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Elton John World News: An In-Depth Look at Guy Babylon

An In-Depth Look at Guy Babylon-- Posted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday 15 September 2009 @ 16:45 - GMT

The September 14, 2009 edition of the Baltimore Sun contained an extensive obituary of Guy Graham Babylon.

The Grammy Award-winning musician who was a keyboardist with Elton's band for more than 20 years, died of arrhythmia earlier this month.

Elton was unable to attend Babylon's funeral, which was held September 8 in Westlake Village, California.

He said he was devastated and heartbroken by the passing of the 52-year-old.

Born in Baltimore and raised in New Windsor, Guy was a 9-year-old when he was dismissed by a piano teacher for having little or no talent. Two years later, he was busy teaching himself how to play a keyboard he had bought.

"His teacher was rather traditional and Guy liked rock 'n' roll," said his mother, Mary Babylon.

Influenced by the music of Led Zeppelin, Yes, and Gentle Giant, Babylon was in the seventh grade when he and several other fledgling New Windsor musicians formed a band.

"They'd jam at each other's homes where the parents didn't mind listening to all the noise. The bands were called the Banana Submarine and later Alley Crap," Mrs. Babylon said, laughing.

Guy was also an athlete. He swam, played football and ran track. As a matter of fact, he was a state champion high jumper and his high school high jumping record remained unbroken for a decade.

After graduating from high school in 1974, Guy attended the University of South Florida on a swimming scholarship, and earned a bachelor's degree in 1979 in music composition.

He returned to New Windsor after college and joined his father, Graham Babylon, owner of the Babylon Vault Co., established by Graham Babylon's father. Within six months, he realised the burial vault business wasn't for him.

"Once he said 'no,' it was amazing how Guy's dream of a career in music became my Dad's dream, and my parents did everything they could to support him," said his sister, Donna Babylon, a Westminster author and home decorating expert.

Packing up his pickup truck, the young man pulled out of his parent's Wakefield Valley Road driveway during a snowstorm and headed West.

"It was Jan. 1, 1980, and he never looked back," his sister recalled.

In order to make ends meet, Mr. Babylon delivered newspapers and phone books, while hoping to land a music gig.

He composed soundtracks and jingles for radio, TV and cable shows, and joined the band Ashton.

In 1987, he co-wrote and performed Siedah Garrett's K.I.S.S.I.N.G, which became a No. 1 dance hit in the U.S., and performed with Davey Johnstone.

He joined Elton's band in 1988. Besides recording 12 LPs with Elton, Babylon recorded with such artists as B.B. King, Ray CharlesEric Clapton and Fats Domino.

In 2001,Guy got a Grammy for his arrangements for the musical Aida. In 2006, he was supervisor and orchestrator for Lestat.  

Mr. Babylon eschewed the wild lifestyle of most rock 'n' roll musicians.

"He was living in the land of rock 'n' roll, sex and drugs, but my brother didn't use drugs, smoke or drink, and had the respect and friendship of his peers," Ms. Babylon said. "He had the strength to resist all of that."

In honour of his old friend, the Babylon family has been told that a plaque honoring their son will be placed in the chapel of one of Elton's homes.

"In the chapel is a plaque to Princess Diana, Versace, Oliver Johnstone, and now there will be one for Guy," his sister said.

Oliver, Davey's young son, drowned in 2001 in the family's swimming pool at their home in Calabasas, California. He had been playing inside a small tent when he fell into the water.