dalla REUTERS 02/09/2005
di Melinda Newman
LAS VEGAS (Billboard) - At the top of every hour the clock in Elton
John's dressing room at Caesars Palace breaks wind. And every hour, the
farting clock makes John laugh.
The British superstar has every reason to smile. His Las Vegas run, in
which he alternates with Celine Dion at Caesars' 4,100-seat Colosseum,
has been extended from 75 shows during a three-year period to 225 shows
during a five-year span ending in 2008. Every show of "The Red Piano"
has been a sellout. A U.K. tour this summer drew almost 400,000 people.
His latest musical, an adaptation of the movie "Billy Elliot" written
by John and Lee Hall, opened to largely rave reviews in London's West
End, and there's talk of bringing it to Broadway.
John has wrapped "Lestat," the first musical he and longtime lyricist
Bernie Taupin have written together. The play, based on Anne Rice's
Vampire Lestat series, will debut in December at San Francisco's Curran
Theater before heading to Broadway in spring 2006.
And there are plenty of other projects in the works, including a
development deal with Touchstone Television for a sitcom about a rock
star and his entourage and an exclusive November 9 Starbucks release of
the CD "Elton's Christmas Party," with part of the proceeds earmarked
for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Q: Your last album, 2004's "Peachtree Road" (Rocket/Universal) received
some of the best reviews of your career, and yet it sold only 300,000
copies in the United States, making it one of your worst performers.
How frustrating is that for you?
A: It is frustrating ... I'm not storming around saying, "Why isn't my
f***ing record doing better than this?" I just had to look at it and
say, "Was it a s**t record?" And it wasn't, it was the best I could do.
I'm 58 now, and my time in the sun, as it were, is gone. I have to
accept that. Was I disappointed? Yeah, because I put my heart and soul
into it. ... (Universal Records) tried to persuade (me) to do a Motown
album or a standards album, and I wouldn't do it. I said (no) because I
want to still write songs. I still feel as if I've got something else
to offer without going down that route.
Q: Were you insulted when they asked you?
A: Yeah. I mean, it's like, "That's what you think of me, is it?"
Q: You and Bernie Taupin are writing a sequel to "Captain Fantastic and
the Brown Dirt Cowboy" called "Captain Fantastic and the Kid." The
first edition, released in 1975, covered your first 30 years; the
second will cover the subsequent 30 years and will come out March 20,
2007, five days before your 60th birthday. Are you and Bernie already
working on it?
A: I'm starting writing and recording it in Atlanta in January. It was
Merck's (Sanctuary Group CEO Merck Mercuriadis, who tends to the
creative side of John's career) idea, because he said, "You're always
saying how Bernie has become the Brown Dirt Cowboy" -- he lives on a
ranch in Santa Ynez (Calif.) -- and I'm this guy who plays concert
after concert, buying art, buying photographs, living a very lavish
lifestyle. I've become Captain Fantastic.
We would have been together then about 40 years by the time it comes
out. One of the things I'm most proud of in my life is the relationship
I've had with Bernie.
Q: Is it true you buy the new album releases every week at Tower Records when you are home in Atlanta?
A: I go in there at 9:30 on Tuesday morning, before it opens, before
they put the f***ing things (out where) I can't find them. They're all
on the cart, and I can go through them, one by one, because I know what
I want. It's one of my things I look forward to every week. Those guys
open up and (have) a cup of coffee there now, and it's just brilliant.
Q: Would you tour with Billy Joel again?
A: Yeah, I would, because I love him dearly. My greatest wish is for
Billy Joel to have a No. 1 album and get his confidence back. That
would make me so happy. You know, we've never been rivals, we've always
been friends. Part of my Captain Fantastic's next 30 years include
Billy Joel. And it would be great to do a duet.
Q: You have extended the Vegas run for "The Red Piano" show by another two years. It obviously agrees with you.
A: (Before Caesars) I'd never stayed the night here. I don't go out
(much, but) you do get stir crazy. So I'll go see what's in the shops
now. (John's operations manager) Bob Halley and I got chased through
the mall. We were laughing so hard. Bob said, "We're being chased by
60-year-old women!" and I said, "Bob, we are 60!" We have nothing but
good things to say about here.
Q: You go out of your way to support new artists. Why?
A: The first five years of my career we played with people that were
our stone cold idols, and everyone treated us so well. That's why I try
and give a hand out to young people, because people did that to me. I
remember phoning Fountains of Wayne when "Utopia Parkway" came out.
They thought it wasn't me on the phone, but it was. I just wanted to
say, "This is such a great album." It's important to let people know
Q: Is writing easy for you?
A: Yeah. I wrote 60 songs in a year (for "Peachtree Road," "Billy
Elliot" and "Lestat"). One of the songs (for "Lestat") is called
"Paris," a conversational song in three parts. It's the longest song I
ever took to write -- three-and-a-half hours. I thought I was going to
go nuts. I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown.
Q: You have a sitcom in development. What can you tell us about that?
A: It's called "Him and Us." It's basically about the entourage around
a star called Max Flash who have to put up with this bastard. Max Flash
is based on me, Mick, Bowie, Rod, all these outrageously behaving rock
Q: How do you find the time for all these projects?
A: You know, I'm 15 years sober today. That's changed my life. The
energy that I used to spend doing drugs and everything, I spend doing
great things, like getting up in the morning, going to Tower Records,
trying to find new acts, trying to promote them. I have the most
fantastic life. I really love it so much