Bernie Taupin Recalls Elton John and John Lennon’s 1974 Madison Square Garden Concert In New Interview

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
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In a new interview with the LA Times, Elton John‘s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin explains why he refused to lead a nervous John Lennon onstage in 1974.

The event in question was Elton John’s Madison Square Garden performance with Lennon.

The night was a once-off and at that one which the Beatle had only agreed to do if he and Elton’s ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ single shot to Number 1 in the US charts.

Elton tells a funny story in his memoir, ‘Me’,” LA Times reporter Rob Tannenbaum tells Bernie, “about John Lennon trying to get you to come on stage with him in 1974 when he was the guest star at Elton’s Madison Square Garden show.”

John was terrified,” Taupin responds. The guy was throwing up in a bucket in the dressing room.”

With good reason, Lennon had rarely performed live since the Beatles ceased touring in 1966.

He wanted somebody to lean on,” Bernie recounts.

Taupin, no stranger to the whimsy of artists, held firm: “I said, ‘I can’t do that. I can’t lead you on stage — you’re not Stevie Wonder. Just go out there and enjoy it.’

Lo and behold, it worked.

And he was fine,” Bernie shares.

There are a lot of funny stories in Elton’s book,” he then adds.  “I laughed out loud many times. I mean, this is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Nothing is sacrosanct.

Published in 2019 Elton’s ME also recounts an encounter with another Beatle, George Harrison.

George Harrison had tried to talk to me at an insane party I’d held at a house I was renting in LA,” Elton recollects. “I’d had the garden strung up with lights… I invited everyone in town. By the middle of the evening, I was flying, absolutely out of my mind, when a scruffy-looking guy I didn’t recognize walked into the party.”

This was not Harrison however, but Bob Dylan.

After initially mistaking one of the greatest songwriters of a generation for one of the staff, a “coked out” Elton welcomed Dylan, offering him a change clothing from his outlandish wardrobe.

Then, as a drug-addled Elton was attempting to usher a horrified Dylan out of his garden and into the house, he heard a voice.

I heard the unmistakable sound of George’s mordant, scouse-accented voice calling out to me,” John shares. “‘Elton,’ he said. ‘I really think you  need to go steady on the old marching powder.

You can read Bernie’s full LA Times interview here.

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