Friday, April 30, 2010

Elton & Leon Russell to Tour?

Rumours are out that Sir Elton John and Leon Russell may do a limited tour of select cities this october to help promote the new album.

Stay tuned for more information.

Q & A With John Mahon

For 13 years, John Mahon has been traveling the world as a full-time member of Elton John’s band. A 1973 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, he has played about 700 shows to date.

A backing vocalist and percussionist in the band, Mahon will be onstage at Youngstown’s Cavelli Center on Saturday night for the arena’s sold-out Elton concert.

Mahon, a professional musician who had been based in Los Angeles since 1980, was hired for Elton’s band in 1997 after a friend arranged for him to audition with Elton’s bandleader, Davey Johnstone.

Since that fateful day, Mahon has found himself performing  for more than 100,000 people at the Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro, 200,000 people at the Coliseum in Rome, and 500,000 in London’s Hyde Park. He has met Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Sting, Cher, Gene Hackman and many other luminaries.

Back in Canton for a few days this week, Mahon talked about life on the road with an international rock superstar.

Q. Can you give me a preview of the Youngstown show?

 This show is two and a half hours and definitely big Elton John hits all the way from beginning to end: ”Tiny Dancer,” “Daniel,” “Rocket Man,” “Benny and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Your Song,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”

Q. Do you have much contact with Elton offstage?

 Elton loves to come into our dressing room before the show and basically hang out with the boys and act stupid. Sometimes we’ll throw food at each other like little kids. We talk about the previous night’s show, and Elton loves to talk sports. He’s just nuts about soccer, which they call football, and he’s a big Atlanta Braves fan because he lives in Atlanta.

Q. So how crazy is Elton’s tour itinerary?

 In March, we flew to Dubai for two days, 16 hours nonstop from Los Angeles, that trip really beat me up. We played with Santana there, then the next weekend I played in front of the pyramids outside Cancun. In five days in May, I’m going to play Morocco, Denmark, London and Poland. I have been gone for almost four months at a stretch, which is different if you’re a college kid.

Q. It sounds exciting and exhausting.

 I think I’m in a constant state of jet lag. I really have to exercise and watch my diet and hopefully sleep. A lot of what takes it’s toll on you when you’re jumping from city to city is just dragging your suitcase around and trying to get your laundry done and finding a nice cup of coffee. Imagine going to a restaurant in Serbia and trying to figure out the menu.

Q. Is it challenging to play the same songs night after night and keep it fresh, especially with all the traveling you’re doing?

 It’s really the audience we feed off of. Some nights you’re beat up and worn out but when you look out there and see people screaming like they’ve just won the lottery because you’re playing “Benny and the Jets,” it definitely gives you a pump of adrenaline immediately.

Q. Does your wife (Canton native Pam Tortola Mahon) join you on the road very often?

My wife likes to travel to the cities where she can shop — New York, London, Chicago. We went to Rome last summer and the winter before that we went to Paris. We’re going to be married for 30 years this year.

Q. Tell me about your very first concert with Elton John. I imagine you were a little nervous.

The first show was at a castle in Germany, but we’d rehearsed for four days in Nice. I remember traveling to the south of France and staying in a hotel on the Riviera and thinking, “I don’t even need to get paid for this!” Elton came over to me the first day of rehearsal and introduced himself. He couldn’t have been any nicer or more cordial. I’d never met a superstar. He was real cool.

Q. Do you take a lot of photos on the road?

 I do. I have a website — — and there’s a gallery there.

Q. So ... playing in Elton John’s band is not a bad gig, huh?

 Like anything, it becomes your job. This is not an easy route. But I could think of a lot worse things to be doing than making a good living playing music.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Elton at the Ryan White Benefit

A man, a microphone and a piano can filled the stage at Clowes Memorial Hall during a benefit Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary of Ryan White’s death from complications of AIDS.
Pop recording legend Elton John performed after appearances by former talk-show host Phil Donahue, actress Judith Light and Ryan’s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, to a sold-out crowd of nearly 2,200. 

Concertgoers paid $150 to $500 to watch John Sir sing for about an hour, with the proceeds going to the The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
He began with “Your Song,” a crisp, clear rendition that sounded as if he recorded it yesterday. With arms thrashing at the keys, John’s reflection in his piano sang back at him.
The earring in John’s right ear twinkled in the spotlight as he stood several times to play the piano — a feat he used to leverage audience applause.

At times he was accompanied by background recordings, but John’s performance proved he can still pound a piano after more than 40 years in the business. 

It wasn’t until the third song, “Philadelphia Freedom,” which began with an introduction, that the audience began to sing along and become more energetic.

John’s first standing ovation came with “Rocket Man,” in which his dramatic seven-minute, echo-laden version more than made up for the fact that the 63-year-old singer can no longer hit the high notes.
He sang all his classics — “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Crocodile Rock” — but it was “Skyline Pigeon,” the song he sang at Ryan’s 1990 funeral, that the crowd seemed to be waiting for.

 Elton John says he's been sober for 20 years, since shortly after the death of an Indiana teen with AIDS who the musician credits with inspiring him to turn his life around.
John was in Indianapolis on Wednesday to headline a benefit celebrating the life and legacy of Ryan White. The 18-year-old died on April 8, 1990, about five years after contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through a tainted blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia.
The singer befriended the boy during his public battle for acceptance after he was banned from a central Indiana school at age 13, bringing national attention to HIV/AIDS education and the plight of children with HIV in the 1980s. John was at Riley Children's Hospital when White died and was a pallbearer and performed at the funeral.
"It was one of the greatest things in my life to meet Ryan's family, to be there the last week to try and help, and then for that wonderful message that he gave me to change my life around," John told The Associated Press before the Wednesday evening benefit. "It was weird to take stock and think of it — I'm 20 years sober this year, and it's 20 years since Ryan died, because I got sober shortly afterward."
Proceeds from the event, which was being hosted by Phil Donahue, will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Indianapolis Children's Museum's "Power of Children" exhibit, which features White.
John established the foundation two years after White's death. The organization funds innovative HIV prevention and education programs, works to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and provides direct care and support services for patients.
The 20-year anniversary of White's death is an opportunity to restart a dialogue about AIDS and push for educating children about the disease, John said.
"Every 10 years, a new generation of kids come up, and we see the numbers go up, because we can't really get to them in school," John said. "We never could. Education about sex and education about AIDS was totally forbidden. That could have saved so many more lives, because children are smart. Children will listen. You don't have to threaten children, you just have to inform them."
"It took a child to die to make people sit up and notice," he added.
White's mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, said John's return to Indianapolis was a bittersweet reminder of her son's last days.
White-Ginder said John played "secretary" during White's final days, filtering phone calls and telegrams and making sure those who sent flowers were acknowledged.
"One of the most beautiful scenes I think I can remember is walking into Ryan's room and seeing Elton standing on a chair decorating Ryan's room," White-Ginder said Wednesday. "He said, 'When he wakes up, I want him to know how much he was loved.' That really touched me as a mom because I hadn't thought to do that."
She said it was special to have John back to mark the 20th anniversary of her son's death.
"I've always felt like he was my guardian angel," she said.
John gives similar credit to White-Ginder, and to the family that helped him find purpose.
"Jeannie's incredible fortitude in going through this as a mother — I never saw her crack. The last week, there were some tense moments, and it was very emotional, but I never saw Ryan crack," John said. "It was just an amazing lesson in how to live life in the best possible way."
- AP

Elton & Crew Feast on Prime Rib, Amongst Other Things...

Elton John may be on stage for a couple of hours Friday night when his "Rocket Man" greatest hits tour stops at the Sovereign Center in downtown Reading, but his performance is the culmination of a multiweek preparation that includes dozens of people, hours of preparation — and lots of fresh flowers.

One of the challenges facing the staff at the Sovereign Center is to make each star who visits feel special for the time he or she is in the building. And the bigger the star, the more grandiose the treatment.

"Every artist that comes through (the Sovereign Center venues) has different likes and dislikes and wants and needs and requirements," said Zane Collings, regional general manager for SMG, which operates the Sovereign Center.

Elton John is no different, although his requirements are neither quirky nor odd.

"Elton loves fresh flowers," Collings said. "He loves them and wants large amounts of them. So Heck Brothers and his group do a great job with that task. They did a great job the last time Elton came through here (in 2004), and I know he’ll come through again."

John’s second request is that the food served to him, his entourage and employees be absolutely delicious.

"He has a very high-end taste for catering," Collings said. "So we always roll out the red carpet for him with prime rib and that kind of thing." 

Collings said the Coca Cola VIP lounge also got some upgrades to make John and his people feel more comfortable.

It’s part of the reason acts like Elton John return to this venue again and again.

"We wouldn’t be able to get the act back to the venue if we didn’t have the support of the community, too," Collings added. "Treating the crew, the agents, the manager and the entire entourage great is fine. But if you didn’t sell tickets, acts would not come back."

And Berks County is happy to support Elton John, who is doing just a couple of tour stops stateside before he leaves for an international tour on May 1 that won’t have him back in this country again until mid-July.

John has much from which to choose for his time on stage, though, as he’s won five Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Tony for his music as well as charted 50 Top 40 hits and seven consecutive No. 1 albums.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and is rumored to be on a short list of people to take Simon Cowell’s seat on next season’s "American Idol," where he appeared last week as part of the "Idol Gives Back" fund raiser.

His career kicked off in America with songs such as "Your Song," "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" but continued through "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind," "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me," and "I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues."

Through all the success and documented diva behavior, John has remained popular with fans and promoters, and Collings said he’s nothing less than a nice guy who wants to treat his staff well.

The staff at the Sovereign Center also tries to find an appropriate gift to give the stars who appear there. The last time John was in town he was collecting horse statues, so the Sovereign Center staff worked with one of his personal shoppers to find him a 12-inch crystal horse.

"He was quite surprised," said Collings, adding that his staff was currently working on securing this year’s gift.

It’s all part of making sure that everyone in the entourage feels special, from the top man down.

"What people don’t completely understand is that life on the road may seem glitzy and glamorous, but really, a typical day (for the staff) begins at 7 a.m. when they climb off a bunk on a bus and get to work," Collings said. "They work 12 hours setting up, so that you can walk in the door and say, "AWESOME," and then after the star performs they’ve got another three hours of work to do before they can climb back onto the bus."

So Collings and his staff try to make the Sovereign Center as homey as possible.

"Our job is to make this place their home for the 24 hours they are here," he said. "We had one high-end band where one of the members wanted satellite television and the other wanted cable, so we gave them separate rooms and brought in satellite. We want to take care of the (acts) that come here."

Although the stars will usually show up in the late afternoon for a sound check, Collings said they are very aware of how their entourage has been treated throughout the day.

"With Elton John, all 70 people are eating prime rib," Collings said. "When his people are happy, Elton John is happy."


Elton Gets a Blood Nose at BCRF Hot Pink Party

Liz Hurley and Elton John joined forces to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York last night. The Hot Pink Party, hosted by the foundation's founder, Evelyn Lauder, was enjoyed by actresses, models and fashion designers, but Hurley and Elton made sure they stood out from the crowd by wearing the charity's symbolic colour.

Hurley, who has never been afraid to embrace bold colours (or styles, for that matter), chose a floor-length gown with ruffled cap sleeves, which matched Elton's shirt perfectly. However, Elton's look wouldn't have been complete without his trademark glasses - tinted pink of course. 


The Rocket Man's nose began to bleed as the A-list trio accepted a bouquet of flowers apiece at the Waldorf-Astoria's Breast Cancer Research Foundation gala.

- The Sun

Monday, April 26, 2010

Elton & Rob Thomas to Play Andre Agassi Concert

The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education (Foundation) today announced that SirElton John and Rob Thomas will headline its 15th Grand Slam for Children benefit concert. The annual event supports the Foundation's efforts to transform education and benefits the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (Agassi Prep), a K-12 public charter school in Las Vegas that strives to provide children with a first-class education. Hosted by tennis legend and philanthropist Andre Agassi and presented by Genworth Financial, the 2010 Grand Slam for Children will take placeSaturday, Oct. 9 at Wynn Las Vegas.
"Reaching our 15th Grand Slam is an incredible milestone, and the support we've gotten from both the artists and those involved with our Foundation have made that possible," said Andre Agassi. "We're honored that Elton & Rob will headline this special anniversary night, ultimately helping us make a difference in the lives of Agassi Prep students."
Celebrating its 15th year, the Grand Slam brings together international stars – from music to comedy – each year to build awareness and raise money for the Foundation. Dedicated to transforming education, the Foundation opened the Agassi Academy in 2001; in 2009, the public charter school graduated its first senior class with 100 percent of graduates accepted into college. The Foundation's work is directly impacting students in Las Vegas, Agassi's hometown community, but it has broader implications for education nationwide.
Since 1995, the Grand Slam has raised nearly $82 million, including $8 million from the 14th event, to support a movement that's improving education.
Additional top-name talent, who will be announced prior to the Oct. 9 event, will join Sir Elton John and Rob Thomas under the musical direction of Grammy Award-winning producer, arranger and composer David Foster.
The evening will include a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, live auction and benefit concert. Sponsorships for the Grand Slam are still available at the following levels: Silver $10,000, Gold $17,500, Platinum $40,000, and Diamond $85,000.
- PR Newswire

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Elton Returning to Malta after 7 years

Elton John is honouring his promise to visit Malta again, returning for a concert on September 26.
Organised by NNG Promotions, the concert will see the return of one of the music icons of the last 40 years. The British singer has sold more than 250 million albums, and produced classic songs like Daniel, Your Song and Candle in the Wind.
Knighted in 1998, Sir Elton has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. He has won five Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award.
He had played a memorable solo concert at the granaries in Floriana in 2003, during which he had promised to return in future. For the Malta concert he will be accompanied by Ray Cooper, who has performed with some of the world's finest artists.
Ticket details will be announced in the coming days.
- Times of Malta

Review: Elton & Band at Van Andel Arena

With his stock still rising in 1976 as the planet's biggest rock star, the zanily bespectacled Elton John toured mammoth U.S. stadiums sporting a Statue of Liberty costume and other furry, flashy, flamboyant, over-the-top attire.
The 29-year-old keyboard king churned out 19 songs as he scurried across the stage and repeatedly leapt off of his gargantuan piano, at least according to notes I scribbled on my wrinkled concert program from that "Louder than Concorde But Not Quite as Pretty" tour that stopped at the Pontiac Silverdome.
On Saturday night in Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena, the now 63-year-old Elton didn't do much scurrying -- just the occasional stage-stalk, double fist-pump and awkward finger-pointing salute.
He never once sprang off of his black Yamaha grand piano, never attempted one of those trademark keyboard handstands he regularly pulled off during his glory days.
OK, he did clamber up on his bench after an eye-popping, rollicking version of "Bennie and the Jets" and put one foot atop that piano before gingerly hopping back down to terra firma.
But make no mistake, this now venerable, less gaudy superstar (who did wear a snazzy long black jacket adorned with an image of himself climbing out of the jaws of a crocodile) may be more on top of his live-concert game than at any time in his stunning career: He generated nearly non-stop musical sparks with his finger-acrobatics on piano and his razor-sharp five-piece rock band for nearly three hours, leaving the crowd of 12,000 fairly fatigued by his procession of hits.
He played 26 songs -- seven more than he did during that Michigan stop 34 years ago -- and demonstrated time and again with his lengthy blues- and boogie-drenched solos that he really has no equal in his mastery of the rock 'n' roll piano.
And perhaps even more impressively, this veteran rocker seemed happier and more appreciative of his audience than on any previous tour I've seen, frequently acknowledging the raucous applause, shaking hands with fans and signing autographs for several minutes prior to his encore.
"It's just so great to play a place like Grand Rapids," he gushed near the end of the show. "It's not all about places like New York City. It's about places like Grand Rapids, too."
Gregarious guitarist Davey Johnstone mirrored that sentiment backstage prior to the concert. He told me Elton and his band -- drummer Nigel Olsson (an original Elton John Band member along with Johnstone), bassist and Detroit native Bob Birch, percussionist John Mahon and keyboard player Kim Bullard (replacing Guy Babylon, who died of a heart attack last September) -- relish performing in smaller cities where they've rarely played before. He even praised the hospitality of the "nice people" of Grand Rapids.
So 11 years since Elton last performed a solo show here, and 13 years since his full band graced Van Andel Arena, the legendary rocker and his no-frills band unfurled a flawless set of familiar rock and pop songs. It started with the classical-meets-rock twofer "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" from 1973's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and ended with 1994's "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King" soundtrack, with plenty of electrifying hits in between.
With his once-distinctive tenor now a just-as-pleasing, more resonant baritone -- partly due to surgery on his throat in the late '80s -- Elton sang with power, emotion and more than a little bit of mugging and good-natured snarling, as he alternately pounded on the keys ("Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "delightful improvisational solos ("Madman Across the Water," "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues").
And on classics such as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," the backing harmonies of Birch, Mahon, Olsson and Johnstone were spine-tinglingly spot-on.
It made for an unusually entertaining show that blended recording studio-quality voices and carefully planned instrumental precision with clever twists on familiar melodies and hyper-extended solos that mostly spotlighted Elton's dazzling piano creativity.
"Some numbers have evolved to a different animal," Johnstone had said in an earlier interview, joking that "Rocket Man" had morphed into a 20-minute beast in concert. "We do take that time to jam around and do what we want to do with that song a little bit."
Well, "Rocket Man" didn't last quite 20 minutes Saturday night, but the 14-minutes-plus version boasted all sorts of dynamic changes, musical drama, looped echoing vocals and enough goosebump moments to rev up baby boomers as well as the surprisingly large number of teens and 20-somethings in the house. Much like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, it seems the enduring music of Elton John still resonates with younger audiences.
And to think Elton played barely half of the 50 Top 40 hits he's scored over the past four decades.
There were subtle moments of brilliance to savor too: the tasteful piano flourishes on "Levon" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," the tender delivery of a new song, "You're Never Too Old," that Elton wrote recently with his piano hero Leon Russell, the funky Russell-influenced
riffs on "Honky Cat."
Then there was the almost-casual, jaw-dropping piano work on a rousing "The Bitch is Back." That romp of a tune also had Elton slamming the piano lid down in time to the music while the word "Bitch" flashed on the video-screen curtain behind the band, thus proving that even at 63,rock can still be a tad rebellious.
Yes, thankfully, Elton's "still standing," as he crooned proudly at one point. And to borrow a line from yet another Elton classic, this also meant Saturday night was all right ... even way better than all right.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Elton Performed at Surprise Concert in Orlando for Mc Donald's

Chenee Capuyan, a McDonald's restaurant employee from Davao Del Sur, Philippines, stunned celebrity judges and an audience of more than 14,000 with a powerful performance of Destiny's Child's "Stand Up for Love" to win the Voice of McDonald's global singing competition.
A panel of internationally-renowned music industry professionals judged the final competition: Estelle, Grammy Award-winning R&B singer; Troy Carter, chairman/CEO of Atom Factory, Inc., whose clients include Lady Gaga; Walter Afanasieff, Grammy Award-winning music producer whose credits include recordings by Mariah Carey and Celine Dion; and prominent entertainment attorney Ken Hertz.
As the new Voice of McDonald's, Capuyan takes home $25,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles with two VIP tickets to the Lady Gaga "Monster Ball Tour" concert in August 2010, courtesy of Troy Carter and the Atom Factory. Walter Afanasieff surprised Capuyan with an invitation to record a demo in his Los Angeles studio. She will also meet Elton John, who is exclusively performing tonight at the McDonald's 2010 Worldwide Convention. In addition, Capuyan wins a new MacBook courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company.
"All of those people watching me perform on stage -- it was really amazing," said Capuyan. "I'm so thankful to the McDonald's family for what I've learned and experienced."
Jin Hur from Goyang City, South Korea, took second place and received $15,000, and Jesus Molinares from Lima, Peru, placed third to win $10,000. McDonald's executives upped the ante by adding $5,000 to the second and third place prizes after hearing the finalists' outstanding performances.
"I've worked with some of the best singers in the music industry, and I can honestly say I was blown away by Chenee's talent and passion, as well as Jesus' and Jin's," said Estelle. "I think they've got a bright future ahead of them, and kudos to McDonald's for giving them this opportunity."
Accompanied by a live band and backup singers, the top three contestants poured their hearts and souls into their final performances for an audience of more than 14,000 McDonald's owners/operators attending McDonald's 2010 Worldwide Convention. Owner/operators packed the performance hall and waved country flags and signs of support for their finalists.
All 12 contestants participated in a rare, private audition at the Disney casting offices arranged by Talent Casting Director for Disney Parks Ray DeChiara, who judged Monday's semi-finals.
In addition, they received an iPod touch from the Coca-Cola Company, karaoke kit from The Karaoke Channel, Beats from Dr. Dre headphones from Universal Music Group and Voice of McDonald's attire. All 12 also received $500 for a celebration party with co-workers at their restaurants and a $1,000 donation in their names to their local Ronald McDonald House Charities or other children's charity.
Voice of McDonald's is a worldwide contest to discover, recognize and reward the most talented singers among McDonald's 1.6 million restaurant employees. In 2005, more than 2,500 employees entered the inaugural competition, and in 2007, more than 3,600 singers entered. In this third edition of the competition, more than 10,400 employees entered before the field was narrowed down to just 12 final contestants who were awarded a world-class opportunity to achieve their dreams: two whirlwind weeks in Orlando, with a guest, to experience professional vocal coaching, expert industry advice and a great time. On Monday, the field was narrowed down to three finalists who competed today for the title.
Winning Voice of McDonald's in 2008 helped Natercia Pintor, Lisbon, Portugal, jump-start her music career. Following her win, she returned to the U.S. to record a song produced by previous Voice of McDonald's judge and Grammy Award-winning song writer and producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, and subsequently released her first CD, "My Soul."

  • Funeral for a Friend
  • Love Lies Bleeding
  • Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
  • Levon
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Daniel
  • Rocket Man
  • I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues
  • Someone Save My Life Tonight
  • Take Me to the Pilot
  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Honk y Cat
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • The Bitc h Is Back
  • I'm Still Standing
  • Crocodile Rock (with "Old McDonald" intro)
  • Your Song
  • Circle Of Life (solo)

Elton's Tired Pilot Uses Wrong Taxiway to Take-Off

Fatigue and broken equipment contributed to a private jet pilot, believed to be flying British rock legend Sir Elton John, to attempt to use a taxiway rather than the main runway to fly out of Brisbane in 2007, an aviation safety investigation has concluded.
The pilot only abandoned the unsafe take-off when an air traffic controller instructed him to.
The incident occurred at 10.25pm on November 25, 2007, the same day Sir Elton performed his Rocket Man Solo Tour - A Knight Under The Stars at Canungra, near Mount Tamborine.
It is understood the musician was on board the Gulfstream aircraft, which was privately chartered to fly to Sydney after landing in Brisbane earlier that day.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau would not comment on the plane's passengers or crew for privacy reasons.
The investigation concluded this week that pilot fatigue, broken cockpit equipment, inadequate cockpit practices and unfamiliarity with the airport were likely to blame.
The pilot told investigators he had "felt tired" after flying from the United Kingdom via Japan in the past week and had had only two to four hours sleep at a time.
He slept just nine hours in the 72 hours before the incident.
The co-pilot was well rested but was inexperienced, so the captain had refused to allow him to take off or land when passengers were onboard, the report says.
The pilot said his electronic chart was not working at the time of take off and he had expected the copilot to monitor the taxi route.
Investigators found there had been a clear lack of communication.
"The co-pilot was not aware that the aircraft was not on the runway during the attempted takeoff," the ATSB report says.
An airport safety officer on the ground reported the plane to the airport aerodrome controller, who ordered it to stop.
The crew were allowed to reattempt the take-off ten minutes later.
No one was injured and there was no damage to the aircraft or airport infrastructure.

- Brisbane Times

Elton's Letter to Ryan White

Dear Ryan,

Twenty years ago this month, you died of AIDS. I would gladly give my fame and fortune if only I could have one more conversation with you, the friend who changed my life as well as the lives of millions living with HIV. Instead, I have written you this letter.

I remember so well when we first met. A young boy with a terrible disease, you were the epitome of grace. You never blamed anyone for the illness that ravaged your body or the torment and stigma you endured.

When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years. You said they were simply afraid of what they did not know.

When the media heralded you as an "innocent victim" because you had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, you rejected that label and stood in solidarity with thousands of HIV-positive women and men. You reminded America that all victims of AIDS are innocent.

When you became a celebrity, you embraced the opportunity to educate the nation about the AIDS epidemic, even though your only wish was to live an ordinary life.

Ryan, I wish you could know how much the world has changed since 1990, and how much you changed it.

Young boys and girls with HIV attend school and take medicine that allows them to lead normal lives. Children in America are seldom born with the virus, and they no longer contract it through transfusions. The insults and injustices you suffered are not tolerated by society.

Most important, Ryan, you inspired awareness, which helped lead to lifesaving treatments. In 1990, four months after you died, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which now provides more than $2 billion each year for AIDS medicine and treatment for half a million Americans. Today, countless people with HIV live long, productive lives.

It breaks my heart that you are not one of them. You were 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year, if only the current treatments existed when you were sick. I think about this every day, because America needs your message of compassion as never before.

Ryan, when you were alive, your story sparked a national conversation about AIDS. But despite all the progress in the past 20 years, the dialogue has waned. I know you would be trying to revive it if you were here today, when the epidemic continues to strike nearly every demographic group, with more than 50,000 new infections in the United States each year. I know you would be loudly calling for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was promised by President Obama but has not yet been delivered. I know you would reach out to young people. I know you would work tirelessly to help everyone suffering from HIV, including those who live on the margins of society.

It would sadden you that today, in certain parts of the United States, some poor people with AIDS are still placed on waiting lists to receive treatment. It would anger you that your government is still not doing enough to help vulnerable people with HIV and populations that are at high risk of contracting the virus, including sexually active teenagers. It would upset you that AIDS is a leading cause of death among African Americans.

It would frustrate you that even though hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive Americans are receiving treatment in your name, more than 200,000 don't know their HIV-positive status, largely because of a lingering stigma surrounding the disease that prevents them from being tested. It would disappoint you that many teenagers do not have access to science-based HIV-prevention programs in school, at a time when half of new infections are believed to be among people under 25.

I miss you so very much, Ryan. I was by your side when you died at Riley Hospital. You've been with me every day since. You inspired me to change my life and carry on your work. Because of you, I'm still in the struggle against AIDS, 20 years later. I pledge to not rest until we achieve the compassion for which you so bravely and beautifully fought.

Your friend,


- Washington Post

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elton Sings "Your Song" on American Idol

Elton John, whose last major television performance was a duet with Lady GaGa during the Grammys in February, appeared on American Idol tonight as part of “Idol Gives Back” and performed his classic hit “Your Song” on a red piano. Despite speculation that he might have a high profile duet partner for the evening, his performance was a solo affair.

John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation nearly two decades ago and appeared on Idol as part of a collaborative charity effort. “HIV is not a life threatening disease anymore,” John said of the evolving treatment capacity regarding the disease, and encouraged everyone to get tested for the disease.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two More Canadian Dates Announced

Legendary musician Elton John will be performing in Kelowna on July 17.

The Greatest Hits concert at Prospera Place will feature chart toppers from throughout his music career.
Tickets go on sale Friday, April 23 at 9 a.m.

They are priced at $149.50 and $89.50 each, plus service charge, and are available online at theLiveNation website as well as the venue box office and charge-by-phone (250-762-5050).


Elton and his band will also appear in Prince George:

Friday, July 16, CN Centre, Prince George, British Columbia

Public tickets for the Elton John CN Centre, Prince George concert will go on sale on Friday April 23 at 10am. Tickets will be available through all Ticketmaster retail outlets, at the venue box office, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (250-614-9100) plus online at and