By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
We want to wish a very Happy Birthday to one of our greatest music heroes of all-time: Sir Elton John
To commemorate his birthday, Jake’s Take is revealing our favorite Sir Elton John duets.
The Queen of Soul invited Elton John to participate in her 1993 FOX television special. The song that they performed together was “Border Song,” a song that Elton co-wrote with longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, in 1970 and Ms. Franklin covered the song in 1972 for her Young, Gifted, and Black studio album. Backed by a gospel choir, both music legends took the stage by storm and took the audience to church.
Opera icon Luciano Pavarotti invited Elton for his legendary concert series: Pavarotti & Friends for War Child. For the 1996 finale, Elton and Pavarotti performed their collaboration: “Live Like Horses.” Backed by Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Liza Minnelli, and countless talented artists, the performers exchanged lyrics in English and Italian.
When Elton John recorded a United Kingdom television special, he invited many artists to perform some of his best hits. Elton goaded his longtime friend to sing “Come Down in Time,” a song that the “Fields of Gold” singer-songwriter recorded on the Two Rooms tribute album. This magical combination was pure television magic.
Elton John and Billy Joel’s Face to Face Tours dominated the 1990s and 2000s. In my humble opinion, the best part of the tour was when the piano men sang of a duet of their respective songs. Out of all of the songs that the men performed together, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” was my personal favorite.
Country music superstar Shania Twain invited Elton to share the stage with her at her 1999 Hawaii concert. The two reminisced about the first time they met and performed a medley of their hits: “You’re Still the One I Want” and “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.”
This performance almost never happened. According to VH1 officials, both Elton John and Tina Turner got into a massive verbal fight when they were rehearsing for the 1999 VH1 Divas Live concert. After the two exchanged words and made apologies backstage, the two delivered a fiery cover of the song they mutually loved performing: “The Bitch is Back.”
When the Backstreet Boys visited London back in 2000, AJ McLean was unavailable to join them due to a family emergency. Sir Elton John stepped in at last minute and joined the quartet (Howie, Brian, Kevin, and Nick) for an exceptional performance at Party at the Park.
“Stan” with Eminem (2001)
16 years ago, the LGBT community was furious with Eminem’s homophobic comments. When it was revealed that the rapper not only was nominated for a couple of Grammy Awards but was also scheduled to perform a duet of “Stan” with the openly gay superstar, 200 protesters representing numerous human rights groups appeared outside the Staples Center during the ceremony. Despite the controversy, Elton became a mentor to the rapper and stood up for him when Eminem was accused of charges of homophobia.
Sadly, Elton John was the last artist to record with the great Ray Charles before he passed away on June 10, 2004. The Genius stole the track with his great interpretation of Bernie Taupin’s lyrics that would give the listener chills.
The audience at the 2005 Country Music Association Awards were treated to a performance with two impeccable music icons: Sir Elton John and Dolly Parton. I loved the vocal chemistry between the two superstars as they sang a single from his 2004 country rock album: Peachtree Road and a cover of John Lennon’s signature song.
Patti LaBelle recruited Elton to perform a gospel-inspired cover of his legendary “Your Song” for her 15th studio album: Classic Moments. Of all the “Your Song” collaborations that Elton has done over the years, this duet remains supreme because Patti forced Elton to take his musicianship to a whole another level.
When I first heard “Where to Now, St. Peter?” it was when I watched Elton’s 60th birthday celebration concert. He dedicated this particular song to both Ann and Nancy Wilson. After doing some research, it turned out that when the Heart frontwoman recorded this song with the British Piano Man for her debut studio album: Hope & Glory. I loved this duet because of their vocal chemistry.
Elton John’s album that he recorded with his music hero, Leon Russell, The Union remains one of my all-time favorite albums from this decade. While this song is nearly seven years, this ballad always tugs at my heart strings, and I get chills hearing Mr. Russell’s voice again.
I truly enjoy Elton’s friendship with Lady Gaga. These two musicians are paramount performers that make me smile and get up and dance. One of my favorite performances by the duo was their 2013 duet of “Artpop.” This epic performance was so over-the-top and campy, but they left their hearts on that soundstage.
Another artist that Elton John took under his wing is Ed Sheeran. The “Shape of You” singer-songwriter came onto Elton’s radar when he released his self-independent extended play: No. 5 Collaborations Project in 2011. While the duo performed “The A-Team” at the 2013 Grammy Awards, I preferred this 2015 duet that Elton and Ed did at his 2015 Wembley concert.
I do not own any clips. They belong to the artists, their respective record labels, and media companies.