REMEMBER THE MUSIC OF ELTON JOHN AND THE LYRICS OF BERNIE TAUPIN 1

Before he became The Liberace of Pop, long before Tantrums And Tiaras, the goofy outfits, Crocodile Rock and when his personal life took centrestage over his music, let’s not forget how many of us respected Captain Fantastic- Elton John- and The Brown Dirt Cowboy- Bernie Taupin.

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They were the new Lennon and McCartney writing from two different rooms and the lyrics of Bernie Taupin, who actually married that LA lady who was seamstress for the band, have been unforgivably neglected.

Elton John was a brilliant singer and Okay piano player- he was no Nicky Hopkins- but it were his melodies and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics that made those sad songs say too much- that made the autobiographical Tiny Dancer the centerpiece to Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

I remember hearing a pretty rare John-Taupin recording from years before the world discovered them- it took Elton John, a short, pudgy, balding musician, to get a recording deal- called Skyline Pigeon from the somewhat obscure album Empty Sky and thinking, gawd, this is an amazing song.

When returning to Hong Kong, I played it to Sam Hui who had yet to go Canto-Pop and become the legend he is who also fell in love with the song and is probably one of the few people in the world to have covered it.

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When with a music company, we all looked forward to having old Elton in town. He always seemed old.

He was funny, caustic, sometimes moody, still very much living in the closet around us though one trip with him to Singapore to see Cliff Richard in concert was all the “proof” we needed that he batted for the other side.

At that time, he was fiercely protected by then-manager John Reid, someone I never warmed to- and, as time proved, neither did Elton John with the John John team coming to a screeching halt along with lawsuits and allegations of creative accounting.

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This is what I mean: the man’s personal life and problems with drugs played out in public has devalued the worth of his music and the lyrical stories of Bernie Taupin. It shouldn’t.

When listening to classics like Daniel, the innocence of Your Song and apologizing for forgetting if “your” eyes were green or blue, Rocket Man with that wonderful guitar part, so many great albums, that sound Gus Dudgeon created, the underrated drumming of Nigel Olsson- so much in the vein of the great Hal Blaine- and those stage shows which focused on the music and the band, Elton John was a million miles away from being Sir Elton and singing Candle In The Wind at the drop of a tiara.

Sure, it’s great to see him finally happy, married, sober, with a great hair weave, involved in the great charity work he does, the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation etc, but often I wish he was still Benny along with his Jets and playing his arse off- but without the Daisy Duck costumes. The solo concerts he gives today are ponderous affairs.

By the way, if there is a Sir Elton, a Sir Mick, a Sir Paul and, uh oh, even a Sir Jimmy Saville, why don’t we have a Sir Keith, a Sir George Harrison, a Sir Richard Starkey and a Sir John Lennon?

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Then again, would these musical rebels care and are these knighthoods today token gestures and as meaningless as Michelin Star chefs?

REMEMBER THE MUSIC OF ELTON JOHN AND THE LYRICS OF BERNIE TAUPIN 6

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