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20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Elton John Live

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Elton John Live

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Elton John Live
20 February 2014

Elton John is nothing less than an all-time music legend, selling more than 300 million records over the course of a five-decade career.

He has also gained a reputation as one of the world's greatest-ever live performers, playing a multitude of concerts across the globe and touring constantly.

We celebrate Elton's genius by giving you 20 pieces of trivia that you (probably) didn't know about his live performances over the years.

(Images: Rex/Carl Studna)


In 1979, Elton became the first Western rock star to perform in both Israel and the USSR.


John Lennon made his final onstage performance with Elton, when he joined him at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day in 1974. Lennon's appearance was the result of a bet that if his song Whatever Gets You Through The Night - which featured John on harmony vocals and piano - went to number 1, he'd join Elton on stage. It did - and he did.


Elton has many pieces of advice for touring, chief among them that "It's very important to have two tiaras when you're on the road. You never know when you'll be invited to something really formal."


Among Elton's many outrageous stage outfits, he has dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, Mozart, the Eiffel Tower and Donald Duck. He has also worn a Watford FC kit, a baseball kit, ostrich feathers and $5000 glasses that spelled out his name in lights.


On 13th September 1980, Elton performed a free concert to around 400,000 fans on The Great Lawn in New York City's Central Park.


In the course of his Million Dollar Piano residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Elton John performed his 3000th concert. It occurred on Saturday 8th October 2011.


Elton was one of the many artists to perform at 1985's Live Aid, held at Wembley Stadium. He played Bennie and the Jets, Rocket Man, Don't Go Breaking My Heart with Kiki Dee and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with George Michael, for the first time.


Another live performance of Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with George Michael, recorded at a 1991 concert at Wembley Arena, when Elton was the surprise guest, became a huge recorded hit, going to number one on the UK singles chart.


Elton holds the record for the greatest number of performances at New York's Madison Square Garden, with 64. His 60th appearance there took place on his 60th birthday, and gave him the record.


Yamaha make the pianos that Elton uses live, including the famous Red Piano, and the Million Dollar Piano. The latter features more than 68 LED video screens and took almost four years to make. It weighs nearly 3,200 pounds (1,451 Kg).


Elton has toured several times with Billy Joel. There is, however, no rivalry between the pair, with Elton stating that "He is Mr Piano Man, I am Miss Piano Man."


Elton appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium in April 1992, performing The Show Must Go On with Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May, and Bohemian Rhapsody with the same three, together with Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses.


Elton also performed the epic ballad November Rain with Guns N' Roses at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, closing the ceremony.


Elton's favourite live venue is New York's Madison Square Garden. He has stated: "Madison Square Garden is my favorite venue in the whole world, I chose to have my 60th birthday concert there, because of all the incredible memories I've had playing the venue."


The upcoming Million Dollar Piano concert will be shown in a total of 1,200 cinemas, in over 40 countries, and was recorded at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.


Elton hosted a charity concert at Wembley Stadium on November 2, 2000 - the last music event to be held there before it was knocked down and rebuilt.


Elton once performed a duet with Alan Partridge (performed by Steve Coogan): they sang Don't Go Breaking My Heart at the British Comedy Awards in 2000.


The stage set for the Million Dollar Piano show was designed by the late Mark Fisher and Patrick Woodroffe. Fisher was also responsible for U2's enormous Popmart stage set - which ran between 1997 and 1998 - Pink Floyd's The Wall tour and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Elton performed a duet with Lady Gaga at the 2010 Grammys, singing a mash-up of Gaga's Speechless and John's Your Song.


Tennis legend Billie Jean King sang live backing vocals on Philadelphia Freedom - the song written about her - at two sold-out concerts at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, in 1975.