ELTON ON GRAMMY SPECIAL — I make no apologies for being a significantly huge Elton John fan. From “Border Song” to “Home,” I think John‘s work, with Bernie Taupin of course, has just been exceptional. Last night’s Grammy salute to John (I’m Still Standing), filmed right after last February’s Grammy awards, was just sensational. Lady Gaga’s rendition of the John/Taupin staple “Your Song” was simply terrific; once again showing off her exemplary vocal skills, as well as her skills as a performer. She’s really quite the interpreter. I just loved it. John Legend’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” was terrific too. I always loved that song and whether it was John’s version or his take with George Michael, just an awesome song. Miley Cyrus’s opener “The Bitch Is Back” was just perfect and set the bar very high, very quickly. Whatever your take on Cyrus, the gal can certainly sing. My favorite however, was Chris Martin’s “We All Fall In Lover Sometimes,” a somewhat-lesser known track, but to me, one of John and Taupin’s best.
One thing that must be mentioned is the fact that John’s band, featuring the astonishing Davey Johnston, was used throughout, giving the show a well-deserved continuity. Even Taupin, when presented with his award, remarked on the band. Just exceptional. Neil Patrick Harris read a letter, from Elton, to the late-Ryan White, which jettisoned the entire evening to the next level. If you’re aware of this entire episode, you know that not only did it change Elton’s life, but galvanized attention to his activities in a most positive manner.
After the verbal thrashing that NARAS and Neil Portnow suffered after the actual Grammy fest, this outing was simply perfect.
BUCKINGHAM NIXED — So, Lindsey Buckingham was fired from Fleetwood Mac? This certainly makes for good copy, but I’m sure there was much, much more to it. The first time Buckingham, left the Mac, they hired two guitarists to replace him, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. That was a great story, certainly showcasing Lindsey’s importance in the band, but turns out this time, they hired another two … Neil Finn, from Australia’s Crowded House and Mike Campbell, from the Tom Petty world. Two surprising choices, but when you think about it, two great choices. Crowded House was a great band, appreciated for sure, but never a huge seller in the marketplace. Mike Campbell is a tremendously innovative guitarist; just a sensational choice to my mind.
Hopefully, we’ll hear a Nicks “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” always a great House-favorite, and maybe even some Petty-stuff too. Don’t forget Nicks sang “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Petty.
Buckingham, always a big favorite, made an album with Mac’s Christine McVie last year and did a tour with her. McVie herself left the Mac, and then returned. Like the song says, you can check out, but you can never really leave.
My take: Buckingham will be back in the Mac before you know it, however, this latest version will really shake the rafters. You can bet on it. I hope there’s live-recording down the road.
JESKE PASSES — Writer-extraordinaire Lee Jeske passed this past weekend in NYC. Jeske, who wrote for the New York Tmes, Rolling Stone and the much missed-trade journal Cashbox, was a refreshing presence on the all-too dour media scene. He also did 90+ liner notes to for an assortment jazz artists. Writer John Swenson may have said it best: Lee was a great guy and a discerning music critic who was all about the spirit of the innovators he championed and didn’t give a hoot about what other people said. He was a refreshing presence in the discourse between music writers and will be sorely missed. I think it’s safe to say that he lived the life he wanted the way he wanted to and had no regrets at the end. RIP Lee!
SHORT TAKES — Dave Mason, a onetime replacement for Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac, says, “I’m honored to have had a part in one of Fleetwood Mac’s incarnations and wishing my good friend Mick
Fleetwood all the best on this upcoming tour” … U2 have been rehearsing for their upcoming tour at Place Bell in the Montreal suburb of Laval. The tour starts in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 2nd … Micky Dolenz will conduct a Q&A with fans at the Northeast ComicCon fanfest near Boston on July 6th. The Monkees’ movie Head will be screened at the event … Billy Elliot the Musical will return to Australia in April 2019. The Elton John creation was first staged Down Under in 2007 and has also played the U.S. and Britain … Ringo Starr has a new music publishing deal with BMG. His catalog of more than 150 songs, including such Beatles numbers as “Don’t Pass Me By,” “Octopus’s Garden” and “What Goes On” as well as his solo career classics “Photograph” and “It Don’t Come Easy and, Stephen Bishop’s 1980 album Red Cab to Manhattan — with guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Phil Collins — will be reissued on May 11th
NAMES IN THE NEWS: Lee Jeske; Donna Quinter; Mark Zuckerberg; Steve Leeds; Savannah Gunthrie; Matt Lauer; Robert DeNiro; Tribeca Productions;Jane Rosenthal; Jacqueline Boyd; Tyrone Biljan; Denise Petski; Rusty Cutchin; Jim Bessman; Timothy White; and, Chip.