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14 Sep 2009

Question 1 to the Experts Committee: Why Elton?

There’s David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, etc. But why you chose Elton? Why is Elton so special for you, and different from the others?

"I didn’t chose Elton. Elton chose me" says Stephan, from Germany, and add "It just happened and there is nothing I could do about it and I will ever be able to do about it. One cannot “fight” true devotion. Like a true football/soccer fan will always be hooked to the one team even if it is relegated, I think I will be hooked to Elton for the rest of my life even if I don’t necessarily like all the stuff that he has put out in the recent years".

Ana, from Brazil replies: "Since I saw Elton on TV for the first time he caught my attention. I loved his music and also his persona and all those crazy outfits. Elton is a true musical genius. As was said in an article I read, give him just a mic and a piano, he can control a room with his art. His melodies are artfully crafted and touch our soul, standing the test of time". Shea, from Canada, introduces fans: "I began being a fan of Elton over 30 years ago. Elton is special in that he is one of very few artists that I can say honestly cares about his fans. He loves them all and does so very much for them. His contributions as an artist have been amazing". A big applause.

Patty, from Mexico, extends this argument: "Surely there are a lot of great artist but... Someone who is an incredible piano player, great composer, charismatic, extravagant, charitable, funny, expert in tantrums... all in one is only Elton John!!! That doesn't mean that we can't admire other performers but, by the way, Elton has sung with mostly of them so, I really think he's our man!!!". Shea is in the same position: "He as a humanitarian has been phenominal as well. He touches so many people through his music and through the Elton John Aids Foundation, among the other charity work he does as well. I think that people can see how much he cares about people in general and love him for his ability to overcome all of his downfalls in life. Elton is in many fans eyes a survivor and they love him for all he is".

AnnaBCN, from Spain, explains her point of view: "I remember a couple of years ago, talking to a workmate about our musical preferences. He was into 70s rock, he said, and he knew I was an Elton fan. He told me that, although he owned a couple of Elton CDs, he really couldn’t get into it, other than a few songs, he couldn’t get into most of his albums. However for me, it’s quite the opposite…I first discovered Elton, and as much as I appreciate all kinds of music, and I really enjoy music by David Bowie, T-Rex or The Who, it’s always Elton that makes it for me and that I never get tired of. I can only think of 2 possible reasons for this:

First of all his live performances, his singing and piano playing are just amazing; his tireless and hard-working personality... But it would be unfair for me to base my conclusions on live performances only, because I haven’t seen any of the bands I’ve mentioned before live. So this makes me wonder…why, before I’d ever even seen Elton live, did I choose to buy all his CDs and not someone else’s? And then the answer would be probably his piano-based music, his way with melody, the fact that he can sing the most powerful rock song with the same credibility as the sweetest ballad, move from classically-driven piano riffs to rock and roll. I’m afraid I can’t give a simple answer to that question, but the thing is I can’t imagine my life without Elton.

I think some of the things I’ve said above probably explain why his fans are so loyal. He’s always been a hard working person, he cares about his fans and he really appreciates their love, you just need to listen to people after one of his shows… everyone has a moment in which they felt Elton was singing just for them, straight from his heart, and that sure isn’t as easy to achieve as it may seem. His way of driving an audience is just amazing, he can break your heart with an extremely sad song and have you dancing like crazy the next minute with a rock song, his voice and his piano playing are just amazing. That’s why he’s been at the top for so long, he’s said it himself, you just gotta be a good live performer, that’s what makes a difference in these times in which everyone is simply downloading the music and record sales are really low. Watching Elton play live is so addicting, I can still remember travelling to see my first Elton show and thinking… well, that’s it, my dream will come true tomorrow, I’ll see him live and I will be happy for the rest of my life listening to his CDs and reminiscing about that one show. I can still feel the excitement of that first show, I knew that was only the beginning of a long trip as soon as Elton left the stage". Wow, everybody nods.

Ian, from UK, explains his experience: "Personally I am a big fan of Bowie & Bolan as well, but Elton is no.1, why is he so special and different? For me it's the songs and the musicianship, the albums he released in the 70's were absolutely stunning and he is still making great albums now". At his turn, Laurent, from France, has their own experience too: "I chose Sir Elton John as a friend of mine lend me LPs of this artist, in the chronological order, and I discovered his music, I was young, about 19, So I am fan since 1989". Finally, Wim, from Holland, adds: Why Elton? for me that’s easy. Many of his songs are so moving and they are really evergreens. Not just hits but you can listen to the songs again and again. And of course his way of piano playing is so unique! Together with his strong compositions. For me a good composition is when you skip the voice and listen only to the melody. If it leaves a strong melody than it’s a good song When I was 14 years I heard the instrumental Song for Guy on the radio, this song sounds simple but it brought my eyes to tears. So beautiful and emotional played by Elton. From this time on I bought first a greatest hits album and after that I started collect every album of him. I bought also every single that came out because Elton released always new songs on the b- side of singles that were not released on the albums".

The conversation goes into a point of agreement: Elton is so special, for Stephan because: "I think what makes Elton special is that he is the “universal weapon” that appeals to all ages, all genders, all races, all you name it. In that sense I think his collaboration with Disney on “The Lion King” was the perfect match as the same way that Disney is a master of putting different levels into their movies – one that addresses the younger generation and one that addresses the older generation – Elton’s music also has different layers which make his songs appeal to a six year old boy, a 35 year old housewife and a 50 year old Harley Davidson fan. In addition to that he has always been very diverse as far as musical styles are concerned. He has done Pop, Rock, Jazz, Country, R&B, Soul, Classical stuff etc., but in doing so he has always maintained his recognition value. I think that the loyalty is not special or unique to Elton fans. I have met many fans of other artists in my life, and there are always die-hard fans who will break down all barriers in order to support their “idol” all over the world. I think what makes Elton’s fan community so special is the diverse mix of people that I have mentioned above. The stereotype Elton fan simply does not exist".

For Wim, "Why Elton is in my eyes one of the greatest artist of the world is easy because he has everything an artist should have. Many artists have grown their stardom mostly because they have a sexual expression like Madonna , Britney Spears etc (and that’s always sells) Although he is not a sex symbol like his male colleagues George Michael, Rod Stewart, David Bowie etc he sold more records than these artists. Furthermore Elton is a good SINGER, he COMPOSED nearly every song he sings, he is also a great PIANIST. And last but not least a great PERFORMER with a great sense of humor. He needs no video clip to promote his music. His music speaks for itself". For sure. "To be fair the other artist listed have also been at the top for as long as Elton (except for Marc Bolan who died in 1977, but his music is still loved today) but as for the reason Elton has been at the top for so long is the genuine quality of his songwriting" adds Ian.

Ana is clear: "Why Elton is so special for you and different from the others? It's his personality, his witty sense of humor, his raw honesty. At 62 Elton still can wow an audience and never lip-synched in a world where most artists depend on playback. He's unique!". So Laurent: "Elton is special for me, very generous in his job and as he is giving a lot of money to foundations, & different from the others by his way to work with Bernie Taupin; Eltonites are so loyalty to him because of his generosity, and friendship toward fans & his group; fans like me are buying his records as many of them collect vinyles and items of him".

Loyalty, yes. If eltonites are something is loyalty to him. Patty starts: "Elton's fans are royal to him because he's also royal to his fans. He has travelled at almost all countries all over the world to reach them and for the fans who aren't able to go to see him, they can see him "at home"... To be honest, Elton is very popular in México although the local radio stations are more interested in different music styles, but he is very respectful here by most of the people. His concerts in Mexico are always sold out, that's the best way to prove it".

Not only we fans follows Elton, for sure. He has been succesful over the years. Stephan analyzes Elton's success: "In my opinion, the recipe for Elton’s success is all those things I already mentioned. He appeals to a very wide group of people which makes it easier to stay in business for a long time. He has re-invented himself a couple of times during his career, so he kept fresh to new fans and old fans alike. On the negative side I have to mention that I am a bit tired of his ubiquity these days. In my view he is on the edge of devaluating himself as he seems to be everywhere: A tour with Billy is followed by a band tour, which is followed by solo shows, and then Ray Cooper shows are next before he returns to the Billy shows etc. He is collaborating with a lot of people musically, he is doing movies, he is doing musical, he is doing everything. For the die-hard fan that might be a great thing, but for the average Elton follower this will soon be the overkill. And even I as a die-hard fan feel a bit wiped out by all this Eltonmania. What happens is that he is no longer special because there kind of is always an Elton John show that one can attend, so you might as well just skip one". Laurent is clear: "Elton has been at the top for 40 years because of his music, he is a genious". Without question, Ana is agree: "He's a talented musician that appeals to all ages. A top notch pianist and songwriter who wrote hundreds of songs that have created the soundtrack for all generations".

Thank you, experts. And how much your country loves Elton? Upps, in order please, one after another: "In the UK Elton has more than his fair share of knockers, mostly fueled by the media image, but the UK has been his most loyal market, he was bigger in the USA during his peak period in the 70's, but his loyal following in the UK has stuck with him, whilst album sales in the USA have dropped drastically since his heyday, here in the UK his albums still hit the top 10" starts Ian. "Elton is one of the most beloved performers in Brazil. I went to Sao Paulo concert in January and could witness how much his Brazilians fans love him. Not everyone speaks English, but everyone was singing with him! And not only the lah, lah, lah, chorus of "Crocodile Rock"! lol! It was one of the most beautiful experiences I lived", for sure, Ana.

"I live in France and this country love very much Sir Elton John, he always been in stage in France since many years, and for the EJ & Ray Cooper mini-tour he will play 5 times in France!, Sir Elton John love France too, as the video clips "I'm Still standing" (in Cannes), and "Passengers" (in St Tropez) took place in France ! and of course he have a villa in Nice, and he often go to St Tropez for shopping, each summer !" explains Laurent, proud of his country too. "Through some concerts in Holland I met also other fans with and they become nowadays friends. You share something special in common. In October I will go to Antwerp (Belgium) and also a week later Rotterdam (Holland) to see his red piano concert. My dutch Elton friends travelled a lot round the world to see Elton in concert. Till now I saw him in Holland and Belgium. But someday I hope to be at a concert together with Elton and Ray. Maybe in Holland, just like 1979 when they were in Holland for three concerts. But than I just started to know his music. And now… I can not imagine a day without his music". Thank you, Wim. AnnaBCN, and in Spain? "I wish I could say my country loves Elton, but although there are quite a lot of fans around, I don’t think people know and respect him and his music as much as he deserves. Spanish audiences are good, and noisy and very expressive, so his performances are always great, but as much as his Spanish fans love him, if we’re talking about the media the answer would have to be that they don’t seem to care much about him… although things sure were better a few years ago, but I’ve only been following Elton’s career for 15 years, so I can’t really tell talk about the 70’s and 80’s, but certainly not now". Upps. That's really true, lol.

Thank you very much to all of you. That was an enjoyable experience. We will have to prepare question number two. One last thing: Ana, finds a simply but final answer to everything discussed:
"Why Eltonites are so loyal to him? There's only one word for it. LOVE".

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