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Guy Babylon


Guy Babylon

Tastierista, nato il 20 dicembre del 1956 a New Windsor nel Maryland (USA), e morto improvvisamente per infarto il 2 settembre 2009 (Los Angeles), mentre nuotava in piscina.  Ha iniziato la sua attivitÓ nel mondo musicale in California, collaborando a spot, jingles pubblicitari e altre iniziative, tra cui quella con gli Iron Butterfly.  Nel 1989, entrato in contatto con il solito Davey Johnstone, fu richiesto a far parte del gruppo di Elton John come tastierista.  L'anno successivo partecip˛ anche lui al progetto Warpipes, insieme a Dave Johnstone, Nigel Olsson e Bob Birch, che sarebbe diventato il futuro bassista della Elton John Band.  Da allora Ŕ presenza stabile nei tour e in quasi tutti gli album di Elton. Ha avuto un ruolo predominante nella produzione dei musical scritti da Elton John e nella realizzazione della colonna sonora The Muse.   Nel 2000 ha vinto un Grammy Award come co-produttore dell'album del musical dell'Aida.   E' stato il tastierista live di Elton con ben 1351 show al suo attivo, fino alla sua improvvisa morte, avvenuta nel 2009.

Elton John, in occasione della sua scomparsa, ha dichiarato:

"I am devastated and heartbroken at the death of Guy Babylon. Guy played over 1000 shows with me, and we worked together on The Road To El Dorado, Aida, Billy Elliot, Lestat and Gnomeo and Juliet, as well as on countless albums.
"He was one of the most brilliant musicians I ever knew, a true genius, a gentle angel - and I loved him so much. David and I send our deep condolences to Kathy, Max, Ben and Jessica, to Guy's parents, to Kathy's parents and to all his immediate loved ones."

Guy Babylon

Guy Babylon Guy Babylon Guy Babylon Guy babylon Guy Babylon
Guy a Verona il 7 luglio 2009, una delle sue ultime apparizioni live prima della morte improvvisa

da yamaha.com  2006

Longtime Elton John keyboardist Guy Babylon recently saw the culmination of three years' hard work on the musical Lestat, for which he was musical supervisor. Lestat, a new Broadway production that opened in April 2006, is based on Anne Rice's best-selling novel Interview with the Vampire, with songs by Sir Elton himself.

It's not Babylon's first foray into the theatrical world; he also worked on the Elton John/Tim Rice reinterpretation of the opera A´da, and won a GRAMMY« Award in 2000 as co-producer of that show's soundtrack album.

Babylon has accompanied Elton John for years, but he considers himself a musical-theater novice. "But I don't necessarily see that as a weakness," he says. "Na´vetÚ is great—it's part of what I tried to bring to this show."

For Guy, Lestat's biggest challenge was simply the amount of time it demanded. "It just never ended!" he laughs. "A show like that is a constantly evolving process. One thing always hinges on another—for example, the music might get changed, not because it isn't working as music, but because it's not working with whatever is going on onstage."

Babylon started work on Lestat in 2003, when Elton John began composing the score. "He'd come into the studio early and write a song, and then I would spend the rest of the day creating an arrangement," he recalls. "Elton's guitar player, Davey Johnstone, was also involved in that process. So it was basically Elton, Davey, and me in the studio with an engineer. We made pretty elaborate demos of all these songs. In fact, if you listen to the demos from beginning to end, it sounds like an album."

Guy also had a hand in crafting arrangements for the final production. "Since I was with Elton when he wrote the songs, I had first crack at the music," he explains. "But overall, I'm just a small part of a team of people. We all did whatever it is we specialize in to make the show as good as possible. I was one of three orchestrators, along with Steve Margoshes and Bruce Coughlin. I also worked with an assistant programmer, John Roggie. But Lestat's music director, Brad Haak, really had the most creative input."

As a longtime user of Yamaha Motif keyboards, Guy knew they'd be perfect for Lestat. "I've been using them from the moment they came out," he says. "I use two Motifs in my setup with Elton. And since I was in charge of synth programming for Lestat, I decided to use the Motif there too. I used a combination of the Motif's internal sounds and some sampled ones that I put together myself. The sound of the Motif is so embedded in this show. I couldn't imagine doing it with any other instrument."

The show relies on four Motifs, plus a fifth one for backup. "We have three keyboard players, and a percussionist who also plays the Motif," Babylon explains. "Jason DeBord mostly plays the piano parts. Andy Grobengieser plays strings and other orchestral sounds. JosÚ Simbulan plays a potpourri of harps, synths, harpsichord, and other things. And our percussionist, Thad Wheeler, plays sampled timpani, chimes, marimbas, and so on. Now, these guys have played all kinds of keyboards in all kinds of Broadway shows, and they're absolutely raving about the Motif."

Babylon also praises the keyboard's ruggedness: "One of the things I like most is the quality of the Motifs. They're built so well, and the keys feel so solid under your fingers. For Lestat, I felt like I'd never have to worry about the Motifs breaking down."

Guy is far from idle post-Lestat. He has an ongoing role in Elton John's Red Piano Concerts at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and he recently worked with Sir Elton on an upcoming studio album. "It's called The Captain and the Kid," says Guy. "It's a sequel to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, 30 years on."

Babylon and Elton John bassist Bob Birch also scored a recent HBO documentary about tennis legend Billie Jean King. Once again the Motif played a major role: "We worked on the music in hotel rooms around the world while touring with Elton. I'd have a Motif sent up to my room, and compose and record with it and my laptop computer. I do a lot of my programming on a soft synth called HALion, from Steinberg, and then translate the HALion files into Motif files."

Whether recording and performing with Elton or at work on musical productions like Lestat, Guy knows the meaning of the words "team player." "It's important to mention all the people who have worked so hard on Lestat, in particular," he notes. "These are the guys who really made it happen. It's definitely not a one-man show!"