Who Is Elton John?
The crowd at the Troubadour club didn’t pay much attention to the piano player quietly singing onstage. The twenty-three-year-old singer’s record company had worked hard to get many important people in the music business to come to the Los Angeles club and hear its new discovery. But on this August night in 1970, most of the audience was much more famous than the man onstage. They talked to one another and looked to see who else would walk in the door. They weren’t very interested in this plain Englishman who wore glasses. Although he wore a “rock-and-roll” T-shirt and jeans, he looked more like a salesman than a rock star.
Elton John had thought it was a mistake to come to America. He had been struggling for years in England to get people to pay attention to him. He had written songs for other performers. He had played and sung in bands behind other singers. He had been waiting a long time for his big break. And now it seemed as if no one would ever notice him.
Suddenly, he had had enough. All the frustration from his years of being stuck in the background boiled over. He jumped up, kicked over his piano stool, and shouted, “If you won’t listen, perhaps you’ll bloody well listen to this.”
He started playing again, standing at the piano. But this time he pounded away at the keys. He sang loudly and confidently. It was the way he had pictured himself performing when he was a little boy in England, listening to American rock and roll on the radio.
And the audience paid attention. They heard blues, gospel, rock, and country music. Each song told its own fantastic story. Everyone knew they were hearing something special.
By the end of the night, there was a line of people waiting to get backstage to meet Elton. After years of hard work, Elton John had become an overnight success.
Copyright © 2016 by Kirsten Anderson; illustrated by Joseph J. M. Qiu. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.