Bob Leszczak’s favourite toys, before he was even two years old, were the television and phonograph. In fact, these have become the focus of the writer/DJ’s many books.
The New Jersey native’s latest is called Dynamic Duets: The Best Pop Collaborations From 1955 to 1999. It contains biographical details about a number of entertainers, Elton among them. He is described as having strict parents who disapproved of his career choice. This was true of his dad, but the same cannot be said for the singer’s mother.
There are quite a few references to the former Reg Dwight, including a discussion of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. There have been other versions, but the 1976 release, with Kiki Dee, was the best. While this was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the pair didn’t fare so well with their covers of the Four Tops‘ Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever and Cole Porter’s True Love. The latter, incidentally, was previously sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, and wound up being more successful. A much more unusual performance was when David Bowie joined the cronner for Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy on Bing Crosby‘s holiday special in 1977. Even so, the author points out, their single, which was released five years later, became a seasonal staple.
Bob also observes that it’s rare for a recording artist to have a hit with the same tune twice. Elton did this, though, both with Candle in The Wind and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. ”Sun” was a smash in 1974; then again in 1991, with George Michael. However, George tried, at first, to talk his friend out of releasing the track, thinking it could harm their careers.
Eddie Money is another vocalist who had doubts about a song that turned into a chart-topper. He wasn’t initially crazy about Take Me Home Tonight and admits that Ronnie Spector was not his original choice for the second voice.
Other well-known artists who have taken less prominent roles include Harry Wayne ”KC” Casey, who helped write and and perform George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby; David Crosby, backing Phil Collins on Another Day in Paradise and Elton, who figures in one of the book’s more resonant passages.
Neil Sedaka, talking about recording with Elton, remembered the founder of Rocket Records arriving at Santa Monica’s Clover Studios two hours late. He wore a glittery outfit with high heel sneakers, but was a real pro who recorded Bad Blood in just three takes.
Dynamic Duets, which features many other duos, such as Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry; Lita Ford with Ozzy Osbourne; Edward Byrnes and Connie Stevens; and Natalie Cole and her father, Nat ”King” Cole (thanks to technical expertise), will be available on the 15th of November.