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A Conversation with Tom Cridland: Tom’s Elton Tribute

By: Caroline Miller

Elton John fans in the United States will be able to celebrate his music at live shows, throughout 2024 and 2025. Musician and entrepreneur, Tom Cridland, is currently on a US tour with his group, Tom’s Elton Tribute, which celebrates Elton’s legacy by performing a variety of songs from his catalogue. On May 24th, I had the pleasure of speaking with Tom about touring, Elton, and more, in our conversation below:

Caroline Miller: Alright, so now your tour is a tribute to Elton’s music. So you obviously have a connection to his music. Has Elton’s music always been a part of your life? Do you remember a time where there was a certain spark, so to speak, where you connected to his music? Talk to me a little bit about becoming a fan.

Tom Cridland: Well, I was always a fan of a couple of Elton John’s songs growing up, but I never really delved beyond four or five songs like The Lion King and Your Song. It was when I was 18 years old at university that I first got hooked on the music. A big part of that was watching the Madison Square Garden 60th birthday concert, I think the year’s 2007, where Elton and the band played his 60th show at Madison Square Garden for his 60th birthday. And that really brought home just how great his band are. And that’s when I started really idolizing people like Nigel, who’ve turned into friends, and it was at uni where the Elton, you know, the addiction to Elton’s music began.

CM: Yeah, I would say it was the same for me. I always knew the music, but definitely in college, that’s when I started to get hooked and has now taken over my life. I know you’ve also met Elton before, and I’m going to guess that, have you seen him before perform live?

TC: Elton?

CM: Yes. Have you seen him perform live on any of his tours before?

TC: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, especially becoming friends with Nigel, I’ve been to see Elton live over 50 times or something like that. You know, I’ve been at many, many times to see him,
and it was a big part of my 20s going to see Elton several times every year. So, something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

CM: And we just mentioned that you’ve met Elton before. I think that statement speaks for itself for any fan. You’ve met the man himself. Talk to me a little bit about that interaction and what meeting him was like.

TC: Well, it was all too short lived, really. It was at his Oscars party last year. And very luckily, I was sat on the table next door to him. And my wife, Deborah, said, you know, let’s go over and introduce ourselves because this will probably be the only chance that we get. You know, it would be wonderful to have a longer conversation with him. But, people like Elton are just so in demand that it’s impossible, really. And I’m seriously fortunate and I don’t take it for granted that I’ve had any conversation with him or any photograph taken with him at all, because it’s at that point where you’re, you know, join the queue. So it was a wonderful bucket list moment. And it’s important for fans to keep their feet on the ground. You know, people like Elton don’t owe you anything. So, you know, something that I’ve got to tell myself, because there’s a part of every fan that wants to sort of sit down with Elton and discuss what he thinks of Tumbleweed Connection, what he thinks of Little Jeannie, why he doesn’t play Little Jeannie live in concert. You know, what are his plans? Why doesn’t he do XYZ for his new album, etc., etc.? There are so many questions, musical questions that we all want to ask him. It’s impossible.

CM: Exactly. Now, you’re about to head back on tour. You’ve just finished up the first leg, and you’ll be touring all throughout the US until late August. Is that correct?

TC: Yes. This leg of the tour lasts till the end of August. So we’re really looking forward to it, especially the show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. That’s a bucket list venue to attend a concert, let alone play one. So I’m really excited. It’s going to be hard work. It’s going to be grueling. But that’s why, you know, what better example to have as your inspiration than Elton? Because when he was touring, he was like the hardest working person in show business, really.

CM: Now, was a tour the goal that you had in mind? How did the idea to do a tour come about?

TC: Well, the idea for the tour just happened as the three-piece band that I put together, and this whole Tom’s Elton Tribute project grew. One thing has led to another, and we wanted to play theatres because we played our first gig in January 2022 in a bar in New Orleans. By May of 2023, I was playing to 1,500 people in McKelligan Canyon Amphitheatre, and pulling that off felt insane because I’d been playing piano for such a short length of time. And so we wanted to do an ambitious tour. You know, again, Elton is the king of ambitious tours. We wanted to play. We were getting a taste for playing live to American audiences. So we wanted to play all over America in some fantastic theatres. You know, we wanted to have this rewarding and intense musical experience because it’s something that’s taken us completely by surprise to be in this position where we’re able to play such fantastic venues.

CM: Yeah, you’ve been traveling to a lot of different areas in the US, and I love that you’re traveling to both large places and small places. I’m from Alabama, we’re lucky if we get one place for a show. And so one thing that I think is interesting is if a place that you go to is one that Elton had played in before when he was younger. You actually already answered one of my questions before with the Troubadour because I was thinking, ‘How must it feel to go to that place with such iconic Elton history?’ So how does it feel getting to go to any sort of place like that where Elton may have performed and really literally getting to play in his footsteps?

TC: Well, it feels very surreal indeed. It’s not something that I would ever have expected. And it’s not something that I take for granted. You know, it’s a real privilege to be able to play Elton John’s music live anywhere, but to be going to especially the Troubadour where he first broke in the US, where we’ve had movie scenes, based on that moment in Rocketman. But we’re playing all types of wonderful theatres. We had a great gig in Boston at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. What a fantastic and beautiful place that was. So, I’m pinching myself all the time.

CM: Do you have a favourite location that you have played so far, like a favourite city or any specific places that you are specifically looking forward to playing or any places that may have surprised you somehow?

TC: Well, I love L.A. because that’s where Nigel lives. I love spending time with him there. And obviously, L.A. is a big Elton John city. I love New York, of course. And we’re sure to play Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters whenever we’re in New York. The South, I’ve got a lot of great memories of getting immersed in soul music and country music in places like New Orleans and Nashville. And of course, Texas, we’re playing a lot of gigs in Texas. So I mean, these are places that are like going to a different planet if you’re from the UK.

CM: Alright. So something that myself and both other fans love about all the locations is you will post about a bunch of restaurants that you find and frequently post about on social media. We all love that. So how do you go about finding those places? Is it just a matter of finding a nearby place? Like, ‘We have to eat somewhere,’ or do you do a bit of scouting recommendations? How does that work?

TC: I always try and look up places that have a bit of history and authenticity to them. Ideally, sometimes that’s not possible. So sometimes, it has to just be whatever we can find that looks the most interesting. But, yeah, my wife, Deborah, and I, and, to a certain extent, the guys in the band, we all love exploring and going to unique places. And that’s one of the major pleasures of traveling and touring is going to all these restaurants. So, yeah, it’s a fantastic part of life on the road.

CM: Alright. So how has the audience reaction and interactions on the tour been so far?

TC: They’ve been brilliant. I mean, every time we play, no matter whether it’s a big audience or a small audience, we’ve had great feedback. You know, people have said that they really enjoy the show. Some people have come to the show multiple times already. You know, we’ve never really had any difficulties with our audiences. They’ve always been so kind and it’s always just been such a pleasure to play for them.

CM: So when you emulate someone like Elton, I imagine you’re going to get comments from people. So have you ever found yourself receiving remarks on any similarities of yours to Elton, so such as appearance, singing, piano playing, etc.?

TC: Yeah, there’s been some kind comments about both my singing and piano playing. But, yeah, I don’t try to make it too much of a pantomime. You know, I don’t put on a voice. I think my singing voice is naturally relatively similar to Elton’s. I don’t try and put on like a voice, you know, I try and do it, do the show as tastefully as possible. One of the main things is make sure you play everything live, not to track, don’t lip sync and pay attention to the way Elton and the band arrange the songs, and then try and get that authentic three-piece sound with harmonies. I make sure that my drummer Harry, who’s a technical player, he doesn’t, I don’t like him to play too technical because Nigel plays everything from the heart. And, you know, I’m an Elton Anorak, so I’ll do the vocal phrasing, mix and match like 70s vocal phrasing with 80s vocal phrasing with how he might do things today, depending on what way of phrasing the line I like the best. So, you know, I put in my time. But, I think when we meet people who are big Elton John fans, they can see that this is an authentic tribute. And, I think I connect with people who are big fans of Elton John in a very authentic way, because, you know, we’ve both got the same passion for his music. And it’s as simple as that. It’s not to say that I’m the only tribute out there. It’s not to say that there aren’t other marvelous tributes to go and see. And it’s not even to say that I’ll be doing this forever. I mean, probably this tour will be the major Elton John, Tom’s Elton Tribute tour that I do. Because another thing is that Elton, I think he loves it when people cover his songs. And he does like when people play his songs live, or they record them. But I think he’s a big advocate of younger artists and original artists and doing your own thing. So my plan with all of this is to really learn Elton’s music and pay tribute to it and celebrate it and play it live and take that inspiration and go and do something else and something unique. You know, I don’t want to be an Elton John tribute act for like 20, 30, 40 years. This is a moment in time. So this is a special thing, especially playing places like the Troubadour. It’s a chance to connect with Elton fans and to hopefully build on and celebrate his legacy.

CM: Oh, definitely. And speaking of fans, one thing that I love about the Elton fandom is there’s all sorts of generations. I know I’m frequently one of the youngest people in the room, I’m surrounded by older fans. And so do you ever get this sort of scenario with older fans coming up to you and perhaps reminiscing on when they may have seen Elton a long time ago and talking to you about their memories of seeing him?

TC: Yes, I mean, people who’ve seen him in the 70s and 80s, in particular in those kind of, quote unquote glory years, it’s really interesting to hear what they have to say. And then, I’ve met people who’ve seen Elton over 200 times. There’s a guy called Wayne, who I met a couple of times. He’s seen it, and he’s a really friendly guy. He seems to know all the Elton John behind the scenes gossip and everything like that. And then there’s Paul Smith, who runs Elton John online. He’s been to see Elton a huge number of times, and he’s been very supportive. Him and his wife, Carol, flew out to Portugal to see our show at the casino, which was a wonderful night. We sold out this big casino near Lisbon in Portugal, and it was a great show, and he was very complimentary about it. So when we get feedback like that from people, it’s very rewarding, and it’s extremely interesting to hear all their stories from decades of going to see Elton live in concert.

CM: So we all know that you play Elton’s hits in your show. But I also know that you like to play deep cuts. So there are a lot of fans who know the deep cuts as well as the hits. But do you ever get a reaction from the audience upon playing a deep cut that might be like, ‘Wait, is this an Elton song that I’m not sure I’ve heard of this song before?’ Do you ever get like a surprised reaction?

TC: Yeah, well, I mean, I’ve played deep cuts in the pub. Because when I first started playing, I would, you know, I was so keen to improve quickly. And, you know, it’s weird to say it was just two years ago. But I would go and travel to pubs in the UK and just me and a piano, just to get another two hours of practice in live. And I would play like obscure songs. But you know, The Greatest Discovery or whatever, in a pub full of drunk football fans, who maybe just about maybe they would want to hear Crocodile Rock. But if you’re convincing, and you’re tough, and you’re thick skinned, you can get away with anything. But I’ve definitely sensed like if you play Rocket Man, and then you play, even The One like a great song like that, there’ll be a dip in energy. You know, that’s just a fact. There will be some people who really enjoy those songs, though, in the audience, and they may not be vocal about it. And so it’s just a balancing act, but you have to play all the hits. And if you’re going to do a deep cut, you better make sure you do it very, very well, and you place it intelligently, you’d better put it in a part of the show where it makes sense. There are exceptions to that, though, like Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is supposedly a deep cut, but that will go down as well as one of Elton John’s hits. But you know, there’s a reason why Elton John himself has played the same set essentially for the last 40 years or something. His set lists really haven’t changed much since the 80s. You know, like 60, 70% of them. I know he’s done some more extravagant sets. But there are kind of essential songs that he more or less has to play every time.

CM: Alright, so on the topic of deep cuts, many artists have favorite songs that they enjoy playing. Do you find that more of your favorites are the hits or the deep cuts? Or do you enjoy playing them all? And do you have a favorite hit and a favorite deep cut?

TC: Well, it’s difficult because I like to get a good reaction from the audience so playing the hits helps with that. I love the deep cuts a lot. And it’s easy to sit down as a fan. And now as a fan playing his music and say, ‘Well, this tour, I want to play Pinky, or this song, I want to play Healing Hands. This, you know, this tour rather, I want to play these types of songs, or we want to play the Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album.’ But the thing is, it’s like if you put two years into Rocket Man, into the harmonies, into doing the jam at the end of it, into getting it tight, when you’re playing live, that’s everything. So I now consider it like adding a new song is a big deal. It’s a big project. It’s not just like, let’s just add this in to get it sounding as good as a song that’s had two years of playing it on the road is, you know, it’s no mean feat. I mean, maybe it would be a simple thing for incredible jazz musicians or something, I don’t know, or classical musicians. But I think that regardless of how naturally talented you are, and how quickly things come to you, there’s something about being a band being tight and playing something together, there’s an energy that comes and there’s a precision that comes with playing songs again and again. So, I take it pretty seriously when adding new songs in. My favourite songs to play are, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, because you can just change that around every night, and there’s different ways of phrasing it. And I love playing Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, because it feels like a real accomplishment. But that would be if I was hard pressed to tell you what my favourite songs are. And in terms of deeper cuts, there’s nothing that, there’s no better feeling than dusting off one of your favourite old Elton John songs and playing it and getting just that satisfaction, that cathartic satisfaction from playing it live. So I wouldn’t be able to choose a deep cut as like a standout favourite because I love so many of them. But I’ll highlight the fact that we are adding Skyline Pigeon, which I guess is a hit in Brazil and kind of a hit but also a deep cut. We’re adding Skyline Pigeon and we’re also rehearsing Honky Tonk Women by the Stones, but obviously the Elton version, which he famously played at the Troubadour on his first tour when Nigel and Dee were in the three-piece band. They did this fantastic halftime version of Honky Tonk Women. And with the acapella harmonies at the start, and it’s on the album 11-17-70. We’ve decided to do that. And that’s like a special edition for the Troubadour show because Nigel hopefully will be in the audience at the Troubadour show. And, it’s going to be a special thing to hopefully remind him of those glory days with him and Elton and Dee, to play that song in that arrangement, because that’s really one of the songs that reminds you of that early three-piece band.

CM: I’m glad you mentioned Skyline Pigeon. That is some of my fellow fan friends’ favorites. So, whenever they read this, who knows what their reaction is going to be.

TC: It’s a beautiful song.  And obviously from the Empty Sky album and the reason, well, initially and then I mean, obviously we’re doing the recut version. We’re not doing the harpsichord version, but we’re doing the Elton, the vintage Elton John Band version. But it’s lovely that it’s really one of his and Bernie’s first great, great songs and big hit in Brazil. I’m going to Brazil with the Stylistics this year in September, and I’m planning on playing Skyline Pigeon then. So that’s why I’m adding the song to the set now, because that’d probably be the biggest song of the night in Brazil.

CM: So, it takes a lot of thought to make a change to the setlist, I’m guessing.

TC: Yes. I mean, but having said that, you know, having pontificated like this about how seriously I take changing the setlist and adding songs. If you were to ask my band members about how often I change the setlist, they would tell you he changes the setlist all the time.
He’s always changing his mind. He’s always trying to add new songs.

CM: That’s not always a bad thing! That’s a great thing! Trying to get more of Elton’s music out there and trying to showcase all of his work. People may have forgotten about some of the songs as well, you know?

TC: Yeah. Well, now we play for two hours a night. But when we first started playing bars, we would play for two and a half hours a night on the first ever tour that we did after I learned piano. And in that setlist, there were songs like Nikita, Sleeping with the Past, like the title track from that album, High Flying Bird, Country Comfort, Come Down in Time, Teacher, I Need You. You know, we played all sorts of songs. Are You Ready for Love? We’ve played all sorts of songs, and I’m sure I’ll continue to change up.

CM: Alright, so one thing that I want to bring up is you have your own clothing company, and one contributor to that has been your friend Nigel Olsson. So can you talk a little about how that has been working with him? And especially I understand you created his suit for Glastonbury last year.

TC: Yeah, that was incredible to see him, especially because all the other guys in the band were wearing Versace, and he was wearing our clothing company’s creation, the purple suit that he ordered. But yeah, Nigel’s a dear friend. And, you know, I started out wanting to be a drummer because I wanted to be like Nigel. So he’s also a big musical hero of mine. I love the way he plays from the heart and he doesn’t overcomplicate it. And beyond that, he’s just so down to earth, so easy to get on with and such a genuinely nice person. And that’s very inspirational because a lot of people in the music industry I have found to be nice and friendly and all the rest of it. But they certainly come with a fair amount of ego and can be difficult. And Nigel is just the antithesis to that. You know, they say don’t meet your heroes. But when your hero’s someone like Nigel, I think that’s a very good thing because he sets a fantastic example.

CM: He definitely does. And so I’m assuming you watched Glastonbury last year?

TC: Yes, we were there, and we spent some time with Nigel before the gig as well, which was very thrilling.

CM: So what was your reaction to seeing him in the suit that you had created for him for the first time?

TC: I was, yeah, so thrilled. And I mean, it really did feel like music history that night. And but it felt like the end of an era. And there’s a sadness that comes with the end of an era. So when I was at Dodger Stadium and Glastonbury, I was kind of thinking, ‘You know, this really is the end of the road for them.’ I can tell, I could tell then that Elton is done with this, whether or not the band wanted in their hearts to stop. I mean, Davey will say that he wanted to stop. But I think for everyone, you know, they think maybe it was the right time to stop and they see it from that side. But then they also, I think, could have continued because they love playing that much. You know, it’s a very complicated time for all of them because they’ve been doing it for decades and decades. So there was a sad undertone to everything. And, you know, they are getting on a bit. So, in all honesty, you can kind of hear it in the playing. You can hear that they’re tired and that they’ve been doing this for a long time and that where their mind is still as sharp as ever, sometimes their bodies can’t keep up with, like, 120 shows a year. I mean, we’re talking small, small differences, but it’s stuff that you can hear. You’ve been to see them as many times as I have. So to witness all of that, it’s a lot of complicated emotions. But I think they pulled it off in the right way, Glastonbury and the end of touring. I actually think it was a very slick sign off to go out at the top of your game like that. I think they really pulled it off.

CM: Oh, they definitely did incredible, and you mentioned Dodger Stadium. Were you at the final night or which show were you at?

TC: I was at the final night.

CM: So was I!

TC: Oh, really?

CM: Yeah, I was there!

TC: Ah, we could have met in person that night!

CM: I should have! I should have tried to find you or something! I had a friend who was trying to find me and was saying, ‘I was trying to find you!’

TC: So did you think it was a fantastic night?

CM: I did. I got to see Elton. I also had an older fan near me chatting about their experiences. So that was also a fun little generational experience, too. But I was also like, ‘What do I do now?’ when it was over.

TC: Yeah. Yeah, there’s definitely a sense of that. And it’s important, if you’re a big Elton fan, to think, how would he do things? How would he approach things? And that’s why it’s very important that this project that we’re doing now, this tour is like it’s a moment in time. It’s not designed. And it’s a see the show now while you can type of thing, because I think Elton is a big proponent of people writing their own songs, playing their own songs. And he loves people taking inspiration from him. But, you know, I don’t know how big a fan Elton is of tribute acts, certainly not of guys who’ve been doing it for 10, 15, 20 years. So, this, I like to think of our show as a bit like when, Joni Mitchell, Brandi Carlile did these gigs where she would cover Joni Mitchell songs, full tributes to Joni. But then Brandi also writes her own songs and does lots of other stuff. You know, that’s kind of how I want to do it. This is the big year of playing Elton’s songs live in theatres, and it’s a nice time to do it because Elton finished touring last year. But I’m sure even though Elton won’t be the one playing, I’m sure David Furnish will have plans for an Avatar or for a Rocketman musical or for whatever way they want to keep the songs alive. And they’re Elton and David’s and Bernie’s and the band’s songs to handle. And it’s their thing, you know, I think, and that’s what I want to support once we’ve wrapped up this show.

CM: Alright. So back to talking about clothing, what is the process like for getting your own stage gear created? Do you ever play a role yourself in creating or designing? How does that work? And does your company also sell any Elton inspired clothing? Because I know you do have some merch.

TC: We sell some Nigel Olsson collaborative clothing. We’ve got a bunch of designs that we put together with Nigel, some inspired by his music, like Dancing Shoes or Nigel Olsson’s Drum Orchestra and Chorus. So there’s definitely an overlap between the music and the clothing.

CM: Right, and so I know you typically portray a young Elton. So I have a question for you. If you could choose any outfit from young Elton’s wardrobe that you could use for a show or you just borrow for the tour, which one would you choose?

TC: Well, that’s pretty difficult because I actually prefer Elton’s outfits from when he was not wearing the Gucci stuff. I didn’t think that was so good, but I really liked the suits that Keith made for him, Keith Haberstroh Fleming. And in fact, I bought one of those suits in Elton’s auction at Christie’s recently, and I’m planning on wearing that on stage. So all of those suits that Keith made are my favourite Elton John’s costumes from his younger period. I do love the multicoloured feathers. But in general, I think I love those rhinestone suits that Keith made. And before that, Yohji Yamamoto made some suits like that and the shoes Patrick Cox made for him. The one Gucci thing I like are the sunglasses and I wear those Gucci sunglasses covered in rhinestone crystals. Those are my favourite Elton John costumes from the 70s. Obviously, the Dodger Stadium jumpsuit is incredible, very iconic. But like, unfortunately, it loses its appeal to wear on stage when you’ve seen like, you know, people dressed up on a stag do at like, you know, Birmingham Airport or dressed in Dodger Stadium jumpsuits that they bought off Amazon. But it is cool, and I loved the way that he recreated it with the dressing gown at Dodger Stadium at a gig that both of us went to.
And I suppose it would be cool in a like, ideal world to wear the star outfit that he wore at the Troubadour, at the Troubadour. But I mean, that’s never going happen. But we live in hope, because I want to answer your proper question rather than rambling on about God knows what.

CM: No, you’re totally fine! Ramble all you want, I’m sure I’m doing it too! So, a lot of fans have memories associated with the songs. Do you have Elton songs that you associate with certain memories of your own as well?

TC: Well, it’s more or less been the soundtrack of my life between the age of like 18 and 30.
So sad, happy, drunk, sober. And sometimes I’m amazed at like, when I was just rehearsing Skyline Pigeon, I didn’t actually need to play the song through. I mean, I will rehearse it at Soundcheck in Texarkana on Monday. But I haven’t had to play it all the way through because I can just run through all the lyrics in my mind. And I was thinking, ‘When was the last time I listened to Skyline Pigeon?’ Probably not for ages. But there was a stage where I just listened to so much Elton John. But I just, yeah, it’s weird. So it’s just been the soundtrack to my life. And some special memories have definitely happened, you know, meeting my wife. I around that time in 2010. I’d never heard The One before. And I’d never heard I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues. So, those songs recall a very special time in my life. But the problem with Elton’s songs versus other songs that hold that sentimental meaning, like, you know, our first dance was Frank Sinatra, Something Stupid. And that’s OK, because like the Elton songs, the problem with it is that it’s so, it’s all part of a big, wider passion, like playing the outfits, playing his music, going to see the concerts, the whole community. It’s almost like where the songs are just part of a wider hobby and passion that are so kind of overwhelming that there’s a certain aspect where they detract from that sentimental thing of just the purity of the song, because there’s everything attached with being a fan to this level and also playing the songs live in concert and touring. You know, they hold a real different type of significance, I think, when you’re playing them live and when you’re listening to the songs this much.

CM: Yeah, I would imagine it does have an effect playing them live. I’m starting to think you looked at my questions because my next question was, if you could write your own soundtrack to your life using only Elton songs, what are some that you would choose to be on the soundtrack?

TC: Well, it would be those ones because they were, you know, the soundtrack. And at that time, it was like, you know, we went to see the Elton John gig in Watford. That was the first gig we went to together. And, you know, that was a wonderful memory. And we were enjoying this, these songs together for the first time. You know, for Debs, I don’t think, you know, she loves going to gigs and she’s enjoyed and she, you know, considers Nigel to be a great friend. And she’s been interested in this whole culture and this whole obsession of mine. But at the same time, it’s pretty overwhelming, the level of which I’ve been a fan. So that’s why I say there are other songs that we share together that I feel have that more sentimental thing between the two of us, because it’s not like I’m like a Frank Sinatra obsessive, I’m a Frank Sinatra fan. Or like Stuck on You by Lionel Richie. Those songs have become like more mine and Deb’s songs, because the Elton, like Elton and being an Elton fan and being friends with Nigel and being in the tribute band, and it’s become this whole like distinct area of our lives. So it’s crazy, but it’s also wonderful. I think having these like niche interests and, you know, you can learn so, so much from studying a character like Elton and his music. It’s only a positive thing.

CM: How is Deborah? If you don’t mind me asking, how is she doing?

TC: She’s very well. We’re enjoying touring together. She’s got a lot of work as both of us do.
With this tour and with other things that we’re doing. So we’re looking forward to, you know, slowing down a little bit in February when we move to Portugal and we’re not on the road so much. But we’re having fun, and she’s you know, she’s so tireless and hardworking, and, you know, we never really have, we, in 14, 15 years together, we’ve never really had a bad day together. So, I mean, that tells you all you need to know.

CM: So, what would you say is the biggest thing that you have learned from either Elton or his music or both Elton and his music?

TC: Well, I mean, I’ve learned to play the piano or at least to some extent to play the piano, so that’s probably the major thing. But I’ve learned so much about melody, songwriting, song structures, and everything that I know about the piano. And basically a large part of my musical knowledge has come from Elton and Elton’s music. And then obviously his attitude to the industry itself and to life in general, his zest for life. He’s a very inspirational character.

CM: So, we talked about your tour earlier, and so, you mentioned that this isn’t really going to be a long-time thing. You’re not going to be doing it in 15 to 20 years, correct?

TC: Yeah, definitely not. I mean, I’m not to say that I’m not going to do like one or two gigs a year. I can easily imagine playing like, you know, a couple of gigs a year in 15 years. I’m never going to stop enjoying Elton John’s music. So never say never. But I’m not going to do another tour like this again. This is a one-off project doing this Tom’s Elton Tribute tour. I didn’t want to bill it in that dramatic way or anything like that. But it’s also paying respect to Elton. I think Elton himself would respect a one-off tour like this and paying tribute in this in this way, and a working musician learning their trade by playing covers like he did. But I don’t think Elton appreciates people who’ve been out there for 15, 20 years playing his stuff night after night, and to be quite frank, that’s the informed view on things that I’ve got.

CM: And to close out, could you share any details about any upcoming projects or anything that you have planned or have in mind for the future?

TC: Yeah, I’ve got a really exciting project going on at the moment. And it’s something that I think Elton John fans will be really excited about, because obviously Elton’s band aren’t touring with him anymore. And, you know, I write my own songs, but there was nowhere for me to put them before, you know, I wrote a few songs and I got this opportunity to open as an original artist for the Stylistics. Elton’s been a big fan of the Stylistics for many years because, you know, well, as shown by him doing the Thom Bell Sessions. Thom Bell, the record producer, he wrote Are You Ready for Love and Mama Can’t Buy You Love for Elton. Or rather, you know, and Elton worked with him on that whole EP and Thom Bell wrote all the Stylistics songs. So there’s that link there, and anyway, you know, I opened for the Stylistics and then I thought nothing of it, and I’ve been immersed in learning the piano and in doing this wonderful project, playing Elton’s songs. But one thing has led to another. The Stylistics played mine and Deborah’s wedding. Their manager, Jack, came to Italy and attended our wedding. He sort of had been on my website and having a look at my podcast and my kind of entrepreneurial stuff that I do, my business past and my career, and he gave me this opportunity to produce the first Stylistics record because he knows that I’m a songwriter. And so I’ve been working on the new Stylistics record and obviously being a record producer, you get to choose who are the musicians who play on the Stylistics new record. So obviously being a massive Elton John Band fan and knowing that they had nothing to do, I got in touch with Nigel. So, we’ve got Elton’s band back in the studio. And we’ve teamed them up with the Stylistics and with, you know, we’ve got the Tower of Power horn section and we’ve got a number of A-list guest artists on the album with the Stylistics, and the whole thing is going to be released in October. The Stylistics are playing at Carnegie Hall in October in New York City, and it’s just been an incredible project,
the whole thing and obviously to be in the studio with Nigel and Davey is pretty, yeah, it’s beyond my wildest dreams, really.

CM: Yeah, it definitely sounds like you have an exciting future. It definitely sounds like lots of exciting plans that are going to be great for the fans. And so that is great to hear. And I’m looking forward to that.

TC: Well, we’ll be sure to send you some of the songs first. I think it’s the first time that the Elton John Band have been in the studio since Wonderful Crazy Night. So, I think the fans should really like the material, and you can tell it’s them playing.

CM: I hope they will. That sounds great and thank you so much for doing this.

TC: Thank you so much, Caroline.

Tom’s Elton Tribute is scheduled to run until February of 2025. Tour dates can be found online at and


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