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rocket man Music icon Elton John wants to help new music talent to go top of the pops


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The Lockdown Sessions

The Lockdown Sessions

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ROCK superstar Elton John has never forgotten the encouragement he received from legends of music when he was starting out - and says it's the reason he now supports newcomers.

At the age of 74, Elton is still as passionate about music as he was in his teenage years, loves searching for new releases in record stores, and in recent years has been promoting emerging talent on his own radio show.

As he gets set to release a new album, The Lockdown Sessions, featuring collaborations with a variety of artists, The Rocket Man chats enthusiastically on Zoom.

"I've done a radio show for six years in a row now on Apple and I've created and cultivated friendships with young musicians, and that's really spurred me on," Elton says.

"It excites me when I hear something new by somebody new, a Billie Eilish or a Lorde or a Khalid. Billie Eilish just astonished me when I played that first record by her. So, it gives me an access. And when I love a record by someone new, I interview them on the show, or I phone them up. Even if they're in Australia or they're in Europe, it doesn't matter, because it's important for me to offer a hand of friendship and offer a hand of authenticity to what they're doing.

"When I first came to America, Neil Diamond, the Beach Boys, Leon Russell, The Band, George Harrison, all got in touch with me, and Leon Russell took me on tour and it made me feel very happy that they liked my music, and it validated what I did. So, you must always try and pass those thoughts on to other young musicians, because it helps them."

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The Lockdown Sessions

The Lockdown Sessions

The Lockdown Sessions

How did Billie Eilish react when he phoned her up? "She said, 'I remember when you played my record.' And I did Mabel. I played Mabel's first record in 2015," Elton says.

"It's important, because someone like me, I can give her a little bit of exposure. But Billie Eilish has cultivated her own exposure by making great records and becoming the star she is now. And so it's wonderful to watch the little flower grow into a beautiful tree."

The 16 tracks on The Lockdown Sessions include artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gorillaz, Years & Years, Miley Cyrus, Stevie Nicks, Glen Campbell and Young Thug.

The lead single, Cold Heart with Dua Lipa, has been a worldwide smash hit.

Elton, who reveals that he is particularly chuffed to have Damon Albarn on the album, says: "I learn something from each artist that I work with that I wouldn't normally have learnt.

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"From Stevie Nicks, from Stevie Wonder, from Sam Lewis to Lil Nas X. I learnt something from each of them and if you're at my age, which I'm 74 now, and you can still be learning from other musicians, that's the greatest gift of all.

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"You can never stop learning as a musician. If you shut your mind off and say, 'I've done it all now, I can do everything now, I don't need to hear anything else,' then for me that's the dead end. I'm more excited now about music than I've ever been.

"I've been lucky enough to play on a Bob Dylan song, to do a John Lennon. I played on the George Harrison record. I've played with Leon Russell. I've sung with Leonard Cohen, I've sung with Aretha Franklin, I've sung with Stevie Wonder…Ray Charles.

"But I'm more interested now in singing with the younger people and I think that's because I get such a kick out of it. I'd love to do something with Billie Eilish one day, but not yet because she's still forging her own path."

• The Lockdown Sessions is out now.

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