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Chapter #62: Sir Elton John - The Lost Concert - March 27, 2008


The Hollywood Bowl ca. 1973, prior to restoration. (http://jamewsmcgillis.com)

Hollywood Nights - Hollywood Lights

Elton John Live at The Hollywood Bowl - 9/7/73

 

News items for

September 7, 1973:

 
  • Palestinian commandos and five Saudi Arabian hostages depart Paris in a Syrian Jet, heading for Jordan.
  • Cambodian Guerrilla fighters sweep through the southern half of the strategic Kompong Cham Province.
  • The U.S. Senate votes to forbid television blackouts of professional sports events that sell-out 72 hours in advance.
  • The Grateful Dead play live at the Nassau, NY Coliseum, including their first live performance of “Let it Grow”.
  • The U.S. Senate Watergate committee loses a bid to gain access to President Nixon's White House secret tape recordings in time for its final hearings.
  • The Merv Griffin Show features Jack BennyMel Ferrer and Twiggy.
  • In a transcendent performance, Elton John plays the Hollywood Bowl.
 
For several weeks prior, a huge billboard of Elton John, pictured in Fred Astaire-style white tie & tails, hat and cane had graced the Sunset Strip, adding to the hype of the big night to come. 
 
As the lights went down on a classic Hollywood Bowl night, an electric air Classic 1973 t-shirt image of Elton John in tie and tales.  Click for larger image. (copyright, http://jamesmcgillis.com)of anticipation swept the crowd.  Searchlights swept the Hollywood night, as MC for the evening, porn star Linda Lovelace descended a grand staircase and introduced a series of celebrity impersonators, including Queen Elizabeth II, Elvis (The King), Mae West, Groucho Marx, The Beatles and Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster.
 
Having whipped the audience into frenzy, Linda went on to announce, “Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the biggest, gigantic, most colossal…  Elton John”.  Resplendent in a white feathery cowboy outfit that spangled and sparkled from every seam, Elton descended the staircase.  At that moment, five colored grand pianos opened together, spelling ‘ELTON’ on their lids. 
 
As hundreds of white doves flew from the five pianos, Elton launched into the rocking “Elderberry Wine”.  One of the doves flew nearly straight at me, bouncing off the fan standing next to me and landing at our feet.
 
Original sheet music cover from Elton John song,"Candle In The Wind" (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Maybe once, maybe twice in a lifetime, we are present at a creation so different from its precedents; it sweeps us away to a new dimension.  Critics and fans alike agreed that September 7, 1973 was such a night.  Remarking later about this time in his career, Elton said, “It was magic; that creative period of my life will never come again.”  Chris Charlesworth, in Melody Maker's September 15, 1973 issue, called this show “Elton's finest hour”.
 
If my memory still serves me, a live crocodile crawled across the stage during the band’s rendition of “Crocodile Rock”, while Elton John's sound engineer played electric piano dressed as a crocodile! 
 
The Elton John 1973 "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album cover, Click image for larger image. (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Released just that day as a single in England, Elton sang, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and "Candle in the Wind", later turned into a paean for his fallen friend, Princess Diana.  “Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting” rested comfortably that day at #8 on the Billboard Chart.  Other songs played that night include “Honky Cat”, “Rocket Man”, “All the Girls Love Alice”, “Daniel”, “Madman Across the Water” and “Teacher I Need You”.  
 
Perhaps it is a cliché to say that a lot has changed in the past 35 years, but little has changed as much as the cost of concert tickets and concert memorabilia.  At that time, tickets to one of the best live performances of the 20th Century were less than $15.  Each of the 16,000 attendees who was willing to wait in line received a free concert t-shirt, showing Elton John, dressed in tails, with a top hat and cane.
Classic Elton John 1973 t-shirt image, undergoing "reconstruction" (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
Several years ago, I dragged out my personal t-shirt from that night and assessed its sad condition.  The silkscreen image of Elton looked as bad as Leonardo da Vinci’s, The Last Supper, prior to restoration.  Something told me that I had the last souvenir t-shirts from that magical night... and I wanted to save it for posterity.
 
After snapping a digital image of the t-shirt, I began computer “re-pixilation” of that image.  Over the course of several months, I spent many hours restoring the image to one that is nearly identical to the original. We are happy to say that exact replicas of the t-shirt are now available. For more information, click HERE. Or, click HERE for secure PayPal purchase of your own exact replica of the original Elton John Hollywood Bowl 9/7/73 t-shirt. Ten dollars of every sale will go to the Elton John Aids Foundation.
 
While researching Elton John’s September 7, 1973 Hollywood Bowl concert, I found several written references, but no images at all.  Could the pictures you see here be the only remaining images of Elton John, in his glory, at the pinnacle moment of his career? (Answer below)
Elton John at the piano, live at the Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 7, 1973 - Permission, Harvey Jordan - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
Comment By Harvey Jordan on Thursday, March 17, 2011 08:30 AM | - Elton Live at the Bowl - Harvey wrote,  "Thought I'd show you one of my 9/7/73 shots. I was in the 10th row with a telephoto lens." 
 
<--Click on Elton for a larger image, by legendary Rock & Roll photographer, Harvey Jordan.

Comment By Judy  on Sunday, April 19, 2009 09:53 AM | Link to this comment.
I was there in the Hollywood Bowl that night too! I found a link to him singing "Crocodile Rock" that night. Here is the rare MySpace Video.

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