Elton John will take his final bow at Dodger Stadium. So let’s time travel back to his legendary 1975 concert in Los Angeles.
The night John arrived at Dodger Stadium was not an auspicious one. He had just finished his last show at the London Palladium before flying to California, and his manager, Paul Parnes, had just told him that the gig had been canceled. The reason? The concert promoters were afraid he might fall asleep on stage. (The night before, John had been spotted going through a wardrobe in a wardrobe room.) It was an absurd rumor—he had had two more shows scheduled the next night—but it didn’t seem like a good excuse. After all, who wanted to spend the next two days backstage, trying to keep a big star up for the show? So Parnes had called John, and John had agreed to play.
The next day, he flew to Los Angeles, which was not an auspicious place to begin, given the fact that he wouldn’t be able to touch the stage for three days. He went straight to the hotel, and the next morning, as he tried to shave, he was told that there was a big fight at the hotel bar, right across the street from Dodger Stadium. “I went back to the bar,” John says, “and I saw all these guys with their faces full of blood and teeth and brains and blood and stuff, and a lot of them were carrying knives. So I called Parnes up and said: ‘I think we’ve been had.’ And he said, ‘John, if you think so, then do you want to stay or do you want to go to the Coliseum and sing?’” It’s an incredible story; the concert wasn’t cancelled at all, and John just had to get on stage and sing a few songs. And it’s one of the most memorable shows in the history of the game.
John’s tour bus, parked on Santa Monica Boulevard. (AP Photo)
In the weeks that followed, he set out to play every night, making a point of singing every song. He got to know the stadium and the fans, and he learned who his fans were. Before he went onstage, he had to say good-bye to everyone, and he did—he even sang for his tour manager, who was leaving with him out of sympathy. He loved the fans—when he sang to them, he felt that the stadium