The Elton John Band Archives
Keyboardist/composer Guy Babylon moved to California in 1980, six months after graduating from the University of South Florida, and became a respected session musician in Los Angeles.
Over the next number of years, Guy composed music for radio, TV and cable shows, doing demo work for bands and songwriters, and putting together a home studio in North Hollywood. During that time he played with acts as diverse as Iron Butterfly and Tavares, and was a member of the band Ashton, which also included future Elton John bassist, Bob Birch.
Guy’s career accelerated in March 1987 when he won Keyboard Magazine’s Reader Tape Contest with his entry, Babylon Bleu. Also in 1987, Guy co-wrote and performed on Siedah Garrett’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G., which became a Number One dance hit in the United States.
It was also around this time that Guy first met Elton’s guitarist and band leader, Davey Johnstone.
More than a year after playing keyboards on a side project of Davey’s, Guy got a call from the guitarist asking if he was interested in playing some live shows as Elton’s second keyboardist, joining Fred Mandel. He said he’d be happy to.
Guy’s first performance with Elton was for an AIDS benefit at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles in July 1988, and his first world tour as part of the Elton John Band began two months later in Miami, FL.
Guy became lead keyboardist in the band on May 26, 1992, with Mark Taylor in support, and became the only synth man in the Elton John stage band in the fall of 1993.
Over the years, Guy and Davey created unique musical intros to some of the tour’s opening numbers, including Bennie And The Jets (1989), Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, (1992) and Pinball Wizard (1993). Guy also reinterpreted the album version of Funeral For A Friend’s synthesizer intro for concerts — playing it live on stage, which had never happened before at Elton John shows.
Guy’s first studio work with Elton was on 1989’s Sleeping With The Past and he began writing orchestral arrangements for Elton’s material in 1994 with the song Man, from Made In England (1995). He subsequently arranged all but one of the songs on the 2004 CD, Peachtree Road.
Guy won a Grammy Award in 2001 for arranging the Broadway musical Aida. He also worked on The Muse, Billy Elliot: The Musical, and Gnomeo and Juliet. Guy served as the Musical Supervisor, Orchestrator, and Synth Programmer for the 2006 stage musical Lestat.
Guy, whom Elton called his “right hand man” when it came to translating his material to the stage and screen, died suddenly of a heart attack near his southern California home in September 2009.
In early 2010, BabylonMusic.biz was established to feature Guy’s own music, including the ten-song collection The Best of Guy Babylon, as well as Goodbye Superman, a touching tribute from Guy’s 12-year-old son, Ben.
“Guy was a beautiful soul. Talented, gentle, witty…a great dad, a great friend, and always willing. I was humbled every time we worked together at his talent vs. his lack of ego, and his sense of humor at moments when there was live ammo in the room. His unexpected passing highlights once again how fragile we all are.” Producer Greg Penny – September 6, 2009
Guy was a fantastic gentleman, and so easy to work with. He accommodated any idea. I can’t remember even a hint of any difficulty with him…ever. What it took, he was happy to work on. If I wanted to change the part he was playing, or anything like that, he was completely amenable. He was like, ‘Okay’. Just like that, you know? The great thing about him was, if you had an idea it was like ‘Okay!’ And it happened. He’d get it to work. He was just fantastic for that.” Producer Chris Thomas – September 8, 2009
“I am devastated and heartbroken at the death of Guy Babylon. Guy played over 1000 shows with me, and we worked together on the Road To El Dorado, Aida, Billy Elliot, Lestat and Gnomeo and Juliet, as well as on countless albums. He was one of the most brilliant musicians I ever knew, a true genius, a gentle angel — and I loved him so much” Elton John – September 2009