The Elton John Band Archives
1970-1971 Tour Details
The trio that became Elton John’s touring band for the next 20 months, bassist Dee Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson, and Elton at the piano, made their debut on April 20, 1970, on BBC Radio, and played their first public concert at The Roundhouse in London the following evening. They would play shows across the United Kingdom over the next few months, including a taping at BBC Television Studios in London. This Sounds For Saturday show, broadcast on May 22, had Elton, Nigel and Dee joined by a session orchestra uniquely assembled for that performance, with Paul Buckmaster conducting.
Later that year, Elton and the band performed in the United States for the first time, playing six nights at the Troubadour in Los Angeles from August 25-30. It was these gigs that placed Elton John square on the music map in America, and from which his entire future career would be based. In total, Elton and the band’s first trip to America was comprised of nine shows at the Troubadour (some evenings held two shows), six at the Troubadour North in San Francisco, and one industry showcase at the Playboy Club in New York.
Elton and the band returned to the US on October 29, 1970, to launch a 23-show tour at the Boston, MA Tea Party club. On November 17, they played a live radio broadcast at A&R Studios in New York, which was later edited and released in 1971 as the 11-17-70 album. This inaugural full tour of the United States, during which Elton would occasionally share the bill with his idol, Leon Russell, ended on December 5 at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernadino, CA.
In early 1971, Elton and the band played a variety of shows and festivals across the UK and Europe, and returned for their third trip to the United States in less than a year, once again launching in Boston (this time at the Music Hall) on April 1. They played Carnegie Hall in New York on June 10 and 11, performing two shows each evening. For these, Elton would play solo for the first half of the show, followed by a full set with Nigel and Dee. One example of Elton’s sudden and immense popularity was the fact that, when he returned to Los Angeles in September, 1971, less than 13 months after his America debut, he was booked for seven consecutive nights at the Greek Theatre. The Troubadour holds maybe 400 people. The Greek, over 5,000.
Starting on October 5, 1971, Elton played Japan and Australia for the first time before finishing the year in the UK with 13 concerts, including another “Sounds For Saturday” session at BBC studios, this one broadcast on November 11 and featuring Elton and the band playing songs from his just-released album, Madman Across The Water.