Friday, April 30, 2010
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?
A. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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.
A. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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.
A. 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?
A. I do. I have a website — www.johnmahon.com — and there’s a gallery there.
Q. So ... playing in Elton John’s band is not a bad gig, huh?
A. 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
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
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
- Funeral for a Friend
- Love Lies Bleeding
- Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
- Tiny Dancer
- Philadelphia Freedom
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- 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)
Friday, April 23, 2010
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.
- Washington Post
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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
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 ticketmaster.com and livenation.com.