from next door and asked me if that was actually Elton John. I said it was and she mentioned what a fan of his she was. I went out onto the sidewalk where he had walked to near the Chamber of Commerce and I called him back.
"He turned around and walked back and I told him I wanted him to know that when he sang the song, Candle of the Wind at Princess Diana's funeral, it was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. He thanked me and then I introduced Pam and myself to him. I asked him if he'd like to go to the Shenachie Pub since it was St. Patrick's Day and he said he would love to, but he needed to catch his flight that afternoon, but he would be happy to take me to lunch."
Monday was Byrnes' birthday and she gladly accepted the invitation for lunch. "I told him I was so excited that he showed up for my birthday!" Byrnes laughed.
Sir Elton, his assistant, Byrnes and her daughter, Pristina Henderson, ate at The Loose Caboose, at Sir Elton's treat, with the pop superstar ordering a corn dog, a small vegi-rice soup, water and iced tea.
"He said that the vegi soup was some of the best he's ever had," says Byrnes. "He said that it had a great variety of vegetables and so much flavor."
Sir Elton also mentioned the soup soothed his sore throat. He had cancelled two weekend concerts in Florida for health reasons on the advice of his doctor, according to a press release.
Jack Isborn was the lucky staff member who waited on the table and Liz Day, a waitress at Loose Caboose, was very excited to see Elton John dining in the restaurant.
"He looked so normal, wearing a hat and sunglasses, but he had a beautiful silk dress coat and very cool black and white Oxford wing-tip shoe," says Day.
Byrnes had a pleasant conversation with Sir Elton talking about kids and grandkids, "He almost spit out his water when I said that I had ten grandkids!" Byrnes laughed. While at Loose Caboose, they ran into Pete Swanton owner of the Pub and Byrnes introduced them. After a few photos with the Loose Caboose staff, the group went to Main Street Music where Kate Shaffer, an employee at the music store said, "When I saw him, I stood there with my mouth open! He walked around the store, so nonchalantly and looked around at our selections."
Sir Elton gave autographs to the surrounding group and bid goodbye to everyone. "He said that he needed to head back soon and that he didn't want to draw too much attention." Byrnes noted. "He said he would keep in touch with me and took one of my business cards with him when he left."
He jumped back into the black Hummer driven by his assistant and headed south to catch his flight. "We were just so amazed that it was actually him, and so impressed how nice and humble he was," Byrnes reminisced. "I hope he gives a call when he's back in town next--and hopefully then we can make it to the pub!"