Sunday, August 9, 2020

John Lennon's sense of humor, Tina Turner's diva-ness, and much more from Elton John's book

I recently wrote a review of Rocketman and a list of my favorite Elton John songs. While that movie was pretty good, I heard John's new autobiography Me is better.

So I read it an, indeed, it has lots of juicy nuggets, including:

  • Blues guitarist Long John Baldy more of less discovered, or "nurtured," both Elton AND Rod Stewart. In fact, Baldry was in Stewart's early band Bluesology, which split when a member threw red wind on Stewart's white suit.
  • An element the movie went into some: Elton didn't have much confidence in his early name (Reg Dwight), his talent, or his writing (hence his long arrangement with Bernie Taupin).
  • Taking his new name from two bandmates, "Elton" and "John," his then newly ex-band laughed and wished him luck.
  • His mom was pretty mean, toilet training him by hitting him with a wire brush until he peed.
  • One of Elton's most exciting memories of childhood was a school trip to Annecy, down in the French Alps, where I incidentally vacationed for a wedding in 2019.
  • Ever since he was a kid, he has followed the charts daily: music, movies, you name it, any charts.
  • By age 19, even as a touring musician in the swinging 60s, Elton still had no idea what sex was about. All he did was play shows and buy records.
  • While making Caribou (think "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me"), Elton claimed to have seen Stevie Wonder driving a snowmobile in the Colorado Rockies.
  • John Lennon was one of his best friends, although Elton thought the Dakota, where Lennon was eventually murdered, was a dark and sinister place for him to semi-retire to, having been where part of Roman Polanski's very dark Rosemary's Baby was filmed.
  • He was also very close to Billie Jean King, who asked him to write a song for her tennis team the Philadelphia Freedoms.
  • Two other things about Lennon: one, after his death, Yoko asked Elton to sing the songs that would go on Milk and Honey, but Elton refused and so Yoko released the home recordings as is, sung by Lennon; and two, Lennon's humor was exactly like the scene from Monty Python's Meaning of Life, when the guy explodes in the restaurant due to eating too much.
  • Elton talks about the many things he’s been criticized for throughout his later career, including saying that Mick Jagger’s face looks like a monkey‘s face, suggesting that Jesus may have been gay, and also siding with people like Axl Rose and Eminem whom he feels were representing homophobic characters rather than their own views.
  • Tantrums and Tiaras was Elton John’s celebrity reality show, which he suggests spawned reality TV.
  • Princess Diana was one of his best friends, the best dinner party partner one could have, and an incredible gossip, and the only thing really peculiar about her was the way she talked about Prince Charles.
  • Tours with Billy Joel and Tina Turner didn’t go so well. Turner was a diva who refused to acknowledge any of the band. And Joel was drinking too much.
All these tidbits and many more make for a great read for any student of rock n'roll history.

4.5 out of 5 stars