Almanac Music: Elton John – on the road to the Highlands 1974

London, and motorway to Scotland 1974


I’ve never really been fan of Elton John and I’m still not to this day. But upon arriving in London in 1974 you could not help but hear songs from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road constantly played on the radio, regular appearances on Top of the Pops, and together with articles in newspapers and magazines you had to eventually take some notice of Elton.  Although I initially resisted, those songs began to grow on me, and I have to admit it, I bought the cassette, in fact it’s the only cassette I have ever bought!


I had also bought a portable record/cassette player and as Yellow Brick Road was the only record or cassette I had at the time it was the only music my friend Ross and I heard in our little bedsit in Acton.


The track Roy Rogers soon became a favourite. Like most young males growing up in the 1950s the influence of American popular culture at the movies, and later on television, had quite an impact on me. Cowboy heroes such as Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger I idolised and imitated. Quickdraw Col I was! So obviously I was going to be attracted to a song about a childhood hero.


Ross and I had decided to travel to Scotland for a look around. With our hired Mini loaded with our bags, the portable player sitting on the backseat playing Elton non-stop we motored along the M1 towards our destination.



Roy Rogers  was playing, I was singing along when I glanced across to the car in the next lane. A gold (I think it was gold) Rolls Royce Corniche had cruised up along side. Immediately my attention was attracted to it but then I noticed the passenger, and then I noticed the outlandish glasses he was wearing, then I realised who it was.


I screamed to Ross to pass  my camera to me as I madly wound down the window and started yelling at Elton. I clicked the camera numerous times in the desparate effort to hopefully capture a decent photograph. Elton looked across, smiled and waved and then he was gone. It was all over within a minute or so. The Mini was no match for the Roller.


Surprisingly the photos came out reasonably well and now sit in a box along with many other memories of that trip somewhere in my shed. One of these days I’ll sort out my shed and retrieve the many treasures and wonderful memories that are stored there amongst the paraphernalia of a lifetime.




Many years later, in 2015 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Elton John was one of the headline acts. Now as I mentioned above I’ve never really been a great fan but he really blew me and the rest of the JazzFest crowd away. Sensational! I was also fortunate to be very close to the stage and watch his performance close up as my photos below indicate.



Two photos of Elton John taken by Col Ritchie at JazzFest 2015


This story first appeared on the Stereo Stories site a few years ago.



About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Kevin Densley says

    Nice one, Col! (And you seem to like Elton a little more than you indicate here, dare I say.)

  2. A good yarn, Col. I look forward to seeing those pics.

  3. Nicole Kelly says

    Left me smiling! As a lover of the Scottish Highlands, I’d love to hear more about the trip as well! More Scot stories!

  4. Love the Elton in the Roller beside you story..whilst playing Elton! Elton would have been one of the first pop stars I became conscious of… mid ’70’s; Elton and, of course, ABBA around the same time. I saw him twice this year. The first one was that sweltering hot day when the rain and wind storm blew through the winery almost taking Elton and his piano with it. It was an incredible few minutes of weather – all the backing crew fled the stage and Elton kept on playing until someone back stage came and dragged him off. The rain was torrential and seemed to come from out of nowhere. Then it stopped – but it was too late for the show to go on. So I decided a few weeks later to go again, AAMI Park..Fantastic show with no weather events to cause premature cessation of concert. He is a great performer and the closer to the stage the better..

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