Chicago Sun-Times
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Live Nation's local execs: Merger, what merger? We're here to talk about Billy and Elton

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The local office of giant concert promoters Live Nation held a press conference Tuesday morning at the same time the company's top executives were preparing a statement on the biggest news in the history of the concert industry--but the Chicago execs pretty much declined to discuss what the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger will mean for concertgoers here.

"We're here to talk about Billy and Elton," Live Nation's President of Midwest Music Mark Campana said during the press conference at the Stadium Club at Wrigley Field. Aging middle of the road piano men Billy Joel and Elton John will be coming to Wrigley on their joint Face 2 Face Tour on July 21, and tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.

"What we can talk about is the fact that the announcement [of the merger] was made today, but I think what it's important to talk about here today is Billy Joel and Elton John," Campana reiterated when cornered shortly after delivering his prepared remarks.

As to how the showdown between Live Nation and Ticketmaster somehow turned into a marriage, Campana added, "We [Live Nation] are coming in as concert people, music people, in a business that hasn't been run by music people until [new Ticketmaster chief] Irving [Azoff] got involved."

According to Campana, the New York Times was incorrect in reporting the exact roles for each of the top executives at the soon to be renamed mega-corporation, Live Nation Entertainment. Barry Diller, the executive who launched the Fox Broadcasting Company and a previous force behind Ticketmaster, will be the new non-executive chairman; Azoff will be Chairman of the Board and CEO of Frontline Management and current Live Nation boss Michael Rapino will be executive chairman and president.

"Rapino will still be running the company," Campana said, though Azoff clearly will play a major role. A long-time artist manager and former head of the MCA and Giant Records labels, Azoff is one of the most controversial and polarizing figures in the American music industry, with the nickname "the Poison Dwarf." Born in Illinois, he got his start managing local bands during his time at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Live Nation has been bringing one major act to Wrigley Field every other year since 2005, when it promoted two shows by Jimmy Buffett. Two shows by the reunited Police followed in 2007, while this year's attraction will be the local stop of the Face 2 Face Tour, with ticket prices ranging from $55 to $175 plus service fees.

The company has so far declined to say how much those service fees will cost. But when tickets go on sale Saturday, neither Live Nation nor Ticketmaster will be handling them: They'll be available only through www.Tickets.com (1-800-THE-CUBS), the official ticket broker of the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball.

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13 Comments

"Aging middle of the road piano men Billy Joel and Elton John".........Jim DeRogatis. Okay Jim- now that we already know what your review of their show will be, why even bother going? Since it's obvious that you don't want to see them in the first place, why don't you do something nice for once in your life and give your usual complimentary press ticket to a kid or maybe even an 'aging' fan. That would make you and someone else very happy that evening. You can easily make up a really lousy review without being there and then just hand it in so you won't miss your paycheck. I'll bet you've got most of it written already. And I'm sure Billy and Elton won't miss you either.

gotta agree with Terry. Calling Elton John middle of the road is just ignorant.

1) Jim, are you kidding me? Putting the songwriter of "Tiny Dancer" in the same ballpark with the King of Hacks Billy Joel is ludicrous, even offensive. Billy Joel is so bad that he was outdone when The Chipmunks covered "Uptown Girl!" Seriously, dude, as you'll see, I'm down with calling Elton middle-of-the-road, but Billy Joel is bottom-of-the-barrel ("And they sit at the bar / And put bread in my jar" -- need I say more?).

2) Terry and Sammy, are you guys kidding me?! Elton John has written some of the most lovely ballads in rock history -- "Tiny Dancer" chief among them, but also "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," "Your Song," "Levon," and "Rocket Man."

But Elton, for the strength of all those songs, has had an incredibly erratic career. He never had that singular defining string of records the way your Dylans and Youngs of the world have; and neither has he ever recovered any amount of the greatness of yesteryear the way both those gentlemen have. That makes Elton John a middle-of-the-road artist.

Whatever guys. Elton and Billy are great musicians. I'm in my late 20's and have been rockin' "Empty Sky", "11-17-70" on my record player since I was about 14. Funny thing is, my parents were never really into Elton or Billy. I remember seeing Elton on a rerun of "The Muppet Show", heard "Crocodile Rock" on WJMK and was in love. Can't afford to fly out to Vegas for Red Piano, so you bet I'll be here!

Elton John is only one half of the the songwriters of 'Tiny Dancer'. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics and Elton wrote the music. Elton never writes any of the lyrics of his songs. And what's wrong with - "And they sit at the bar / And put bread in my jar"? I think that's a perfectly concise and poetic way to describe a scene that Billy Joel knows firsthand. He's no hack. And calling him one doesn't make it so. DeRogatis should excuse himself from reviewing anything Billy Joel does. He clearly knows nothing about music.

Despite all your name-calling and critical hyperbole, Billy Joel will have the last laugh. Long after your bitter invective has been dumped into the dustbin of history, his music will continue to be heard and performed and appreciated and loved. And not one word that you've written or said will be remembered by anyone. Not one word.

The Billy Joel/Elton John show has just sold out Wrigley Field in 20 minutes. It looks like they might have to add another show there. So much for the influential opinions of Jim DeRogatis and his whiny pals.

1) Jim -- fair point. Touche.

2) Harry O. -- I have to disagree. I believe Elton John could've been singing the ingredients in Corn Flakes to the tune of "Tiny Dancer" and it still would have been a most excellent song. Meanwhile, Bernie Taupin has written some of the most dreadful lyrics ever. Prime example: "Someone saved my life tonight sugarbear." That's just dreadful.

But it's still not as bad as Billy Joel's monkey-tarded lyrics. Seriously, they are hackneyed lyrics to the extreme. I'll give you more than what you claim is "poetic" (which makes me wince and groan with the look of appendicitis, but to each his own, I suppose):

"And when she's walkin' / She's lookin' / So fi-hee-yi-hee-yine" (Sounds like a Hootie and the Blowfish cast-off)

"A big waterbed / That they bought with the bread / They had saved for a couple of years" (okay, seriously, Billy has to decide if he wants to spend his money or eat it)

"If you said goodbye to me tonight / There would still be music left to write" (admittedly, this isn't an abysmally horrific lyric, but I tire of using music as a metaphor for love. It's a lazy songwriter trick.)

"I know I'm searchin' for something / Somethin' so undefined / That it can only be seen / By the eyes of the blind" (no, Billy, that's not poetic, that's a failed attempt at a profound statement. And using blind people as a metaphor? Puh-leeze.)

"I just want someone that I can talk to / I want you just the way you are" (ugh. Just... ugh).

In fairness to Joel, of course, he did do one great thing -- Oliver & Company. I salute him for that. But the rest of this stuff... just... ew.

To Brendan D - Your last few words pretty much sum up the extent of your intellect....."But the rest of his stuff...just...ew". That's brilliant Brendan. I'm glad that you summarized Billy Joel so eloquently for me. I'm not going to bother debating why I believe that the lyrics you think are so bad are actually so good, or why Billy Joel pronounces a certain word in a certain song for a specific stylistic reason, or how you confuse jargon with language, or how what you think is metaphor is meant to be literal, or how your oh-so-hip cynicism can't understand a simple romantic sentiment, or why your expertise about what constitutes "a lazy songwriter trick' is suspect, or why your credentials as an authority on music are insignificant altogether. Suffice to say that you are as obtuse as your mentor - DeRogatis. I agree with the poster prior to you. You are whiny and opinionated. But you have no influence on me or on anyone who thinks for themselves.

Well, this article was not about Elton and Billy, it was about the merger of Live Nation with Ticket master and how they pretended it was not happening and the big news was Elton and Billy. I see everyone here was just concernerd about Jim's comments on Billy Joel and nothing about the actual article. Elton use to be great, but these tours with Billy were fine at first and now it's to much. Billy is great when he is great, but I can't stand the Innocent Man album. Billy did a very good album in The Nylon Curtain, but very few of his albums reach that height. A friend of mine is a Billy Joel fanatic, and she said the same thing, "with the exception of The Nylon Curtain, his albums don't hold up".

With 'fanatics' like that, who needs critics?

Ask your friend -you know- the "Billy Joel fanatic" why, if "his albums don't hold up" did his concert with Elton John at Wrigley sell out in under 20 minutes? His music appears to have 'held up' pretty well considering that he hasn't recorded anything new for 16 years.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on February 10, 2009 11:48 AM.

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Live Nation/Ticketmaster: Let the spin begin is the next entry in this blog.

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