Saturday, November 11, 2017

Elton Has Substancial Indie Cred

He’s been churning out the hits for nearly 50 years, but these days, Elton John is just as concerned with helping to shape the hits of the next 50 years.

The British legend releases his new best-of compilation “Diamonds” on Friday, but at the age of 70, John is now a key tastemaker.

For years, John (born Reginald Dwight) has accrued hip points by supporting unknown bands by talking about them in interviews, inviting them on tour, calling them to say “Hi,” or playing them on his weekly radio show “Rocket Hour” (broadcast on Beats 1, Apple Music’s free radio station).

“He’s competitive about discovering new music,” says Zane Lowe, who hosts his own daily show on Beats 1, and helped bring John onboard. “He sends me voice notes saying, ‘Hey Zane, it’s Elton here. I know you’re really into Khalid right now. That’s great, but I was playing him six months before you!’”

Here’s how a few key artists have benefited by the Elton endorsement.

Low Cut Connie

It’s no surprise to find out that John has a special place in his heart for piano-driven rock ’n’ roll groups like Low Cut Connie. The Philly band was first featured on “Rocket Hour” over the summer, when John played the band’s single “Dirty Water” and he invited singer Adam Weiner on the show to chat. “I’ve named my piano Shondra, which he loved because he also names his pianos after women,” Weiner tells The Post. “He has [pianos named] Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Diana Krall and Winifred [after boogie-woogie pianist Winifred Atwell].”

Scissor Sisters

Over the course of their 15-year career, John has been a north star for the New York glam-pop group. “The first time I ever met him was in the early 2000s when he came to see us play,” singer Jake Shears tells The Post. “He came with George Michael. I have a picture of the three of us from that night, and I look like a crazy person — my eyeballs are bugging out of my head!”

John became a huge supporter of the group, buying multiple copies of their self-titled first album (2004) and giving them out to friends. He even helped them write their biggest hit, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” which hit No. 1 across much of Europe in 2006.

Shears (who plays solo at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere on Sunday) remains good friends with John. “One of his favorite things to do after dinner is to go around a turntable and just DJ to his friends and introduce them to new songs. He just lights up.” Shears has even dedicated his upcoming first solo album to John, in honor of his guidance.

The Lemon Twigs

Long Island’s baroque-pop outfit the Lemon Twigs have been firm favorites of the “Tiny Dancer” singer since they released their 2016 debut “Do Hollywood.” Co-frontman Brian D’Addario thought he was supposed to be doing an interview with a British magazine when his phone rang unexpectedly and someone with an English accent began talking. It was John, calling to say “Hello.” “The person on the phone said, ‘It’s Elton,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, what?!’” D’Addario tells The Post. “It was the first time anyone of that level had been interested in us.”

He reveals that the root of John’s interest in supporting young groups goes way back. “He said it was always very important to him that people, like George Harrison or whoever, said they liked his stuff when he was starting out. So he’s always made a point to do the same for new bands.”

- NY Post

No comments: