Thursday, September 25, 2008

Atlantic Canada Prepares for Elton

The Moncton Coliseum has played host to many world-famous entertainers over the last 30 years, but this Sunday's show by pop music legend Elton John may set a new bar for Atlantic Canada.

Elton John brings his solo piano show to Moncton this weekend with concerts at the Halifax Metro Centre Friday and Saturday, the Moncton Coliseum Sunday and Saint John's Harbour Station on Tuesday night. He will also do two nights (Oct. 1 and 2) at the Mile One Stadium in St. John's, Nfld. All of the concerts are officially sold out but many tickets could be found at elevated values on various websites this week.

In Halifax and Saint John, radio stations are planning to play all Elton John music through the weekend and fans are buying sparkly glasses and outlandish costumes to wear to the sold-out shows.

City of Moncton spokesman Ian Fowler said the city is still looking at doing something special to welcome the performer when he arrives this weekend but nothing has been finalized.

But promoters aren't saying anything about Elton's travel plans before or after the show. It is presumed the performer will arrive by private jet at the Greater Moncton International Airport sometime Saturday or Sunday, and jet away immediately following Sunday night's show.

Since this is a solo show, it will be a minimal stage setup with just enough room for Elton, his piano, sound equipment and lighting. The solo shows are a departure from the full band shows he has been doing in other parts of the country.

When Elton brought his one-man show to the relatively small market of Sudbury, Ont., in March, he received rave reviews from local fans and the media. The solo shows allow the pop icon to become intimate with the crowd and run through a set list of his biggest hits from a 40-year career. Songs like Your Song, Rocket Man, Daniel, Philadelphia Freedom, Levon, Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, Candle in the Wind and I Guess That's Why they Call it the Blues have been part of the performance as Elton relates to the crowd, occasionally getting up from the piano and walking around the stage to speak with fans.

Officials with his publicity company would not divulge any details about where he might be staying or if he would do anything in town other than perform.

Around Metro Moncton, excitement for Elton John's arrival has been building around the many ticket giveaway contests held by local businesses, radio stations and the Times & Transcript.

Some local businesses, like Baby Images on Mountain Road, purchased tickets to give away as prizes.

Radio stations C103 and Magic 104 also gave away a number of tickets through silly contests, including an Elton John lookalike contest. Tomorrow morning, Magic 104 will stage a hula-hoop contest in front of the new Sobeys on Main Street, with the longest-lasting hula-hoop twister winning a pair of tickets.

The Times & Transcript also gave away several pairs of tickets after making a draw from the hundreds of entries sent to the newspaper.

When tickets went on sale in July, huge crowds turned out to wait in line for tickets selling for $95.50 and $149.50 plus service charges. They sold out in less than an hour. This week, many tickets were available on various websites for anywhere from $175 each to over $1,400 for a pair.

"This will be the biggest show in the 15 years of Harbour Station, and we have four cruise ships in town that day so it will be hopping," said Mike Caddell, manager of the 10,000-seat Harbour Station arena in Saint John. "Elton John is such a big star that we could have done 10 sold-out shows for this guy."

Caddell said the Elton John show will even surpass the excitement generated several years ago when country superstar Garth Brooks came to town.

In Halifax, stores in the malls are selling Elton John-style sparkly sunglasses and many fans are planning to get "garbed up" for the two sold-out shows at the 10,000-seat Metro Centre. And at least one major Halifax radio station is planning to play non-stop Elton John music through the weekend.

Barb Stegeman, communications manager for the Metro Centre, said the fact that Elton John sold out two nights in Halifax is just par for the course.

"It isn't just here, it's everywhere Elton goes. This is the reality of the level of fame of this performer," Stegeman said.

After the Atlantic Canadian swing, Elton will do a few shows in the southeastern U.S., and then settle into an extended run at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. After that, he will spend most of November and December travelling through England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France doing his Red Piano shows.

Over the years, the Coliseum has been used by such world-famous players as the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Rush, Supertramp, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Rod Stewart, Tim McGraw, Dire Straits and many others. When Bob Dylan played here the first time, the line of people waiting to get in stretched out to Mountain Road. Back in 1984, people camped out for days to buy tickets to see Kenny Rogers, who sold out two nights in a row.

The Elton John show kicks off a busy fall season for the Coliseum. Other upcoming performances include the Blue Man Group (Sept. 30), Bad Religion (Sept. 30), the Classic Rock Experience (Oct. 9), Carrie Underwood (Oct. 11), Alice Cooper (Oct. 19) and Lenny Kravitz (Oct. 20).

The Classic Rock Experience includes three tribute bands performing the songs of rock legends AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Promoters of that show say the response in Moncton is second only to Montreal in terms of ticket sales so far.


As New Brunswick music fans prepare for the biggest concerts of the year, Pam Goold of Sussex will be arranging rock legend Elton John's most beloved blossoms.

The Sussex florist has been given the enviable task of filling the Rocket Man's dressing room and hospitality suite for his Moncton and Saint John concerts next week.

"The first thing I thought was that he would want peonies in September, which would be nearly impossible," she said at Goold's flower shop in Sussex, where she works as the fifth generation of her family to design and arrange bouquets. "I was scared to death."

Instead, John's tastes are simple, and elegant.

While much of the assortment has been left to Goold's discretion, she wanted to surround the musician with the flowers he loves most - scores of yellow roses.

John has requested a dozen green plants of varying heights for each concert. Goold has chosen palm trees and peace lilies.

His eyes will also be drawn to massive, free-flowing arrangements - two for each concert - of bulky, opulent flowers such as hydrangeas, orchids and calla lilies displayed in a tall glass vase.

Goold will also prepare four vases of yellow roses for each concert.

While John wasn't picky in his request, she learned about many of his small preferences from a book released by his personal florist.

"He just absolutely loves roses, and yellow are his favourite, so I am getting the most beautiful yellow roses I could find," she said.

She selected a new variety rose called Latina and plans to use 200 for each concert.

"He wants no foliage, no fillers, no sticks, no ribbons, none of that whatsoever, so we will be giving him clusters and clusters of solid, yellow roses," she explained. "I thought we should give him what he loves the best - we might as well try to score some points."

Just as she learned about John's fondness for flowers, she also found she should stay away from carnations, baby's breath, lilies and chrysanthemums.

It was her friend and Halifax florist Neville MacKay who suggested Goolds to John's concert co-ordinator. MacKay is preparing the flowers for the star's Halifax shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

Goold received her first contact for the job by phone on Sept. 18, and the deal was confirmed on Tuesday morning.

With such a short time span to work with, picking the perfect blossom and working with wholesalers to ensure they are here, fresh and beautiful, by Saturday morning came together remarkably well, Goold said.

The Latina roses are now en route to Sussex. They were flown to Miami from South America, where they were grown, and since Wednesday afternoon have been on a truck heading for Sussex in time for the Saturday delivery.

Goold also created the Queen's bouquet when the monarch visited Sussex in 2002, and like that occasion, the opportunity to create such special flowers is a fun conversation piece.

"It's neat in the fact that you're doing the flowers for a big celebrity," she explained, "but really, he is like everyone else who loves flowers. He has a few more dollars in his pocket, that's for sure, but there have been no challenging requests in this at all.

"It's like a wedding. I want to make sure every detail is right, but there's not a lot more to it than that," she added. "It is exciting to be able to say I did the flowers for Elton John, but really, he is getting the same roses I would pick out for anyone else, and the vases will be the same that I would use for anyone else."

Goold will arrange John's flowers the night before each concert and the next morning with a small crew, mostly family members, they will travel into the concert sites with two vehicles packed with the arrangements and plants.

Because John will be flying in and out of the Maritimes from Montreal for each of his concerts, Goold doesn't expect he will be taking any of his carefully selected flowers with him.

The plants, however, will be coming back to Sussex. Goold is only offering them as rentals and will be selling them from her home shop after the concert. She will donate one of them to an upcoming Hospice Sussex fundraiser.

"I think a lot of people would enjoy having a plant in their home that was in Elton John's dressing room," Goold said. "It is pretty exciting."

While Goold is a big Elton John fan, she doesn't have concert tickets. Unless he is on-site when Goold and her crew are setting up the floral displays around noon on Sunday in Moncton and next Tuesday in Saint John, she will never lay eyes on him.

As for pricing, not even the Rocket Man has to pay more for his flowers.

"The only difference between this job and any other is that I am charging delivery to travel into Moncton and Saint John," she said.

THE LIFE-SIZED plaster bust of Elton John, wearing a bow tie as big as two large fists, isn’t even the most eye-catching part of Terry Roddick’s collection.

Roddick’s spectacular waterfront home in Ostrea Lake contains Elton John pillows, both plush and inflatable, original artwork from a Playboy piece on the rock icon, hundreds of 45s (remember those?) from around the world, every album ever issued plus some bootlegs from Russia, bins full of magazines and posters and, in the basement, the piece de resistance.

"The holy grail of Elton John collecting, in my opinion, (is) the pinball machine," Roddick said as he fired it up. "I was in South Royalton, Vermont, visiting friends and as we pulled into this antique shop, there was this pinball machine in the doorway. I said to myself ‘Wouldn’t it be great if that was the 1976 Captain Fantastic pinball machine?’ And when I walked in, it was. I almost had a heart attack."

Roddick, a Halifax longshoreman, knew of the pinball machines. His collection includes a magazine ad showing Elton John wearing a Team Canada hockey jersey with the pinball machine. But he had never seen one.

The asking price was $2,000.

"And at the time, our dollar was terrible. I think I got it for US$1,500, which brought it up to two grand for me," said Roddick. "We dismantled it, and like a coffin, put it into my Hyundai that was already full of camping gear, bubble wrapped it, and brought it across the border without incident."

The Captain Fantastic machine, named for a John album, was made in 1976 and intended for use in bars. A year later, a home model was manufactured. Roddick also owns one of those, having driven to Baltimore to collect it after purchasing it on EBay. The larger machine works like it’s brand new, but the home model hasn’t binged or bonged since he bought it, despite the best efforts of several experts.

Growing up in rural Pictou County, Roddick, now 46, and his sister provided the music for local dances. At that time, in the early- to mid-70s, Elton John dominated the charts.

"I started collecting stuff in ’73 and that was pretty much his heyday," said Roddick. "I bought my first album at Zellers, Rock of the Westies. I got that first album, and I wore it out, and I got every album after that. I guess I have the hoarding and collecting gene."

Magazines with Elton John on the cover include Rock Scene, Hit Parade, People, Creem, Circus, Hello, Rolling Stone, Modern Screen and a 1987 issue of the Newfoundland Herald.

"I’ve got the, I think it was in ’76, he did the interview in Rolling Stone where he came out of the closet and then they burned a bunch of his albums down south," Roddick said, picking up a framed caricature of the singer sitting at the keyboard, wearing oversize glasses with soccer balls for lenses.

He can’t remember how much he paid for this piece.

"It didn’t matter. If I wanted it, I had it."

He’s bought items for his collection everywhere he’s gone, haunting second-hand record stores in Chicago, San Francisco and Florida, finding posters, tour T-shirts, books, DVDs and sculptures.

Over the years, he’s seen Elton John in concert three times, none as memorable as the show at Jarry Park in Montreal, where festival seating meant a front-row experience.

"That was the last year he dressed up in the outlandish outfits, and that was the first time I saw him," remembered Roddick. "It was outrageously exciting. I was just underneath the stage. There was the stage, then a bouncer, then me, right below where he was."

Roddick has lower bowl tickets for John’s show Friday night in Halifax, opposite the stage. The seats remind him of the last Elton John show he attended, at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto.

"That time, we were quite far away from the stage, and we paid $30 a ticket or something," he said.

"But they were walking around the CNE, giving away tickets. When I think that here in Halifax, tickets are going for $800-plus, and they were walking around there, going ‘Do you want to see Elton John?’ just giving out tickets."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Elton Recording new Xmas Single with The Killers

The Killers and Elton John will release the Christmas single 'Joseph, Better You Than Me', reports The Sun.

The duet, scheduled for release in December, will not feature on The Killers' upcoming album Day And Age, which hits stores on November 24.

The Las Vegas group have previously released the festive songs 'A Great Big Sled' (2006) and last year's 'Don't Shoot Me Santa'. According to NME, The Killers plan to release a single every December until they have enough for a Christmas album.

The Killers yesterday debuted their new single 'Human' across radio stations. It will be available to buy on iTunes from September 30.

Elton John: The Red Piano DVD Available Now!

Following the success of 2004's definitive Elton John DVD set, Dream Ticket, the legendary Sir Elton John and Best Buy announce the October 28 release of The Red Piano collection.

Thousands of fans have travelled to Caesar's Palace Las Vegas to see over 200 shows, helping The Red Piano break records and set new standards for musical entertainment.

This DVD/CD set available at Best Buy and John promises to bring this amazing entertainment experience to Elton John fans across the continent.

Available as a 2 DVD/2 CD set in standard definition or a 1 Blu-ray disc/2 CD set in high definition, the concert features the 14 song performance of the Red Piano show including all of the fan favorites such as Candle in the Wind, Believe and Rocket Man. The DVD and Blu-ray discs feature a documentary about the making of The Red Piano show including footage of Sir Elton discussing the genesis of the show.

The show debuted to critical acclaim in February 2004 with reviews proclaiming it as "A must-see" and noting Sir Elton is Still Standing as an indestructible talent. Using a red piano as a starting point, John enlisted his friend and photographer David LaChappelle to develop art and imagery that would complement the music and enhance the experience for the audience. The production raises the bar for Las Vegas performance featuring multi-color neon sculpture, pop art, inflatables, baubles, balloons and the band.

Viewers may have a good time just taking the show in at its surface (lights, inflatables and colors) or use their imagination to find the deeper meanings in the show. "It's (the show) what I like from an artistic point of view," noted John. "It's fun, it's deep, it's the songs I really love and it gives me a chance to get across what I am all about, visually as well as musically."

In 1967 Elton John was introduced to Bernie Taupin, and so began one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships ever known - a seemingly timeless alliance that fans continue to appreciate to this day. The Red Piano further highlights these incredible talents. "With the incredibly successful sale of Dream Ticket it was clear that our customers are huge Elton fans and we believe they will be thrilled with the incredible show experience he gives them with the Red Piano," said Paul Fisher, director of entertainment merchandising, Best Buy Canada. "This incredible collector's item allows his fans to experience a must see show from the comfort of their own home with the DVD or Blu-ray disc and enjoy its musical excellence anywhere with the CD live audio soundtrack."

The Red Piano Show will be available for pre-order tomorrow, September 23, 2008 at Best Buy locations or on Formats available will include 2 DVD/2 CD set in standard format for $24.99 or 1 Blu-ray disc/2 CD high definition format for $29.99. Product will be available at Best Buy stores on October 28.

Elton John's career has spanned four decades and he is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time with more than 50 Top 40 hits credited to his name. He has won a wide array of industry awards including Grammys, Tonys and an Oscar and continues to add innovative work to his personal repertoire of 35 gold and 25 platinum albums.

Elton will bring the Red Piano show back to Caesar's Palace Las Vegas later this year from October 22 - November 9 and again next year for a series of shows from February 3 - April 22.

Final Red Piano Vegas Dates...A Preview

The Final dates for the Las Vegas season of Elton John: The Red Piano at The Coliseum ,Caesar's Palace have been partially announced.

The expected final season dates are below:

February 3 - April 22 2009.

Exact dates should be released very soon.

Elton Commissions Art from 14-year-old Blind Artist

First, Jeff Hanson got to meet Elton John.

Now the Overland Park teenager is fulfilling the performer’s request for artwork to brighten the lives of AIDS patients in South Africa.

Jeff was born with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes tumors to grow on nerve tissue. In some cases, the condition can be as harmless as spots on the skin. In Jeff, a low-grade malignant tumor developed on his optic nerve.

Chemotherapy and radiation have kept the tumor the size of a pea, but the 14-year-old, who has learning disabilities, is legally blind.

But he also is an artist who uses his work to give back to charities.

At the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, Jeff took a required art class as a sixth-grader at Overland Trail Middle School.

“He loved it and could feel a lot of success in it,” said Amy Price, his art teacher at that time. “With any student, you work at what they can be successful at. … I wanted to challenge him and get him outside his comfort level.”

The following summer, Jeff started painting abstract note cards. He sold more than 5,000 of the hand-painted cards, many from the driveway of his home.

His art is done in colors he can distinguish — bright and bold.

He has small holes in his vision, said his father, Hal Hanson. For example, if Jeff looks at the word “the,” he might see only “he.” If he shifts his head, he might see “t.”

Jeff now is a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan. His art business has grown into commissioned requests for the note cards to be transferred onto canvases priced from $100 to $1,000.

The Hansons’ unfinished basement is his studio. Large white canvases are propped against furniture protected by sheets of heavy plastic. Bookshelves hold tubes and jars of paint.

And every day, for an hour or so, Jeff paints. His parents help by bringing him paints and cleaning tools, and sometimes by giving direction on the proportions of color to match the work from the original note cards.

Jeff’s favorite tools are a miniature paint roller and a large putty knife. He works in acrylics, which dry more quickly than oil. He and his dad create a three-dimensional look by weaving strips of fabric through slits in the canvas. Jeff then paints the knotted fabric.

Jeff always gives back a bit of what he earns. The sale of his cards, along with some of his mother’s baked goods, raised more than $15,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. His work has been put into a 2009 calendar, with all proceeds going to 12 charities that have touched Jeff’s life.

One night last week, Jeff began working on his largest canvas to date, a 4-foot by 5-foot painting to be donated to an auction gala for Angel Flight Central in November.

Then there was Jeff’s first encounter with Elton John.

The October meeting at the opening of the Sprint Center fulfilled Jeff’s two-year wait for his request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. At the meeting, Jeff surprised the performer with a $1,000 check — from the proceeds of his art sales — to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“They struck up a friendship,” said Scott Campbell, executive director of the foundation in New York. “He (John) is very interested in the personal stories.”

Since then, Jeff and his parents have flown as John’s guests to concerts in the United Arab Emirates and in Las Vegas. On the Vegas trip in June, Jeff gave his favorite painting to John. It’s called “A View from the 22nd Row,” after a line in “Candle in the Wind.” The canvas is covered with large blocks of blue, silver, orange, pink, purple and yellow.

“This is how Jeff sees Elton on stage,” Hal Hanson said. “He sees the lights.”

And, in Las Vegas, John asked Jeff a favor: Would he create artwork that could be placed in the AIDS foundation’s “cluster homes” in South Africa?

In these homes, said Jeff’s mom, Julie, pregnant HIV-positive women receive medicine so their children will be born HIV-free.

“He told Jeff, ‘I need you to brighten these homes. Would you paint 12 canvases?’ ” Julie Hanson said.

Campbell said he wasn’t sure when Jeff’s art would head to South Africa. But through Sunday, the work can be viewed at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave. in Leawood.

Elton John & Billy Joel: The 2009 Face to Face Tour

In a recent interview with the Long Island Herald, Billy Joel's lead guitarist, Tommy Byrnes, had the following to say about the upcoming 2009 Face to Face World Tour with Elton John:

"I'm riding the Billy moment until it falls off a cliff. And I think it's ever going to, because he's going stronger than ever now. We're starting in Asia at the end of October, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand. Then we break for Christmas, then we're doing five weeks in a Seminal reservation down in Hollywood, Florida. Then we go out with Elton for five weeks, then we break, then we go out for another five week run with Elton. So he's saying yes to a lot of work, which is really great. He's in better form and better shape then he's been since he was a much younger man."

This adds more weight to the very plausible face to face tour concept. Stay tuned for more information.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Elton Coming to Petra for Pavarotti

One year after his death, a series of programs commemorating Luciano Pavarotti will be held around the world, including a concert scheduled at the historical site of Petra, Jordan on October 11 and 12, 2008.

According to the Associated Press, the Petra concert will host some of the biggest names in music will take part in a charity concert “Pavarotti and Friends,” including Elton John, Bono, Celine Dion, Joe Cocker and Sting — all of whom have duetted with Pavarotti.

Reuters reports:

The tribute is the brainchild of Nicoletta Mantovani, Pavarotti’s widow and HRH Princess Haya, a fellow UN Messenger of Peace and daughter of Jordan’s late King Hussein. “A concert in Petra was a dream once shared by the late King Hussein of Jordan and Luciano,” said Mantovani. “I am so grateful to Her Royal Highness Princess Haya, for making it possible to turn this dream into a reality.”

The proceeds of the concert will support joint projects in Afghanistan by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). A local charity supporting disabled children in Petra will also benefit from the concert.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Elton's Loyal Saskatoon Fans

The doors didn't open until 6:30 p.m., but early on a line started to snake around the building as the crowd filtered into sold-out Credit Union Centre. Many fans, presumably those with seats in the nosebleeds, came armed with binoculars. One couple talked excitedly as they entered the building about a man who paid $4,000 at an auction to get a pair of seats to the concert, which sold out in a remarkable seven minutes.

Due to incredibly high demand for seats at John's last concert in the city, many people were looking forward to seeing him for the first time on Monday. But as evidenced by a collection of concert T-shirts, some fans were coming back for a second, or even third, time.

Sherri and Darin Manegre saw him with Billy Joel in 1995 in Las Vegas and very nearly brushed shoulders with John.
"He was leaving the MGM Grand and we were coming out and he was like this close," Sherri said, as she measured the distance apart at just a couple of inches.

John entered with a wave wearing a custom tux with a long, long coat that had "Love" embroidered on the right sleeve, the one facing the audience. He looked a little heavier than last time but proved he was a match for many 61-year-olds when he jumped onto the piano bench at the end of the song, then put one foot on the piano. The crowd erupted.

Going from art to rock (and with Johnstone switching from hollow-bodied Gibson to Flying V), the guys followed up with The Bitch is Back, the key word of which was spelled on a lighted backdrop. Staging was relatively simple, with coloured lights carrying most of the load. They shone yellow for Yellow Brick Road, with shard designs reflecting on the floor at John's feet. Video was big, too. One tiny camera fixed to the end of the piano was dedicated to the keyboard, making it look a mile long. Manned cameras showed close-ups of John and the band -- Olsson, behind the double kick drum kit in headphones and wearing white gloves, had a constant smile on his face.

Tiny Dancer was an early highlight for the crowd, a popular shoot-it-on-cellphone tune. Levon had a gospel revival flavour to it, punctuated by John standing up -- you thought he was going to kick the bench over -- and ending with John opening the lid of the big black grand and slamming it.

Believe was a sentimental favourite for John, his first No. 1 in England. John dedicated it to Richard Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd who died Monday of cancer at 65 -- a gentle man who gave the world wonderful music. "This one is for Rick,'' said John.

JoAnn Harpell will soon forget the pain she went through to get there, but she’ll likely never forget the Elton John concert later this month.

On Monday morning, the Lower Sackville hairstylist beat out all comers in a radio station contest to earn two tickets to see Elton John in concert in Halifax on Sept. 25.

Turns out no one else who entered C100’s "What would you do for Elton John tickets?" contest came up with the idea of tattooing Elton’s face and the radio station’s logo on their leg.

"The only thing I wouldn’t have done (to get a ticket) would be to go to a scalper," Ms. Harpell said.

And she did try to get tickets when they first went on sale for the Halifax and Moncton concerts.

"I cried like a baby when I didn’t get them," she said. "I was very upset."

Then one of her clients at the Family Styles hair salon told her about the radio contest.

"We, as a rule, listen to 96.5 FM here at the shop," Ms. Harpell said in explaining why she hadn’t already known about the contest.

One of her colleagues at the salon suggested a tattoo, which was nothing new for Ms. Harpell.

"I’ve got 14 others," she said. "I’ve always loved tattoos, but I held off getting one."

Turns out her husband doesn’t like them.

But these days, she’s covered with ink, including a pansy, her favourite flower, on her leg and a pair of scissors wrapped with a pansy on her wrist.

And now she has another.

Her contest-winning tattoo was applied on her calf Monday by her favourite tattoo artist, Merle Rose, live on the radio during the station’s morning show. Late in the afternoon, her leg was still red.

"It’s really nice. I love it," she said, pulling up the leg of her capri-length pants to show off the tattoo.

It’s a pretty good likeness of Elton John.

He’s sporting a pair of large-framed glasses and around his face are some of the lyrics to the song Daniel.

Ms. Harpell picked that song to honour her older brother Robert.

"Daniel reflects the sadness I felt when my brother moved out west," she said.

Now 45, Ms. Harpell was just a teenager when her brother married and moved away.

She credits Robert for first turning her on to Elton John’s music.

Robert slept in a bedroom below hers, and Ms. Harpell recalls waking up every morning to the sounds of either the Eagles or Elton John drifting upstairs.

Next week’s concert will be the second time she has seen Elton John perform live. She and her sister travelled to Michigan to attend a concert four years ago. She was a wreck when he sang Daniel.

"I just started bawling my face off."

Others in the audience seemed to understand.

"A man in back of me touched me on the shoulder and asked whether I was all right. His wife told him, ‘Just leave her alone, she’s having an Elton moment.’ "

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Calgary Review

CALGARY - Normally at the Saddledome, shows pretty much run like clockwork, rarely starting as far behind as 15 minutes late.

And given the chaos rock and roll is reputed for, 15 minutes is nothing except on a night like last night.

With the rain driving 17,500 Elton John fans into cabs and cars, the journey to the show meant one long, slow-moving lineup from well up Macleod Tr., all the way to their seats.

By 8:05 p.m., you could see panic in some longtime fans' eyes and you could hardly blame them.

With more than 200-million records sold, more than 50 Top-40 hits under his belt, seven consecutive U.S. No.-1 albums, five Grammy awards and an Oscar to boot, there is a lot to be anticipated when you're attending an Elton John concert.

Fortunately, most of the sold-out stadium had made its way into the show, and those already in on time didn't have to wait to long when the lights dimmed at 8:15 p.m.

Quiet bits of synthesizer permeated the air and low, rolling cymbal percussion lent some atmospherics to the darkened room.

The lights came up, the crowd leapt to its feet and there, bowing to the crowd, was Sir Elton John, better known to his mom as Reginald Kenneth Dwight.

His trademark elaborate sunglasses have been scaled back to blue-tinted Beatle-esque shades and he wore blue-embroidered tails that, alas, made the portly 61-year old look like he was auditioning for a role as the Penguin across from Christian Bale in the next Batman movie.

But, hey -- he didn't show up to shoot an episode of What Not to Wear, he came to play the hits.

And that's just what he did, for a long show, no opening act to get in the way.

He sat down behind his shiny, black Yamaha grand piano and, taking his time to work the crowd up, meandered into the piano-heavy Funeral for a Friend which eventually segued into Love Lies Bleeding.

Altogether, it was a gigantic opus, the crowd cheering at its end.

Elton stood up on his piano bench, one foot on the keyboard and invited more applause.

Not exactly like his 1970 American debut at The Troubadour in L.A., where he did handstands on the piano and truly began his reign as one of rock s most enduring performers, but it looked cool nonetheless.

Within seconds, the opening guitar chords of The Bitch is Back, off his 1974 Caribou album, echoed through the 'Dome, building to the first, one of many, ripping piano solos from Elton that night.

Next up was a trio of songs from his 1971 Madman Across the Water album, the title track, Tiny Dancer and then Levon.

Carefully paced and emotive, these songs were obviously chosen for a slow burner of concert, one where Elton parsed out the bigger hits carefully.

But they did come and the show just got better.

Within an hour, songs such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) had come down the pike and the audience already seemed well satisfied, some even playing air-piano.

If there was a snag, it was in the singing. Most critics agree Elton did get a fine singing voice back after his throat surgery in 1986, but last night, good as he was, he didn't have the range he demonstrated in the studio during the oh-so-many hits he has recorded. Those hits that are still circulating the airwaves in heavy rotation, otherwise this comparison would be hard to pin down. But the foundation of a great concert is and will always be great songs.

And there are few artists who have as many as Elton John, meaning there are few who could lay down a performance like last night's.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Air Dates Confirmed for Spectacle

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... will commence broadcasting its 13 episode first season in the United States on Wednesday, December 3 at 9pm EST on Sundance Channel. It will be simultaneously broadcast on CTV in Canada and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

Sir Elton will appear in 2 episodes of this series, the first episode will be an explorative feature on Sir Elton's influences and style, followed by several live musical interludes.

A later episode will feature Sir Elton interviewing Diana Krall, followed by a duet of Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.

Win a Private Experience with Sir Elton in Paris

Prize Includes: 2 tickets to 12/9/08 performance at Paris-Bercy with meet and greet plus 2 nights accommodations at The Montalembert Hotel- December 8th and 9th. Dates are finalized and can not be changed.

Please note: this lot will close early on September 23rd to be part of the live auction. We will close the online bidding mid-day, and then contact the highest bidders by phone to see if they want us to continue bidding on their behalf at the live auction. Please see the liveBID information below for a more detailed description.

Elton John's finely honed stage presence, a winning factor in targeting his tunes straight into the heart of America, is excess incarnate. In The Red Piano, the showy costumes are replaced by incredible video imagery and stage props, yet the end result is unmistakably classic Elton John.

Gregarious, show-stopping, outlandish and unforgettable. Words that could be Elton John as much as they are Vegas. Together with photographer David LaChapelle, Elton John has created The Red Piano- a career overview performance you won't soon forget. Enjoy 2 VIP tickets followed by a meet and greet with this living legend!

Bid now at: all funds support the Tony Bennett Exploring the Arts Foundation.

GBYBR 35th Anniversary Concert in NYC

On Monday, October 20, 2008, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), and Friends in Deed will present a special benefit event, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, exactly 35 years after the classic double album was released in the USA.

Elton and a diverse group of guest artists from across the entire spectrum of the entertainment industry will perform all 17 songs from the album. The show will take place in the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City, the landmark Broadway theatre that has housed legendary shows from "The Ziegfield Follies" to "The Lion King" to the current Broadway hit, "Mary Poppins". Sponsored by American Express, American Airlines, and Grey Goose, the show will be produced by Broadway veteran Jeffrey Seller, (Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights).

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, written and composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, is arguably one of the greatest albums ever produced. The concert event is very straightforward: an exciting array of artists will each perform one song from the album in the order in which it was originally produced. Guest artists confirmed for the concert include Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Jane Krakowski, Stew, Joey Arias, Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters, and the casts of "Hair" and "The Lion King".

Tickets (Ranging between US $500 - $2,500) for this extraordinary event will be available from Saturday September 13th through September 22nd for American Express card holders, and afterwards to the general public. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-307-4100 or by visiting Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Elton's J Brooch

An art deco sapphire and diamond clip brooch, originally owned by the legendary musician Sir Elton John, is expected to fetch over £12,000 at Bonhams' next London Sale of Fine Jewellery on 25 September 2008.

The impressive bejewelled brooch, which was created in around 1935, is designed in the form of the initial 'J', and includes multiple old-brilliant-cut and baguette-cut diamonds. It also features five oval-cut sapphires and a bombé cluster of circular-cut sapphires.

A photograph accompanying the brooch shows Sir Elton John wearing it during the filming of the video for his hit song I don't wanna go on with you like that. The song, which featured on the artist's 1988 album Reg Strikes Back was written by John and his long-time song writing partner, Bernie Taupin. It reached Number 30 in the UK Singles Chart, but fared much better in the USA, achieving Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August of that year.

Other jewels that will sparkle brightest in the 25 September sale at Bonhams, include a stunning emerald-cut diamond single-stone ring by De Beers, weighing 11.05 carats. It is expected to fetch £260,000-320,000. A round brilliant-cut diamond single-stone ring, weighing 4.57 carats, which has been languishing in a safe for over 15 years, is valued at £40,000-50,000 and a delicate belle époque diamond pendant/necklace, dating from circa 1905, will be available to bid on also. It has French assay marks and is fitted in a leather case by Boucheron. Its estimate is: £22,000-30,000.

"Diamonds have an enduring appeal. They provide timeless elegance in a fast moving fashion arena - and - in many instances - maintain their worth," says Bonhams' UK Director of Jewellery, Jean Ghika, who has been in the business for 16 years.

"With the current economic uncertainty and the world gold price at a record high, many investors are turning away from stocks and shares to more tangible commodities such as high quality jewellery," adds Ghika.

Natural pearls are also commanding high prices at auction and with actress Sarah Jessica Parker seen wearing her ubiquitous trade mark pearl necklace in the role of Carrie in the recent blockbuster movie Sex in the City, pearls are proving even more popular - as women all over the world are going out to buy their own. Bonhams will offer them the chance to bid on a rare natural pearl and diamond necklace, worth £50,000-60,000 on 25 September.

Bonhams' Fine Jewellery Sale will take place at 101 New Bond Street, London. For further details go to

Elton Coming to Pennsylvania

Elton has added two new shows in Pennsylvania today.

It’s time for another trip back to Northeast Pennsylvania for Sir Elton.

On Oct. 18, Elton John and his band will play Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township as part of his 2008 tour, “Rocket Man: Number Ones.” The concert will kick off the arena’s 10th anniversary season and mark the third time Mr. John has performed there.

Tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. and are available at the Wachovia box office, all TicketMaster locations, by phone at 693-4100 or at

Mr. John appeared at the arena twice in 2000, including a Good Friday show that drew criticism from former Diocese of Scranton Bishop James C. Timlin.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m. for the Rocket Man, Sir Elton John, who'll present a show of his greatest hits at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at Hershey's Giant Center.

Tickets are $97 and $67 and will be available at the Giant Center Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations. Charge by phone by calling 534-3911 or 260-2000. Or buy online at Ticketmaster or LiveNation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Elton's no fan of Lily

Sir Elton John has revealed that Lily Allen has burnt her bridges with him.

The music legend, 61, had a showdown with the singer at the GQ Awards last week when Lily told him to ‘f**k off' on stage.

And he says it's changed his opinion of her.

‘I was thinking about asking her to tour with me and maybe even do a duet,’ he tells Daily Star Sunday. ‘Obviously that won’t be happening now.’

Lily, 23, is said to be red-faced following her outburst. She put on her Facebook page that she felt like 'dying inside'.

But later she wrote on her MySpace blog: 'I'm not defending my drunkenness because I don't need to.

'I'm 23, it was an awards ceremony, I drank the free champagne. How awful of me.'

Elton to play Charlottesville

Sir Elton John, the child piano prodigy turned international superstar, is coming to Charlottesville. Officials with the John Paul Jones arena made the announcement 40 minutes ago via email that the musician will perform in concert on Friday, October 17.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Elton & Lily Allen Feud On Stage at GQ 2008

The combined star power of Lily Allen and Elton John presenting the GQ Men of the Year Awards must have looked like a dream ticket on paper.

But the two stars didn't exactly see eye-to-eye at last night's star-studded event at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

As the evening wore on, Lily's state gradually deteriorated as she continually sipped champagne on stage.

The 23-year-old, decked out in an extravagant ball gown, soon began slurring, swearing and ad-libbing - and it was only a matter of time before she had an all-too-public fall-out on stage with co-host Elton.

When she came to announce '...and now the most important part of the night', Elton chipped in 'What? Are you going to have another drink?'

She fired back: 'F*** off Elton. I am 40 years younger than you and have my whole life ahead of me!'

The shocked audience fell silent.

A clearly rattled Elton replied 'I could still snort you under the table'. To which she replied: 'F*** off. I don't know what you are talking about.'

On more than one occasion, Elton could be seen having a stern word with her in the wings between awards.

She barely made it off the stage after the awards ended - before drinking even more at the afterparty.

At one point during the evening, Lily even described her younger brother Alfie's girlfriend Jamie Winstone as 'my future sister-in-law' - although it remains unclear whether or not the couple is engaged.

The galaxy of celebrities in attendance also witnessed stars as disparate as Led Zeppelin and London Mayor Boris Johnson collect honours.

With his windswept blond locks and unkempt appearance Mr Johnson may have been the most unlikely winner in the style stakes, but he was named Politician of the Year at the ceremony.

He received his gong from fashion experts Trinny and Susannah who not doubt gave the London Mayor their opinion on his chosen ensemble.

Mr Johnson certainly stood out among the glamorous guests who attended the event, where there was no shortage of glittering frocks and impressive outfits.

Elizabeth Hurley, Elle Macpherson and Thandie Newton all presented awards to the successful winners.

Miss Hurley bestowed the Blackberry Entrepreneur of the Year award to Gordon Ramsay, who won Chef of the Year in 2007.

Meanwhile Elton John took centre stage to present singer Tony Bennett with an Inspiration award.

Former supermodel Jerry Hall was on hand to give a Lifetime Achievement Award to photographer David Bailey.

Chris Evans continued his comeback to become Radio Personality of the Year for the second time. He first claimed the award in 1998.

Brit Award-winning comedian James Corden completed his year in the spotlight with Breakthrough Talent of the Year.

GQ Editor Dylan Jones presented pop artist Sir Peter Blake with Visionary of the Year.

The only female winner of the evening was artist Sam Taylor Wood who was named Woman of the Year by Daniel Craig. The Bond actor was not there in person and paid tribute via video.

Boxer and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Jo Calzaghe accepted Sportsman of the Year by video link as did footballer Rio Ferdinand who received an Editor's choice award.

Elsewhere, Led Zeppelin won the Outstanding Achievement Award and Mark Ronson was presented with the Alfred Dunhill Maverick Award, while Primal Scream were named Band of the Year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Elton to Give Free Show to 50 Fans

On Wednesday, September 10, in the afternoon, Elton will give an interview and musical performance for "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with Sir Elton John and Diana Krall." This recording will take place in Harlem, at The Apollo Theatre, 235 West 125th Street, New York City.

This is a unique opportunity to see and hear Elton with his friends Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, and we are delighted that the makers of the show are inviting 50 Elton John fans to be part of the audience. If you would like one or two free tickets for this very special event, please first of all read the following and be sure that you fulfil all criteria:
* You must be at least 18 years of age to be considered (proper ID will be required)
* Ticket requests are limited to two (2) per person
* In your ticket request, please include the following:
1) Legal first and last name and, if requesting an additional ticket, the legal first and last name of your intended guest
2) Your age, mailing address, email address, and phone number - include the same for your intended guest, if applicable
* Tickets are limited and will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis - please, respond ONLY if you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN of your ability to attend and to stay in the theatre from 1.45pm until the taping ends, which could be up to three hours. We cannot guarantee that everyone who applies will get tickets.

If you want to apply, please send an email to making sure you give ALL the information asked above and with the subject line ELTON/ELVIS.

By Friday, September 5, 2008, all confirmed ticket recipients will receive a phone call or email detailing the procedure for the issue of tickets, as well as providing further information regarding this extraordinary event.

Please be aware that this is an exclusive event wherein the buying and selling of tickets can and will result in the forfeiture of said bought and/or sold tickets.