Researchers for a BBC radio show have recently uncovered 60s talent-spotters’ verdicts on some of the most successful acts in British popular music history and there are some belters.
“Auditioning for Auntie,” which is set to air on BBC Radio 4 on October 21st, looks at the process by which up-and-coming British acts would have to audition before the Talent Selection Group in order to perform on the BBC’s pop-music programs of the time.
In 1968, a young performer known as Elton John was among the auditionees, and performed three songs – “All Across the Havens”, “Lady Samantha” and “Skyline Pigeon” – in front of producers who had this to say of his performances:
“The items are not songs. Pretentious material, self-written, sung in an extremely dull fashion without any feeling and precious little musical ability. Thin, piercing voice with NO emotion. Not a tuneful voice.”
One producer finally added, “He writes dreary songs and he sounds like a wonky singer.”
Despite the less-than-positive verdict, a tape of Elton John’s audition was passed on to BBC bosses, who agreed he would be able to perform.
David Bowie fared even worse in 1965 when he performed a version of “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, from the Mary Poppins film. The then-nobody, 70s-somebody and now-everybody, was described as an “amateur sounding vocalist who sings wrong notes and out of tune.” Wow.
The Who also turned up in February 1965 with two members arriving 25 minutes late. “Not endowed with much sense of urgency,” wrote the producer, adding, “overall, not very original and below standard.”
While Simon and Garfunkel and Nick Drake worked their magic, Marc Bolan’s music failed to impress the producers, being described as ‘c–p, and pretentious c–p at that.’
The Rolling Stones were also rejected by the panel in 1963, being called “unsuitable for our purposes” by the undeserving-of-their-titles “talent-spotters.”
Not much to say about all of this, really, except who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh at the past eh?
Billy Joel has essentially been in semi-retirement for the past three years or so, but he wanted Rolling Stone to know that he’s not retiring.
That said, he’s not really sure he’s going to play any more shows after two festival dates next month, and he probably won’t put out any more albums, but he’s not really retired, either.
What we do know is he’s playing the STONE Music Festival in Sydney, Australia on April 21, and then he’ll appear at the NOLA Jazz Festival on April 27. He also appeared at the 12-12-12 event last year to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Joel told the magazine that he wants to use these shows as test gigs to see how he feels about performing now, saying that if they go well he’ll “probably end up booking some more gigs. I don’t know if I’ll go on an extended tour like Bruce Springsteen, hammering away for two years, though.”
He also spoke about his old touring partner Elton John, and said he would be open to touring with him again. Back in 2011, John told Rolling Stone that he was frustrated of touring with Joel, particularly because of cancellations due to, John said, Joel’s alcoholism. Joel said he hasn’t heard from Elton since.
Joel said that if he does, he might begin playing entire albums, as he’s tired of playing what he calls a “greatest hits set.”
“It would give me a chance to do songs we haven’t played… We’d do one album and then play some obscurities. I enjoy playing those more than I enjoy playing the hits.”
Joel hasn’t release a pop album since 1993’s River of Dreams, and says that playing more obscure songs can take the place of writing new tracks.
“I don’t have any new material,” he said. “But I realized that if I play older material that has never been heard before, like an album track or an obscure song, that’s almost the same as doing a new song. I just don’t want to be an oldies hack where I’m just playing songs everybody is familiar with.”
Not to be confused with the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival will be held September 5-8 this year, and will mark the 10th anniversary of the event.
Other acts performing this year include The Knife, The Roots, M.I.A., Franz Ferdinand, Sinead O’Connor, Johnny Marr and The Walkmen. Additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Band and DJ wise we’ve cast our net far and wide… as ever Bestival 2013 will be a magical mix of the old and the new, the vintage and classic rubbing shoulders with the ultra modern and left field,” said presenter Rob da Bank in a statement. “From one of the biggest selling artists of all time and certainly the best at fancy dress, Elton John, through the party blazing hip-hop of Snoop Dogg through the amazing rare shows from the likes of The Knife… this will be our best Bestival yet.”
Elton John even got a statement together for the announcement.
“I haven’t played any of the major festivals in the UK in recent years, so when the opportunity to play Bestival came up I was very interested,” John said. “I’ve heard that the Bestival audience comes in fancy dress and I can’t wait to see that, they must all look amazing from stage. At various times I have worn enormous feathered head-dresses, cloaks, hot pants, jumpsuits, clown suits, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, French Maid, The Eiffel Tower and The Statue of Liberty onstage! Wearing fancy dress makes us all feel less inhibited so I think it’s a great way to enjoy live music.”
As you can tell from the statement, much of the audience arrives at the festival in various degrees of “fancy dress.”
Elton John, Neil Young and Sting will be among the many artists on hand to honor Bruce Springsteen as the MusiCares Person of the Year.
These artists and more will appear at a tribute for Springsteen on February 8 in Los Angeles, two days before the Grammy Awards are held in the same city. The MusiCares honor is presented by The Recording Academy, which is also responsible for the Grammy Awards. The award honors “exceptional artistic achievement and philanthropic work,” according to The Recording Academy.
“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart will host the tribute event, and other performers include Alabama Shakes, Jackson Browne, Kenny Chesney, Ben Harper, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Jim James, Juanes, John Legend, Natalie Maines, Tim McGraw, Tom Morello, Mumford & Sons, Patti Smith, Mavis Staples and Eddie Vedder, according to a press release. The performers are expected to perform songs from Springsteen’s catalog.
In addition to the tribute concert, the sold-out event also will include a silent auction, reception and a gala dinner with a live auction. Proceeds from the event go to struggling musicians with financial, personal and medical needs.
This year marks the 23rd year the MusiCares Person of the Year Award has been presented to some of music’s biggest names. Previous winners are Tony Bennett, Bono, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Sting, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.
The tribute is part of Grammy Week, which will culminate with the 55th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 10, 2013. That event will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and will be broadcast live on CBS from 8-11:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
After being forced to cancel four “Million Dollar Piano” shows in Las Vegas last month, Elton John has announced 11 new shows that will take place in October as part of his ongoing three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The new dates will take place October 10-13, 18-21 and 26-28
John cancelled the four shows at the end of May due to a “serious respiratory infection” that landed the legendary singer in the hospital. After his stay, he was ordered by doctors “not to perform any concerts for approximately seven days with complete rest and antibiotic treatment to cure his respiratory infection and prevent any damage,” a statement on his website said. At the time, John said that the eleven concerts would be announced soon, and the dates were finally confirmed earlier today.
Between now and the October dates, John and his band will head to Europe for a summer tour, and then come back to North America in September for a handful of dates that will find the piano man visiting Peterborough, Ontario; Jackson, Miss.; Huntsville, Ala.; Johnson City, Tenn and Wheeling, West Va.
In other Elton John news, Universal Music has announced that they will release a box set containing five John records next month. The fittingly titled Classic Album Selection (1970-73) will be released July 16 and include John’s self-titled sophomore album, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. The box will contain all of John’s first albums except his usually overlooked debut, Empty Sky.
Additionally, on July 2 the remix album Elton Vs. Pnau will be released. John gave Australian duo Pnau full access to his master recordings from 1970-1976, and the group remixed some of his best known songs into all new compositions.
Elton John has had to cancel four Las Vegas concerts due to a “serious respiratory infection” that landed him in the hospital on Wednesday. The concerts were part of the legendary British singer’s show “The Million Dollar Piano,” which is a three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Sin City.
John developed the infection last weekend while performing on Sunday, and his condition worsened as the week progressed before he was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Wednesday morning. He stayed throughout the day undergoing “extensive tests” and was ordered “not to perform any concerts for approximately seven days with complete rest and antibiotic treatment to cure his respiratory infection and prevent any damage,” according to a statement on his website.
“It feels strange not to be able to perform these ‘Million Dollar Piano” concerts at The Colosseum,” John said in a statement. “I love performing this show and I will be thrilled when we return to The Colosseum in October to complete the eleven concerts soon to be scheduled. All I can say to the fans is sorry I can’t be with you. I hope to see you soon at this wonderful theatre at Caesars Palace.”
Anyone who bought tickets to the shows can receive refunds at the original point of purchase, or may exchange them. The singer’s next scheduled dates will be a summer tour in Europe that kicks off June 1 in Germany. Elton and his band will be back in North America in September for a short tour that will include visits to Peterborough, Ontario; Jackson, Miss.; Huntsville, Ala.; Johnson City, Tenn. and Wheeling, West Va.
There were originally 11 concerts scheduled for the Vegas stand, and the October dates John mentioned in his statement will serve as makeup dates once they are scheduled. John had to cancel two concerts in February when he came down with a case of food poisoning.
Elton John currently is in the midst of a four night residency in Las Vegas, and will perform a couple of previously announced repeats of the residency in April, but the English piano man has now added more North American dates in between the two Las Vegas stops. The dates will be a part of his currently ongoing world tour.
After the current residency wraps up on February 18, John will have a few days off before heading to Guadalajara, Mexico to play on February 24. After that, he will play 11 concerts before returning to Vegas April 13-15 for another stint at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. He will repeat these shows at the same venue April 18-19. Other cities John will hit on the tour include Augusta, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; Kalamazoo, Mich. and Madison, Wisc.
Additionally, after the second April residency, John will play three dates in Alberta Canada from April 24 through April 26. Following those dates, the singer-songwriter will take some time off before traveling around Europe for most of June and July. He also has a concert scheduled in Ancol, Jakarta, Indonesia on November 17.
Though John hasn’t released an official solo studio album since 2006’s The Captain & the Kid, he did release a collaboration with fellow piano player Leon Russell called The Union in 2010. That album went to number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart. John reportedly is readying an album for release later this year. It would be his 30th solo studio album.
During John’s performance at Caesars Palace on Sunday, February 12, John dedicated his song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to Whitney Houston, who had been discovered dead in a Los Angeles hotel room the day before.
Talk about the odd couple. Elton John, the flamboyant English singer and pianist who reworked his ode to Marilyn Monroe “Candle In The Wind” after Princess Diana died, has recorded an album with Leon Russell entitled “The Union.”
Leon Russell is best known for being a session guy and sideman for some of the most iconic musicians in the world (The Rolling Stones, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, The Band, Frank Sinatra, Tijuana Brass, Badfinger, Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Doris Day, Ringo Starr, Delaney Bramlett, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis and more). The legendary, Grammy award winning producer T Bone Burnett produced the album.
Cameron Crowe, a confirmed music nerd and director of “Almost Famous” was there, following the duo while they were recording the set and made a documentary that also is named “The Union.” The documentary has been snagged by HBO and will premiere in January 2012. The documentary also premiered at Tribeca Film Festival this year on opening night.
Elton John was very psyched. He said, I’m a big HBO fan due to their extraordinary programming. I’m very excited they will be broadcasting “The Union.” Zooey Deschanel a couple years ago probably gave him a “Six Feet Under” DVD box set and told John this will change your life.
Sir Elton John will be taking his flamboyant performance to television on April 2 as he hosts and performs as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. It is interesting to note that Elton John will be lumped together with the likes of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake as one of a select group of people who have both hosted and been the musical guest on the same episode.
John probably won’t be singing his famous song, “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” since he is going to be sharing the SNL stage with his current musical partner, Leon Russell. They are working together to promote The Union, a project they are currently working on together. John has only performed on SNL two times since 1982. His upcoming performance as host could be terrible, but it might also be incredible. Think about when John McCain was the host of the show and he was simply side-splitting funny. John could turn out to be the same way. However, McCain has never performed crazy songs with Muppets. Nor has he ever been bedecked with rhinestones in quantities that would shock even Lady Gaga. No matter what happens, though, this is one SNL you don’t want to miss.
Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit, which is on its 24th year, will feature a reunion performance from Young’s former rock country band, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Buffalo Springfield. Young will be teaming up with the original and only living band mates Richie Furay and Stephen Stills for the two-day headlining charity gig.
Joining the trio for the two day event are fellow rock country icons Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Pearl Jam who will be celebrating their 20th year in the biz with their appearance in the benefit, Grizzly Bear, Elvis Costello and Modest Mouse. Other artists such as Elton John, Lucinda Williams, Leon Russell, Billy Idol and Jackson Browne with David Lindley will also be performing in the said event but only in one of the two scheduled shows.
The Bridge School Benefit show has always been known to feature unplugged performances from all of its guests so expect Buffalo Springfield to belt out an all acoustic set.
The Bridge School charity concert will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Northern California on October 23 and 24. The event is primarily organized by Neil Young to raise funds for Bridge School’s specialized programs for its physically disabled students. It also aims to disseminate more information and awareness on how students with such disabilities and their families can cope with their present situation.
Tickets for the event will be available starting on Sunday, September 19 via Ticketmaster.