Elton John's Voice

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by hackjo, Jan 18, 2006.

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  1. hackjo

    hackjo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    When did Elton John's singing voice change and what was the cause? I've just been listening to Peachtree Road and I have to say, his voice sounds pretty shot. This is in stark contrast to the 30th Anniversary Edition of Captain Fantastic where he sounds amazing.

    I know he had surgery in '88 but why has his voice deteriorated since then?
  2. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    He started taking singing lessons from David Lee Roth??

    There is a 'singers who lost their voice' thread around somewhere. . . may have to add him.
  3. StyxCollector

    StyxCollector Man of Miracles

    His last performance pre-surgery was MTV Unplugged.
  4. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Forum Resident

    I like his voice, though it ain't the same voice that gave us "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" or "Tiny Dancer"... I hadn't realized how much it changed until I heard "I Want Love"....
  5. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    Personally, I don't think it ever recovered from the '87 "thrashing." There've been some tours/nights since then when he's had a *little* more play in it. But overall, it's pretty shredded.

    Funny thing is, there was an interview where he stated that he felt he was singing "better than ever today" with more "resonance" in his voice. ?????

    As a result of all this he's really had to change his vocal style over the years too. I find the overblown, almost operatic mannerisms that he sometimes falls into a little hard to take. Luckily, for the most part, SFTWC was free of this.

    Live, one can really hear his range limitations as well. Almost all the oldies have been rearranged to allow his voice to kind of ride in about an 8 note comfort zone. Even then...you almost want to hand the guy a throat lozenge. The falsetto is completely gone.

    The really strange thing though is that his speaking voice, other than being lower with age, seems pretty much unaffected.
    jrod1986 likes this.
  6. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    He has openly spoken of cocaine abuse until the very early 90's. That, combined with his vocal cord surgery and aging in general would certainly have an affect on a person's voice.

    Speaking of the surgery, I seem to remember that it happened around the time of the recording of his live in Australia CD...am I remembering this correctly? It was big news at the time.
  7. Dave D

    Dave D Done!

    Milton, Canada
    I think you're right. Some songs on the Australia cd, his voice is very phlegmy!
  8. Nobby

    Nobby Forum Resident

    Birmingham, UK
    The Australian CD was th last thing recorded with his "old" voice, before the nodules were removed!
  9. Bruce

    Bruce Forum Resident

    How about Age-just getting older
  10. PMC7027

    PMC7027 Forum Hall Of Fame

    When I first heard the Live in Australia CD I almost cried. I'd been a big Elton fan since the beginning and hearing how bad his voice sounded was very hard to take.
  11. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    Elton John, to me anyway, sounds like Brian Wilson sounded in 1983 -- croaking. Ironically, BW, even after a decade of two-packs of smokes a day, who knows what kind of drug intake, etc., really recovered nicely, even if that angelic falsetto isn't what it was when he was young (though he can still manage some high notes).

  12. DaveN

    DaveN Music Glutton

    Apex, NC
    I think it unlikely that Elton will experience such a recovery. Anyone who has seen him play live can tell you that he really puts everything into the show. It is far more rock n roll than his recordings would indicate. I can't imagine how his voice can ever improve if it keeps taking that kind of beating!

    WRT 'Live in Australia', I have always loved that album. No, his voice is not at its best, but Elton plays with a great deal of emotion that just sucks me into the music.
    Keep in mind that this recording was 'part 2' of a concert that evening. The first part was his traditional show - so he had already been bashing his voice for an hour or two.

    Oddly enough, I had never heard any of the early Elton albums so I had no frame of reference. I thought that it was absolutely brilliant to play these songs with a live orchestra. It was only last year, when I bought the EJ SACD's, that I realized that he simply recreated the album tracks when he did 'Live'. Either way, I still love 'Live'.
  13. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    My wife can't stand Sir Elton regardless of how his voice sounds...:D So to torment her, I've got a half-dozen SACD multichannels at my disposal...:p

  14. bare trees

    bare trees Forum Resident

    Let's not forget that he changed his singing style in the late 70's. He took Thom Bell's advice and started using his lower register more.
  15. yesstiles

    yesstiles Forum Resident

    What happened in 1987?
  16. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    I've recently seen Brian Wilson appear on the Tonight Show, a couple of times, and thought he sounded terrible like his voice was gone - just a croak. Does he sound better on his recent studio recordings (where they have time to work on his vocals)??

    Elton John's voice was rough for the Australian show, but I liked it, from what I remeber. I'll have to watch the video again. This is where the "hit" version of "Candle In The Wind" came from IIRC
  17. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    I was referring to the nodules that appeared on his vocal cords in 1987 - later attributed to years of cocaine abuse. As noted, the Live in Australia album really shows this in full light. I actually buckle when I hear those last high vocal notes on Sixty Years On during that performance.
  18. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    I'll just also add, that my personal favorite vocal flavorings of his were from the "solo" piano tour that he did in 1979 w/ Ray Cooper. He did some amazing stuff with his voice during these shows. I always hated Part-Time Love until I heard his stripped down arrangement on that tour. He also did this drawn out, pretty manic version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
  19. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Boston MA
    This will do it. The guy is pushing 60, right? Just listen to Grandpa sing sometime. ;)
  20. cincyjim

    cincyjim Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I totally agree. I don't mind the deeper voice, just the way he chooses to sing. I wonder if he feels he has to be more "dramatic" to off-set his loss of the higher vocal range.
  21. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
    I do not hear him being dramatic at all in the way Elton sings on "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" on Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company". It sounds almost flat, lifeless, matter-of-factly to me. In fact, I feel he is upstaged by Ray Charles' more emotional rendition of his own song there. No wonder the people in the studio, the sound engineers included, ended up with tears in their eyes.
  22. soundQman

    soundQman Idealist of the Musical Apocalypse

    Arlington, VA, USA
    I think initially that provided some increase in quality, but then aging and the surgery took its toll after that. But, if you listen and watch the live performance at the Tabernacle in Atlanta which was included on the Peachtree deluxe version, you can see that he puts everything he has left into a moving performance. He can still muster an impressive performance for a special ocassion, and works pretty well around his limitations. But if trends are any indication, he doesn't have much time left as a singer. I don't think he can pull a Bob Dylan and work effectively around the problem for much longer. However his career isn't to be over soon by any means. He's writing with Bernie for Broadway now. My daughter just saw the West coast premier of the new play "Lestat" based on the Anne Rice vampire novels. She said it was great. Kind of operatic.
  23. soundQman

    soundQman Idealist of the Musical Apocalypse

    Arlington, VA, USA
    Oh yes, definitely. He can still do the angelic voices, although I think he lets one or another of the band members take the highest notes. He did that when I saw him on tour. The recent Chistmas album shows he can still sing sweetly. I think generally up to this point I prefer the deeper more weathered voice from Brian - it adds emotional resonance in his case.
  24. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    That would be my guess. He's always had that love of "white-soul" and R&B in him and probably feels that the dramatic touches are sort of an extension of that. And as you mention, a way of adapting to the limited range while still giving the audience something to be drawn in by.

    Like I said, I like it better when he tones this affectation down a bit. There's a live version of Come Down In Time that he did a couple of years ago with the Julliard Strings that, I felt, was very nice and more so the way I prefer to hear him - all the while realizing that we can't completely turn back the clock.

    I'll say one other thing about 'ol Elton. People use the term "hardest working man in show business" to describe artists - and I think Elton fits that bill to the letter. It's amazing that he has *any* voice left. Sometimes I don't think he sleeps.
  25. soundQman

    soundQman Idealist of the Musical Apocalypse

    Arlington, VA, USA
    I remember reading in a biography somewhere that he would rather die than disappoint his fans. So for those performances captured on Live in Australia with the symphony, he went ahead and gave those performances rather than cancel, despite doctor's advice to the contrary because of the nodules that had developed on his vocal chords. That's the reason his voice sounds so rough on that. I guess he had the vocal chord surgery after those concerts, and he was worried he would never be able to sing again. Fortunately he recovered OK.
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