Many of you will have shared my chance to meet Dean Torkington at the fans' Elton 50th Birthday Convention in London on July 5, 1997.
Dean, who earns his living as an Elton John tribute act but has been known to put on a belting Meatloaf and Freddie Mercury, entertained us with his repertoire of Elton songs. The event spilled over into the Northwood Hills Hotel the next day.
At the July Convention we also showed the never-seen-in-U.K. "You Can Make History (Young Again)" video. How many of you heard me announce that Dean actually had a walk-on part?
That's right. When the film-makers of the promo video went looking for an Elton-look-a-like in 1996, they found Dean, (then) aged 34 years. I'm Still Stand-In? At first, Dean thought it was a joke.
Previously one-half of local north England band Time Warp with Brian Healless which built up a five-year cult following, Dean had since gone solo, and remembered he was signed on at look-a-like agency Derek Doubles in London.
Leyland-based Dean travelled to London wearing a chocolate brown suit to double-up on what Elton would be wearing for the film shoot. Wife Marion, who cuts all of Dean's many authentic-looking Elton garments - such as the famous Lord Choc Ice one featured at the July Convention - had to quickly make Dean the suit at short notice because he didn't have one in the cupboard.
But when Dean made it onto location, a field near St. Albans, there was something no one had told him about. "There were paramedics and firemen all over the place" Dean recalls. His role: to walk away from a burning car in the video (see photo).
I'd say it would have been Easier To Walk Away from the project! But being a real Elton fan himself, there was no way he was going to drop this chance to play his role model.
Boy was it hot! Not only his successful role execution, but the conditions, I mean. "It took about 20 takes, and with every take it got hotter and hotter and on the very last take the windows started blowing out of the car," he says.
"I'm a fan, not a stuntman. I could feel the heat on the back of my neck, but I was fairly confident because the fire brigade were there," he adds.
After the shoot, which shows about 60 seconds of Dean walking away from a fireball, Dean and crew went into the Northwood Hills Hotel. That would later inspire Dean to sing at the pub - an ambition which would become reality when he teamed up with fans for July's historic concert.
"I used to sing along to Elton with the hairbrush. It was Elton John who inspired me to become a singer," he says frankly now. So when he entered the Northwood Hills fresh from the video shoot, "loads of heads turned to have a look at me. It was definitely the best day of my life."
Well, since then Dean's had the fan experience, and the successful charity fund-raising gig in Preston, to add to his list of memorable moments.
Dean is currently on his "Candle In the Wind Tour" at Holiday Inn, Central Square, Birmingham, on Nov. 28, 29, Dec. 5,6,7,9,15,24,27,31, 1997.
Dean also sings Candle In The Wind '97 on a special promo fan CD out in December 1997, and will be signing copies of the CD and performing at the Convention during the Elton John Weekend Dec. 20-21. See you there.