I spent a Saturday with Elton – not as some rubbish concert-goers might type as their Facebook status – but rather, personally. I spent a Saturday personally with Elton John, and him too, personally.
So it was all unexpected. Big surprise, really. By a certain quirk of fate, I entered a competition in a music magazine, which I didn’t even remember what it was about, and quite accidentally, won it. The prize was a date with Elton.
No roses, no diamond rings, but all was romantic enough, as there were to my surprise, no photographers or reporters.
I visited his London studio near his Holland Park flat early in the morning once I had arrived at the city. Fashion had always been a specialty of Elton. He, in a pink shimmering jacket which could only be worn by this one man on earth, warmly welcomed me. Smiling, perhaps because of my nervous pupil-like manner, he led me to his baby grand.
Naturally I seized the golden opportunity and asked him something about songwriting. I even played him some of the pieces I’d written, but I could tell he wasn’t entirely enamoured with them. Then he sat down and demonstrated his godlike playing – it started with the prologue of Your Song, changing to Song For Guy, and eventually it turned into something different yet even an Elton fan like me couldn’t tell. After that, he gave me some advice on keyboard riffs and, displaying his sentimental side, he told me that this baby Steinway was where his emotions left, and inspiration came. I happened to know that the beautiful melody that he had just played was specially written for me. Speechless moment, I suppose. I was fluttered.
In the studio, I met Elton’s producer, lyricist Bernie Tanpin and even Billy Joel, who had been there to discuss their Face-to-Face concert tour. For each minute passing by, it seemed more and more like a dream.
We had lunch in Harrods. I ordered fish and chips, and by coincidence knew that he hated this typical British dish, as well as burgers and mash. This was news to me, for someone as British as he was. Apparently he wasn’t easy with all the food items served on the menu, and ended up with an elegant cup of coffee, BlueMountain, I bet.
We chatted arbitrarily about different things, and eventually approached the topic of gay man unconscious. We threw out names like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, even Stephen Hough and Vladimir Horowitz. While Elton expressed his grief towards the remote death of Freddie, I moved to the issue of gay rights. He spoke up, first time being so serious, “We don’t want extra rights. We merely want to be treated equal.”
We walked casually along the River Thomas as the sun set gradually. I still remember catching scowls of envy. This was such an extraordinary experience. I never knew that Elton was such a nice bloke, even if he was wearing the hat of Sir Elton and the third most successful artist in the Billboard Top 100 list. I also got hold of a Goodbye Yellow Brick Road original LP with Elton’s autograph on the cover. I genuinely look forward to the chance of meeting Phil Collins next time.