It’s almost 2023, but 1975 has been alive and well this weekend in Los Angeles as superstar Elton John wraps up the North American leg of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour at Dodger Stadium. The three sold-out shows bring the Crocodile Rocker’s relationship with the City of Angels full circle. In 1975, John performed two sold-out historic concerts at the ballpark, where he dazzled a star-studded audience with a three-hour show and, apropos of the venue, wore a custom sequined Dodgers uniform.
But Elton’s storied history with Los Angeles extends even earlier to 1970, when he set his stage for stardom with his U.S. debut at the iconic West Hollywood venue, the Troubadour, playing eight shows in six nights and drawing a crowd of famous faces, including Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, and David Crosby, who attended opening night.
Los Angeles has been going wild for John’s return by way of pop-up shops, a scavenger hunt of his favorite haunts in LA, and a mural of the superstar in a Dodgers uniform along the Sunset Strip. But the excitement isn’t limited to Angelenos. From far and wide, longtime superfans have flown into town to witness John’s final North American performances before he takes his farewell concert tour overseas.
Some fans’ friendships date back decades to the 80s and 90s, when they met each other at Elton John concerts, while others have connected online through various Elton John fan groups and were meeting in person for the first time during John’s final concert run in Los Angeles.
On Friday, numerous superfans gathered to visit Elton John-related landmarks in Los Angeles, including his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famed Troubadour.
We caught up with some of them to talk about their love for Elton John, his music, and his final concerts in Los Angeles.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
John Higgins, Boston, Massachusetts
I’ve been the feature writer for EltonJohn.com for 10 years, and I’m also Elton’s legacy consultant, which is a fancy way of saying I’m his archivist and historian. I saw him in New York, and he invited me backstage, and he gave me a big embrace and a kiss on the cheek, and he was very sweet, and he introduced me to someone who was standing next to him and said, “This is John Higgins. He knows more about me than I do.” I should put that on a business card. (laughs)
In November of 1974, I was 14 and saw two shows in Boston within a week of one another, and I knew from that moment that my life was changed. I loved his energy and his sense of fun. He takes the music very seriously, but his stage show was a lot of fun, and he has a real Monty Python sense of humor.
You buy albums as soon as they come out, but then you start buying the imports, and you go down to Greenwich Village and look for the things you can’t find in America, and then you meet other collectors at shows, and it becomes a big thing. You find friends from all over the world. You know that if you go to a show in Amsterdam that you’ve got someone you can connect with and sleep on their couch.
Saturday night will be my 113th Elton John concert. It’s an amazingly bittersweet time. I’m enjoying the shows, but I’m shedding a tear as well. These are his last shows in America.
Jack Suslak – Bluffton, South Carolina
It’s a bucket list moment to be standing at his star on the Walk of Fame. I’m going to the last two concerts on Saturday and Sunday, which is also a bucket list moment. Dodger Stadium is iconic, and to be there for the last show he’ll ever do in America, it will be historical to be there. I’ve never been to California before, so to be here for that moment will be special, and I’ve got a special 1975 Dodger Stadium shirt that I’ll be wearing that night.
I’ve seen him almost 30 times, and he’s amazing. I just love his personality and the music – he’s got great rockers, great ballads, and his piano playing is so unique. You know when you hear an Elton John piano line – you just know it’s him.
My favorite song is “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” from the Captain Fantastic [and the Brown Dirt Cowboy] album. That’s one of his best albums, if not his best album, and I have the CD booklet which he signed from the stage.
Melissa Thomas, Southport, North Carolina
I’ve been a fan for 35 years. I’m going to the Saturday and Sunday concerts which will be concerts number 61 and 62.
I’ve been to 12 concerts this year. At each concert, I’ve brought a sign with whatever concert number it was, and Elton has shouted out my sign 11 of the 12 times, so I think I’m at the point now where he looks out at the crowd and he sees me and recognizes me.
Elton has influenced almost every major decision I’ve made in my adult life. My husband and I became debt-free because of my dream to pursue Elton John, because I didn’t have money to go to his 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, which made me think, ‘This is ridiculous. I should have money to go to these once-in-a-lifetime events.’ We decided we could probably clean up our finances a little bit, and we paid off $43,000 worth of debt in 4 years. My driving factor for that was to go to see Elton John, and that’s how I was able to get to the point of seeing over 60 concerts.
When I was 19, I went to my first Elton John Concert in Raleigh, North Carolina, and ever since then, I’ve wanted to meet Elton John. I’ve spent the last 30 years pursuing that dream, and I’m really kind of close to making that happen because I’ve met enough people with direct ties to Elton that know what I’m trying to do.
I was in middle school when I found my dad’s cassette tape of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and absolutely fell in love with the music – then once I got to know about Elton and his story, I became a real fan of his right around the same time as [his association with] Ryan White. That’s a very heartfelt story that grabbed at my heartstrings, and I’ve been following his career the whole time.
Linda Dupuis – Montréal, Québec
In the last year, I’ve seen him six times. I run an Elton John Zoom group with a friend, and we have guests from Elton’s entourage that talk to fans from all over the world.
I’m 59, and Elton has been the soundtrack of my life since I was 14 when I first heard “Bennie and the Jets.” The clapping was offbeat. It was just something different with that song. I like his music. It’s always evolved with time and my lifestyle. He’s evolved with me.
I’m going to Sunday’s concert, and it’s going to be emotional because he was here in 1975, but it won’t be as emotional because I’m going to Liverpool next year.
Nancy Boss – Kettering, Ohio
I’m 66 years old, and I remember getting detention when I was 17 staring at my Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in 1973.
Standing outside the Troubadour and wearing what he wore to the Troubadour in 1970, I’m overwhelmed, I’m grateful, I’m blessed, I want to cry, and I want to jump up and down and sing. Saturday night will be my 70th Elton John concert. Going to the concerts on Saturday and Sunday will be a blessing. I’m grateful, sad, and every emotion available.
I’ve been teaching dance lessons for 50 years now, so, of course, “Tiny Dancer” was written for me, and it is obviously my theme song. I have a tattoo of point shoes that say, “Tiny Dancer,” I have “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” tattooed on my shoulder, and when I turned 60 years old, I had seen Elton sixty times, so I got a tattoo of “Sixty Years On.”
I’m grateful by the grace of God to be clean and sober for 30 years. My necklace is a sobriety symbol made from Elton’s piano wire by artist Traci Loving, and I have given Elton, on three different occasions in person, sobriety tokens of his different lengths of sobriety. Two years ago, I sent Elton’s 30th-year token to him, and I received a handwritten thank you letter from him.
Brett Wagner – Tampa, Florida
I’ve been buying tickets and going to almost every show on this tour. I unofficially tour with him (laughs). I was front row both nights in Phoenix, Arizona. On the second night, Elton dedicated “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” to me, so I’m still on cloud nine about it.
I originally started going to a bunch of his shows and started getting front-row tickets when I was about 22. I kept going to the shows, and I met the band and people who worked with him, and I’m always in front of him and dancing, and I have the charisma and the energy, and it just took off from there. I got onstage during The Million Dollar Piano residency in Las Vegas for my 21st birthday. He told me, “Happy birthday.”
These are his last two shows in America, so people are really going to start taking it in, and the emotions are going to start coming out. It was phenomenal to see him at Dodger Stadium last night. He more than lived up to the hype of his legacy. I’m also going tomorrow. I have second-row seats to the right on Sunday night so that I can wave goodbye to him.
My dad took me to my first Elton John (with Billy Joel) show in 2009, and he used to quiz me on all the 70s and 80s music, so “Rocket Man” was one of the first ones I learned, and it’s hands-down my favorite. The jacket I’m wearing is a replica of the jacket he wore in [the biopic] Rocketman.
Tracy Dearing – Denver, Colorado
I’ll be 60 in a month, and I’ve been a superfan for 50 years. Elton’s music spoke to me at a young age. There was some trauma that was going on in my life, and it’s hard to put into words, but his music was solace for me…the lyrics…the melodies. There’s a song on Captain Fantastic called “Curtains” that is the epitome, a very important song to me.
My 33rd Elton John concert will be Sunday. There is a lot of emotion going on. I’m profoundly sad because it’s been 50 years of crazy fandom and collecting, and it’s weird that it’s coming to an end, but there’s also some relief because being a superfan is a constant quest for the next show and, “I’ve got to have these seats.” It’s fanatical. It’s a relief for him that he is finally going to be able to chill and enjoy his family, and I’m really happy for him. I’ll still follow him and love him and collect and listen because I always will, but it’s a big ball of emotions right now.
For as loyal as we’ve been to him, he’s been loyal to us. For instance, this farewell tour stopped at COVID, and he came back on the road after COVID to finish it up, but he could have said, “I want to retire now.” Instead, he’s out there plugging away, and he’s 75, and I’m so appreciative.
He’s brought so much joy to so many people and brought so many people together. I belong to 20 Elton John fan groups, and it’s like we’re long-lost friends.
Lucy Davis – Woodland, Michigan
Of course, because of my first name, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” [covered by Elton] is one of my favorites. I like it better than The Beatles.
In general, casual fans like the hits, but I especially love the deeper tracks. But everything he does is fabulous. If you’re in a bad mood, you put on some Elton, you get all-encompassed by his music, and it makes you feel better.
I’ve lost count by now, but I’ve probably been to 72 Elton John concerts. The last time I was in LA was 40 years ago to see Elton. I’m going on Saturday and Sunday. The last shows in LA…it’s kind of bittersweet. I had to be here because my first show was in 1976 in Michigan, so I had to come to the last show. It’s going to be sad, and I’m sure I’m going to cry. He means a lot to me and always has. He’s been a part of my life for so long. He’s been in my life the longest of everybody. I’ve loved him from the time I was 11 years old, so it’s been 48 years.
I first heard his greatest hits album and loved all the songs. I knew them, but I didn’t know who it was, and then once I got the album myself, he became my favorite. I loved his songs, and then I wanted to see shows, and I started collecting. I love the collecting part and the music part. I collect a little bit of everything: I have the arcade version of the Captain Fantastic pinball machine, and I collect all the CDs, albums, posters, bobbleheads, stickers…I keep everything in “the Elton room.” Pictures don’t do it justice, so when people come into the room, their jaws drop to the floor because they find it fascinating.
I shook his hand from the stage, but I really want to get my picture with him. If I could meet him, I’d want to say, “Thank you for all of your amazing music and all the things you’ve done with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and for people and for bringing us all together.” I just want to thank him. That’s it.
Gary Millis and Sara Malin (husband and wife) – London, England
Gary: I’ve seen Elton over 100 times. This is the ninth concert I’ve seen on this “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” road tour. I remember “Crocodile Rock” from when I was a Boy Scout. It came on in the hall, and I just loved it. From that moment, I started buying all his albums. I went to see him in 1976 for the first time. Since then, it’s just been Elton, really. I feel like I’ve been on the journey of his career with him, and he’s a big part of my life.
I’m going to see him in London and Berlin, and I’m probably going to two or three other gigs as well. This is my first time in LA, and I’ve never been to Dodger Stadium. It will be emotional. I heard KiKi Dee will be here as well, which will be great. I had to visit the Troubadour. This is where it all started.
Sara: After having seen Rocketman… the film was brilliant, so to be here standing outside the Troubadour feels good.
I’d always liked Elton, but my love for him only started when my love for Gary started. We’ve been traveling all over the world to see him. My favorite part of the night is when Elton changes into his tracksuit at the end of his concert and steps onto the little staircase it moves him up into the open door, and he waves goodbye.