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March 21, 2013

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In a fair and just world—and on a different timeline, of course—Elvis might have been where Elton John is at this point in his career had he lived. If you rearrange some musical hits and misses, personal excesses and account for ever-changing musical tastes, their careers—launched just 13 years apart—are remarkably similar. I say this with the benefit of hindsight. After falling in love with Elvis at a very tender age—the only way I can describe my passion for the man and his music—the first non-Elvis record I purchased with any determined forethought was Elton’s Caribou in 1974. I was 10 at the time and I’ve been a rabid fan—through thick and thin—ever since. Three years later, Elvis died. Elton, 27 at the time, might have suffered the same fate had he continued wrestling with his own demons. Fortunately, he did not. An admitted alcoholic and drug addict throughout most of the peak of his fame, Elton recovered and continues—brilliantly, might I add—to tour, write and record new music. He will turn 66 two days after his show here on Saturday, and if the longevity of his more debauched peers is any gauge, he will continue to do so for another decade or more. As he sang on “Return to Paradise” (from his 1978 album, A Single Man), “Goodbye doesn’t have to be the end”—it’s just so long until next time. And for that, I’m very grateful. If Elvis is The King, then Elton is most certainly The Queen (a sobriquet he likely savors). In a musical era vastly devoid of rock royalty of the type I recall from the adolescence of rock—and my own—that title’s no joke. Welcome back, Your Highness.

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March 21, 2013

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