Saturday, December 5, 2015

Elton Goes Record Shopping in Sydney

Repressed Records owner Chris Sammut was coming back from a quick lunch when he spotted a familiar looking guy with an Adidas tracksuit and rose-tinted glasses in his long-running Sydney record store.

It wasn’t Shogun from Royal Headache or a member of DMA’s. “I was grabbing a $4 salad roll and came back to eat it and Elton was flicking through new arrivals,” he told FL today.
The singer – who is in the country for a run of tour dates, beginning tomorrow at Hope Estate in the NSW Hunter Valley region – spent about 20 minutes rifling through some records, with his entourage looking on. “He came in with two guys,” Sammut explains. “I was kind of freaked out then had an internal dialogue to not trip over or say anything really.”

While the store – on King Street in Newtown – is a popular haunt for local musicians like You Am I and Royal Headache, Sammut has never seen someone as famous as Elton John in his store’s 13 years. Even though he’s not a huge fan – “I do like a lot of singles though; a ‘Greatest Hits’ will suffice for me” – he was still taken aback by the sight of the iconic singer digging through his second-hand vinyl crates. “I still freaked out internally and drank too much water,” he jokes.

So what did Sir Elton buy? A bunch of second-hand stuff mostly, says Sammut, including some classic glam and new wave releases from the late-60s to mid-70s. “He bought cool stuff like early Roxy Music, T-Rex, Squeeze,” he says. “He was really friendly with customers and obliging. He’s welcome back. Way more than the guy that knocked off a Bob Dylan box set the other week.”

In addition to his Hunter Valley show, Elton’s “All The Hits” tour includes stops in Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong (for “A Day On The Green”) and Adelaide. He’ll wind things up with a two-night stand in Sydney: at Qantas Credit Union Arena and at the Hordern Pavillion, which he’s played 14 times. “The Hordern was our original ‘go to gig’,” says Elton. “I have played there so many times over the years, before the Sydney Entertainment Centre was around, and I can’t wait to return”

- Faster Louder

Dreams rarely become a reality in the music business, but try telling that to 23-year-old pianist and songwriter Tate Sheridan.

Three years ago the young jazz and pop musician from Port Macquarie, then studying jazz piano at the Australian National Univer­sity in Canberra, saw his idol Elton John perform in the capital. He handed a CD of some of his songs to the stage security staff in the hope of it reaching the star.

This Saturday, thanks to his enterprise and to the English pop legend, Sheridan begins an Australian tour with his hero at the Hope Estate Winery in the NSW Hunter Valley. The young Australian muso’s fortunes took a leap on the night of that Canberra performance, when John called the number on the CD.

“As I was lying in my bed, just as I was about to go to sleep, he rang me,” Sheridan said yesterday in Sydney. “I couldn’t believe it. It was the most surreal moment in my whole life.”

John has been following the young Aussie’s progress and offering him advice.

“He has been mentoring me on just about everything really: what kind of songs I should be writing, what kind of gigs I should be playing, my image,” Sheridan said. “He has had a 48-year career. He knows everything about the music business.”

Sheridan has been doing small gigs around Australia for the past couple of years, but nothing on the scale of the stages and crowds of thousands he can expect to play to over the next three weeks. He got his first taste of that supporting John in Wellington last weekend.

“Nothing can prepare you for that,” he said. “I’ve done hundreds of gigs, but sitting in the dressing room watching thousands of ­people pour in … that was the biggest mental battle.”

Sheridan has just released an EP, Life Was Lonely, and hopes this leg-up will lead to bigger things. Now based in Sydney, he is looking forward to John’s show at Sydney Entertainment Centre on December 19, the last concert to be staged there before the venue is pulled down.

“That will be by far the most emotional show for me because my first ever concert was in that building seeing Elton John when I was a tiny kid,” he said. “Now I’m going to share the stage with him. I can’t even process that yet.”

- The Australian

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