April 26 – Taylor Tailored Drumming After Thompson & Thompson

What’s more coincidental than being a famous drummer with the same name as another famous drummer? Maybe having the same last name as two of your bandmates but not being related to either of them. Both apply to Duran Duran’s “quiet one”, Roger Taylor, whom we wish a happy 62nd birthday to today.

Roger was born near Birmingham, and like many other British lads of the ’60s, growing up he had two big loves -”football” (which is soccer to us North Americans) and rock music. His early ambition was to be a professional footballer for his favorite club, Aston Villa, but when that became increasingly unlikely, he turned his attention to music. He saved up his allowance for months to buy himself a drum kit at age 13, and then taught himself to play, practicing relentlessly, copying the drums on records he loved. “I had very good neighbors,” he joked in a recent interview. “I used to come home from school every day at 4:00 and practice until 6:00.”

One could imagine that with his name, he’d have been a big fan of the other Roger Taylor, Queen’s drummer. But he gives no indication of that being the case. Instead he said the main influences on him were Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Paul Thompson, Roxy Music’s main drummer in the ’70s, and Tony Thompson of Chic. He also liked one more drummer. “Ringo was doing exactly what was required for the Beatles. I’ve always gone towards more song-oriented players.”

He joined a local punk band called Scents Organs in the late-’70s, but they didn’t last long. But it was long enough to get invited to join Duran Duran (along with unrelated Andy Taylor and John Taylor.) His influences worked out well since Duran Duran drew heavily on both Roxy Music and Chic for inspiration. Soon after beginning their career, they went to New York and met Thompson, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic. “They were like gods to us…they taught us so much about playing and production.”

As we know, Duran Duran took off quickly, becoming bigger than Roxy Music or Chic for several years in the early-’80s. Which Taylor enjoyed…for awhile. But soon, “we had people camping outside our front doors…it was very difficult to live a normal life.” So, after playing in front of hundreds of thousands of fans at Live Aid, on the same day their single “A View To A Kill” hit #1 in the U.S., he quit the band and “retired” to a 150 acre farm. But not before helping out a little on side-projects. Even the others were seeing “the fame and celebrity of Duran Duran kind of overtook the music,” he recalls, and they decided to take a break. He joined Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon of the group on the new band Arcadia, and also played drums on one song for the other spin-off band – Power Station with the two other Taylors. In so doing he was the only person to work with both.

After that, it was to the farm. The UK’s Sun dubbed him a “hermit” but he says “I needed to get some space. It sounds like a cliché, but I needed to get to know myself.” After a few years he did so, it seems, married and got back into music in a small way, joining a band called Freebase which had a European dance hit with their take on Sweet’s “Love is Like Oxygen.” He did a couple of tracks for Duran Duran and one TV appearance with them in ’94 and finally rejoined them again in 2001, staying with them since and no doubt enjoying their more relaxed work schedule.

As well as new technology. Surprisingly perhaps for a “new wave” band, Roger was pretty conventional when it came to his instruments. Back in the day he used a normal drum kit and they used to record his drumming in real time. “We even used to record our 12” dance mixes live…it the track was ten minutes long, you had to play the whole thing (in one take).” Now he mixes old with new, saying he uses a conventional Tama acoustic drum kit with a V-drum TD20 drum machine to his left, and adds in a sampler. Duran Duran put out their 15th studio album, Future Past, late last year.

April 23 – Chart Topper One For Four Tops

The Four Tops were heading to the top on this day in 1965 with the release of one of Motown’s biggest, and best singles – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.)” It would go on to be their first #1 single and one of the defining ones of the whole Motown sound of the ’60s.

The quartet had “paid their dues” as they say, having been around for over a decade at that point, and having put out their first single way back in 1956 on Chess Records. They signed to Motown in ’63 and had decent success with “Baby I Need Your Loving” on their first album, with it getting to #11 in the U.S. and making their name known among the growing roster of stars on the Detroit-based label.

Like most of that company’s hits in the first half of the decade, “I Can’t Help Myself” was written by the great trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland, with Lamont Dozier seemingly the chief creator of this one. He admitted the melody was similar to the one in the Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go?”, and when someone had pointed it out to him when tooling around with the new song, he answered “I can’t help myself” – from writing the same tune over again basically. He liked the way the phrase sounded and worked it in, as well as the parenthethetical one, “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.” That one dates back to his childhood.

I stayed with my grandmother when I was a kid. She owned a home beauty shop, and when the women would come up the walkway to get their hair done, my grandfather…was a bit of a flirt (and he) would say ‘How you doin’, sugar pie?’ ‘Good morning, honey bunch’…just flirting with a big smile.”

They recorded it with the Funk Brothers – an unfortunately rather anonymous set of Detroit studio musicians including great bassist James Jamerson – playing the music and Levi Stubbs of the group singing lead…against his wishes. He apparently hated the song, thinking it too lightweight and “sugar”y.

He was in the minority though. At the time Billboard called it a “spirited, fast-paced wailer performed in their unique style”; years later allmusic would simply classify it as “magnificent.” The public agreed, with it spending two weeks on top of the charts that summer and nine weeks at #1 on the R&B one. It also became their first top 40 in the UK, where it eventually was certified gold. And like it or not, 20 years later it was a highlight of their set at Live Aid. At that time, Stubbs seemingly couldn’t help himself from enjoying the moment.

March 8 – Forgotten Gems : Alison Moyet

In honor of International Womens’ Day today, we look at a Forgotten Gem from one of the many, many wonderful female musicians that shaped our world. Ironically, it’s one the singer apparently wishes would stay forgotten… or “Invisible”, which happens be the name of the fine Alison Moyet single which happened to push into the Canadian top 30 on this week in 1985.

Moyet has one of the great bluesy contralto voices in the field and it was one people were familiar with before “Invisible”, and Alf, her first album from which it came. Even though she was barely 23 at the time, she’d already become a popular voice in her Britain. That from being the voice of the short-lived but very popular band Yazoo (known as “Yaz” in some locations), a new wave duo she’d formed with Vince Clarke, who’d just left Depeche Mode. Even though they lasted less than three years and put out a mere two albums, they’d been immensely popular in the UK , with four Indie chart #1 songs, and had broken through to some degree in North America. When Clarke decided to dissolve the band (quickly forming Erasure), Moyet decided to go solo and found herself a hot commodity. Several labels offered her contracts, and she finally signed on with Columbia for a reported one million pounds (something close to $5 million these days). They set her up with producers Tony Swain and Steve Jolley, a duo who’d met while working on the Muppet Show (!) and had just produced hits for Spandau Ballet and Bananarama. They were also talented musicians, which was handy because while Moyet could play piano to some extent (and had even worked as a professional piano tuner after dropping out of school as a teenager), she wasn’t abundantly skilled. Swain and Jolley handled the keyboards and guitars, brought in a studio drummer and that let Moyet “get on with what I do best, which is writing lyrics and singing.” She did both of those well, and they came up with the songs for Alf in two weeks “around the piano” at Moyet’s house.

Or at least they came up eight out of the nine songs on it, including “Love Resurrection”, the first single. “Invisible”, however, was from Lamont Dozier, a third of Motown’s great Holland-Dozier-Holland writing team responsible for ’60s greats like “Baby Love” and “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.”

The album drew mostly good reviews, with most suggesting her voice and delivery was great but the production was a little overdone. Rolling Stone compared her to Sade, another female singer whose star was on the rise at the time, saying Moyet “clearly possesses the better voice. It’s as emotionally immediate as Dusty Springfield’s and as big as the great outdoors.” And they, like many other critics, picked “Invisible” as the standout song. Cashbox noted likewise she had “a more powerful delivery than Sade” and “Invisible”, “the current torch single should make a prime candidate for crossover success,” the crossover they’re referring to apparently being from the UK to U.S. … which it did. Later, allmusic, while panning the album’s production did call this song “among the great R&B pop singles of the ’80s.”

That it was. Although in her homeland, it was only a middling hit, reaching #21 – she’d manage to six top 10 singles there in the ’80s – it was her international breakthrough, reaching the top 20 in Canada and #4 in New Zealand (where her next single, “That Ole Devil Called Love” would be a #1 hit) and #31 Stateside, her only thing close to a hit single there. It helped push Alf to 4X platinum status in the UK, with it ending among the 20 best-sellers in both 1984 and ’85. By the summer of ’85, she was playing Live Aid with Paul Young. In Canada, the album hit the top 20, like the song, and in the U.S., it got to #45. Though she’s retained some popularity in her homeland and Oceania ever since, none of her eight subsequent albums have matched Alf‘s success.

So, the song that rather made her famous and got her gold records from North America – she must love it, right? Well, wrong actually! Soon after it came out she “fell out of love” with it and by 2017 she told a New Zealand newspaper she’d retired the song from her live sets permanently. “People get upset because they think you’re dissing their choices,” she admits about fans who want to hear it. “But I’m not a nostalgia act,” although she admits she still likes playing the even older Yazoo hits. The real problem with “Invisible” to her is the lyrics, which portray a weak woman who can’t leave a worthless guy who treats her like she’s, well, “invisible.” “There were things about me at 21 (her approximate age when she began to plan Alf) that I could no longer relate to, and its slightly odd singing the lyrics of a 21 year-old as you age.”

One thing she can still relate to though is her use of electronics in her music, unlike many of her Brit female soul contemporaries. “There’s something about my voice that’s quite wooden. It’s quite fibrous. When you put it together with a lot of wood instruments, you lose a lot…you get all the shapes” with electronics.

A great bluesy single from a woman who’s succeeded in the music business for 40 years and has grown emotionally to where she’s strong enough to ignore arguably her best-loved song. If that’s not appropriate for Women’s day, I don’t know what would be!

February 23 – Jones Not As Transient As He Thought

Alternative” may be an overused word in rock but today’s birthday boy probably does live up to that adjective. An international star who’s played in front of crowds of 100 000 who got his start backing a mime and could fall back on his love of fresh produce if the musical career faltered.  One who was the epitome of “cool” but hates thinking in terms of what’s cool, who quotes Buddhist philosophies… that’s alternative! That’s Howard Jones. Happy 67th birthday to the man allmusic call the “King of ’80s British synth-pop.”

Jones’ dad was among other things, a computer programmer and a college lecturer who worked at a number of different schools. Which helps explain Howard’s love of electronics and why he’s Welsh, was born in England and spent many of his developmental years in Canada before returning to England to study music at college in Manchester. There he joined his first band, Warrior, a prog rock band much influenced by some of Howard’s early faves like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. This was a good few years after a young Howard made his first public performance, on a Canadian kids’ talent show, singing in Welsh.

Somewhere in that time period, he met a couple of important people in his life. One was a girl called Jan. She became his girlfriend, and one day when they were selling fruit at a stand, she got hit by a truck. Thankfully, she wasn’t too seriously injured but she did get an insurance cheque. She used some of that to buy Howard a synthesizer. He liked that. He liked her. they’ve been married 44 years now. He soon put the synth to good use as well.

He also met a Buddhist teacher at college, and he’s been a devoted Buddhist since. He says it has “a profoundly positive effect on my life,” and “I feel empowered to work toward changing the things in my life that are bothering me… this begins with a change in my inner life and attitude.” The outlook is reflected in many of the lyrics in his songs like “Things Can Only Get Better” and “No One Is To Blame.” He says of that, “My songs are not about drug-taking or debauchery…they’re about positive thinking and challenging people’s ideas.”

Sometime around then he also befriended Jed Hoile… a mime. Jed needed some music to, err, mime to, so Howard joined him on his stage shows playing a synthesizer. Soon he’d got some songs together, so they rented a club in London and asked the major record labels to come and see them. Some did, and Warner signed him on (alas, it would seem the mime wasn’t a part of the deal.) His debut album, Human’s Lib, came out early in ’84 and quickly got to #1 in the UK. His next two albums also hit gold or better and made the top 10 in Britain, all the while his popularity was growing in North America as well. Through the ’80s, he scored nine-straight top 20 singles in his homeland, and although he never had a #1 song, he got close several times, most notably with “What is Love?”, a #2 hit. In the States, he had nine top 40’s. Strangely, his popularity waned in the UK after appearing at Live Aid, whereas he remained a very popular artist over here throughout the ’80s, scoring his biggest Canadian hit, “Everlasting Love” in 1989 off his Dream into Action. In the ’90s, he was dropped by Warner Bros. so he set up his own label, Dtox, and has released a few albums he produced for others as well as five of his more recent albums there, the most recent being 2019’s Transform. And for a change of pace, he once opened a high-end vegetarian restaurant in New York in the late-’90s, which apparently burned down unfortunately.

Howard says he isn’t bothered by what’s “cool”, as “what’s cool is often very shallow and transient.” But I’d have to say, Howard is pretty cool, and after nearly 40 years of recording, that’s not so transient.

July 13 – Duran Duran Took 007 To No. 001

What a way to celebrate! This day was huge in music history of course, with the staging of Live Aid in 1985. On stage in Philadelphia as a part of that were Duran Duran. There they got to play the song that just hit #1 on Billboard on this day in 1985, “A View To A Kill.”

They followed Crosby, Stills,Nash & Young to the stage and opened their four-song set with it. “A View To a Kill” was the theme to the 14th James Bond movie and came about apparently when John Taylor of the band let it be known he was a huge fan of 007 but didn’t like most of the music used in the movies. John Barry, who’d composed music for 11 Bond movies, worked with Duran Duran (Simon Le Bon recalls him “virtually a sixth member of the group” and having “a great way of working brilliant chord arrangements”) to create this striking theme. The pairing worked well – although “Goldfinger” and “Live And Let Die” had gotten to #2 in the U.S., “A View to a Kill” was the only James Bond song to ever hit #1. It was the band’s second and last chart-topper in the U.S., hitting #1 in Canada and Ireland as well.

Over 30 years later, both the James Bond franchise and Duran Duran are still rolling. No Time to Die, the 26th Bond movie,with a theme song by Billie Eilish, is supposed to come out this fall. Meanwhile, Duran Duran just released the single “Invisible”, the lead song off their 15th album (due this fall as well), Future Past.

July 2 – Geldof’s Benevolent Encore

Bob Geldof never stopped trying to help Africa and draw attention to global problems… or keep his name in the headlines, depending upon your point of view. Either way he was once again the star of the day 16 years back as the Live 8 Concerts took place.

The 2005 event came almost 20 years to the day after the more famous Live Aid, and would seem like it was a natural sequel to it. However, even though he organized it with help from Midge Ure – just as they had done with Live Aid – Geldof disputed the comparison. “This is not Live Aid 2,” he said, “these concerts are the start point for the long walk to justice, the one way we can all make our voices heard.” Be it is it may, the day-long Saturday event did have a lot in common with the ’80s Super Concert besides just the name. Once again it was a showcase of worldwide musical talent in concert trying to raise funds for charity, primarily ones helping alleviate poverty in Africa. The timing was set to nearly coincide with the global G8 Conference in Scotland that month and in fact, the final bit of the event took place July 6, in Edinburgh, the day the world leaders met there.

Similar to Live Aid, but more ambitious. Instead of just London and Philadelphia, they decided to stage events in the other G8 nations as well, plus South Africa. Therefore shows took place in Moscow’s Red Square, Berlin, near Tokyo, suburbs of Toronto, Paris, Rome, Johannesburg and a hastily organized set in Cornwall, England. That one had all-African musicians, to deflect criticism that there were too few African artists involved (Youssou N’Dour being the only notable shown on the largest stages.) Geldof answered that one honestly noting their aim “was for the biggest global stars to ensure media attention and a large TV audience.” No matter how politically incorrect it seemed, there were few African musicians who were well-known enough to capture American or British imaginations and have them tune in en masse. Which they did, with the shows televised live on MTV and VH1, the BBC and over 100 other networks around the world. ABC broadcast a two hour primetime highlights show that night.

There was plenty to take in from around the world. Billie Joe Armstrong infuriated some in Berlin by singing “American Idiot” with its lyrics including “Seig heil!”. They along with Audioslave, Roxy Music and a set by Brian Wilson in which he jammed eight Beach Boys songs into 20 minutes were international highlights there amongst a roster of German artists. The Pet Shop Boys are popular everywhere as shown by them headlining the Russian show, and doing a full dozen songs… well, 11 actually but they opened and closed with “It’s A Sin.” The Barrie show, north of Toronto, was a who’s who of Canadian musical talent including Bryan Adams, Bruce Cockburn, Celine Dion, Blue Rodeo, Jann Arden, the Tragically Hip and Neil Young closing (along with a few of his friends) with a rousing rendition of “Oh Canada.”

The mayor of Philadelphia said “a million” people turned out for their outdoor event; the crowd was so huge and stretched along the road so far it was anybody’s guess, but certainly numbers were into the hundreds of thousands. In one of the event’s more poignant moments Will Smith led the crowd in synchronized finger-snapping every three seconds to represent how often a child dies in Africa. Musically, Smith went back to his ’90s sitcom rapper persona and the crowd got to cheer the likes of the Black-eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Kanye West, Sarah McLachlan and a fine seven-song finale from Stevie Wonder.

The cornerstone though was at London’s Wembley Stadium, just as it had been 20 years earlier. The 66 000 tickets were distributed via a text-message lottery, with over a million people paying 1.50 pounds to enter. Paul McCartney and Bono opened the show with a take on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and the likes of Keane, Travis, Elton John, Bob Geldof himself (doing “I Don’t Like Mondays” with a bit of help from Travis), Madonna, Coldplay (joined by The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft for “Bittersweet Symphony”) and Robbie Williams soon followed. An anticipated (by some at least) Spice Girls reunion didn’t occur but better yet, a rare Pink Floyd one did. For the first time in 24 years, Roger Waters and David Gilmour appeared together, doing five songs including “Money.” It would turn out to be the last time the “classic” lineup of the band played together; Waters and Gilmour’s mutual disdain soon overtook chances of more work and Richard Wright died a couple of years later.

After all that, the July 6 Scottish show seemed a bit of an anti-climax. The fans there got to hear speeches on the state of the world from people like George Clooney, Susan Sarandon and of course, Bono, plus sets from The Proclaimers, Wet Wet Wet, Midge Ure, and to finish it off, oddly, James Brown.

The event was similar to Live Aid, but received a lot more negative attention than the first one. Scottish police were mad the concert in Edinburgh was set up without their permission or input. The Baltimore Sun called it a “ravenous orgy of celebrity ego”; some complained that while the artists at the Philly show weren’t paid, they did get expensive gift bags with gifts ranging from custom guitars to Hugo Boss clothing. The London show, while generating a good amount of money, had to pay over a million pounds to another charity, the Prince’s Trust, because they usurped the stadium the latter had booked for a show that day. And some respected charities suggested that while all was fine and well with giving money and food to the poor in Africa, it was meaningless unless something was done about “corrupt regimes” in charge of many of the poorest nations and a peace-keeping force was sent to quell civil wars in countries like the Congo and Uganda.

For all that, it did raise millions of dollars, both on the day, and later through sales of DVDs of the concert. The American release sold over 900 000 copies alone (good for 9X platinum in DVD status). And whether coincidentally or not, the G8 leaders did agree to increase foreign aid and write off debts from some of Africa’s poorest lands during their meetings there. Will there be a Live 9 or Live Aid 40th Anniversary? Well, no one has suggested anything but as long as there are poor people in Africa and Bob Geldof is still around, we wouldn’ t bet against it.

January 21 – Public Thought It Would Be Good If Nik Had A Hit

The same day as “Wrapped Around Your Finger” hit the U.S. charts (as described in today’s other post), the new wave kept on rolling in. On this day in 1984, most of the public got its introduction to another new British talent to the public, Nik Kershaw. He released the single “Wouldn’t it Be Good“.

The single was the forerunner of his Human Racing debut album. Nik had recorded one prior single in ’82, but most people didn’t hear it then, although the song, “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” ended up being the one song of his that charted higher than this one when it was re-released. Kershaw was a formidable talent, writing, playing keyboards, guitars, bass and singing the record himself. So his gamble of a year or two earlier – quitting a job at the unemployment office, risking becoming a client there himself – to devote himself full-time to music seemed a good one. Turned out to be a good risk- by the end of 1984, this song had been a top 10 hit in Britain and Canada, got widespread play on MTV and he’d released a second hit album, The Riddle. So hot was he early on that he actually had more weeks on the UK singles charts than any other solo artist in 1984-85!

Little wonder he got to appear on the London Live Aid stage and do the hit as a finale of his four-song set. He’d also drawn the attention of Elton John (who said of Kershaw “he’s one of the best songwriters of the generation”) paving the way for him to help Elton on his “Nikita” record the next year.

“Wouldn’t It Be Good” would soon after go on to be rerecorded by Danny Hutton (formerly of Three Dog Night) for the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, something which helped Nik’s bank account if not his public profile. Kershaw’s still recording, putting out a new album, Oxymoron, around the end of last year.

November 11 – Thompson’s Hit Had A Hold Over Radio

One of the great new wave tunes of all-time came out this day in 1983. The trio known as the Thompson Twins (named for detectives in the Tin Tin comics) put out the first single from their Into the Gap album, “Hold Me Now.”

It was the type of song everyone seemed to like and it found its place on mainstream radio, college stations and even in dance clubs, getting to #3 in the U.S. and Canada, and #4 in their homeland of the UK. L.A .alt rock pioneers KROQ had it as one of the top 10 songs of 1984 and it made #1 on Billboard‘s dance charts. It helped the Twins make a major name for themselves and the Into the Gap album go platinum or better in all of the countries mentioned, while the single itself got them gold records at home and in Canada.

It was their second album as a trio, earlier incarnations of the group had as many as seven members including two guitarists and a separate bassist. Although the new version concentrated more on keyboards, the hit did feature real – and sometimes odd – instruments including Allanah Currie playing the xylophone. Singer Tom Bailey said he wrote the lyrics thinking about Currie and himself, something of an on-again, off-again couple at the time. “What it feels like to get back together again after separation, and the kind of ideas that come up and the way that emotion and physicality somehow are brought together,” he describes it as.

The previous album, Side Kicks had given them a couple of hits at home, notably “Love On Your Side” but Into the Gap lifted them into the pop music stratosphere. By 1985 they’d be playing Live Aid, joined by Madonna on stage, but their fame was relatively short-lived. As Allanah of the group noted, “Hold Me Now” was a mixed blessing. It earned them money and fame but also pigeonholed them. “It was really big all over the world which is great, but it was just an accidental thing…(after) we got everybody on our back to write ‘Hold Me Now, Part 2’, but we can’t…we’ll never find a ‘formula’ for what we did.”  While the Thompson Twins are no longer an entity, “Hold Me Now” lives on both as a popular radio hit and in use in a number of movies and TV shows including The Wedding Singer, New Girl and The Carrie Diaries.

September 26 – Seventy-five And Suave

Happy birthday to one of the most stylish and style-setting singers of our time. Bryan Ferry turns 75 today!

Ferry is of course best-known for being the suave singer for Roxy Music although he’s actually compiled a heftier catalog of records on his own than with the British group that along with T-Rex and David Bowie more or less started the whole Glam Rock movement in the ’70s, and then also rather Bowie-like, morphed into one of the premier “new romantic” acts of the ’80s.

Ferry actually got a degree in Fine Arts and was briefly an art teacher before concentrating on music and forming Roxy Music around the end of 1970. Their first album took Europe by storm and was nothing if not new and avant garde. Through the years, especially after Brian Eno quit the group, it morphed into a stylish, elegant pop outfit remembered for 10 UK top 10 singles including their #1 cover version of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”

During the Roxy years, Ferry put out a number of solo albums heavy on old cover versions ranging from “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” to relatively contemporary tunes like “Don’t Worry Baby.” After the band broke up, he put out more original material, with his first post-Roxy album, Boys & Girls hitting #1 in the UK and being a reasonable success in North America as well, perhaps thanks to his presence on the Live Aid stage with David Gilmour in his band. Ferry’s put out a total of 16 solo studio albums, his last one, Bittersweet, two years back, being credited to Bryan Ferry & his Orchestra, consisting of reworkings of old Roxy and solo songs done in a Big Band/Jazz style. Fittingly, he’s appeared of late as a cabaret singer in the German TV show Babylon Berlin. And on top of that, he’s contributed to a bevy of soundtracks including Bright Lights, Big City, Phenomenon and Legend.

He was expecting to tour extensively this year, but you know the rest…Covid caused that to be postponed indefinitely. Instead he’s put out a live album from 1974 from his first solo tour. By the way, if you think he has the looks of a model, you’re right. Marks & Spencer used him as a fashion model for menswear in 2006!

September 13 – Big John Concert 2 : Elton

Same day, 11 years on, Elton John had a big show of his own. This day in 1980, he decided to do a free show in Central Park, New York and 400 000 happy fans showed up. Who knows, maybe John Lennon was among them – he was living nearby at the time.

The crowd heard Elton run through 22 songs, starting with “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”, ending with “Good Golly Miss Molly” and including a bevy of his hits like “Bennie and the Jets,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Rocket Man.”

The mood was light-hearted and John came out for his encore inexplicably dressed as Donald Duck. He remembers having a great deal of difficulty getting the suit on and worried the crowd would have left by the time he got back to stage, an unfounded worry. Elton continued on his 21 At 33 tour a couple of days later in Baltimore and ended up with shows in Australia at year’s end. Although by then, Elton’s star was beginning to fade a little, he was still immensely popular, having scored no less than two dozen top 40 hits during the ’70s.

At the time it was the largest rock concert ever in the U.S. at least, although Diana Ross would pack more into the park three years later and eventually Garth Brooks and Billy Joel would combine to draw nearly a million to Central Park for a similar concert. For Elton, it was the biggest live crowd he ever played to, although five years later he’d be seen by even more people with his performance at Live Aid.