Saturday, May 4, 2013


Student Newspaper
The American School in London
Wednesday, April 4, 1973

Bear van Wyck, the art teacher who organized for Elton John to perform at ASL, had transformed the amphitheater into a kind of VIP lounge for Elton, his band, and others who got tapped to be there; me, by merit of bringing a half-dozen cakes from my parents’ cake biz, and also because I got assigned to try to interview Elton for the school newspaper.

Longdancer, the supporting act, was already into their set when Bear approached me and said Elton was parked outside on Loudoun Road, would I go greet him and show him where to go?

Together with a Swedish student (I’ve forgotten his name), I charged out to Loudoun Road and approached Elton’s black limo.

Problem was, I didn’t know (nor did the other guy) where Bear meant for us to take Elton.  

This was because Bear had planned a surprise party for Elton in the amphitheater (I think it was his birthday) and the setting was not yet ready to receive him.

So the other student and I stupidly led Elton and his band toward the gym, where the concert was taking place.  We went down a stairway (Loudoun Road side) to a door that would have led backstage.

Fortunately, it was locked.  Elton would not have wanted to remain there, behind the stage, for another hour while Longdancer performed.  Nor even for five minutes.

“It’s locked,” I said.

Elton said, “What the bloody hell’s going on?”

It was a fair question.

I responded by leading him to the amphitheater, surprise party be damned. 

As we sauntered in, Elton looked around, a smile on his face, and commented, “Well, this is nice.”

It was very nice, indeed.  There was wine and various cakes and pies, people milling around.

Elton sat down in the front row, center, facing the amphitheater stage. He seemed relaxed and happy.

I shyly asked him if he minded being interviewed for the school paper. He readily and gracefully agreed.  

Others gathered around as I asked questions.  All I had at my disposal was a pen and white paper plates, and I used about five of them to scribble Elton’s answers to my questions.  Others chipped in with questions of their own, and Elton seemed to greatly enjoy himself.