In honor of the big Elton John concert at Amsoil Arena on Friday, I dug through the News Tribune files and found these photos and articles that appeared in the DNT in the 1970s.
This week’s concert will be Elton John’s first in Duluth, so of course none of these photos were taken here in the Northland.
The first article, from January 1971, probably was the first article about Elton John to appear in the News Tribune, introducing readers to the new music star; his first American concert was in August 1970 in Los Angeles.
ANOTHER BRITISH TUNE-MAN SOARS HIGH
By Mary Campbell, Associated Press, January 17, 1971
Elton John, 23, is one of the first superstars of the 1970s. For once there is agreement – the young record buyers, the older critics, the establishment, the underground, the people who go to hear singers perform live, the disc jockeys – even the people who disagree with the majority most times, just to be different.
The LP “Elton John,” with too many strings, was released in July, and “Tumbleweed Connection,” which is arranged better, was released Jan. 4, with “Elton John” still high on the best-selling charts. An earlier LP made in John’s native England hasn’t come to the United States.
The songs, which are getting even more praise than the also-praised performance by John (who sings and accompanies himself on piano), are written by John and lyricist Bernie Taupin.
John says: “Bernie writes first, then I put a melody to what he has done. There’s no collaboration whatsoever. Because of it, there was a rumor we didn’t talk to each other. But we lived with my parents for two and a half years.”
Now that prosperity has struck, they each have a flat in London. “Bernie did very well to put up with me two and a half years, me being a neurotic fool. I’ve calmed down a lot recently, sort of grown up a lot.”
Elton John (left), Lana Hamilton, wife of actor George Hamilton (center) and rock singer Rod Stewart arrive at New York’s Studio 54 on July 11, 1978. They were there for a party given by RCA Records, which had just signed John to a contract. (Associated Press / News-Tribune file photo)
John has made two short tours in the United States, in August and in October. Taupin says, “I usually spend the first half of the show in the dressing room, and then I just pace about. I can never sit and watch the thing. They always go well now, but I still tend to be very edgy. That is just me, you know.”
In September, back in England, John says, “We did so much work. We did a film score for ‘Friends,’ which will be out in February. They wanted an album as well.”
About being called a superstar, John says, “It’s very flattering, but it goes in one ear and out the other, really. People like to think I’m a superstar – they can think what they like. I know what I am and what I’m not. People are frantically searching for somebody new.”
John also is frequently compared with the Band. He isn’t surprised. “I was one of the first people in England to get hold of the first Band album. It influenced me a lot.” Taupin calls Robbie Robertson of the Band “one of my all-time idols.”
Interestingly, Robertson was one of the first people in America to have the “Elton John” album, which impressed him.
Robertson and John met when John performed in New York at Fillmore East.
Rock ‘n’ roll giant Elton John tells talk-show host Mike Douglas about his plans for the future on March 23, 1978. Also appearing on “The Mike Douglas Show” that week were Engelbert Humperdinck, James Caan, Seals and Crofts and Barbara Walters. (publicity photo / News-Tribune files)
The News-Tribune on Nov. 5, 1977, carried this short article:
ELTON GIVES LAST SHOW
British rock star Elton John has told weeping fans in London he is giving up live performances on stage.
The 30-year-old creator of “Captain Fantastic” and dozens of other million-selling hits made the surprise announcement in front of 7,000 fans at a charity concert Thursday night in north London.
“Thank you very much, I really enjoyed tonight. But this is going to be the last show. There’s a lot more to me than playing on the road,” said the pudgy superstar. “It’s been a painful decision for me,” he added.
Fans openly wept and shouted “No, no.”
John is to the ’70s what the Beatles were to the ’60s, whipping up box-office fervor with his bizarre outfits, huge-rimmed glasses, platform-sole shoes and dynamic music. He’s become an overnight sensation in America, where he’s had his greatest success.
Obviously, he had a change of heart somewhere along the line about performing live.
Here are a couple more photos:
Elton John will appear in “Elton John and Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye Norma Jean and Other Things,” a revealing look into the world of a true superstar, airing at 11:15 p.m. Saturday, December 15, 1979 on KDLH-TV 3. (publicity photo / News-Tribune files)
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