Sunday, August 22, 2010
The Elton John Band Perform in Honour of Guy Babylon
An upcoming Elton John tribute show produced by Rock Nation School will be as much a tribute to late band member Guy Babylon as to the Rocket Man, himself. Three members of John's band-lead guitarist and music director Davey Johnstone, drummer Nigel Olsson and percussionist John Mahon-will perform "Goodbye Superman," a song written in Babylon's memory by his 12-year-old son, Ben Babylon. Johnstone and Mahon will also play Elton John songs with Ben and other student musicians. The concert will take place September 26 at the famed Canyon Club near Los Angeles.
The younger Babylon will play keyboard and sing lead vocals on "Goodbye Superman," which he composed after his father passed away suddenly on September 2, 2009. Elton John and his musicians have remained close friends of the Babylon family, so when Ben's mother, Kathy Babylon, learned that Rock Nation was planning an Elton John tribute show, she came up with the idea to invite members of his band to appear.
"It's been a year now and it just seemed to be perfect timing to bring everyone together in honor of Guy's memory, through Ben's song," she said. "My husband was a big supporter of Rock Nation. All the guys in the band have helped with fundraisers over the years, and the last one was actually at The Canyon Club. So this is truly a full-circle moment for me."
Ben Babylon, who plays keyboards, piano, guitar, ukulele and drums, has taken private lessons at Rock Nation since 2008, and has written several original songs. He has been heavily influenced by his father and Elton John, having grown up watching them work together.
"I'm really excited that Davey, Nigel and John will be playing my song," Ben said. "I wrote it as a tribute to my dad. They were his friends and fellow band members, so for me to get to play it with them on stage means a lot."
That sentiment is shared by John Mahon, who has been a member of the Elton John Band since 1997.
"I'm looking forward to playing some music with Ben Babylon again, and performing something by Elton John will be right up his alley," Mahon said. "He is an amazing young talent with many exciting musical endeavors in his future. I better start practicing!"
Ben Babylon isn't the only child of an Elton John associate who will appear in the upcoming show. Fifteen-year-old drummer Juliet Johnstone, a student at Rock Nation, will perform, as will her older brother, Jesse, a professional recording engineer, who will lend his talents on bass. Their father, Davey Johnstone, has worked with Elton John since the 1971 album "Madman Across the Water," and was responsible for bringing Guy Babylon into the band.
"Elton always called Guy our 'keyboard genius and wizard,'" Johnstone said. "I met Guy at a recording session in 1987 and immediately knew I was in the presence of someone really special. We had an almost psychic connection and we loved stretching our talents to create music that was always challenging and refreshing."
In 1990, Johnstone and Babylon formed their own musical group, Warpipes, with Nigel Olsson, Bob Birch,and Billy Trudell, and released one album, "Holes in the Heavens." Singles off the album are now being released on iTunes, in association with Babylon Music.
Unfortunately, Elton John will not participate in the upcoming Rock Nation concert, because he will be on tour in Europe with drummer Ray Cooper. However, he remains close to the Babylons, and has shown support for Ben's music in other ways. Recently, he invited Ben to hang out in the recording studio, while he worked on his forthcoming album "The Union" with rock legend Leon Russell. That album is scheduled to be released in October.
Rock Nation, a private rock-music school with four locations in the Los Angeles area, is owned by Tony Avalon, son of singer and actor Frankie Avalon. The school produces several tribute shows annually, each highlighting the music of a different rock star.
"Rock Nation and the Rock Nation community are very excited and honored to have the members of the Elton John band performing at a Rock Nation show," Avalon said. "What this means to me is that Rock Nation's status has earned the respect from professional world-class musicians who embrace the quality of a real music education to all ages. The musicianship level of this show will be outstanding. These students will sound unbelievable and true to the songs of Elton John."
The Rock Nation Tribute to Elton John will take place on Sunday, September 26, at 7:00 p.m. at The Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills, California 91301. Tickets are $12 at Rock Nation or $15 at the door. Reservations can be made by calling Rock Nation at 818-706-2326, The Canyon Club at 818-879-5016 or by visiting www.RockNationSchool.com.