2023…The Year In Review
For Elton John, 2023 has been a year of lasts and of firsts…accomplishments old and new…tributes and triumphs.
Elton may have retired from touring, but those who thought that might keep him hidden from sight need only look at the previous twelve months to be reminded that this is a man who continues to share his love of entertaining!
By John F. Higgins
In honour of his ongoing career, we present just some of the highlights from the past year for Elton and his fans:
30th – Billboard magazine announces that Elton’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is the highest-grossing concert tour of all time, being the first in Boxscore history to gross $800 million. At the time of the announcement, there are still 50 dates left to go on the tour, which will end in July after 330 shows to over 6.25 million fans across the UK, Europe, North America, and Australasia.
24th – The day before his 76 birthday, Elton releases the 50th Anniversary Edition of his fifth studio album – and his first No. 1 LP in the US – Honky Château. Available on CD, vinyl, and streaming, the expanded set includes newly available selections from the original session tapes and live tracks from Elton’s appearance at the Royal Festival Hall, where some of the yet-to-be-released album’s songs made their debut a mere month after they were recorded. The album features one of Elton’s early classics, Rocket Man.
6th – Honky Château returns to the Official UK Albums Chart for the third time (51 years after its original appearance!) at No. 33.
22nd – Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player celebrates its 50th anniversary with a double LP vinyl release on Record Store Day. The original 1973 album became Elton’s second straight No. 1 in the US and his first in the UK. The LP contains Crocodile Rock, Elton’s first No. 1 single in the US, and Daniel, another classic. The 50th Anniversary Edition includes alternate session mixes and two songs that have been hiding in the vaults for the past five decades!
12th – The Elton John pop-up shop opens in London’s Soho. For the following two months, fans from all over the world shop the full Elton John Eyewear collection as well as special t-shirts, vinyl, and myriad other collectibles. This first-of-its-kind freestanding Elton shop in London is just steps away from a multitude of locations vital to his early career and features some of the star’s flamboyant stage costumes, including his famous Donald Duck outfit, for fans to see up close and take selfies with.
★ Elton Pops Up in Soho…Again!
25th – Elton performs at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts for the first time, headlining the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm. This, his final UK show before the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour concludes, is widely heralded as one of the greatest performances in the festival’s rich history, attracting one of the largest crowds ever witnessed at the festival. It also receives the largest-ever televised audience for a Glastonbury set, reaching 7.6 million overnight on BBC One.
The following day, Elton announces a limited-edition release of Diamonds (Pyramid Edition), pressed on coloured vinyl. The track listing, personally selected by Elton, contains highlights from Diamonds, the Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection, and quickly becomes a highly sought-after item.
6th – We mention Diamonds again as the collection at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart. This is the album’s peak position an astonishing five-plus years after its release. It stays at that position for two weeks and will continue to place on both the UK and US charts through 2023.
7th and 8th – Elton wraps up his vast touring career with a Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour show at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. By the end of the evening, Elton will have delivered over 4,600 performances in more than 80 countries since launching his first tour in 1970.
7th – Elton’s long-time lyricist, Bernie Taupin, publishes his memoir, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me to wide acclaim.
29th – To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton’s most successful studio album is released in Dolby Atmos on music streaming services. Listeners who take advantage of the immersive surround-sound technology will be able to hear every song on the double album and its bonus tracks the way they have been begging to be heard for the past 50 years.
19th – The Elton John Pinball machine, lovingly created by Jersey Jack Pinball, is released, and soon takes the winning spot for Best New Game of 2023 at the Pinball Expo in Chicago. The immersive adventure takes players on a pinball journey inspired by Elton’s illustrious career.
20th – Elton appears on the new Rolling Stones album, Hackney Diamonds, playing piano on two songs, Get Close and Live by the Sword. The album, produced by Andrew Watt (he helmed some of the tracks on Elton’s latest record, The Lockdown Sessions) peaks at No. 1 in the UK and No. 3 in the US.
★ Elton John Pinball Ready to Play
3rd – Elton inducts Bernie Taupin into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Brooklyn, NY. “Once upon a time, in England,” he told the audience, “two boys were born – in Pinner and in Owmby-by-Spital. … Little did they know as they were growing up what would happen to them – what was in store for them. … Eventually I got to meet this young man, who came down [to London] from Lincolnshire and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. Not only did we become the greatest of friends, and still are, who love each other dearly, but we wrote songs that got better and better and better.”
The thing that changed my life completely was meeting Bernie Taupin. It’s been a privilege for me to write with him.
Following the standing ovation after Bernie’s self-effacing, gracious and grateful acceptance speech, Elton gives a passionate performance of their 1971 classic Tiny Dancer. Later on, he joins an all-star band featuring Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton, and Brittany Howard as they perform The Weight in tribute to the late Robbie Robertson.
16th – Elton adds his voice to those of Ed Sheeran and Keith Urban on the 10th anniversary edition of Irish singer Foy Vance’s gem of a song, Guiding Light. “When Foy asked me to do it, it was a no brainer for me because I’m such a huge fan of his,” said Elton.
17th – Showing that he has a hard time locating the “no” button on his email app, Elton joins Dolly Parton on her cover of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me on her new album, Rockstar. The country music superstar has worked with Elton once before, joining him for two songs on the 39th Annual Country Music Awards ceremony: John Lennon’s Imagine and Elton’s own Turn The Lights Out When You Leave.
23rd – Step Into Christmas turns 50 and is fêted with a seven-song special collection on streaming services (never heard Elton playing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Now’s your chance!) as well as a fun new jumper (“sweater” in the US) available in the EltonJohn.com store.