There’s no place Elton John feels more comfortable than sitting behind the piano, but that’s not the only instrument he can play, and the Rocketman is also a more than competent guitarist. However, in his mind, there’s one player who exists in their own stratosphere when it comes to the instrument.
John’s choice of leading guitarist is a refreshing one, and unlike most musicians of his age, he’s not stuck in a bygone era. Ever since childhood, John has always been chasing the buzz of new music, and anyone who regularly listens to his Apple Music programme, Rocket Hour, will be able to attest to him having his finger on the pulse.
Largely this hunger for new music is down to the pianist’s upbringing. Just as he is now, Elton’s mother was an obsessive consumer of audio art, and he later said the moment she first introduced him to Elvis Presley “changed everything”.
Every Friday, John’s mother would return from the record store clutching the latest release, and it was appointment listening for the entire family. Still to this day, Friday is all about consuming new music for Elton, and he dedicates time out of his hectic calendar each week to listen to the freshest sounds, which he gets delivered from Banquet Records.
In 2015, John sat down for a conversation with Matt Everitt for BBC Radio 6 Music, and he declared The Magic Whip by Blur his album of the year by a considerable distance. His praise for the group didn’t stop there, and he also boldly suggested Graham Coxon is the “world’s best guitarist”.
“It’s my album of the year, and I think it’s the best album they’ve ever made,” John passionately said. “I’ve told them so, and I’ve told Damon. It’s just a record that I play over and over again. It’s a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned”.
When asked about what he loved the most about the album, John simply put it down to “the musicianship”. He continued: “Graham Coxon is probably the world’s best guitarist. I’d put that in writing now, well, not writing, but orally I’ll say it”.
Adding: “The space between the drummer, and the bass player, the way that Alex (James) and Dave (Rowntree) play together, and Damon’s voice is like another instrument. He’s not like a vocalist, Damon, he uses it like an instrument. There’s no other singer like him.”
When Elton John speaks with ardour about music, it’s impossible not to hang on to his every word. Additionally, while Coxon is a celebrated guitarist, he’s not an artist that is regularly thrown into the discussion as being the creme de la creme. After hearing Elton’s convincing argument, perhaps, that needs to change.