Total Pageviews

3 Oct 2009

The Eltonite's Day With... Richard Antoine!!!!

Hello Eltonite's. That's a new edition of Eltonite's Day. I am a little bit nervous now, so sorry. I have read all his comments in different boards, he is a person really interesting to listen. I know I will have on my side one of the greatest eltonites we could find out there. And he came with a lot of pictures on his desk. Thank you. I was expecting to have him on the section since long ago, and finally the moment arrives!! Please, a round of applause for him (clapping). Hi, thanks for the acceptation. So… Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

Thank you for inviting me to AllSongsList, Miguel and congratulations on your fabulous website... my name is Richard Antoine Cornforth and I’m very flattered and honoured to be a guest of Eltonite’s Day. I’m a French Canadian or «Québécois» as we say here and have lived in Québec City and Montréal, Canada all my life. I enjoy travelling, the arts, am an amateur photographer and have loved music ever since I can remember.

Thank you! Wow!! I checked out this website you told and there are absolutely very wonderful pictures taken by you. So recommendable, really, eltonites. Richard: and when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

Being a francophone in Québec City in the early seventies meant that a lot of the radio stations I would listen to played French pop music and one of the singers I enjoyed then, and still do by the way, is called Diane Dufresne. In 1971 she released an album which had a song called «En Écoutant Elton John», which translates “While Listening To Elton John”... I had no clue who he was but off I went to our local record shop to ask if they had any “ELTON JOHN” albums. To my great surprise, they had three and, since I was only 13 at the time, had to decide which of the three I could afford to buy: the serious looking Elton John album with the black cover? The more interesting “country style” Tumbleweed Connection or the distinctively hip looking denim cover of Madman Across the Water ? I settled on Madman... and my life has never been the same since- LOL!! I adored Elton’s songs, keyboard playing and singing instantly... so much so, that within the week, I was back in the record shop buying the two other albums! Even if I couldn’t understand everything he sang, I couldn’t get enough of Elton’s voice and music. A fun thing about those days was that, incredibly, Elton used to release two and sometimes three albums a year- so you never had to wait very long for new music!!! It wasn’t long after this, my grandmother gave me Honky Chateau for Christmas and Rocket Man became a massive radio hit. Suddenly all the kids in school liked Elton’s music, were buying his singles or “45s” as we called them then and it was very cool to be an Elton fan. I was 14 and have fond memories of dancing to Rocket Man, Honky Cat and later to Crocodile Rock and Daniel in our high school gym.

Great! I heard this "En Écoutant Elton John": "Viens pas me parler d'amour mais fais-le moi", translate it should be "Come talk to me of love but do it myself by listening to Elton John". Yes. Remember what was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

I first saw Elton perform “live” in Montreal in November 1974 and by then he was the biggest name in pop music, an international superstar and the media spoke of his success as Eltonmania! Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Caribou had already topped the charts and his concerts were the hottest ticket on the planet so you can just imagine the excitement when the “spotlight hit the one who’s been known to change the weather” - we all went crazy!!!! Elton was in full regalia with that incredible huge hat and feathers as he and the band started the show with Funeral For A Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding. Being there was a dream come true for me because at this point, I was not only obsessed with his music but with “the man” and everything about him. From the outlandish clothes he wore, his eccentric glasses, the way he played the piano and his amazing handstands, to the way he talked with that charming British accent and how he posed and was silly for cameras- like so many teenagers around the world, I was starstruck and completely fascinated by it all. Unfortunately, I have lost count of how many Elton concerts I’ve been to in the past 35 years but it must be close to one hundred. All I can say is, I have seen band shows, sat in first row and was handed a carnation by Elton during Elton & Ray’s phenomenal 1979 Back in U.S.S.A. tour, have seen him solo, with an orchestra, indoors and outdoors, in dozens of cities including London, Paris, New York, Boston, Toronto, held hands and sang with friends in front of him at the stage in Kansas, heard Elton speak French in my hometown many times, been on stage in Vegas with people I love for the Red Piano, at MSG for his 60th, with Billy Joel for F2F tours and one spectacular New Year’s Eve at the O2 recently... every single concert was a privilege and an absolute thrill.

So sad we won't have Guy Babylon anymore, he was a genious, a talented keyboard player, really.

I was absolutely devastated when I heard of Guy’s tragic passing and still find it hard to believe. It’s so sad for his wife and children and a terrible loss for Elton, the band and all the fans. My sincere condolences to everyone who knew Guy, but I’m particularly saddened for our friend Jan who was not only a very devoted fan but also hosts She has helped many of us appreciate Guy’s musical genius through the years. The last time I saw him work his magic was in Toronto last May and he was having a great time on stage. I was on my way to Paris when I heard the terrible news so, once I got there, I lit dozens of candles at Notre Dame Cathedral to honour his memory. I think it’s going to be really difficult for Elton and ‘the boys’ when they perform together without Guy for the first time in Moscow next week. Thankfully, I know Russian fans will be very supportive.

For sure!!! Which is the most foolish thing, or incredible thing, you did for Elton? If not, what you would do if you meet him sometime? What would you talk about and which question would you like to ask him?

Yes, let’s lighten things up a little... As a photographer, I like to believe a picture is worth a thousand words so, to answer your question about “foolish things” I did for Elton, I’ll let this photo “tell the story”- (smiles)

Other than the exciting autograph sweeps, I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting Elton and shaking his hand backstage in a reception line standing next to Céline Dion and her husband René. This was in the early 90s, way before their Vegas shows at the Colosseum and just when Celine was breaking into the American charts by singing in English. René was apparently doing everything he could to get Elton to sing a duet with Céline and on that particular evening, after Elton walked in and said hello to everyone, he shook a few hands including mine, and quickly moved on to them saying “I love your voice- we definitely have to work together darling”. To be honest, I was so nervous, I was actually happy he didn’t speak to me! If I were to meet him now however, I guess, I would like to thank him for all he does with EJAF and talk to him about David and Canada.

My God!!! hahaha So surprised about the picture, really. Couldn't imagine!! hahahaha. Well, and how it was, and still is, the success of Elton in your country? Which have been his hits in sales terms? Songs like “Some other world”, “Levon” or “Love Song” charted in Canadian Singles charts. Then, which are the Canadian's favourite Elton's albums or songs? And could you still hear Elton's music in the radio, nowadays?

I like to believe Canada has always had a special place in Elton’s heart but since his marriage to David Furnish, I’ve heard him say on several occasions “Now that I’m half Canadian...”- it certainly gets cheers from local audiences- LOL! Interestingly, Elton is still rather succesful here. If I’m not mistaken he continues to perform to sold out crowds in Canada since the 70s and has been here on all of his North American tours, often adding extra nights in Montreal and Toronto where he has a very faithful fan base. In terms of records sales, I’m not really one to follow that kind of thing but, like elsewhere in the world, selling albums is no longer where it’s at for most performers. As you can imagine, because of our shared border with the U.S., the Canadian music market is very similar. Most albums and songs that were hits there were also in the charts here with a few exceptions like Donner pour Donner recorded with France Gall and a French version of Nobody Wins from The Fox album called Tendresse which I believe charted here in Québec. As for favourite EJ albums in Canada, other than the obvious chart toppers like GYBR, Captain Fantastic and Greatest Hits, I think Blue Moves may be a favourite because it was recorded in Toronto. Again, like in France, Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word was a huge hit for Elton here and it’s always a crowd favourite at concerts. More recently, unlike in the U.S., I was very proud to see Songs From the West Coast make the Top 10 charts in Canada though. Radio markets are so segmented now and with satellite radio even moreso but, to answer your question, yes, you can still here Elton’s music on the radio here depending on what stations you listen to- it’s a far cry from the 70s however.

Great!! You know this is the Week Of 2001. That year represented Elton's back to the roots and recording a true masterpiece album, with a collection of best lyrics Bernie has written, in my opinion. What do you think about SFWC period? I love Pat Leonard production work. What do you think, also, about Elton self-producting his albums?

I certainly share your sentiment about Songs From the West Coast, Miguel and have to agree it features some of Elton’s finest melodies and Bernie’s sharpest lyrical pieces in decades. There have been so many gems in their 40 year history together but this album was the first of a vintage trilogy in my opinion. I like to think of SFTWC, Peachtree Road and The Captain and the Kid as inseperable in their body of work and don’t think it’s a coincidence Elton is more involved with the production of his albums now. Both Pat Leonard and Matt Still have done exceptional work in recapturing the essence of the “classic” Elton John sound. With a lifetime of experiences behind them, I love how Bernie and Elton move into the future by revisting lyrical and musical themes from a more contemporary perspective- all great artists do! Like you no doubt, I was delighted Elton added so many songs from these three albums in his setlsit for the latest tour with Ray Cooper! I’m rather envious of all of you who had the privilege of attending the concerts ...

That's an unexpected set list, really, and a gift for eltonites for sure. It seems that Elton and Bernie are planning on getting to work in a studio recording next february for a special project. In Bernie's words "represent a direction that has been fermenting for years in the heads of its perpetrators". What do you think they are preparing for us, eltonites?

Very exciting and excellent news indeed! After all these years, it’s such an incredible joy for fans like us to look forward to and enjoy new material. I think both Bernie and Elton are in such great places in their lives at the moment and we’re very fortuante they are still interested in the creative process. So, yes, I’m very curious about what they have “up their sleeves” and hope the rumours about an album project with Leon Russell are true.

Right! Which is your Elton's item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you've got to have it?

Again, a picture is worth a thousand words... I will never forget the look on Elton’s face when I presented this for him to sign- I like to think he was pleased.

A treasure!!! So wonderful!! Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

This is the toughest question yet and, like others have said before me, there are so many favourite songs for different circumstances and they keep changing regularly- but here goes for this week...

Madman Across the Water
Carla Etude
I’ve Seen That Movie Too
Circle of Life

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

Thank you, Miguel... it has been a pleasure sharing my Canadian perspective and lifelong passion for Elton and his music with everyone here. “Long live Elton and Bernie” and hopefully you and I will get to meet and enjoy their extraordinary songs at one of Elton’s concerts some day. Have fun at the Red Piano show in Barcelona in a few weeks and, since it’s all about LOVE, please give Anna a great big hug for me. Bonjour from Québec!

I will!! I hope to meet you in person, Richard. I've got so much admiration for you. Oh, once you said "Life is good and I feel privileged to know so many extraordinary people because of Elton and Louis XVI". What have those people that are different from the rest?

LOL... I see you’ve done your homework, Miguel!!! I do feel so blessed for all the amazing people I’ve met and memories associated with Elton throughout the years. Moreso in the past few years where a group of us called “Freaks” have gone to many concerts together and share each other’s lives and our love of music and all things Elton. I know and have met a lot of fans but none are kinder, more loving and generous than this extraordinary group of dear friends and I can’t imagine my life without them or Elton’s music now. As for Louis XVI, that’s a long story about a secret passion for a girl called Marie... (wink)

I couldn't imagine my life without eltonites or Elton's music really. I feel I have a big family, most of all I don't even meet in person for now, but so sure to do it in the future. I would like to thank you, again, for your collaboration, I am sure eltonites have loved it. It was so amazing, you really surprised us, hahaha. It was my honour to chat a little with you, Richard. Take care and Bonjour!!!

No comments: