As the crowd and critics alike faun over the enigmatic singer Elton John in his new musical biopic Rocketman, we were enraptured by one scene in the film. Elton’s unstoppable performance in October 1975 at the Dodgers’ stadium in California. We thought we’d take a trip back to that heady time.
It’s hard to imagine the landscape of 1975 when Elton John, complete in sequinned Dodgers Baseball team kit, strode on to the stage in California. John had been creating poptastic rock and roll anthems and they were hitting the airwaves with a sense of fantastical futurism, all packaged in flamboyant costumes and dressed in Number 1 albums. Loved by critics and adored by fans, he resembled something entirely different.
With opening sets by Emmylou Harris and soon-to-be Eagles member Joe Walsh, John graced the stage with a famously ‘understated’ fashion. He began a soulful solo rendition of the classic track ‘Your Song,’ with the opening piano notes hitting audience’s ears before the rise of the curtain, and his piano starting at the back left of the stage before slowly moving (on its own) to the front as the song continued.
Elton would continue with another solo number ‘I Need You to Turn to’ before being joined by his band which had recently been chopped and changed from its classic line-up. He played a stunning ten-song opening set that was laden with album tracks before returning in the now-famous sequined Dodger uniform. The second set would show off the power of Elton John’s back catalogue as he came back with for a hit-laden second set that highlighted his No. 1 album from the same year, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
The concert featured special appearances from tennis star Billie Jean King, fresh from her sixth Wimbledon Singles title, to sing backing vocals on ‘Philadelphia Freedom’. John then invited his co-writer Bernie Taupin for a moment in the sun. The sun provided another moment of joy for the audience as John’s seminal song ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ seemingly coincided with the beautiful setting California sun.
During this performance, Elton would play 31 songs over a three-hour set. Can you imagine that ever happening today? No. It wouldn’t. But this was a different time and more importantly, Elon John was a different kind of artist. John was, and still is in many ways, one of the most mercurial artists of his age. He defied the stereotypes of the genre with his music and his costuming, but at the same time, he built a new column in the pantheon of pop and rock.
This performance was another stone to be laid and at the time there was no better builder than Elton John. Revisit some classic images and performances from the pinnacle of his rise to fame below.