46 years ago today, Elton performed his very first American concert.
This took place at West Hollywood’s Troubadour Club.
Since opening in 1957, the legendary establishment has helped launch some of contemporary music’s most popular entertainers. James Taylor and Tom Waits played the club early in their careers. Richard Pryor and Neil Diamond recorded their live debut albums there, and Gordon Lightfoot, like Elton, made his first U.S. appearance at the Troubadour.
The night before Elton’s pivotal appearance, he was less than enthusiastic. His manager, Ray Williams, said he thought himself too inexperienced to play for a sophisticated Los Angeles crowd.
Luckily, Ray prevailed, and his client received rave reviews.
Rolling Stone magazine rated that night as one of the all-time greatest rock performances and, the following morning Elton received a telegram from promoter Bill Graham, offering him $5,000 to play at the Fillmore East in New York–the largest sum ever offered to a first time act.
In retrospect, Elton has said, ”I think the start of all the success was the Troubadour thing. It was just amazing. It’s an incredibly funky little place, the best club of its kind anywhere, and all it is is some wooden tables and chairs and good acoustics.”