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16 Jun 2010

Unforgettable People (XLVII): Fred Farebrother

Fred Farebrother turned out to be a caring and supportive stepfather to Elton, a more supportive figure than his real father. He affectionately referred to him as "Derf" his first name in reverse.

Reg was 15 when his parents, Stanley and Sheila, divorced. His father Stanley, who used to serve as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force wanted him to make his career in the banking side, but Elton his keen interest in the music side only. His mother, Sheila was stricter to him compared to his father. She often used to have terrible arguments with her husband and that ultimately distressed their son. Divorce remained taboo these days and family members encouraged them to stay together, until the winter of 1962 when the couple finally divorced allowing Reg to go on with his music career.

Sheila was soon remarried to an interior decorator, Fred Farebrother and they moved into flat #1A in an eight-unit apartment building called Frome Court not far from both previous homes. It is here that Elton would write the songs with Bernie that would launch his career as a rock star. William A Bong, was created in 1971, and had one director, Sheila Farebrother, Elton's mother.

Fred and Sheila always been very supportive to Elton in things related to love. Sheila Farebrother, admited "I would never interfere (in his life). If he chooses a life with another man, that doesn't worry me. I just want him to be happy". Elton was 21 when a bad personal experience inspired him to write Someone Saved My Life Tonight and led to a suicide attempt when he didn't want to marry Linda Woodrow. In the morning Elton called his mother and in a few hours a van drew up outside the Furlong Road flat driven by his stepfather Derf Farebrother. In less than an hour Elton, Bernie and their respective record collections made the journey back to Elton’s family home at 30a Frome Court, Northwood Hills.

In 1986 they decided to emigrate to Minorca, Spain for the scandal and harassment of some British tabloids, but they returned the self-imposed exile in 1990 when Elton began attending Alcoholics Anonimous.

A very sad new came when Fred Farebrother died Friday, June 11, 2010 after a long illness.

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