Eltonjohnworld.com would like to know readers’ thoughts and ideas about the Rocket Man’s farewell tour. If you’d like to share, please leave a message at the ”Contact” portion of this Web site.
Meanwhile, EJW’s co-founder, George Matlock, who is currently managing director at Radio Orla, has a suggestion. He elaborates below . . .
Bring Back Charlie Morgan
How the Farewell Tour could be beefed up
By George Matlock
Elton John’s much-anticipated Farewell Tour is underway and many of you will have delighted in seeing the superstar perform in a venue near you. Some of you may even have stockpiled tickets for various chances of getting a glimpse of your teenage years’ idol at various performances across the world.
It is without a doubt an ambitious and exhausting final drum roll for Elton, the band and indeed the fans! More than 300 gigs over three years.
I have decided to forego the opportunity to see these last shows. Partly on the grounds of the cost of tickets and partly because I am not that fond of requiems. Although not a recent concert-goer it has always been comforting to know Elton is out there and one day…
Now that door is closing. Elton will be 75 years old when the Tour’s curtain finally falls, and with a family to raise we have to accept the inevitable “Finis”. Hence why I see it as a requiem, too upsetting for me to attend.
But another reason I have avoided the gigs is that they have, over the past 20 years, become too formulaic and therefore predictable.
I recall going in 2000 to Germany to see Elton three times in a week: Kassel, overlooked how aptly by the statue of Hercules, as well as Cologne and finally Hamburg. I didn’t expect the song list to change, of course, but a fair amount of what was performed there had been performed in previous years and in subsequent years.
Sure, I had my pet preferences. I used to always feel good that Elton performed “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” because that was the single that made me a fan in the spring of 1983. I know that my contemporary and Hercules chief Stephan Heimbecher also became a fan at the time of that song.
But there is only so many times you can hear the same song! Will Elton’s Billy and the Kids from his Leather Jackets album get played? Doubt it. Even big fans have forgotten it or didn’t know it. Yet without a doubt it is a great concert song. Or how about the feel-good Little Jeannie? Immortalised at the Central Park gig in summer 1980 and later dropped.
So my gig attendance is limited to teaming up with Hercules in June 1992 at Wembley Stadium and seeing The One tour featuring Eric Clapton, as we launched Hercules UK fan club, through to June 2004 when I saw Elton perform at the Bristol City football stadium in England.
You might say I am hardly qualified to comment on the years since. That as it may be. You are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. But from what I have noted of the song lists since 2004, everything has remained very risk-free and formulaic and I have only missed the “fix” of being at gigs and seeing my favourite band grow graciously older. Elton still puts in a super performance as does his loyal band. So I have no doubt that those of you yet to see Elton on the Farewell Tour are in for a treat! I am pleased for you all, really I am.
BEFORE YOU GET CARRIED AWAY
Elton has a great line-up of regular band members.
I am immensely proud to see Nigel Olsson back in the band and enjoying it. Some 20 years ago I interviewed him for Hercules when he had been out of the band for years. In his heart-felt story he opened up to me about how he yearned to be back in the band. It was emotional and it was sincere. I am not going to take credit for what happened next, but I will say that soon after that interview Nigel was indeed back in the band. I think God was an avid reader of Hercules fanzine!
I briefly spoke to Nigel at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London in 2001 where Elton was recording a concert for BBC Radio 2 broadcast to promote his new Songs from the West Coast album and reminded Nigel of the interview. He made his reply brief but unequivocal “Thanks”.
Likewise, how endearing to note uber showman Ray Cooper is back in the band, and indeed looking better after his recent health issues.
But there is something lacking in the line-up. You see, I thought this was a Farewell Tour.
What I do wonder is why the Farewell Tour should be a requiem when it could be a party. Hence, why are we not seeing more band members of the past join Elton on stage?
All of them contributed immensely to the songs that shaped our lives and fandom.
Without a doubt there is a long list of band members, some with the band for a year or less. I counted 25 former band members. Also, we have lost too many greats. These were: Dee Murray, Roger Pope, Guy Babylon and Bob Birch.
Others have moved on from music, such as Caleb Quaye who is a clergyman in the USA and Bluesology-era drummer Mick Inkpen who is now a jeweller in south west England
So it was very moving to see John Jorgenson step in to help out on stage recently. A very affable band member and technically a very competent performer too.
But there are others who remain in musical “standby”, such as drummer Charlie Morgan.
Last December, Charlie popped by my house for a coffee and chat and it was amazing to hear more of his story. We made a brief video interview for eltonjohnworld at the time.
Charlie, one of the most articulate members of the band and a very personable individual, told me recently that, if the opportunity to return to the band arose, he would be honoured to come back.
Before anyone says I am trying to nudge anyone off stage, relax. I am not saying or doing that. I am merely making the point that a Farewell Tour ought to embrace as many of the past band members as possible – so long as they are still active in music and were with the band for a good number of years.
Charlie Morgan certainly fits the bill. He was 13 years in the band, and famously was the drummer for Elton at THE gig, Live Aid in 1985. It was his drums you heard on several Elton albums from 1986 until 1998.
The band members have a lot of fortitude but we need to nurture and protect that energy for the entire Tour as well as beyond, as we wish them all a well-earned and long retirement yet to come.
So what would make more sense is to have, for example, Nigel on drums initially. Then a 6-song break as we play 1980s and 1990s songs from Elton’s catalogue with Charlie on drums, and then back to Nigel.
It is something to ponder and I do hope that we will see that in the remaining years of the Tour.
Let’s hope to see the Tour turn into a celebration of Elton’s life, generous disposition and encompass fragments from across this legend’s history.
Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily represent those of eltonjohnworld.com