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Tin Pan Alley: The Rise of Elton John takes readers on An epic journey through the music of the 60s and 70s via the early career of Elton John. It explores the close knit community that was the music business in the UK, the changes within Tin Pan Alley and the emergence of Elton John through the eyes of those who not only watched Elton's rising star from the wings, but also knew him out of the spotlight.With first-time access to many of Elton's bandmates, producers and managers, the book recounts Elton's rise and details the never told before circumstances that led to Elton's early years at DJM with the likes of Caleb Quayle and what it was like to work inside the DJM studios.Although no book on Elton John can ever overlook how Elton hooked up with Bernie Taupin, it has never been told as it is here, through the words of Elton's first songwriting partner, Kirk Duncan and Ray Williams, Elton's first Manager.It also describes the recording sessions of such iconic albums as Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and the influence Gus Dudgeon had on Elton's early sound - all told through exclusive author interviews with those who were there in the studios working on the albums.Over 40 people were interviewed include Kiki Dee, Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Mick Inkpen, Rick Wakeman, film director Bryan Forbes. Some of the most enlightening interviews though are with 'ordinary' people, such as Elton's first piano tutor at the Royal Academy of Music.With two picture sections compiled from never-before-seen photographs from the private collections of the author interviewees, which are among the most unique photographs ever seen of Elton - Tin Pan Alley: The Birth of Elton John is the only humorous, dramatic, serious and collectible biography of Elton John's early years from 1964 to 1979 that dares to get up close and personal to Elton's private and public life more than any other book - past, present or future!
Today, Elton would probably describe the audition to the Royal Academy of Music as a daunting proposition for any eleven-year-old to go through, but after showing what he was capable of when it came to playing the piano, an oral test, and convincing his auditioners that he had an ear for music, he was accepted into the Academy, and as far as he was concerned, he was now on the first rung of the ladder to becoming a professional musician. Helen Piena, his piano tutor at the Academy, recalls that he was offered a Junior Exhibitionist Scholarship even though he couldn't read music, not even a note. He was chosen, says Piena, because he had such a good ear. She taught him the rudiments of playing the piano but not composition, 'I didn't teach him for composition. He had lessons with a composer for that, but I don't know how he was doing in his other classes at the time. I know his compositions were, and still are, classically based, and that was due to his education at the Academy; he learned a lot about music structure whilst he was there.'As well as practising the piano, he was also in Harmony classes in Room 114. 'I came to the Royal Academy as a junior Saturday morning student in the early sixties,' recalls Skaila Kanga, a fellow student, and a then would-be principal harp player on Elton's second album. 'He used to always sit at the back, out of the way. We were keen and eager, sitting at the front and swotting, but Reg wasn't like that, he was shy and hid away in this very big room, by the window. He remembers me in that class but I don't have a huge amount of recollection of him because he was so very shy. It was quite a tussle for him. He had such a different way of listening to music, and was playing piano mostly by ear, which was, and still is, his incredible skill but which the Academy didn't really engender in those days. It was a much more classical training, and for those students who wanted to go down the classical path, it was invaluable.'Certainly, he didn't seem to be comfortable doing Mozart and Haydn, continues Kanga. 'And so, therefore, the stricture and all the classes that we had were hard for him.' What he could do, however, was play and improvise on what he could remember, which is a phenomenal thing to do, and vital for the route into rock 'n' roll music.