Building scenery for Elton John by Paul Crimin

supplied by Paul Crimin

Paul Crimin… As I have woken up far too early on a Sunday morning, I thought I’d tell you another story from my life behind the scenes in the showbizz world. This one involves Elton John. I got a call at my company, Archetype, from my friend Nick at Gaslight productions. Could I build scenery that was over 20′ high and held up by scaffolding? Of course I can said I, thinking…No. He sent the drawings over and me and my crew looked at them, scratching our heads. We loved a challenge. We were to build four huge marquee entrance’s, all based on fairy tales. Old Mothers Shoe, which is in the picture, and The Cottage Made out of Sweets are two I can remember. We got to work, and these structures dominated my railway arch workshop. They were for a Children’s Day Out for Watford Football Club, to be erected in Elton John’s garden in Windsor. After many shannagins we built them, loaded them onto a lorry and set off for Windsor. At this time the Sun, a national comic, was attacking Elton for some reason, he sued them later, and on the day we arrived at his mansion their headline was that he’d cut his guard dogs vocal chords so that they wouldn’t bark. Needless to say, the dogs barked like mad when we entered through his huge security gates. The marquee’s were already standing there in Elton’s huge garden when we arrived, so we unloaded the truck and got to work building our fairy tale entrances. My good friend Mick Boleyn put the scaffolding bracing up as we put the pieces of our scenery together. It was a really hot day, and Elton’s wife at the time, Renate, would bring us orange juice on a silver tray, which was nice. On the second and last day we were amazed when we saw Elton walking towards us with a tray of beers. He chatted with us, no airs and graces, a really nice man. He did this a few times during the day, I got the feeling he liked being ‘one of the lads’. I did a dodgy thing that day after I noticed that the french doors were open to his swimming pool room. The pool had a huge chandelier over it, very impressive. I walked in there and started singing a song I had just written, just because I could and this was, after all, one of the worlds best song writers house. I nearly died when a voice said ‘That’s nice. Haven’t you got one of mine?’ He’d caught me, but thought it was funny, which was a relief. We were all invited to the ‘Day Out’, and I was really made up when Elton took the time to chat to us and say that he was impressed with our efforts. I gave him a company T-shirt, and am still disappointed to this day that he never wore it at one of his show’s. lol. Here ends the story of one of my more memorable jobs. The photo is of me trying to look like a proper builder and Elton wearing an interesting track suit. Happy days.

Andy Qunta… What a fabulous story! Thanks, Paul!

Neil Partrick… Excellent story Paul.

Mike Guy… Naughty but nice, Paul.

Did Elton John (Reg Dwight) play Hastings Pier?

Clive Garrard… I remember reading somewhere that Elton John said the oddest gig he did was supporting The Who on the end of Hastings Pier. I’m surprised no one has mentioned it.

Alan Esdaile… Could it have been Bluesology? Anyone confirm?

Colin Bell… when I first started going into DJM in New Oxford Street he was Dick James teaboy/session player etc and played in loads of odd bands that were put together, like Mr Bloe etc, so maybe he was in a supporting band to The Who at some stage but I have no personal knowledge of any appearances on the Pier, but Bluesology could well be it.

Jim Breeds… He was also the performer on many of the Hot Hits LPs cover versions.

Colin Norton… His best session has to be The Hollies “He ain’t heavy….”

Clive Garrard… I did not read the comment about Elton John.He actually said this himself in a documentary tv programme “the strangest gig that i ever played was as support to “the Who” on the end of Hastings Pier”.

Pete Fairless… Was asked this very question today in Bands On Hastings Pier. After a quick check of t’interweb, here’s my reply… In 1966, Reg was playing with Bluesology. In April, they supported The Who at a gig at the Links International Club in Boreham Wood. That makes sense, because it’s near Reg’s home and, apparently, at the time his Mum drove him to their gigs. This appears to be a one off support gig, not a tour. It’s also recorded that John had a chat with Reg in the bar where Reg was complaining that the other members of Bluesology wouldn’t let him sing. Now, The Who played Hastings Pier on 21st August 1966. I guess it’s possible Bluesology supported but I’ve seen nothing to confirm that. It would be odd. However, Sir Reg appears to claim he was there!

Colin Norton… I just found this Bluesology Gig list:

Pete Fairless… No mention of either gig there!