Friday, June 26, 2009
Elton John was in the middle of his annual "White Tie and Tiara Ball" when he was rocked by the news of Michael Jackson's death.
Elton sang at the event and he's dedicated his song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" to Michael.
Liz Hurley, Hugh Grant, Lily Allen, and Kelly Osbourne were at the party -- however several of the guests left once they heard about the news.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Sir Elton John has rejected Sacha Baron Cohen's request to use 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' in Bruno.
According to The New York Times, Cohen wanted to play the Lion King track in a scene where his flamboyant Austrian fashion guru takes part in a cage fight, then pulls down his opponent's trousers and kisses him.
Cohen's efforts to clear the song for use in the film were turned down by John and copyright owners Disney, with both objecting to its use in such a risqué scene.
However, John has reportedly agreed to let Cohen use another of his songs towards the end of the movie.
Bruno, Cohen's eagerly-awaited follow-up to his 2006 hit Borat, opens in cinemas on July 10.
- Digital Spy
So this is a surreal moment. I've driven deep into the Berkshire countryside, past pretty village streets and blooming rhododendron bushes, and now I'm standing inside a clean white box gazing at an iconic Damien Hirst work.
On the wall above hangs a huge Gilbert & George, on the other side of the room, expertly lit, a classic Antony Gormley from the key show Blind Light.
A grisly spoof by the Chapman Brothers hangs on the far wall; to the right sits a sculpture by Grayson Perry.
I spy a large self-portrait by Gillian Wearing; an Andreas Gursky; a beautiful series by Louise Bourgeois; and a colourful painting with a snake motif by Phillip Taafe that once hung, rather extraordinarily, in the New York townhouse of Gianni Versace.
Welcome to the art gallery that Elton John and David Furnish built.
It's taken more than a year to construct, was finished barely a month ago, and it nestles between their chintzy country house, the floodlit tennis court and the finely-manicured acres of garden.
Designed by London architect Jack Schneider, it has waterfalls cascading down one wall, and copper cladding on another.
On the mezzanine level there's an exhaustive library of art books — indexed using the latest technology by a professional librarian — and in the roof, hi-tech photo-sensitive grilles that control the light levels.
I could spend all day in Sir Elton's office upstairs, with views from cleverly-placed windows into the gallery space itself, outside towards the garden and over a cunningly built bed of lilies apparently floating in space between the two.
Furnish, who's giving me the guided tour, pulls out a concealed drawer to reveal a laptop.
“He's a complete computer-phobe,” he whispers, “but I've got it all set up for the BBC sports page. He can just about manage the football scores.”
Though he won't say how much it cost to build, Furnish is very proud of his Alice in Wonderland gallery, which you access via small white doors.
“Elton loves it. I've never known him give so many lunches and dinners as he has in the last two weeks. He wants to show it off.”
Next week all their friends get to see it(and friends in this very strange context mean the likes of Elizabeth Hurley, Elle Macpherson and Justin Timberlake) when it opens officially as the centrepiece of the annual fundraising gala for the Elton John Aids Foundation, The White Tie and Tiara Ball.
In the gallery's honour, the £30,000-a-table extravaganza — probably the smartest garden party of the year — is this year built around a contemporary art theme.
And presumably the artists are all showing up, too? “Oh, I think so. White Cube has taken a table.
Damien is coming, Tracey and the Chapmans and Gary Hume. They're all friends of ours as well.”
Furnish and John, almost certainly the world's most famous gay couple, are often also described as the world's best-connected couple.
So how do they compile the guest list? Who gets the nod, and who is left languishing outside the heavily guarded electronic gates?
“We always go back to the people who've supported us in the past,” says Furnish.
“We get requests from people who've never been before but we very much want to be loyal to the people who are loyal to us.”
Madonna, then — or Guy? This question alarms him. He's such a friendly, open, wholesomely Canadian sort of chap, you can't imagine him falling out with anyone. Not even Lily Allen.
“Erm. I've heard mention of Madonna. I haven't heard mention of Guy,” he replies carefully.
“Part of the fun is that people who buy tables often don't submit their guest list until the day of the event, when we do the place cards.
So I don't actually know who's coming exactly.” But would he let Lily Allen in?
It was Allen, of course, who threw a hissy fit at Sir Elton while the two were co-hosting the GQ Awards last year.
She swore; he quipped back; and handbags, it seemed, were very publicly drawn.
“Sure, Lily's coming,” beams Furnish. “In fact, she's staying at our house in the South of France right now. That whole thing was way over-played.
I got lots of texts the next day from people saying: how dare she speak to Elton like that?
I think Lily was upset by it but it was a bit of fun. They've always been friends.”
This is the 11th year of the White Tie Ball — it raised £10.8 million last year, and the Foundation has spent $150 million on grassroots projects around prevention and treatment of HIV-AIDS in 17 countries. (Furnish is proud of the fact that their agency “gets its hands dirty” in areas other charities won't touch — needle exchange and work in prisons, for example).
It's more than three years, meanwhile, since Furnish and John got “married”, on the first day of single sex unions in Britain.
Has the novelty worn off yet? “Not at all,” he replies.
“We did it for symbolic reasons but when all the craziness died down, we both felt a surprising level of contentment. And it hasn't stopped yet.”
Sometimes, he says, he is referred to solely as “Elton John's husband” — surely that gets annoying after a while?
“Initially it makes you laugh, and then you think beyond it. Actually, it makes me think the world is really changing and what a great thing it is that a man can be described that way at all.”
Furnish has always been deeply serious on gay rights.
He's at his warmest, almost angry, when talking about the retraction of gay marriage in California.
“When I see what's going on there and how confused the world is, I feel very grateful and proud of my civil partnership, and proud that we live in a country that gives us the chance to make that commitment to each other.
I spent so much of my 20s ashamed of my sexuality, afraid of persecution. Now, it's kind of like, wow….” He tails off, grinning as though at his immense good fortune.
Not that he and Sir Elton are always in the same country.
Yesterday, Furnish was back from New York, where he saw Billy Elliot — he's executive producer of the musical — pick up 10 Tony Awards.
He also spends time in LA and Toronto with his film-maker hat on.
Meanwhile, Elton, now 62, has been touring with Billy Joel.
“I used to have this utopian vision that maybe when he turned 65 we might be able to slow down and enjoy our beautiful homes [they have others in Venice, Holland Park and Atlanta],” says Furnish.
“But I don't think that day will ever come. I don't think Elton is wired that way, and I've come to accept it. He's too driven.
He's the most future-focused person I know, one of the least nostalgic.
Once something is enjoyed, it's in the past. He only interested in new music, for example, and new artists.”
A few years ago Furnish told me that, shortly after their civil partnership, he and John tthought hard about adopting a child — specifically, a three-year-old Aids orphan from Soweto whom they met on a field trip for the Foundation.
In fact, after researching the boy's background, they found he had a grandmother and two sisters, and was well looked after within his own community.
But ever since, they have paid for this boy's clothes, food and schoolbooks.
“He and his family came to one of Elton's concerts in Johannesburg, and he remembered Elton.
He's five now. He gave us all big hugs and wouldn't leave Elton's side.
The record company came to present Elton with a couple of discs and this little boy is in all the photos.
“But as all this was happening, his sister broke down in tears. She was sobbing: “They're going to take him away. ” And we were like, no no no: that's not going to happen. It would be so wrong to break up a family like that.”
What does he think of Mercy, Madonna's adopted daughter? Is it right that she leaves Malawi?
“It's a different situation,” he replies, narrowing his eyes a little.
“Mercy has been living in an orphanage and didn't have any active parenting.
A lot of these kids have relatives who don't want to know. Those are the ones that need help.”
The time for him and Sir Elton has passed, in any case. “We're too busy, and we're not at the right stage in our lives. Maybe if we'd met 20 years ago …”
Meanwhile, he has a Ball to put on, and surprisingly, a few tickets going spare.
By “reconfiguring” the marquee, he says, they've squeezed an extra 50 covers in — making a total of 650 guests — and apparently this year there's no waiting list.
“The culture we've created, by going back to the same people, means a lot of others think they'll never be able to get a table.
So they've given up trying.” Anyone with a spare £30,000 is therefore welcome to buy one.
“Justin [Timberlake] is doing the music and it's going to be amazing,” says Furnish.
“We've had real pinch-me moments in the past — Elton, Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach singing together.
Elton, Barry Manilow and Donna Summer. But this year, with Justin, it's a fresh feel.”
Before putting the final touches to this year's bash, Furnish is off on a weekend break.
No, not Brighton or Whitstable. Furnish is flying to Nice, where he'll call on the Beckhams in their newly done-up French place.
“We know a lot of people,” he concedes, as I raise my eyebrows. Do they ever eat beans on toast in front of the telly?
“Oh, those are the best nights,” he replies. “If I didn't have those nights, I really couldn't do any of the rest.”
To learn more about the Elton John Aids Foundation and information on the Ball, visit www.ejaf.com.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tennis legend Billie Jean King and music superstar Sir Elton John are teaming up for their annual charity event --- the 17th annual Advanta WTT Smash Hits on December 8, 2009 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge. Last year's event raised more than $400,000 to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund. Billie Jean King and Elton John will each captain a team and be will joined by tennis champion Andy Roddick and other top players, who will play five sets of World TeamTennis (WTT). Advanta WTT Smash Hits has raised nearly $9 million since its inception in 1993.
Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the Smash Hits VIP Reception and Auction, are available. For more information on the VIP Reception, contact Paige Sharber at 225-928-8346.
At his recent Bristol gig, Sir Elton John spoke about his upcoming tour plans for the United Kingdom in 2010 and 2011.
According to the legend, he will do only one show in the UK in 2010, at Watford FC, followed by Billy Joel shows in 2011.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
All roads led to Ashley Down on Saturday night, as thousands of Elton John fans made their way to Gloucestershire County Cricket Club to see the world-famous star play the first ever-concert on the ground.
This was a concert for people of all ages. There were mums and dads with their young children, groups of students, 30-somethings wearing pink cowboy hats with frivolous abandon, and grey-haired music lovers who could dance with the best of them.
In Nevil Road, unofficial temporary stalls had been set up that were doing a brisk trade in ponchos as the rain began to fall at about 6pm, but then returned to selling glow sticks, bunny ears and the aforementioned pink cowboy hats, one of which was thrown onstage and Sir Elton placed on his grand piano for most of the night before wearing it for Your Song, the last song of the night.
"I've never looked so butch," he joked, before saying that it would form part of next season's kit for Watford, the football club where he is honorary life president.
There were a few Watford kits among the crowd, and these yellow shirts were among the less colourful outfits that included feather boas, wigs, oversize glasses (some of which also started flashing as the night drew in) and, of course, the cowboy hats in a variety of outlandish colours.
Most of the 10,000 fans sat on the outfield of the ground, with seats placed directly onto the grass, which felt like a carpet underfoot it was so pristine.
Above our heads, several hot air balloons glided serenely past as support act Richard Fleeshman played. Back on terra firma, Sir Elton and his band were dwarfed by the huge stage, and for those who could not see the musicians, two giant screens on either side broadcast live footage, including from a camera on Sir Elton's piano that showed just what a phenomenal player he is.
The sound was crisp, the songs were note-perfect, and Sir Elton sung them all with passion and vigour.
The drama queen also endeared himself to his many fans by taking several minutes to sign many items handed to him by audience members as he returned to for the encore.
One of the few gripes on the night were the long queues for food and drink, some of which were well over half-an-hour long.
There was also plenty of work for the stewards, who were told to get everybody standing up to sit down, before their job was made redundant as the sun set and every single member of the crowd had risen to their feet.
Many of the more adventurous fans were standing from the start, and it was a game of cat and mouse, as the stewards told them to sit down as they were blocking the view of people behind them, they sat down, and then stood up again as the stewards walked away.
Fans embraced the concert for what it was – an evening of high camp with timeless pop songs that span generations.
And to keep that memory fresh, for sale after the concert was a CD of the show, ready for collection mere minutes after the closing bars of Your Song, as the fireworks exploded in the night sky above Ashley Down.
SET LIST FOR EUROPEAN TOUR
Funeral For A Friend
Love Lies Bleeding
Saturday Night Alright (For Fighting)
Burn Down The Mission
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
I Want Love
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Take Me To The Pilot
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
All The Young Girls Love Alice
Candle In The Wind (solo)
Are You Ready For Love
Bennie And The Jets
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Monday, June 15, 2009
How many crew are on the road? 37.
How many days will it take to load in? Six.
How many crew will it take to put up the stage? 60 (these are additional to the touring crew).
How many trucks of production will there be? Eight.
How many trucks of steel (i.e. containing the stage)? Six.
How many tonnes of steel? 120.
How big is the crane that will be used to put up the stage? 35 tonne crane.
How many generators? Two 500 KVA “Twin Set” generators.
How many watts of power? 44,000.
How many metres of cable? 8,950.
How many light bulbs are in the lighting rig? Approximately 100 moving lights.
How many boxes are there in the sound rig? 52.
How many mic's are on stage? 40.
How many pianos are on tour? Two.
How many times a day is the piano tuned? Once.
How many costumes does Elton take on the road with him? 40-50.
Does Elton have any peculiar requests on his dressing room rider? Flowers!!!
Are there any particular things that Elton specifically has to have in his dressing room? Twinnings English Breakfast tea, Diet Coke, San Pellegrino sparkling water.
Is there anything in particular than Elton does before he goes on stage? Vocal exercises.
Does Elton have any particular things for when he comes off stage? Climbs in the car and goes home!
How many shows on the European leg of this tour? 15.
How many hours will he spend on stage on this tour? 34 hours.
How many people will he perform to on this tour? 225,000.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sir Elton John was in a jubilant mood this week as Billy Elliot, the musical for which he wrote the score, walked away with an incredible ten Tony Awards.
After its phenomenal success on Broadway, the uplifting musical was awarded the coveted best musical gong, and additional awards for scenic design, lighting, sound and orchestration.
The production's British director, Stephen Daldry, was also given the best director trophy, while the three young stars who take turns to play the title role of Billy – Canadian David Alvarez, and US-born actors Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish - jointly won the award for best leading actor in a musical.
Rocket Man singer Elton, who took part in a musical medley during the awards with stars from Broadway shows, missed out on the Tony for top score, but not even that could dampen his mood.
"Thank you for accepting us so beautifully on Broadway," the thrilled star told the audience as he helped accept the best musical award. "We came here at a hard time economically. You opened up your wallets and you opened up your hearts to us. And we love you for it."
Other stars recognised at the annual ceremony, which fetes excellence in American theatre, included Liza Minelli and the late Natasha Richardson, who received a posthumous award.
Guests included Dolly Parton and Anne Hathaway.
See Elton's Tony Awards Performance here.
- Hello Magazine
SIR ELTON JOHN is in talks to take BILLY ELLIOT back to the big screen.
John wrote the music for the theatre adaptation of the 2000 movie, which was written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry.
Now the trio want to take the story about a young ballet dancer full circle by re-making the movie as a musical.
Speaking after the Broadway adaptation of Billy Elliot The Musical scooped ten Tony Awards on Sunday (07Jun09), Hall revealed, "We've been talking about making the musical back into a movie - but we'd have to think long and hard how to do it."
- Contact Music
Bernie and Elton are planning on getting to work in a Los Angeles studio in February of 2010 for a special project that will be their first studio album since ’06’s "The Captain & The Kid." This collaboration of old and new friends promises to represent a direction that has been fermenting for years in the heads of its perpetrators.
- Bernie J Taupin.com
Monday, June 8, 2009
SIR Elton John's guitarist and musical director, Davey Johnstone, celebrates a remarkable milestone next week.
Davey, from Edinburgh, will perform his 2000th concert with Elton at Glasgow's SECC on Wednesday, after a relationship that has spanned almost 40 years.
Relaxing before a gig in Detroit, Davey admitted: "I didn't know it was my 2000th gig until Elton's office called me up. I was surprised but thrilled. It's exciting to think I'mplaying my 2000th official show in Scotland."
Davey has so many awards and platinum discs, he stores them in his garage and hands them to friends and relatives whenever he is short of a Christmas or birthday present.
As well as being Elton's guitarist, Davey is also his musical director and has co-written many classic songs, including I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues. He also penned tracks with Elton for The Lion King soundtrack, worked with him on Aida andBilly Elliot, and the pair are currently working on an animated film for Disney called Gnomeo & Juliet.
Despite his incredible talent and experience, Davey enjoys a level of anonymity that enables him to spend time with his wife and seven children without being mobbed by fans.
In keeping with his status as one of the world's busiest musicians, his collection of stringed instruments stretches into the hundreds and includes plenty of vintage guitars and mandolins.
He received his first album credit in 1968, before going on to join British folk group, Magna Carta. Elton's producer Gus Dudgeon invited him to record on Elton's 1971 albumMadman Across TheWater and, since then, he and Elton have been inseperable.
"That was the first day I met Elton," Davey recalled. "It was a pivotal album for him and he was desperately trying become this star and it was just starting to happen. I was just 19, in the studio with established musicians I really looked up toincluding people like Herbie Flowers, playing bass.
"Elton was quite shy but we got on immediately. He'd say, 'How should we start this song?' and I'd say, 'Why don't we just go straight into it?' The fact that somebody was saying, 'Let's do it this way,' was something he noticed."
Davey's hands-on approach impressed Elton so much, he was asked to join his band full time. "I was a little bit surprised a couple days later when I got a call to say Elton wanted to useme on the next album, Honky Chateau," Davey said. "We went over to France and recorded it. I felt good because I was bringing a different side to the music that he wanted.
"He is a huge folk fan and I was playing acoustic as well as electric guitar. He loves Joni Mitchell and I was digging people like Bert Jansch and Billy Connolly, who was in The Humblebums. They were my mates in Scotland, so I'd play their music to him.
"When I get together with Billy Connolly, we laugh the whole time. He was as big an influence on me as George Harrison was. We got to play together a lot because Billy was a great banjo player and a lover of music in general.
"In those times, when the original Humblebums were hanging out with Gerry Rafferty, we'd hang out and get a bit wasted." Rocket Man from that album became Elton's first No.1 and, within months, he was on his way to being a superstar, with Davey in tow.
And the guitarist won't have to think too hard about which of his 2000 gigs stands out from the overs when he celebrates on Wednesday.
"The biggest stand-out is way back in 1974, when we didMadison Square Garden in New York and John Lennon came on with us," Davey recalled. "John had been recording with us and travelling with us the whole year so we were great mates. He loved to hang outwith us.
"Elton had made a bet with John that he would have to get onstage with us at Madison Square Garden if Whatever Gets You Through The Night, which Elton played piano on, got to No. 1. John said no problem because he never thought his single would top thecharts.
"But it did get to No. 1. That night of the concert, John said he was too nervous to go on. Even though John was incredibly nervous, it was the most amazing buzz when he did come onstage. The audience went completely nuts.
"After the show, I was in the New York Plaza hotel and Elton called me up and said, 'Listen, John's here withme and he wants to come over and hang out with you. Is that OK?' I remember saying, 'Is that OK? I might be a bit busy. Of course, it's OK. Sendhim over.'
"One of my greatest visual highlights is looking through the spyglass on my bedroom door and seeing John Lennon walking up the hall, with his black flat hat on, the shades and black gear. John hung out with me and we talked until eight in the morning. I played him some music I was into. I told him where I lived in Scotland and he said, 'I know exactly where it is. I always go up to Murrayfield.' I found out that he used to come up to Edinburgh every year on vacation because he had an aunt up there."
Over the years, Davey has also performed with a who's who of music names that includes Meat Loaf, Olivia Newton-John, Alice Cooper, Julio Iglesias, Judy Collins, George Jones, Rod Stewart, Belinda Carlisle, Lenny Kravitz and Vonda Shepard.
He has no idea of the number of platinum discs he owns, or how many awards he has received, let alone the number of times he has picked up a guitar to performa song from Elton's huge back catalogue.
Davey said: "All I know is I've been blessed and have gotten loads of awards. Most of them I give tomy family and good friends because it is embarrassing. I've never been into the idea of plastering a room with platinum albums. Don't get me wrong, it is great to have them and I am proud to have reached that achievement.
"A friend has my first Gold albums for records like Yellow Brick Road. He prizes that more than I do. Plus, my wife wouldn't want them on the wall. I'll give someone one of the awards as a present because they're beautiful.
"When Elton started getting them, it was platinum album diarrhoea. They were coming in the mail, five-a-day. So he started decorating his houses with them. He is not ostentatious about it, though. You get very blase about it, the more awards you get."Davey added: "I turned 58 and he threw the most beautiful dinner party for me in his house in Atlanta. His housekeeper Lucy cooked me the best meal of home-cooked Mexican food. Elton gaveme this gorgeous bracelet with black sapphires on it.
Elton is like Santa Claus. He is so generous, it's unbelievable."
Having lived and partied through the 1970s, a golden age of pop music, Davey now lives with his Danish wife, Kay, and their children, in Malibu Canyon, California.
He said: "I love Malibu Canyon because it is away from all the madness. I lived in Hollywood for the first 10 years in California. That was nuts. Completely mental. I had a party house with a view of the Hollywood hills. I knew I had to get out of there or I was going to die.
"Lowell George, the main guitar player with Little Feat, was a real icon among guitar players and would be over regularly. Oliver Reed, the actor, would come up and drink and snort everything in sight. I have mentioned two people who are dead so I thinkI should leave it there so I don't incriminate people.
"I can't deny it. We all had a phenomenal time. Making money and getting as whacked out as you possibly can was great, but the reality kicked in when we started losing good friends like KeithMoon, Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham. It was a wake-up call. Inthe 1980s, we started looking after ourselves a bit more."
Davey's workload is so huge he is required to have guitars crisscrossing the globe the year round. Ask how many guitars he owns and Davey admits: "I'm embarrassed to say, I don't know. When we doubled up the rig I lost count. In 1993, I had 100 guitars,mandolins, banjos and lutes and bizarre little things. Now, it's probably a couple of hundred and they keep on coming because I keep discovering new ones.
"The only place I haven't played that I can think of is Bangkok, in Thailand. I would love to play there. It got to be so stupid that, a few years ago, our tour manager asked if I could double up on my equipment. I couldn't duplicate because my guitarcollection is pretty legendary and I have some amazing instruments. But I said, 'I'll try.'
"With my guitar tech, Rick Salazar, we got in touch with Gibson and Fender and doubled up on my whole rig so that we could have an A rig and a B rig so we could have one set in the States and another set in Europe.
"It made it easier to play obscure places and get there quicker. So, I now have an A rig, a B rig and a studio rig. There's always 70 guitars floating around the world at any particular time. It makes it easier for the management to book us in to playplaces like Kazakhstan.
"I am very fortunate. The last 10 years, Elton and I will talk about the set for an upcoming tour and I get the guys together and we will rehearse a few things and get it all happening for him. It's a very cool position to be in. He totally trusts me asfar as what I amgoing to do with his arrangements. I pretty much have a free hand which is a great position to be in. We are still selling out concerts after all this time.
When I look out at our audience. I see three generations, which is amazing. Young kids come because they realise it is great music from the Seventies or whenever and people from our generation come because they know they are not going to see people lipsyncing.
"Elton's a hard working son-of-a-bitch. That is what keeps us going. We are at his mercy because he is a slave-driver. It is great to have the work but the work we do is ludicrous. People ask how we do it at our age.
"Right now, we are doing Gnomeo & Juliet for Disney. It's about garden gnomes and the music for it is phenomenal. As if we are not busy enough, we fly back to Atlanta with Elton on the off days to record songs for that. Then it's back for another show.It will go on like that until the piano player falls off his stool."
However, with the approach of 2000 gigs and counting, he admits the idea of retiring has crossed his mind, to the chagrin of his children.
Davey said: "My kids love what I do. I mentioned that I might be on the verge of retiring a couple of years ago and my daughter said, 'You can't. What will I tell my friends?' They love the fact that their dad is quite cool and plays in a rock band.
"It's all right for Elton. He gets to sit on his ass and play piano. I'mup there wielding a 25lb guitar. The wear and tear is starting to kick in. The reason we all keep doing it is because we love it."
Despite his achievements, Davey insists he doesn't consider himself a celebrity.
"Celebrity is a state of mind," he explained. "If somebody wants to follow that path of fame, that's what they'll do and they'll make sure they are surrounded by minders and make sure that they are catered for. I have always liked doing things for myselfwhether it is going to the market or going to the pub. I've always felt that if I'mrestricted, what's the point. I might want to take the kids to the park.
"Way back, I saw that Elton wanted to be a star. He wanted to write great music, but at the same time his intention was to be the biggest star and he did it. I saw the way he did it. He would do every single radio interview in every single town we gotinto. He accepted all the trappings that came with that. The problem is you get painted into a corner and you don't get to go out because people want to know your everymove. With me, I've never allowed that to happen. It has always been more important tohave friends, to go out and have a good laugh.
"I've been lucky enough to have people come up to me and say I got them through High School. I don't get people coming up and wanting to tear my clothes off. People thank me for the years of music and there's nothing better than that."
Meanwhile, he is more than ready to celebrate his remarkable 2000th Elton John concert in Scotland.
"I'll probably just do something with the family, who are coming through from Edinburgh," he said. "There's a whole bunch of them who always come through for the show. It's always kind of embarrassing. When we played Easter Road a couple years ago, I hada guest list of 40 and they had a big banner for me. It's great. I always get a great reception when I come back to Scotland."
- California Chronicle
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
For the first time Elton John is working with an instant live music specialist. Recordings from his European performances this summer will be available as exclusive Limited Edition Elton John three disc souvenir set.
Instant Live CDs will be produced at all dates on the Elton John full band tour. The 3-CD set will feature two live audio CDs along with an exclusive 3rd photo disc: 20+ professional photos including the live performance and back stage shots of the tour. Perfectly capturing the Elton John live experience!
Pre-order your CD now so you don’t miss out on these incredible collectable souvenirs.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sir Elton John was waxing so eloquently on Ontario's burgeoning film animation industry today that Premier Dalton McGuinty jokingly offered him a cabinet post.
The pop star and the politician were at Starz Animation, which is producing a new animated movie called Gnomeo and Juliet for John's film company, Rocket Pictures.
McGuinty said the Ontario government is giving a $23 million grant to Starz to create new jobs.
John said he picked Starz from a long list of similar companies in the industry and was "overwhelmingly blown away...Ontario is a hotbed of talent."
Noting that many Ontarians have left their country to seek opportunities in show business elsewhere, John predicted "you'll find people will be coming back to Canada."
That was all McGuinty needed to hear after last week's surprise resignation of Michael Bryant from cabinet to head the city agency Invest Toronto.
"I have a new opening in my cabinet for a minister of economic development," the premier quipped to John, who appears in concert with Billy Joel at the Air Canada Centre tonight and Saturday.
"Are you available, Sir Elton?"
McGuinty suggested a cabinet shuffle to fill the vacancy is not on his rush list and will come "not in the too-near future" as the Legislature begins its summer break after next week.
John and his famous song-writing partner Bernie Taupin have written four songs for Gnomeo and Juliet, a spoof of the Shakespeare drama due to appear through Disney and Miramax films in 2011.
Aside from that, Starz is also putting the finishing touches on a new animated film called 9 by director Tim Burton.
The money from Ontario's $1 billion next generation jobs fund will help the company, which opened in 2007, create and preserve about 250 jobs – including 40 more animators slated to be hired by year's end.
The fact that Starz has won business from luminaries like Burton and John is proof the company is worthy of taxpayer support, McGuinty said.
He noted his history with John goes back a long way to his high school in Ottawa, where Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was playing when he one day approached a pretty girl he'd had his eye on in the student lounge.
They began dating and he bought her a copy of the famous double album.
"Eight track, was it?" John joked back at the premier, who explained that high school girl is Terri McGuinty, his wife and mother of their four grown children.
John invited the McGuintys to visit him backstage at tonight's concert.
Reportedly actors James McAvoy from Atonement and Emily Blunt from The Devil Wears Prada will voice the title characters of Gnomeo and Juliet.
John has sold more than 200 million records during his four-decade career.
He is one of the most successful pop artists of all time with more than 50 Top-40 hits, five Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award.
He has also been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s, establishing the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 in the U.S. and in 1993 in the United Kingdom.
In 1998 John received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his music and charitable efforts.
In the 1990s he worked with Tim Rice on music for Disney's The Lion King.
So far only 10 people have won the grand slam of showbiz peer-group prizes — the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony: Mel Brooks, John Gielgud, Whoopi Goldberg, Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mike Nichols, Rita Moreno, Richard Rodgers and Jonathan Tunick.
Elton John won a Tony Award for the music score to "Aida" (2000) and all of Gold Derby's award seers predict he'll pick up another for the music score to "Billy Elliot" on June 7. Having already won an Oscar for best song of 1994 ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" from "The Lion King") and five Grammys, all he'll need soon to join the grand-slam pantheon is an Emmy. He's not only eligible this year, but he's also campaigning aggressively to nab it.
Elton and his partner David Furnish could win Emmys as co-producers of "Spectacle With Elvis Costello" on the Sundance Channel, which competes for best variety series.
- LA Times
The 2009 Tony Awards, to be held on Sunday, June 7 at Radio City Music Hall and aired live on CBS-TV from 8:00pm to 11:00 pm, has announced the show's featured performances.
Each of the Tony-nominated Best Musicals and Best Musical Revivals -- including Billy Elliot, The Musical; Guys and Dolls; Hair; Next to Normal; Pal Joey; Rock of Ages; Shrek the Musical; and West Side Story -- will perform. Additionally, there will be special performances from the touring productions of Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde The Musical and Mamma Mia!, along with special appearances by Elton John and Dolly Parton.
As previously announced, Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony. Presenters will include Lucie Arnaz, Kate Burton, Kristin Chenoweth, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Edie Falco, Will Ferrell, Carrie Fisher, Jane Fonda, Hallie Foote, James Gandolfini, Lauren Graham, Colin Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden, Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Lange, Frank Langella, Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce, Piper Perabo, Oliver Platt, Susan Sarandon, Kevin Spacey, John Stamos, and Chandra Wilson.
Billy Elliot, the Musical leads the field with 15 nominations, including Best Musical. Other shows with multiple nominations include Next to Normal (11), Hair (8), Shrek the Musical (8), Mary Stuart (7), The Norman Conquests (7), God of Carnage (6), and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (6). For a full list of nominations, click here.
In addition, for the first time ever, fans in the New York area can watch the Tony Awards simulcast in Times Square on the Clear Channel Spectacolor HD Screen, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The screening will feature the pre-telecast Creative Arts Awards and the Tony Awards broadcast. Seating will be provided in Duffy Square.
The 2009 Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and The American Theatre Wing. For more information, visit www.tonyawards.com.
- Theater Mania
Elton John may be famous for smash hits such as "Tiny Dancer" and scores for films such as "The Lion King," but he's also made a name for himself in HIV/AIDS activism.
The singer-songwriter established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the United States and the United Kingdom to support HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with the disease, and care and support services for people living with the condition. The foundation has raised more than $150 million. John has said that Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who died of HIV/AIDS in 1990, inspired him to create this foundation.
John sat down with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta before speaking Tuesday at the Bio International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Here is an edited transcript.
CNN: What are you doing here today?
Elton John: I'm doing a speech about the situation with AIDS in America basically, and how we need to address what's going on. We seem to be falling a little behind in America.
I find this disease very cyclical. Every 10 years or so, after we spend a lot of money trying to educate people -- a new generation of people -- and we tell them to have safe sex and to abstain sometimes but have safe sex, wear condoms, we find that after 10 years another whole group of people come along. And we have to start all over again, which is really, really frustrating because it takes money for education. And we find that if we could get into the schools at a grass-roots levels, which we do in places like Africa where we get to kids at a young age and we tell them about preventive measures for not getting HIV, we find the success rate is tremendous. Watch more of Dr. Gupta's interview with Elton John »
CNN: Sometimes in medicine, you can actually be a victim of your own success. When the medications are pretty good, you see a resurgence of high-risk behavior. How do you affect that?
John: I'm a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I know that when I used to use and drink, that my mind situation was altered completely. Your caution goes out the window and you think, "Oh, well, we'll gamble, we'll have..." and luckily, I was so lucky enough to not be HIV infected.
Once you have that drink and that drug, your mind-set goes out the window and a lot of people think, "Oh yeah, because there's medicine available now," as you say, "We're going to be OK, and we have to take now one pill a day maybe," which is incredible, because initially people had to take God knows how many pills a day, various cocktails to get them through this disease.
Now, people are going back into the work force, they're becoming alive again, they live for a much longer time, which is great. But, this is incredibly toxic medicine you're taking, and it doesn't work for everybody, and you're really playing... Russian roulette with your life. And it's sad -- you think that after all this time, and all of this education that has gone down, and with all the statistics and deaths that people have seen, and the Ryan White situation going down, that people would be a little bit more careful. But we're finding they're not.
CNN: When you look at your foundation, and you're talking to the people who work with you, how do you measure your success?
John: We're very small, and I've kept it small because I've always wanted to keep an eye on what was going on. We have two people basically running the organization in America and about seven or eight in Britain plus volunteers. In America for the last four years, I've measured the success by the fact that we have a four-star rating from the Charity Navigator for the last four years, which means that we are doing a fantastic job. We don't waste any money, we don't gamble with our money.
CNN: You go to South Africa every year, I understand?
John: Every year at the beginning of the year, we start the year on safari, we go and visit our AIDS projects, and as soon as you go there and see -- and you have to visit your projects from time to time, wherever they are, whether it's in America, South America, West Indies, whatever -- we go and visit these projects on a regular basis to see the results that we're doing, to see if it's working, to see if our money's being spent the right way, and to come back and feel "yes, we're working, its working, so let's do more." When you see something that's working, you want to do more. You say, "This is fantastic."
CNN: What are some of those success stories?
John: Well, in Kalicha, in Cape Town, there was a woman we visited about five years ago. Somebody left a baby on her doorstep one night, and the mother had thrown herself in front of a train, the baby was orphaned, and they gave it to Rosalia. And she took it in, and then everyone started leaving babies on their doorstep.
So there were about 120 kids sleeping in a shack, her home, like six to a bed. And we were reduced to tears -- one woman and volunteers were looking after all of these kids. We said, "One day, this whole street where you're living, we'll build you some homes, proper homes for these kids to live in." Now there are six "cluster homes," they call them, where they have running water, showers, proper bedrooms, they're like beautiful little houses. So that street now, there's no original shack left, it's got all beautiful houses for these kids to live in. You go there, you see how happy they are, and you think, God this is amazing.
We were inspired because of this one woman. We do good work, but these people on the ground, these people that are actually in the trenches every day who are looking after AIDS patients, who are looking after orphans, they're the heroes -- we're not. We're just trying to make their lives a bit easier, and because they're doing such great humanitarian work.
CNN: What is your routine like?
John: Well lets put it like this: I have a musical nominated for 15 Tonys, I'm doing an animation movie for Disney that I'm writing the music for, I'm producing, we have a show called "Spectacle" which is on Sundance which is with Elvis Costello, which is an incredibly well-received show.
I'm going to do an album with Leon Russell next year, I have a ballet going to be done by the Alberta Ballet, I have the AIDS foundation, I have my management company [in] which we manage lots of young artists, and I still have free time. I love my life and I'm 62, I've never felt better. I've never had more joy than I have in my life right now, and the AIDS foundation is a huge part of that.
SEE ELTON'S KEYNOTE ADDRESS HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGhj77wvbVU