This month marks a very special moment for two devout Elton John fans, German-born Stephan Heimbecher and British-born me! We are both the same age and we worked together on Rocket Fan, which became the unofficial Elton John fan club Hercules in 1995 to fill a void that eltonjohn.com would only start to cover in 2000.
But our fan link is rather special in March 2023. For this month marks the 40th anniversary of our fandom. Just as Elton is wrapping up his world tour for the last time, bidding a fond farewell to his fans, so we are also reflecting and marking a milestone as fans. But we will carry on of course!
We spoke to Stephan, now a successful technical TV executive, about his formative fan moment. “For me, the real magic of being an Elton fan began the very moment I realised that going to an Elton John concert was more than just the occasion, but it was really about meeting the big family of like-minded people that got me excited.”
I can certainly relate to that. It is the people who helped shape Elton into one of the most successful recording artists of all time, that made the authenticity of being a fan exciting and special. It was more than buying tickets to20 shows a year or having every Elton album in triplicate, and it certainly was not about memorising every single release’s catalogue number which begins with “EJS”. Leave that for trainspotters.
Not, it is that connection, to celebrate the many in the world who made Elton’s world, that eltonjohn.world aspires to do every day.
I think Stephan and me are proud that we became fans as I Guess That’s Why they Call It The Blues was released as a single in Europe. And I think me and Stephan also appreciated that we became fans just before the hangers-on picked up on monster hit I’m Still Standing that summer of ’83.
For me, it was that moment when Simon Groom, a presenter of BBC Children’s TV show Blue Peter asked Elton “how do you do it, hit after hit?”. To which a slightly dazed Elton replied “I don’t know, really, it just comes.”
For a 15-year-old viewer that was such an honest response from Elton. It might not sound aspirational but it was real. And that song, which has remained a staple of Elton’s on tour ever since, was the song that did it.
Sure, as a child growing up Crocodile Rock was recognisable to me, but I would hardly say it was a timeless classic. Rather it was a fun song that kids loved in the playground. But suddenly, “I Guess…” came along, a grittier song with Stevie Wonder on harmonica, and becoming an Elton fan was crowned.
There have been many highlights over the years. I know that Stephan enjoyed going to have tea with Elton at his Holland Park home in London, while I had the pleasure of taking Elton’s spot in a reunion of his first band Bluesology, featuring original members of the band at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. There were plenty of other highlights too, right Stephan?
Well the years went by, but rock didn’t just die. Thank you, Elton, for 40 amazing years.