Friday, February 29, 2008

Elton Coming to Halifax, Newfoundland, St. John?

Eastern Canada's concert promoters are keen to find out whether they'll soon be able to lure Sir Elton to Saint John.

Elton John's Greatest Hits 2008 tour kicks off in Portland, Maine on Thursday as speculation abounds as to whether the Rocket Man will be soon be playing right across the border in the Maritimes and Newfoundland.

After CTV reported yesterday that John's Ontario promoter, Riley O'Connor, is looking to set up "three or four" concert dates in Eastern Canada, event planners in that region are licking their lips in excitement at the possibility.

The Harbour Station venue in Saint John, N.B., has been trying to set up an Elton John show for almost five years. While General Manager Mike Cadell admits efforts have continued recently, but "nothing concrete" has been decided.

"We've had discussions with the promoter like we have for the past five or six years," he told CTV Atlantic's Elizabeth Chiu on Thursday, adding three or four people call each week requesting concerts by the legendary musician. "With the Canadian dollar being at par it certain makes venues in Canada a lot more attractive than it did five years ago."

Many international artists are paid in American dollars, so the strong loonie means Canadian venues now have a bit more money to entice performers with.

Fred MacGillivray, Halifax's events chair, is touting his city's 10,000-seat Metro Centre as a stop on the proposed tour. It's the largest venue of its kind in Eastern Canada.

"Come to Halifax," he urged John on CTV News. "We'd love to have you for a performance or a couple maybe."

O'Connor said John prefers to play concert halls to outdoor shows, that they could happen any time before December, and that an East Coast tour will only be feasible if he can line up more than one event. He said John is interested in visiting places that are not "your typical triple-A five-star attractions."

UK Tour Opening Act Announced

Richard Fleeshman has just been announced as the opening act on Elton's UK stadium tour this summer.

Singer/songwriter Richard, who is about to kick off his first UK tour, is ecstatic about being asked by Elton to open for him. In the past Scissor Sisters and James Blunt have both opened for Elton on his summer stadium tours, before going on to worldwide success.

Richard will be performing tracks from his debut album 'Neon' which includes the singles 'Hold Me Close' and 'Coming Down'

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Elton Raises $5.1 Million for EJAF

John shared his table with husband David Furnish, Sharon Stone, Billy Joel, Josh Groban, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia deRossi, and Mary J. Blige (who joined John on stage for a duet).

Stone helped John facilitate an auction. Among the hot items: a set of five celebrity-designed pairs of Chopard sunglasses that went for $35,000, a Helmut Newton photograph of four naked women which sold back to its donator, June Newton, for $900,000, and a 1974 Corvette Stingray, donated by Stone, that sold for a cool mil.

To encourage higher bids, John teased his audience, "I'll take my trousers off," which inspired Stone to add, "I would, but you've all already seen that before."

"That's the other stingray we want to sell," John cracked back.

John and Furnish made an effort to visit with each table. "The tables are expensive so we do this every year," John explained. "If you don't do this, people think you're taking them for granted."

Furnish was in charge of choosing the party colors, orange and pink, based on colors he saw as a guest at Elizabeth Hurley's wedding in India. "If you were a friend of the bride you wore a pink turban, and if you were a friend of the groom you wore an orange turban," Furnish recalled. "We were broken into these teams and then we all played cricket."

John performed a full set of songs, a first at the annual affair. "I've never played at my own Oscar party," said John. "It was so uncertain as to whether the party was going to happen (because of the recently resolves writer's strike), so we didn't have enough time to ask a younger act to do it. So I said, 'I'll do it!' "

Though he'd promised John he would perform, Prince failed to take the stage, disappointing many who'd been looking forward to the performance.

Earlier in the evening, Furnish explained, "Elton's been on stage with Prince in Vegas and London. They have such mutual respect for each other as artists. He's going to perform at our party and then we're going to his later."

DeGeneres and deRossi were so busy socializing in the smoking tent, that they missed Tilda Swinton's win. "I chose Tilda on my ballot," said an excited deRossi.

"We got stuck out there talking to Sean Penn and Simon Cowell," added DeGeneres before taking deRossi's hand and walking back to their table.

Penn, newly split from wife Robin Wright, brought along Petra Nemcova as his date. The two were very affectionate at their table, which also sat Chris O'Donnell and Kate Beckinsale.

Beckinsale was disappointed when she was served a plate of lobster risotto. "I'm allergic to lobster," she said with a frown. "I'm going to have to give it away or I'll be needing epinephrine later."

Others in attendance: Marion Cotillard, Tom Wilkinson, Sean Combs, Courtney Love, Stevie Wonder, Minnie Driver and Amy Adams.

The high point of the evening for Stone: "When we were all singing Benny and the Jets, and I looked around and saw the whole audience in black tie just singing their hearts out with youthful abandon. It was like everyone was at their high school dance.

Elton to Play Bakersfield & Anaheim

Sir Elton John will bring his Rocketman Number One's Tour to California this April. Two shows have been announced as follows:

  • Bakersfield, CA: Friday/18/April/2008, Rabobank Arena
  • Anaheim, CA: Saturday/19/April/2008, Honda Center
All tickets go on-sale at 10am PST Monday 3rd March.

Monday, February 25, 2008

CBS Interviews Elton John

Say the name Elton John and two things immediately come to mind: his nearly four decades of chart-climbing songs and the flamboyant get-ups he wore while performing them. 

CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell asked Sir Elton what he thinks now when he looks back at some of those costumes he wore back in the '70s. 

"They make me laugh so much," John told him. "I mean, sometimes I did take it too far, but I was having fun." 

But these days, he's using all the excess from those years - the wealth, the fame, and even the outrageous clothing - for a different purpose. 

"I wanted redemption for the way I lived my life beforehand," John told Mitchell. "And that was, you know, the drugs, the drink, the loose sex, whatever." 

"I wanted redemption for the fact that during the '80s, as a gay man, I didn't do enough for HIV and AIDS." 

So Elton John decided to set himself on a new course. But first, he needed inspiration. 

"I'm a great believer that something comes along and changes your life." 

That life-changing "something" was the unlikely friendship between the drug-addicted rock star and a young hemophiliac from Indiana who'd contracted AIDS. 

"It all came about with Ryan White and seeing how my life was so distorted and upside down," John recalled. "Yeah, I had some good times, but the good times compared to the bad times - not worth it. Not worth it." 

Ryan White was just 19 when he died in 1990. Soon after, Elton John entered rehab. 

"I'm 18 years clean and sober this year and I've never been happier," John shared. "But you have to have the humility to say, 'Okay, I've got to listen to people who know what the deal is.'" 

On the advice of friends and doctors, he gave-up the hard-partying scene in Los Angeles for the southern gentility of Atlanta. His apartment, high above the city and overflowing with photographs, has been his American home ever since. 

"We don't have any room," he told Mitchell, showing off his home. "All my walls are filled with photography upstairs." 

And it's here in Atlanta, 16 years ago, that he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation to provide services to people living with the illness all over the world. 

"Now when I started the foundation, the disease was basically about gay men," John said. "And since then, of course, it's blossomed or boomed into this worldwide epidemic - 33 million people being infected - and it affects everybody." 

Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, after a long period of decline, the number of AIDS cases, especially among young gay men, is on the rise. 

"We are facing an uphill battle again in countries that you thought you'd crossed, you'd done that, you've covered that territory," John said. 

"Why do you think that's going on?" Mitchell asked. 

"Because people think, 'Well, you know, even if I do get HIV, I'm going to be OK.' They don't realize the toxicity of the drugs they have to take. And I just think it's so reprehensible, with the information available to them. But they do it and so we have to help them." 

And when Elton John says "we have to help," people listen. Today his foundation, now based in New York and London, is considered among the most successful AIDS charities in the world. 

"It is a small operation in America," John said. "In fact it's two people. And in England it's about 12 people including volunteers. That way, you know where the money's going." 

And the money is substantial. 

"We're over $150 million in given-away grants and heading towards $200 million very quickly," John said. 

And he expects to get closer to that goal tonight. The Academy Awards ceremony is not only Hollywood's biggest night - it's the foundation's, too. Every year since 1993, Elton John has thrown a celebrity-studded Oscar bash to benefit his charity. 

"The first one, we raised $100,000. Last year, we raised $4.5 million. It's a big pile of money for us." 

And tonight, Elton's party has another huge draw. 

"I'm gonna play it for the first time. I normally get someone else to play it, but this time I'm playing." 

Another periodic fundraiser that never disappoints is called Elton's Closet, where those old outrageous costumes have a new life. 

"I clear out our closets and sell the clothes for the AIDS Foundation. We've had about five of them so far and they pull in a lot of money - $750,000 last time. We've been very lucky. And there are a lot of people walking around in a lot of ridiculous clothes! But ... good!" John said, laughing. 

"The eye glasses, too?" Mitchell asked. 

"No, I never give the eyeglasses," John said with a smile, "they're all in storage. God, I've got enough storage you know … I want to have an exhibition one day. I want to have my own Elton John Museum." 

In the meantime, Elton John lives life "off display," preferring a lower-profile. 

"I have a balanced life," John said. "My life was not balanced at all before, but I have someone in my life who I love, who balances me out." 

Elton John and David Furnish, a former advertising executive, married two years ago on the day gay civil partnerships became legal in England. 

"We've never sort of run down the streets waving placards," Furnish said. "We've just always said, "this is who we are. We're together. We're very much in love. We support each other. We're committed to each other.' And just try to live by example, really." 

They've been together since 1993 when a mutual friend brought David along to dinner at Elton's house. 

"I would look for love all the time and I made a decision, 'I'm not going to look for love anymore,' and when I made that decision, love walked through my front door and found me," John said. 

"What was it about him in particular?" Mitchell asked. 

"He's incredibly intelligent. He's not afraid to be honest," John told him. "He had his own car, his own place. This was new for me. I mean, this is Elton who took hostages and took people's lives and completely just said, 'Right, you're putting your life on hold. You come around the world with me.' Which of course always ended in tears." 

Elton and David do travel the world - not in the service of Elton, but for the foundation. 

"When you go out in the field into places like South Africa (I've been many times over the years), you get a real chance to see the difference that the work is making, the impact it's having," Furnish toldMitchell. "Eight years ago, when I went to South Africa, there were no antiretroviral drugs. Eight years later, you're going back and you're seeing people now who are living full lives on antiretroviral drugs. You're seeing instances where pregnant women are able to take antiretroviral drugs at the point of delivery and not pass the virus on to their children." 

"The women specifically are saving South Africa," John added. 

Their outreach work is not just about making medication available. It's about making it accessible. 

"It's the logistics of AIDS," John said. "We've about 75-80 motorbikes we brought for Lesotho, which is a mountainous area. Even a 4x4 can't get through those mountains." 

But David Furnish says he's amazed by one thing that always seems to get through: 

"Elton's music has gone around the world and when he comes, they do recognize him." 

Elton John says music and audiences have never let him down, and playing concerts is still one of his favorite things. Among the happiest was last year, on his 60th birthday when he performed to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. He played nearly three-and-a-half hours and then celebrated with friends. 

"People gave me incredible birthday gifts," John remembered. "Someone came up to me and said, 'I never know what to buy you so here, here's something for you.' And it was a million dollars for the AIDS Foundation." 

"Oh, wow," Mitchell reacted. 

"I mean, I was flying!" said John. 

And he says that's the kind of flying that keeps him grounded about where his newfound life has taken him. 

"I have a very special, a very rich life," said John. "But when I see these people and the gratitude they have for the little amount that we've given them, then that just makes me feel I've got to do more. Because everyone who's human deserves to be treated with some dignity - whether they've done good things or bad things, they have to be given hope."

David Gets a New Audi, Tantrums & Tiara's Re-released

Over the weekend, Elton accidentally let it slip to a reporter that he'd recently bought his partner David a $180,000 Audi R8!

The car, which has a top speed of 160 miles per hour, is sure to turn heads - especially since it's one of only three in Los Angeles!

SIR ELTON JOHN'S partner DAVID FURNISH is set to re-release ELTON JOHN: TANTRUMS AND TIARAS - because he is desperate to air the as-yet-unseen footage.
The Canadian moviemaker took around 140 hours of film for the 1996 documentary on the British singer, and is keen to show the public more behind-the-scenes shots of John's life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's Looking Good For a NW Australian Tour

TERRITORIANS can register their enthusiasm for an Elton John concert via the Northern Territory News website from today.

Sir Elton wants to come to Darwin as part of a swing through the Top End and Western Australia after his Asian tour.

If he comes to Darwin it is likely to be for a concert on May 17 at TIO Stadium at Marrara. 

CLICK HERE to register your support for Sir Elton to play in the Top End.

Promoter Michael Chugg wants to see if there is enough interest in a Darwin to stage a show here.

The stadium would be filled with up to 10,000 seats plus grandstand seating.

The Darwin show needs dates in Broome and Perth to be confirmed as part of the package for Sir Elton's Australian swing.

More than 1500 people have registered so far, keen to see Crocodile Rock played in its natural home.

The Northern Territory News has been taking calls from across the Territory for information about the tour.

Chugg was behind Sir Elton's smash hit regional shows last year, where about 15,000 people packed into Dairy Farmers stadium in Townsville and 15,000  went to Aurora Stadium in Launceston.

As news of the potential tour spread this week, Elton John fan websites lit up with comments from fans.

Many were willing to travel thousands of kilometres to the Top End _ confirming promoters' claims the tour would be a tourism boon for the Top End.

``I've sent off an enthusiastic email to Chugg Entertainment saying that as soon as they release the Darwin date I'll book the flight!'' said Di from Melbourne.

Another user said he was considering booking a bus to fill with Victorian fans for the trek up the Stuart Highway for the show.

Some fans even said they are planning to meet up and get tattoos to commemorate the tour.

And one fan's dedication to the Candle in the Wind singer was clear, as she incited readers to: ``bow our heads and pray to Lord Elton to grant our wish''.

Sir Elton John could be set to rock regional Australia with plans afoot to bring him to Darwin, Broome and Perth later this year.

The Northern Territory and Western Australia missed out on seeing the Rocket Man on his Australian tour last year, but promoter Michael Chugg says he's trying to include them as part of Sir Elton's Asian tour.

Chugg has been holding meetings in Darwin and Perth this week trying to make the shows a reality.

"I'm in Western Australia at the moment trying to put together a Darwin, Broome and Perth run for Elton John as part of his Asian tour," Chugg told AAP.

"Not his Australian tour, because he just did that, but he's doing Asia.

"It's getting harder and harder to do shows in Perth because of the cost and we're trying to put together these three shows as part of the Asian tour, which is a different way of looking at things."

Chugg said that if the shows went ahead it could prompt other artists to re-think the way they tour Australia and the places they include in their itineraries.

If confirmed, the shows are likely to be in May, at the end of Sir Elton's Asian tour.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mary J Blige joins Elton for Oscar Bash & Larry King Live

Two longtime AIDS activists are seeking to make beautiful music together on Oscar night: Mary J. Blige will join Elton John on stage for a duet at John's AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party Sunday.

"Elton John is one of the most inspirational musicians and philanthropists in this industry for me," Blige said in a statement Tuesday. "I respect him with all my heart, and it is truly a pleasure to be performing with him on such an important night as we look to raise awareness and vital funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS."

John's annual Oscar party has raised more than $15 million over the past 15 years. Blige's AIDS-awareness efforts date back to 2000, when she worked with MAC Cosmetics on its Viva Glam fundraising campaign.

The "queen of hip-hop soul" has also worked with John before. He played piano on her single "Deep Inside." No word yet on what song the two will perform at the Oscar party.

Elton will also appear on Larry King Live, sunday Feb 24th. "Larry takes you inside his Oscar-night bash that raises money for AIDS. It's your all-access, behind-the-scenes pass to one of the most exclusive parties in Hollywood!" 

"Larry King Live" - CNN Monday through Sunday at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

Elton Coming to Ischgl

Ischgl’s ski season was opened last year with a performance by Barbadian starlet Rihanna and the ski season looks set to be rounded off in an equally impressive manner with a performance by Sir Elton John.

Sir Elton will sing at the closing Top Of The Mountain concert at the popular Austrian ski holiday resort on May 3rd 2008.

And the veteran artist is no stranger to Ischgl, having first featured on the bill at the resort’s end of season concert in 1995.

"We are very excited to have signed Sir Elton to perform his second concert at Ischgl – he is one of the world’s biggest stars and Ischgl has once again shown that our resort is a world stage featuring the biggest names," Ischgl tourist director Andreas Steib told World Snowboard Guide.

She added that the concert will be "fabulous" and the perfect way in which to complete what has so far been a "fantastic" season.

Also on the bill for the event are British band Stereophonics. Previous acts to have appeared include Bob Dylan and Lionel Richie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elton John Returning To Australia in May

Sir Elton wants to do a show in the Darwin after he completes his Asian tour in May.

The legendary entertainer would perform in Darwin with his band en route to shows in Broome and Perth.

The performance is not a certainty and tour organisers visited Darwin yesterday to scout venues and gauge support for the concert.

Readers will be able to register their interest through the Northern Territory News website in the coming week.

Promoter Michael Chugg met ministers yesterday  to try and secure government support for the tour, which Chugg said would bring short and long-term tourism benefits.

"A gig in Darwin will pull people from all over Australia," he said.

"If this works you've got to think there'll be more tours coming.

"You could get (artists) coming out of Singapore and starting their Australian tour in Darwin."

The venue of choice is TIO Stadium at Marrara where up to 10,000 chairs would be laid out on the grass.

Chugg, who stages the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay and has brought Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Darwin, said he wanted to set up an Asia-Top-End-WA tour loop.

He said this was an easier way to get top artists to the Top End than bringing them up from Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane tours.

The Darwin concert is unlikely to go ahead without Perth and Broome, with the three-date sweep being organised as an all-or-nothing package deal.

It follows Sir Elton's concerts last year in Townsville and Launceston when he drew up to 15,000 fans to each show.

"It was such a success we decided to try and do it in Darwin and Broome," Chugg said.

"You get outside the cities and it's like the second coming of Jesus Christ.

"When you get out into the country areas you realise just how big Elton John is."

Please visit: www.chuggentertainment.com.au to register your support for Elton's upcoming Australian tour. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Elton Adds 2nd Pullman Concert

The Rocket Man will jam in the Palouse for longer than originally expected.

Elton John, who was originally scheduled to perform on the Saturday of Mom’s Weekend at Beasley Coliseum, will perform a second show the following day at 7 p.m. April 13. “We are excited that he can perform not only one, but two shows,” Beasley Coliseum director Leo Udy said. Tickets for the second show will go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 25. Because so many WSU students were frustrated with the lack of available tickets for the first show, Beasley Coliseum will provide wristbands for students from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 24 to ensure they have first priority, Udy said. Each wristband will have a random number, which will dictate the order students pick up their tickets.

Wristbands will continue to be distributed as long as there is student demand, Udy said. Only one wristband will be allowed per customer and each student will be allowed to purchase up to four tickets. Ticket prices will be the same as the first show.

Udy said Beasley Coliseum requested a second show as soon as the first show sold out. But the campaign to bring John back for a second show was spearheaded by Mason Roberts, a junior political science major who started a Facebook group.

Roberts said he received an e-mail from an alumnus who encouraged him to “rally the troops.” He organized a meeting in Todd Auditorium, which took place on Feb. 8 with students and administrators. Roberts said he also worked with the President Elson S. Floyd and Dean of Students Lucila Loera and he attempted to contact other media organizations.

“We just wanted to work with the university and have a university-student coalition to create some kind of makeup,” he said. “I am incredibly pleased that we were able to provide a second showing for students.” Elton John’s band will include Davey Johnstone on guitar, Guy Babylon on keyboards, Bob Birch on bass, John Mahon on percussion and Nigel Olsson on drums. He will perform his greatest hits along with songs from his latest album, “Rocket Man: Number Ones,” which was released in March 2007 and debuted in the top 10. During his legendary career, John has sold more than 200 million records, including 35 gold and 25 platinum records. Student reactions were positive.

“It’s good that it is for the students and for their moms because it is Mom’s Weekend,” junior communication major Randal Hinthorne said. Jodi Prout, a freshman natural resource sciences and fine arts major, agreed.

“I’m pretty impressed,” she said. “It was pretty unfair how they were advertising Elton John across the world, so it’s pretty awesome that he decided to allow the students a second chance.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Elton's Tour Takes Global Warming Seriously

Glastonbury UK based Serious Stages shipped 10 containers with two of their new Solar Roofs to Australia for a busy summer festival season there. 

   The Solar Roofs were utilised for Elton John’s ‘Rocketman Number Ones Solo’ tour followed by Sydney’s Big Day Out event, where the 2008 line rocked with Rage Against The Machine, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Carl Cox and many others.
   Serious’s 22 metre wide 12 metre deep Solar Roof - as used on the Elton gigs - offers 12 metres of headroom and also featured a 2.4 metre thrust running its full length. This version of the Roof can support up to 24 tonnes of flown equipment. It was supplied complete with double out-rigged goal post towers standing 9.6 metres wide and 15 metres off the deck, facilitating two PA hangs and video screen supports each side.

   The tour visited assorted wineries and country houses and was Elton’s twelfth in the country. Serious worked with site co-ordinators Butlers Hire for tour logistics and local crewing with whom they have a longstanding relationship in Australia and New Zealand.

   Serious also supplied all the decking for the Elton stage, constructed from their Black Deck system and measuring 42m wide x 14.4m deep, plus various ramps and steps as per each individual site’s requirements. 
   A crew of 16 - eight from the UK and eight from Australia – all fully trained in how to rig the structure - were co-ordinated by Kenny Falconer for Serious. They leapfrogged the two identical Solar roofs. This was necessary because of the distances between gigs and the schedule, which involved two days of trucking between shows and weekend performances – leaving a tight timeframe for the stage/roof systems to be de-rigged, moved and re-rigged during the week.

   These same two Solar Roofs supplemented by additional kit were then erected side by side in the Sydney Showgrounds for their recent Big Day Out event. The two-stage formula was adopted by the festival to dramatically reduce changeover times.

   The BDO Solar Roofs were both built with one extra bay of depth and could fly an increased capacity of up to 30 tonnes of sound, lighting and video production.
   Four Serious 18 metre, four-bay Orbit stages were used at all the other Big Day Out events - in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Wellington, New Zealand.

Elton Concert for Gainesville FL & Savannah GA

Elton and the band are to play concerts in Florida and Georgia, USA, in March. The dates are:

Wednesday, March 12, Savannah Civic Center, Savannah, Georgia,
Friday, March 14, Pensacola Civic Center, Pensacola, Florida
Saturday, March 15, Tallahassee Civic Center, Tallahassee, Florida
Sunday, March 16, Stephen O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida.

These shows are Elton & Band performances. Tickets on-sale 2/15 at 10am EST.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Elton Coming to Newark, Pensacola & Tallahassee

Philadelphia freedom will be moving south next month when Elton John comes to Newark for a rare Delaware show.

John will perform at the Bob Carpenter Center on March 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster and at the University of Delaware box offices.

Tickets On Sale Fri, 2/15 at 12:00 pm EST.

Elton John and his band will appear live at the Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola on Friday March 14, Civic Center officials announced this evening.

The concert is part of the 2008 Tour: Rocket Man • Number Ones.

"The SMG/Pensacola Civic Center management and staff are honored to host Elton John," said Cyndee Pennington, General Manager of the Pensacola Civic Center. "This is a rare opportunity for our community to enjoy one of the most beloved and successful artists in music history. This performance is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans of all ages."

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. For more information, go to www.pensacolaciviccenter.com

Elton has also scheduled a concert for Tallahassee, Florida on Saturday 3/15/08. This will be held in the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. This will be a solo concert as part of the Rocketman Number Ones Solo Tour 2008. 

Tickets go on-sale Friday 2/15 at 10am EST.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Elton Helps To Free Orca's

Sir Elton John has pledged his support to free Lolita, an Orca whale, kept in a substandard tank at the Miami Seaquarium for the last 37 years. 

Elton's letter of support is below:

"I have been deeply moved by the efforts to free Lolita and wish to add my name to the campaign to return her to home waters, where she can hopefully reunite with her family.

She has spent most of her life performing daily in a small tank, and I wish to add my voice to those others who are attempting to see her either freed, or fully care for in retirement in a sea-pen, within the waters where she was captured almost 30 years ago." 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Elton's Hotel Requirements

Demands ... Elton

SIR ELTON JOHN is still Queen Of The Divas – after spending £1,475 on a night at the Dorchester in London and firing off an impressive list of demands.

These included fat-free and sugar-free cookies, a tray of raw veg, lilies in the room and tulips in the hall. He insisted the temperature didn’t exceed 68°C and his tissues had to be normal – without balm.

He also specified furniture he required – including two buckets.

Elton Voted Off 'The One & Only'


Kylie Minogue impersonator Victoria Jones and Elton John tribute act Ed Hintze were voted off The One and Only in a double elimination last night.

Victoria, who had performed Kylie's hit song 'Better The Devil You Know', was booted off the show after receiving the lowest number of votes from the public.

Ed and Cher impersonator Joanna Berns, the next two least popular acts, were then asked to go head-to-head in the Superstar Sing-off.

Once both singers had performed again, it was down to the acts who were safe to choose who should be given another chance. With four votes to two, Joanna was saved, leaving Ed as the next contestant to be eliminated.

The One and Only continues next Saturday at 6.50pm on BBC One.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

More on Elton's Ticket Lottery


There were two kinds of people in Sudbury on Friday - those lucky enough to get Elton John tickets and those who sat at their computers growing increasingly frustrated because they couldn't.

Sudbury Community Arena manager Ray Mensour said there were one million - yes, one million - hits on the website when tickets to Sir Elton's March 2 Sudbury concert went on sale at 10 a.m.

The City of Greater Sudbury reported more than 6,000 tickets sold out to about 1,200 buyers within 45 minutes.

Do the math and figure out how many people were left cursing a computer ticket-buying system they say is antiquated and arbitrary, and swearing they would have been better off to wait in line for tickets than try to purchase them online.

"I really wanted to get a birthday gift for my mom," said a disappointed Charlie Andrews about noon when he called The Sudbury Star to complain.

The first-year Laurentian University music student and a dozen classmates worked 15 or more computers at once, trying to buy tickets to the biggest act ever to visit Sudbury.

Like many other disgruntled would-be ticket buyers, Andrews was annoyed at "sitting" in a virtual waiting room, which refreshed itself every 15 seconds.

At one point, Andrews thought he struck gold when he got into a second waiting room and was able to select six tickets.

But, like so many others, he was bounced back to the virtual waiting room until after all tickets were sold out.

"I know my way around a computer," said Andrews, but that didn't make it any easier for him or his computer-savvy friends to hit pay dirt.

"Well, I guess we'll go see Cats," he said without much enthusiasm. The Andrew Lloyd Webber classic is at the Sudbury Community Arena on Feb. 21.

Before noon, tickets for the Sudbury Elton John concert were already for sale on EBay at five times their purchase price.

By 6 p.m., 10 ticket-sellers, many from Sudbury, were listing on EBay. One was asking $1,200 for two floor seats, but hadn't received any bids. He had a "Buy Now" price of more than $3,000 on the tickets.

Sellers asking as much as $700 for two standing-room tickets had received a dozen or more bids.

Mensour said the computer system used to sell Elton John tickets, tickets.com, was as secure as any service in operation.

"The level of security was the same as for all major league playoff baseball games," said Mensour, who worked for three years with the Montreal Expos.

"Actually, we feel we passed the test extremely well," he said of the city's efforts to help concert promoter Live Nation sell tickets.

"Unfortunately, we knew ahead of time the people who don't get tickets would be disappointed. We were prepared for it."

Trying to buy tickets online with hundreds of thousands of other fans is like playing a lottery, said Mensour.

"Odds were you weren't going to get tickets."

Some people who didn't get tickets were angry they had been advised to buy online rather than wait overnight in a lineup outside the arena.

"We warned people not to come and wait in the cold. The odds of getting tickets online were better. We sold 90 per cent online, five per cent in person and five per cent over the phone," he said.

About 200 people waited in line, some overnight, and only 50 were lucky enough to get them.

Mensour said big acts such as Elton John are choosing to come to Sudbury Community Arena because it is gaining a reputation as a good concert venue.

That's partly because arena staff have "exceeded expectations" of show promoters, he said.

Arena staff go out of their way to provide the best possible service to travelling acts.

In one instance, musicians couldn't get to a laundromat so staff took the artists' clothing home and did their laundry for them.

Mensour said a Sault Ste. Marie resident phoned Elton John's promoter "absolutely irate" because he wouldn't play there despite the fact it has a newer and better concert venue.

"The promoter's response is that the service is second to none at Sudbury arena," said Mensour.

Sudbury Star bloggers might beg to differ with Mensour - if they weren't so busy writing about how miffed they were at not being able to buy tickets online.

One blogger wrote: "I had six windows open in my browser and bounced between them for one hour. It was horrible. I was also stuck in the waiting rooms. You sometimes would get the option to purchase a ticket. If it wasn't available in that area, you were back in a loop again. I hope this format is never used again. What a disappointment. I'd like to know whose bright idea this was!"

Some critics said purchasers should have only been able to buy two tickets each, not six. But that's the concert promoter's decision, said Mensour.

"It is a lottery," Mensour repeated. "A million people wanting 6,000 tickets? You have to be lucky."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Elton's Canary Islands Concert - "Very Poor"



The jury is very much out on whether the much-anticipated event at Golf Costa Adeje was an outstanding success or over-shadowed by a series of unfortunate hiccups.
Some say it was absolutely fantastic, others thought it was a shambles and many more fall somewhere between the two verdicts. Yes, it was good but with an artist of the stature of Sir Elton, shouldn’t we be saying it was out of this world?

Suggest to any Elton John afficianado that the concert might not have lived up to expectations and you will get an angry response.
“He is a genius,” one fan told me. “He doesn’t need gimmicks. His voice and his musicianship says it all.”

An international icon he may well be but it’s hard to argue against some of the problems of the evening which attracted an estimated 16,000 people.
Due to the lack of ticket handlers at the gates, there were still long queues 20 minutes after the concert had started. Some were even locked out. When they did get in, there was a nasty shock for quite a few who had paid 120 euros for a VIP seat. There was no room for them and they had to stand.

“We couldn’t see him at all,” said one disappointed fan. “We might as well have sat in a park listening to one of his CDs.”

The problem arose because those who had paid only to stand saw empty seats well into the concert and sat there themselves, especially as no-one was checking their tickets. Some of the affected have accepted the situation, others are talking about legal action to get their 120 euros back.
Traffic jams were also horrendous because of the road closures and the walk up and down the steep hill was no fun, particularly for the elderly as all ages went to the concert. The site was also very dark and very dangerous in places because of sheer drops which were not roped off. The portable toilets had no lights and no paper and a beer cost five euros.

There were no sign posts or direction signs and the buses provided by Titsa stopped somewhere......but where? And where were the fireworks which lit up the skies of Abu Dhabi only two nights before or at least a more spectacular laser show? After all, this is a huge star we are talking about who should demand a big budget.

Was there also a special area for the disabled? I spotted one lady in a wheelchair crammed up against the loos and totally unable to see the stage. Unlike the people above her, she wasn’t able to clamber on to the top of them to gain a perfect, if unconventional, vantage point.
It’s hardly surprising that many people came away from the concert with a bitter taste in their mouth and a hole in their pocket.

Let’s not ignore the plus points, however. The location was potentially superb and it was incredible to watch the moon rise over the mountains of Adeje and the twinkling lights beyond. It was a natural amphitheatre and the acoustics were superb, with the sound quality second to none. A live Elton sounds exactly as he does on record which, in an age of manufactured groups, is so rare.
He was also on stage for two and a half hours without a support act and was a master of the piano. And he’s still got plenty of stamina for a 60 year old!

Some people I spoke to felt the concert fell a bit flat because he started off with less well-known songs. It wasn’t until later that hits such as Crocodile Rock, I’m Still Standing, Circle of Life, Nikita, I Want Love and Daniel got us all in the mood as we all still remember the words. Only then did people start to sing along, sway and dance.

And was Elton rather subdued on the night? Admittedly, he was polite and complimentary, describing the audience as “the best ever” and wishing everyone health and happiness on this, his first ever concert with his band in Tenerife and Spain. But there were only a few of his famous high kicks and he seemed to be having more of a party with his band members than with the audience. There was only one short encore and few, if any, autographs were signed.

Feeling rather let-down myself, I sent text messages to friends to get their reaction. “Great concert, hit after hit, but some problems outside,” said one. “Nobody to direct people to the gates, no signs and no order in the queues. No lights in the arena and only two people trying to check tickets.”
Another said: “We thought it was very good. Organisation on the gates could have been better. No-one seemed to know where to go.”

And a third concluded: “Enjoyed the show. Didn’t enjoy the walk back up the hill to the motorway afterwards!”

Website comments also differ enormously. “Definitely the ultimate showman. A chance in a lifetime,” said one holidaymaker. “A fantastic professional artist,” said another. “Unbelievable but it was a shame about the lack of organisation.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said another.”But organisers need to address a few things. Admission took ages and proper signing would have been helpful.”

The majority of the audience was apparently Spanish and whole groups of friends travelled from all parts of the mainland. Barcelona was the starting point for one party who carried a banner all the way and swore that Elton caught their eye on at least two occasions. Another said it was the fault of the lay-out that their hero was unable to sign autographs.

One fan pulled no punches about the way forward, writing: “It’s a shame about the organisation as a lot of people were not in when it started. The Tenerife-based company who organised it should make a big apology to Sir Elton and all his fans as bad reviews are over-shadowing an incredible night.” Certainly, national papers concentrated more on the problems than on the concert which wasn’t exactly the publicity Tenerife was looking for as it strives to become a popular location for big entertainment events.

Whatever your stance, it’s obvious that the Elton John debate is going to rumble on for some time yet. Let’s hope that lessons will be learned from any mistakes and that the next time a big star comes to our island - and more concerts would definitely be welcomed - things will run just a little bit more smoothly.

Canadian Concerts Sell Out in 57 mins


Elton John fans quickly snapped up tickets on Friday for two Ontario shows, with both selling out in less than one hour.

In Sudbury, more than 80 people braved the winter elements outside the Sudbury Arena to buy tickets - some even camped out overnight.

The majority of the more than 6,000 tickets were sold online for the March 2 show within 45 minutes.

The singer plays Kitchener the next day and there the 6,700 tickets sold out in about 30 minutes.

Some people camped out to buy tickets since Thursday morning at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

Others braved a snow storm Friday morning and got in line around the time staff opened doors to allow some shelter.

Everyone in line knew the Elton John concert would sell out fast.

The question was, how fast?

For many, the answer was much, much too fast.

“It’s so sad,” lamented Rick Bourque of Kitchener, who was only a few spots back from the ticket window when the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium ran out of tickets at 10:57 this morning.

“I was so close.”

Bourque joined the line-up at 4 a.m. and shivered until Aud staff opened the doors at 6 a.m. By the time tickets went on sale at 10, more than 100 fans of the Rocket Man were queued up.

Those who had camped out all night, such as the self-proclaimed “Ticket Master” Randy Berdan, walked away happy with primo seats.

“Was it worth it?” Berdan wondered aloud. “Look at my smile. Of course it was.”

Liz Harris, who feared she might lose a toe to frostbite after spending all night with two friends in a tiny tent, was among the final few people to snap up tickets.

“It was totally worth almost losing a toe,” she said. “I mean, it’s Sir Elton John. In Kitchener.”

Only about 45 people made it to the Aud’s three ticket windows — nearly all of them buying the maximum of six tickets apiece — before Aud manager Kim Kugler broke the bad news of the sell-out.

Many dejected fans complained that the number of tickets allotted to in-person sales at the Aud box-office was far too small.

“This is stupid,” said Rob Free of Guelph.

“I’ve been here since 6:30, I drove through this storm and now I’ve got nothing. If (Elton John) is playing at the Aud, they should sell more tickets here at the Aud, not other places.”

Those who spent the night fighting off the snow at the Aud might not want to read the next sentence.

They could have slept in their warm bedrooms, shown up at a TicketMaster outlet shortly before tickets went on sale and still have had a good chance of getting seats.

Only 14 people lined up for tickets at the Fairview Park Mall’s Sunrise Records store, the only TicketMaster outlet in Kitchener.

Following TicketMaster policy, line positions were set randomly rather than by whoever showed up first.

It only took one customer for TicketMaster to run out of group seats. No one left the line when store manager Daniel Jahn announced only single seats scattered throughout the arena remained.

Betty Grant, 61, let out a quiet “woo-hoo” when her request for six tickets went through.

“I never dreamt I would have a chance to see him,” said Grant, of Kitchener, a fan of John’s throughout his career. “This is just amazing.”

Her co-worker, Lisa Disher, was just as excited to pick up four seats. She said she didn’t mind that the seats were not together, especially considering one of them is for her ex-boyfriend.

“One of the seats is behind the stage. He’s going to get the worst seat,” said Disher, 28, of Kitchener.

About 10 minutes into the ticket sale at the mall, the only seats remaining were those left by Internet users whose credit cards had been rejected.

As the line inched along, Bill Blake of Kitchener, the 13th person in line, chanted to himself, “Oh come on, get me one, get me one!”

Alas, when Jahn punched Blake’s ticket request into the computer at 10:26, 26 minutes into the sale, it responded that all seats were taken.

Blake, 60, was clearly disappointed. Just two weeks ago, he and his friends had listed John among musicians they wanted to see in their lifetimes.

“When he’s in your hometown, it’s really frustrating you can’t get through,” said Blake.

Blake might have to wait until Elton John next rolls into Ontario for a show.

And he thinks it’s gonna be a long, long time.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kitchener Tickets Will Sell Out in Under 1hr


The Ticket Master showed up for work around 10 a.m. yesterday, about 24 hours early.

Randy Berdan -- The Ticket Master to his friends for his ability to get prized seats -- started building a shelter fit to withstand a long, cold night of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Last night, he and his buddy Dave Yoworski were going to need every one of those tarps, gas heaters, propane tanks and blankets.

That's the kind of preparation and dedication it took to be first in line in at Kitchener's

The Ticket Master showed up for work around 10 a.m. yesterday, about 24 hours early.

Randy Berdan -- The Ticket Master to his friends for his ability to get prized seats -- started building a shelter fit to withstand a long, cold night of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Last night, he and his buddy Dave Yoworski were going to need every one of those tarps, gas heaters, propane tanks and blankets.

That's the kind of preparation and dedication it took to be first in line in at Kitchener's Memorial Auditorium for Elton John tickets. About 6,700 tickets will go on sale today at 10 a.m, and promoters expect they'll sell out within an hour.

The John concert, one of only a handful outside Las Vegas this year, caught many fans by surprise. The 60-year-old pop legend, who has sold more than 200 million albums, only announced the March 3 show on Monday.

With another bitter storm forecast to start overnight, Berdan and a ramshackle group of other diehards were hunkering down for the long haul yesterday.

"I'm from the country," explained Yoworski, from West Montrose and also a realtor like Berdan. "I know how to handle the cold. These other people, I'm not so sure."

Berdan, who says he camped out for his wife -- a longtime John fan -- knows he could have stayed inside and tried his luck on the phone lines or the Internet.

"Phone lines can be down, the website can crash," he said. "This way you're guaranteed tickets. This will be a moment you'll always remember."

Yesterday afternoon, others in line admitted they were also there for other people.

"B-b-b-b-b-b-Benny and the Jets," broke in Ted Strelau of Kitchener, who plopped down a camp chair and sleeping bag. "That's the only song I know."

He was holding a spot in line for his mom, Tracey, a British-born fan who "was screaming" when she heard the news John would play a show in Kitchener.

He and his mother planned to take shifts in line during the night.

Beside Strelau were three Cambridge teenagers: siblings Tyler and Sarah Shoenau and their friend Erin McLean -- all born more than two decades after John released his hit Your Song.

They were also there for their parents.

"We could just buy them online, but how much fun is that?" asked Sarah, 16.

"We're pretty much only doing this because we get to camp out," added Erin, 17, who can recite the entire lyrics to Tiny Dancer. Well, almost.

They set up a tent built for summer weather, filled it with blankets, and hoped for the best. Erin said they would snuggle to keep warm.

By 5 p.m., the temperature hovered around -6 C. Tyler looked cold already.

"Somebody said something about freezing rain," he said, looking at the sky. "It's going to get colder than this?


Elton at Liv


David Beckham wasn’t the only one left disappointed last night after he was dropped from the England football squad.

Organisers and several hundred guests at a charity dinner in aid of cystic fibrosis were let down by the star when he pulled out as host at the last minute, hours after learning that he would not be included in the squad.

The Times understands that Beckham pulled out of the “Liv” event, expected to raise more than £1 million, less than two hours before it began. Organisers were given no explanation and he was replaced by Davina McCall, the television presenter.

Many of the celebrity guests, including fellow football star Peter Crouch, were left bemused by his no-show at the Dorchester in London.

The Liverpool player, who is included in the squad, told The Times: “I’ve no idea why he’s not here. It’s the first I’ve heard of it. It’s a bit disappointing. Of course I’d have liked to see him.” Emmanuel Adebayor, the Arsenal striker, said: “We have a chance to do something good to help these people. I’m sad that Beckham is not here.”

Beckham agreed to host the event after Thierry Henry, the Barcelona and ex-Arsenal player, dropped out. Fixture changes had left Henry – whose friend’s daughter suffers from cystic fibrosis – stranded in Spain.

Beckham dropped out hours after learning that he would not be in the England squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Switzerland, where he would have earned his 100th cap.

Guests at the charity event, which was also attended by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, whose 18-month-old son Fraser has cystic fibrosis, had paid £1,250 for their tickets. Angela Georgiou, an interior designer and Linda Ashley, a property developer, were at the head of the queue to get in.“We didn’t know about David not hosting,” Ms Georgiou said. “I was disappointed enough when Thierry dropped out because I’m a huge Barcelona fan.” Ms Ashley added: “I just hope that the replacement isn’t Kevin Keegan.” Sir Elton John performed at the event.

Guests took part in a silent auction to raise money for fighting the chronic disease. Jimmy Carr and Lucas were booked to entertain those attending the event, who included a young girl called Jessica who suffers from the disease.

Elton Will Visit Sault Ste. Marie in 3-4 years


The question would have seemed absurd a week ago: Why is Elton John not playing Sault Ste. Marie?

But now that the rocket man is touching down in the Nickel City, it's a credible query. And one that Trevor Zachary has had to answer countless times this week.

Simply put, the Steelback Centre's marketing and events manager doesn't know. "Why isn't he in Toronto, why isn't he at ScotiaBank Place? He picked two dates in Ontario," Zachary said.

The City of Greater Sudbury announced Monday the 60-year-old British superstar will play Sudbury Arena March 2. In Toronto March 1 to play a private charity fundraising event, he will also play Kitchener March 3. He then heads to New Hampshire March 6 before returning to his regular gig in Las Vegas March 19.

What is sure is that he will definitely not add any other Canadian dates to his schedule,said Riley O'Connor, chair of promoter Live Nation Canada.

The artist formerly known as Reginald Dwight rarely tours extensively, preferring to play just a handful of shows, and in smaller venues he hasn't played before.

"I've worked with Elton John for the last 25 years, and his touring window, wherever the region he decides to play, is always small," said O'Connor from Toronto.

Zachary said many more factors than people realize goes on behind the scenes in snagging an act. Sometimes it just comes down to who you know. Last September, John performed in the tiny Swiss village where Shania Twain lives, and some have speculated Timmins-born Twain put a bug in his ear about her former home of Sudbury.

"When it comes down to it, it comes down to the tour, it comes down to Elton John's people and Elton John himself."

With a brand new arena here and an enthusiastic response to many shows in over the last year, the city has formed a good relationship with Live Nation, Zachary said. "It's all about trust now. They believe we can put on these shows here in the Sault, so that's why we're getting all these acts."

Unfortunately, those shows could temporarily dry up in the near future. Zachary had to turn down offers from three big-name acts that will be touring later this year because of potential construction of more luxury suites at the Steelback: Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz and a reunited Backstreet Boys.

Construction could close up the arena for three or four months.

But having additional seating will pay off in the end, he said. He added that if construction goes ahead, the city may also also add some rigging in the ceiling, which would accommodate even bigger shows.

"We're showing them we're bringing improvements to our facility and adding capacity."

Saultites can still see Sir Elton's Sudbury show, of course — but they'll have to be quick about it. Tickets for the show go on sale today at 10 a.m. The city is discouraging people from lining up outside the Sudbury Arena, as the show's expected to sell out extremely quickly online. Go to www.tickets.com/ca and click on "Sudbury Arena" on the right side of the screen. Tickets can be purchased using Visa or American Express. Prices including fees and taxes are $98 and $140.

And if you don't score tickets this time out, O'Connor expressed hope he will come to the Sault "within three or four years. When the new John Labatt Centre opened up in London, that's what I told them: I will get you Elton John in three or four years, and I did."