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Many aficionados are aware that when Elton first played America, he was introduced by Neil Diamond. But Neil hadn’t been impressed when he met his nervous new labelmate. He had a change of heart after the 23-year-old’s performance, spilling his drink in his enthusiasm.

This is one of many entertaining bits appearing in Tom Doyle’s new biography. Another is a description of when Bob Dylan surprised and thrilled Elton and Bernie Taupin with a backstage visit. Nigel Olsson thought Bernie looked like he was about to cry while Bob resembled an accountant with his small briefcase and glasses. Dylan was back the next night, deciding to bring along his wife Sara, Paul Simon and John Phillips.
Even so, Elton continued to doubt himself. He hesitated outside London’s trendy Kensington Market until June, the wife of his pal Marc Bolan, took him by the hand.
These kinds of conflicts and contrasts have been the norm throughout the former Reg Dwight‘s life. Older diary entries about an offer to open a Cricklewood carwash and winnings at the Pinner Fair–a coconut and two goldfish–were sprinkled with exclamation points. A few years later, though, it was commonplace for Elton to appear all over the world and hang out with the likes of Groucho Marx, Princess Margaret, Mae West, and Rod Stewart.
On one occasion, it was thought that even ghosts were spending time with Elton and his band. Visitors to the Chateau d’Herouville in France have reported strange vibes and experiences, which Bernie and Davey Johnstone have confirmed. Even so, the making of Honky Chateau went well–unlike their initial attempts at recording Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The Jamaican studio was run-down and poorly equipped. And one night as Elton was falling asleep, a huge centipede crawled across his body. The vocalist is described as rushing out in ”wimpish terror,” but wouldn’t most people react similarly?
Creatures of another sort – ”unearthly,” as Doyle calls them – were utilised for the Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy album cover. The author also makes an astute observation about how Elton’s bandmates seem to be floating away in the back cover design. It was like a premonition since after the disc was released, Elton wanted to change his sound and fired both Nigel and Dee Murray.
Not long afterwards, the musician was invited to join the Rolling Stones at a Colorado concert. They made it obvious that he’d overstayed his welcome. Elton explained to Tom Doyle that he’d been asked by the keyboardist for the tour, Billy Preston, to play longer than first planned.
Far more troubling was Elton’s depression, due to cocaine, overwork and problems with his partner and manager, John Reid.
Nowadays, the former Reg Dwight is sober and has been with David Furnish since they met in the fall of 1993. A year earlier, he started his AIDS foundation, which Taupin doesn’t think he’s gotten enough credit for. He tells the writer he considers him to be the ”other Bono.
Captain Fantastic: Elton John’s Stellar Trip Through The ’70s, out on the 21st of March, winds up with the luminary joking about his career. He believes an overview of his life is generally ”glasses . . . homosexuality . . . tantrums,” although he’s proud of the music he and Bernie have created, and can’t imagine his life without the lyricist being in it.