Elton John – SIU Arena, October 3, 1980

When I was a high school student in the mid seventies, you couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing at least one or two Elton John songs like “Bennie and the Jets” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” or his version of the Who classic “Pinball Wizard” being played heavy in rotation.

In a decade that started with Kent State and ended with the hostage crisis in Iran, the music of the decade might have lacked some of the cultural relish that the music of the 60s gave us, but it did offer a medley of styles and expressions which saw the birth of arena rock, disco and punk rock. It was also the beginning and the ending: The Beatles and The Doors were no more; however, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin would last through the decade. Other bands like The Eagles with their own distinct sound were ready to dominate the airwaves, while Queen, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd continued to redefine rock and push the music envelop. In New York, the Ramones would strip down rock to its raw basics and energize crowds at a venue called CBGB’s. By the end of the decade, music would undergo a major reawakening thanks to those four lads from the UK who went by the name of the Sex Pistols and shook things up a bit.

It was a strange decade for music that gave us hits like C. W. McCall’s “Convoy” and Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” along with soon to be classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody” “Hotel California” and “Born to Run.”

The decade also saw the rise of rock superstars and business-type rock and rollers playing enormous venues. It was also a time for Pop and Rock icons like Elton John.

I wasn’t that big of an Elton John fan. I had a couple of his albums and I liked some of his songs like Bennie and the Jets which would be prominently featured in a movie Aloha Bobby and Rose in the summer of 1975. I preferred more of his earlier stuff like “Your Song” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Rocket Man” than the stuff he came out with toward the end of the decade.

In the fall of 1980 I was attending SIU (Southern Illinois University) and getting into music in a very big way. There was at least one or two concerts every month on campus and a lot of up and coming bands were playing some of the local bars and clubs.

Elton John was one of the performers/bands who had a concert on campus that semester. As soon as it was announced that he was coming to SIU, my roommate and I decided to go. Elton John had recently reformed his old band and returned to performing the way he had when he first started. It was definitely going to be classic Elton John in concert.

My roommate asked his girlfriend to get us tickets and she got us some pretty good seats. Actually, she bought six tickets: one for herself, my roommate and myself and three for her friends. Somehow when she gave my roommate and me our tickets she got them mixed up with the other tickets. My roommate and I ended up with seats in the fifth row while his girlfriend and her friends ended up with seats in the twentieth row. Then, to complicate matters even more, my roommate had just broken up with his girlfriend. We had already given her the money for the tickets (she and I got along okay, too) so she had to give us our tickets. She just gave us the wrong ones, though.