The Glorious Corner: “Rocketman” Review, RIP Leon Redbone, “The Micky & Mike Show” and More

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G. H. Harding

ROCKETMAN — I saw Rocketman last night and what a ride. If you recall, the one thing that really annoyed me during Bohemian Rhapsody were the inconsistencies in their history … I’m not saying I’m the final word on anything; but, I remembered things somewhat differently during Queen’s ride to fame and that fact that their American record company was not even mentioned, really bothered me as I know those who really made them happen. Nothing ever happens without a good team in place … and, believe me, Queen had one.

Rocketman was delightful in the way that when Taron Egerton (as Elton) broke into song, the rest of the actors did too. Part Moulin Rouge, part-Grease … I loved it. The two actors who portrayed him as the younger Reggie/Elton were just superb, In fact, the youngest of them makes a welcomed returned two-thirds of the way in.

I’ll give John credit; the terms warts and all definitely applies here. It’s cathartic, but not preachy. The movie opens up when Elton goes to rehab –from Madison Square Garden -no less- and recounts his rise-to-fame to the rest of the individuals there. The scenes at the Reggie Dwight home are sad, but set the stage for his life. Seems the only thing he really wanted was for his father to hug him. The father even blows up when young-Reggie touches one his albums. When he re-visits him later in the movie; remarried and with two kids whom he showers affection on, the blow is almost as hard as before. His father than asks him to autograph an album cover and when he begins writing dad, he says it’s for a good friend of his. Ouch!

His fateful meeting with Bernie Taupin, essayed by Jaime Bell, is terrific. Bell, btw, almost steals the show, with his competent portrayal of Taupin; always there for John. I especially loved when Bell says to Reggie/Elton at one point …. all I really ever wanted to be was a cowboy

Suffice to say, the fact that Tumbleweed Connection is completely left out of the narrative nearly killed me.

Auditioning for Liberty Records’ Ray Williams and then Dick James is a nice moment too; though James’ never cursed. For the record: James’ heirs are contesting the portrayal of their father as a loud-swearing fellow. 

His American debut at Doug Weston’s Troubadour club is great, although technically, John sported a beard. And, yes, he did hide in the bathroom before his show after being told that several of the Beach Boys and Leon Russell were in the audience. The song sequence in the movie for this was way wrong, but it broke him in America. There was also PR-man Norman Winter involved in the proceedings there too. Winter’s over-the-top tactics attracted much attention as well.

Elton John at Troubadour 

Just for the record, John’s band choices (Nigel Olsson, Dee Murray, Davey Johnstone) are never referenced and truth be told, the different versions of John’s band, did make a difference in the music … not the songs, but the music.

Manager John Reid (also in the Queen-film) meets John at the Troubadour and they begin a professional and personal relationship. I don’t know if Reid actually met him there, but their relationship is riddled with havoc and ultimately, John dismisses him, with Reid claiming he’ll continue to make money with him owing to the many contracts Elton signed. This point rings true. 

Boy, I never met Reid, although I almost went to work for him until I was counseled not too. Interesting, right?

The final scene with Reid, when they dismiss James, ends with Williams saying the painting on Reid’s office wall is hung upside down. Don’t know if that ever happened, but what a great moment. 

After the Troubadour shows, Doug Weston announces there’s a part at Mama Cass’ house. For me, I wish there were more references like that.

The famous moment when John swallowed a bottle of pills and jumped into his swimming pool in L.A. is there. John survives, but continues his downward spiral. A huge artist in his own right, he’s till not a happy camper.

Throughout, John’s songs sparkle the movie and although I didn’t love Egerton going in, he’s utterly brilliant. Inhabiting John in a very real way. It’s a revelatory performance for sure.

The relationship with Bernie Taupin is an interesting one as well. Once in rehab, Taupin is the only one who comes to visit him and that scene is a great one.

The movie ends with John confronting his mother; father; Reid; and Taupin. Dream-like yes, but it wraps the movie up in a really fine way. The closing video, of John’s “I’m Still Standing” is the real thing, but with Egerton filling in for John. One of the best music videos ever, but, I’m not so sure this was a good choice.

Dexter Fletcher shows a real, fine feel for musicals … no question. And, Lee Hall, from Billy Elliot, wrote the script. Brilliant. A must-see for sure.

 WPLJ CLOSED —  Last Thursday was reunion day on the now-departed WPLJ(after 48 years!). Hearing reminisces from the likes  of Scott Shannon; Jim Kerr; Race Taylor; Mitch Dolan and Tom Cuddy, among others, was a bittersweet moment for sure. Debbie Gibson calling in and referencing all her calls when she wads a kid to Fast Jimi Roberts, to win  concert tickets was priceless as well. 

I listened again Friday, to the Race Taylor show specifically, as the clock wound down; 7:00 PM was the station’s official exit time. I’m a big fan of Race’s, but today, his final show, was just sensational. His memories, with Joey Kramer and Matt Suichich, were nothing short of brilliant. I’ve listened to Race over the course of quite some time and he’s developed into one excellent radio personality. He should be, and I’m quite sure will be, immediately. 

Billboard Magazine had a terrific article on ‘PLJ with some great thoughts from Jim Kerr. Check it out here

And then, at 7:00 PM … the station was officially gone. 

“Living The Luxe Life”

SHORT TAKES — RIP Leon Redbone. What an extraordinary artist. Mysterious and ingenious to a fault; everyone who saw him was intrigued. His appearances on SNL are legend … Mark Bego’s book on hotelier-extraordinaire Efrem Harkham, Living The Luxe Life (Skyhorse), is now set for a September release. They’ll be an official LA-launch (which we’ll see our LA-team of Alison Martino and KABC’s Tina Malave at) as well as a NY-launch. Details to follow … Tonight is author Mark Bego’s Mary Wilson-reception at John Doherty’s Blackbarn Restaurant on 26thstreet in NYC. This is to kick-off their book together Supreme Glamour (Thames and Hudson) set for a September release. Wilson is in the midst of a two-week run at NY’s swanky Café Carlyle on the UES. Expected are: Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman; Soprano-Robert Funaro; PR-pasha David Salidor; Wendy Stuart Kaplan; Film Festival Traveler’s Brad Balfour and, Premiere Radio’s Mike McCann. We’ll have news of this on Wednesday …Greg Messel’s excellent book on the legend of RFK, Dreams That Never Were (Sunbreaks Publishing), is officially out Friday – this Thursday is the 51st anniversary of his assassination. If you recall the unfinished legacy of RFK, this is a must-read …Caught some of PBS’ Tower Of Song; a show dedicated to the songs of Leonard Cohen and what a night it was. we saw K.D. Lang perform “Hallelujah” which was simply magnificent. My, where has K.D. Lang been? … she was just amazing. Also, totally impressive was Cohen’s son Adam. If you catch this on … must see for sure …Am finally getting to see The Cher Show Tuesday. Details to follow … and, Micky Dolenz and Mile Nesmith just landed in Australia for a final-round of Mike and Micky shows. Details to follow.

Race Taylor
“Dreams That Never Were”
“The Mike & Micky Show”

NAMES THE NEWS: Tony King; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mark Bego; Keith Girard; John Boulos; Melanie Rogers; Julie Machover; Jack Cunningham; Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Roger Friedman; and, CHIP.

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