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16 Oct 2010

The Eltonite's Day With... Richard P. Georgeou

Hello Eltonites, today is a very special day. I have on my side one of the most amazing and knowledge people I have ever met. "This old fart has many memories" he told me when he agreed to collaborate on the week of Stuart Epps and be my guest on the eltonite's day. I am so proud to have him here, it's really an honour so, please, an applause to the greatest: Richard P. Georgeou.

Thanks for the acceptation and welcome to the blogsite. First... Could you tell us, please more, who are you and where are you from?

I was born in Lowell,MA to an immigrant mother (Larissa,Greece) and a first generation American father,whose parents emigrated from Greece. I am the younger of two sons .(For the record: I am three years older than Elton John.)

My father was a local radio comedian, singer, and saxophone player. My mom was a shoe worker. I remember as a child always hearing music in my house. My father was a huge fan of Frank Sinatra and I heard his music plus my mom’s Greek music constantly. My father worked at the Latin Quarter Night Club in Boston,MA and he brought me and my brother there to experience the entertainment world. I became hooked on music after seeing Sinatra, Sammy Davis,Jr., Dean Martin, and quite a few performers all at the night club.

Now that music was in my soul I continued enjoying the birth of rock and roll. I remember watching Elvis Presley on TV in 1956.I started buying records of the early rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Neil Sedaka, etc. My first love in music was the piano. I was drawn to the piano like a magnet. Although I never played piano I just love the the sounds it provides,’ear candy’, is how I refer to it.

I taught high school Modern Conversational Greek, Business Math, and English until I left teaching to get involved in the Mass. Trial Court as a probation officer. I graduated from Murray State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and English.

I served in the Army National Guard for 6 years (stateside) during the turbulent 1960’s racial riots and college campus war protests. I retired in 2001 and my hobbies keep me busy. Concerts, movies, collecting music and sports memorabilia, entertainment autographs, cds, dvds, mostly music and the movie classics.

God!! A very complete bio, so many thanks. And when did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

I attended my first Elton John concert October 30, 1970 at the Boston Tea Party. I got a phone call from my friend Kirk, and he asked me if I wanted to join him to see this new performer from England who just received rave reviews at the Los Angeles Troubadour Club. I first got to see and hear Elton, Dee Murray, and Nigel Olsson and was an instant fan. In my opinion, Elton was on his way to greatness in the music field.

What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

I have attended 80 Elton John concerts and I’m scheduled to see 2 more in October of this year (2010). My most memorable concert has to be my first as he was introduced as Elton James to the audience. He basically played the same song set list as he did at the Troubadour Club concert in LA, back on 25 August 1970.
As I look back I regret never attending the NY concert with orchestra and chorus. Hopefully, he will do one more in my lifetime. I was working part time and hated to ask for time off.

Which people related to Elton you have met? Have you ever met Elton?

As far as meeting Elton, I have shaken his hand many times at the foot of the stage, had 2 close encounters, when I almost got backstage to meet him, but the man is so busy with interviews it just never happened.

I have attended many Elton Expos where I have met Nigel Olsson, Caleb Quaye, Annette Murray (Dee’s Widow), Davey Johnstone, the late Gus Dudgeon and Guy Babylon, Bob Birch, Charlie Morgan, Paul Buckmaster, and Clive Franks who I met at Elton's 60th birthday concert at Madison Sq. Garden,NY.

I vividly remember chatting with Gus Dudgeon and telling him he was a genius to which he asked, are you in the music business? I said no I am no expert but when I get chills, goosebumps, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up, I know that I am listening to a masterpiece. We had a good laugh about my music experience and I told him this is the fruit of your labor, making people happy with your gift for music. Music knows no boundaries, has a universal language, etc.

How do you value your “Launch Around the world” experiences?

I decided that I would organize the first Boston-LATW (lunch across the world) after my friend Kirk, passed away from AIDS. With the help of good friends I held the first of 3 Boston-LATW on 27 March 2004. Kevin Caples found the restaurant Grimsby’s where we held the event. Claude Bernardin donated Elton John watercolor paintings he painted for my charity auction. I donated some of my Elton John collection for the charity auction. All proceeds from that event went to the Elton John Aids Foundation. We had a great time and I met Elton fans that I still keep in touch with.

I felt like I gave something back in Kirk’s memory and all the fantastic Elton music I experienced, this was my way of saying thank you.

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?

I have many Elton collectibles and autographs in my collection. But, I value two personally autographed Elton pictures that Elton signed, ’To Richard, with love and thanks, Elton John’. One of these was in response to a poem I wrote entitled ‘Elton Hercules John’, the other was in response to a letter I sent him.

And your favourite Elton’s albums? Which are the songs that should have been singles but weren’t? What do you think about the “B” sides? Were they good songs, any in particular?

My personal favorite albums: Tumbleweed Connection, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy, Blue Moves, Sleeping With The Past, Songs From The West Coast, The Union, Madman Across The Water, and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.

This lineup of my top ten changes constantly, depending on my mood.
Singles I would have loved released: Harmony, Blue Avenue, Mansfield, And The House Fell Down, and Cage The Songbird. These are my personal favorites.

B side songs I love: Keep It A Mystery, The Retreat, How's Tomorrow, Snow Queen, So Sad The Renegade, Did Anyone Sleep With Joan of Arc?

What do you think about the new project with Leon Russell? The previews of songs has gotten everyone excited. Could we be in front of one of Elton’s hits of the century?

The project with Leon Russell, mentor/idol to Elton, has rejuvenated Elton as a musician. A new challenge which got his creative juices flowing again after far too many Greatest Hits and F2F concerts with Billy Joel. Elton, in my opinion became a prisoner to his greatest hits as a new generation of fans wanted to experience what they had missed to my generation. However, there is much more to Elton John, the artist, than just his greatest hits. This man is a musical genius. A melody maker that makes a perfect marriage with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics. I have heard the Union tracks and think Elton and Leon along with T Bone Burnett’s fine tuning, have created a masterpiece. This was a team effort and already it is receiving rave reviews from music critics. A brilliant new album that will surely get Leon Russell the recognition to get him placed into the rock and roll hall of fame. This tribute is long over due. I got to see Leon in concert this past spring and he was fantastic. I heard his piano and detected his influence on Elton's piano style.

Although Elton worked with other producers, like Patrick Leonard, Chris Thomas, Greg Penny or Phil Ramone, his landmark work has been with Gus Dudgeon. How do you analyze Gus as a producer? What is the difference between those producers?

I consider Gus Dudgeon a genius and when you look at his work on Elton’s albums, he took Elton’s work to another level of greatness. He was the consummate record producer. Elton was surrounded by quality producers, recording engineers, a great lyricist, a ‘dream team’, in the studio.

You know that’s the Week Of Stuart Epps. He helped Elton on his early demos, on that “Sgt. Zippo” sessions, and also collaborated with him on albums like “A Single Man”, “Ice On Fire” and “Duets”. Also, he has been collaborating with artist of the caliber of Kiki Dee, Bill Wyman, Chris Rea, Oasis, just to name a few. Certainly he is very important in Elton’s career.

Stuart Epps is another master music maker that worked on Elton demos, and albums like a ‘Single Man’, ’Ice On Fire’, the ‘Duets’ album. When you look at Stuart’s impressive body of work in the music world, you see a resume of recording artists like Oasis, Led Zepplin, Kiki Dee, Chris Rea, Elton John, etc. And, he’s been doing this for 40 years.

What kind of place do you see for Elton John in the History of Rock Music?

Elton John is the consummate performer. He has infinite talent, stage presence, and charisma.Artists like him come along in this world once in a lifetime. I enjoyed watching the early concerts with the wild stage outfits but at the very core of his being was his infinite talent and the music. A brilliant pianist, melody writer, showman, flamboyant personality.

It’s all about the music. Hits he wrote with Bernie decades ago are still heard today. He is the soundtrack of our generation.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, where I tried to find the bests of Elton’s songs ever?

My five favorite songs: Someone Saved My Life Tonight, We All Fall In Love Sometimes, Song For Guy, Talking Old Soldiers, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.

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

I just wanted to share this with other ‘Eltonites’: Elton is one of the greatest live performers of all time. This is why I prefer a live version of a song in concert every time over the studio version. He improvises beautifully with his infinite piano skills.

Oh, once you said “I hate rap and hip hop”. But what do you think about Elton’s projects with rappers like Eminem, Kanye West or 2Pac? You know that, I think it was on 2006, Elton was thinking about doing some hip hop approaches and also he sang it live “Here I Come” with Fergie. Could that have been a new “Victim Of Love” deception?

I detest rap and hip hop music because it is the spoken word as opposed to the sung word. In the turbulent 1960’s we had war protests, racial unrest, etc. That generation wrote some great protest songs, ie. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul, and Mary, etc. Rap and hip hop consists of talking trash and a beat. A far cry from the Motown and soul music era, ie. Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On', talked about the problems of that time, with a beautiful melody and lyrics.

I was hoping Elton would never go into a studio to do a rap album. In the disco era (late 70’s) he tried doing disco and failed with ‘Victim of Love’. Which by the way, I play every April 1st on April Fools Day. LOL


He successfully pulled off his duet with Eminem, in my opinion, but I am very pleased he never went into a studio to make a rap or hip hop album. My analogy to this is like having the late Luciano Pavarotti recording an album with Kiss, lol.
How do you measure the greatness of Sir Elton John: By watching all his admirers and all the musicians he has inspired with his music.

Thanks so much Richard, really a pleasure to chat with you. Oh, I didn't use to do this kind of things on the Eltonite's Day but today, I invite two people that would love to be here, saying something about you, so, come on please:

Missy Gimns: "I met Richard a year ago July on Facebook. When I first began to chat with him, he shared the amount of knowledge he had on Elton John along with different experiences he had while attending the Elton concerts. I then told him that I only knew a handful of Elton's music and how Elton's music has played an important role in my life. Richard has added to my enjoyment of Elton's music because of his vast knowledge on the subject. Richard, I am so happy to have you as a friend. Here's to you. Congratulations!"

Thanks so much, Missy! Oh, maybe you know this other guest:

"Dick Georgeou
Kevin Caples – ( AKA “The Lyric Master” ) –

“Old 67” – "Isn't he beautiful!....."

I First met Dick at the Elton John Expo 2000 in N.J. I made him laugh, we were instantly connected through Elton John’s music and our love for the Three Stooges. Dick was complaining that his under wear was too tight, and that’s when I said, “Overwear, Underwear, anytime...anywhere!” and he broke out in hysterics laughing. Since then we have attended at least 10 Elton concerts together. Now we get together for lunch, just hang out, we were amazed to find out we only live about an hours drive away from each other. I couldn’t ask for a better friend...and all I have left to say to him...”Ohhh, wise guy!! Nyuck...Nyuck, Nyuck!”

Hahaahaha, you know him, the greatest Claude Bernardin:

"Oh, one last memory, Dick and I and some other fans, were all rushing to board a plane in Vegas, he had been running quite a distance, Dick’s a big guy, and so I had two Elton song lines, “Hey look at Dick... he staggered out of breath along this course”...and...... “He huffed and puffed, he huffed and puffed”....and Dick added with a disgusted laugh....”And the “HOUSE” fell down! LOL!!!!!!”


“Yesssssssssss!” He’s old as Dirt, we checked! Dick, Raquel Welch still wants to meet next week at Luigi’s. But your luck, Betty White will show up, “The old girl hobbles nylons sagging...” and that’s Dick. :) I first met Dick in March of 2003 at Grimsby’s in Melrose, Ma. for an Elton John Luncheon Dick was sponsoring. My sides hurt after that first night. This past August I spent a week with Dick, Kevin and Jack. After the first night, my sides hurt from laughing. Ever since I met him, I’ve been “Wide-Eyed and Laughing”! The man is hysterical! He should have been a Comic. My best memory might be all our visits, but I have one from July, in Phila., Pa. 2005. Dick, Kevin and I had front row seats at Independence Hall, to Elton getting the key to the city from Our Mayor. As we sat quietly waiting for Elton to arrive, in the front row, suddenly the ground shook beside me! and I look down and there’s Dick, sprawled across the ground, his chair collapsed. Kevin said, “Was it the quake that shook me or was it something to do with you?” And I added, “Dick, The Liberty Bell is already cracked!” And Kevin followed with, “And in the cracks along the sidewalk, NOTHING more!”

Hahahahaha oh, that's amazing!!!

"I love the guy, more than he probably knows. He has given so many hours in support to Elton’s Aids foundation and he cares deeply for his friends. His love and knowledge of Elton and all music is unmatchable. All I want is for all of us to spend another night together laughing at those Classic Dean Martin Roasts, and another dinner at Luigi’s! Love ya man!"

Thanks so much too, Claude, thanks for being here on Richard's Day.

Dick knew Elton before he changed his name, when Elton was known as “Elton James”. :)

Hahahaha we know it, we know it, hahahaha. Well, Richard, take care and I wish you all the best. Last quote?

‘Thank God my music’s still alive.’……..Bernie Taupin

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