By George Matlock
The volcanic destruction of the Caribbean paradise island of Montserrat, famous for Sir George Martin’s studios and recording sessions which have included Elton, was enough to muster several influential artists to perform one night at the Royal Albert Hall in London. On September 15, 1997, Elton, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sting combined forces to raise money for the stricken island. The 2 hours-plus concert was broadcast on a pay-per-view option on Sky Television for the next four nights.
As the clock swept closer to the 7.45 pm concert start, the tourist attraction was the Royal Coldstream Guard Band which played forgettable tunes on the northern side of the RAH.
As we handed out fan flyers, no one was spared who showed interest. Danny Hayes who was helping me managed to hand a postcard to famous 1960s model Twiggy‘s partner. Meanwhile, I spotted Disc Jockey and long-time friend of Elton’s, Paul Gambaccini, and thanked him for the recent Elton interview on BBC Radio 4.
I carried on talent spotting, only to discover a running Chris Evans, the TV and radio presenter who only the previous week had interviewed Elton. Handing him a postcard, I thanked him for yet another Elton appearance. (Yes, it’s getting repetitive, but Elton was on just about every programme after Diana’s funeral).
I completed a hat-trick by locating super-group Queen guitarist Brian May and his wife, handing him a postcard and thanking him for a pleasant tribute to Elton on his 50th birthday. Brian had said a few words, captured by London’s commercial talk radio station, News Direct 97.3FM in March at Elton’s Oscar night party. And Brian is a genuinely nice guy – shook hands before heading off for the concert. As some enjoyed the event, myself and Danny were satisfied to have spread our message to many new people, including some famous names. Mission accomplished. We parted company and headed home.