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BACKSTAGE: PART 3 – EXCLUSIVE! Gus, Charlie and Roger – Live
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I am Your Robot
5 July 2002 @ 17:20

EXCLUSIVE! Gus, Charlie and Roger – Live – PART 3

Here we bring the part two of an interview involving a lot of interaction and productive debate between the helmsman and his musicians. Producer Gus Dudgeon and drummers Charlie Morgan and Roger Pope talk about working with Elton’s music during the London banquet dinner organised by the Ultimate Elton John Tour. For more info, contact

Elton Events, part of, is a sponsor of The Ultimate Elton John Tour June 1-3, 2002.

Part 3 of the interview

I am Your Robot

Patty A: In your opinion what is the last truly worthwhile album of his, and why is he not using the group of people, including you, who he used to trust so much anymore?

Gus: I think the album was 21 At 33. But you see it still comes down to songs. Yes, people do ruin good songs. But you can’t make something fabulous out of an average song. It’s down to the technology. He relies too much and writes demos to technology. Someone dials up a drum pattern and he’s stuck with it. Take a classic song like Someone Saved My Life Tonight. That has a whole section in the middle that goes somewhere completely different because he’s exhausted the main bulk of the song and he’s now looking for something else as he’s still got some lyrics left. So he’s thinking this is a Bridge section. He’s working on the Bridge section, without some beat going pum-psh pum-pum-psh. So he has to erratically throw in a chord. You don’t do that if you are quietly writing a song. I can’t see us working again. If technology is the first thing that is considered when planning a new album, you’re buggered. It’s deciding too many things.

Charlie: I totally agree. This has become a total obsession [use of technology].Roger enjoying a drink with fans

Gus: What is the point of you, Charlie, doing a load of loops when you could play a great drum part, as could Roger? It’s being done because other people are doing it.

Charlie: An interesting thing happened while doing The Lion King. We did the demos right across Europe on a Tour. What would happen is that Elton would receive some lyrics and would have to write a song. Tim Rice would turn up, wherever we were, Paris or Frankfurt, and they would phone me up to go into the studio with my Midi drum kit. And I’d set up and play to whatever Elton was playing. He wasn’t playing to a drum machine, I was playing to him. He started writing songs to that. And he wrote in a completely different way because he didn’t have this [drum machine] which was immoveable going through the whole thing in four-four time, so he started doing a couple of these interesting turn arounds, putting a little three-four in. He didn’t even know he was doing it. Because I was following him. Later on, when they went to actually record the tracks, Chris Thomas didn’t use me on drums, I was doing sessions elsewhere. I got a phone call from Chris Thomas one day saying: “Here, you know the Circle of Life, how did you record that?” I said: I played Midi drums to Elton. He said “Oh, did you do it to multi-track?” I said: No, we went straight onto DAT (Digital Audio Tape) onto two-track. So he said: “So there’s no multi-track of the drums anywhere. Is there a loop of the drums?” I said: No, there is no drum loop! It’s a drum track. I played and the piano and drums went down at the same time. So, he said ok and put the phone down. But it was a different way of writing. These days he’s got locked into this way of writing with the simplest possible four-four drum pattern, and he’s got drums coming out of his ears. He doesn’t do any of the clever stuff he used to.

Gus: So it’s not where someone writes a song and says this is how it goes, and someone else says ‘why don’t we do it in a slightly different way?’ Oh yeah, that sounds better. It’s not allowed to breathe.

Roger: Because that’s exactly how it was in the early years. The trouble with Elton is he’s so busy running around making his million dollars performing on someone’s boat. Money isn’t everything. Music is the only love. And it’s true man [points to Gus], you know that.

Gus: Yeah.

Sue: What if you shift him back into the right direction?

Roger: You couldn’t push him back anywhere.

Sue: He’s moving away from art, it’s commercial.

Gus: There’s no such thing as too commercial.

Charlie: This is pop music. It’s means popular.

Scrap the records, stick to the tours

Patty A: Why is he spending these years touring so much when it’s the time he least needs to do that?

Gus: I disagree. If I was in his shoes, I’d stop recording. Stop until you really, really want to do it. Not because some contract says you have to deliver an album in six months because there’s a tour coming up says you must. Just forget about it. Go do the films, go do something that amuses him. There’s no hunger.Gus with fans

Roger: I agree.

George Matlock: He’s taken a few years to go to studio with the latest album [Songs from the West Coast]. Don’t you think he’s done that? Or do you think he should have taken a longer hiatus?

Gus: You’ll still find there’s a contract somewhere saying he had to deliver an album by a certain date because there will be a lump of money attached.

The debate ends as the evening winds down.


PART 2 – EXCLUSIVE! Gus, Charlie and Roger – Live – Monday, July 1 2002 at 09:14:01

BACKSTAGEPART3-EXCLUSIVEGuPART 1- EXCLUSIVE! Gus, Charlie and Roger – Live – Monday, July 1 2002 at 09:11:10

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