davey300Davey Johnstone is best known for his 40 plus years as a member of the Elton John band, and one of Rock’s most versatile guitarists.  Starting out in the folk world, he was a session musician in the UK and ended up playing on the Bernie Taupin album in 1970.  This led to his joining the Elton John Band and recording the vast majority of Elton’s hits.  Davey was quickly noticed to be a highly talented musician and was asked to play on many records with artists such as Joan Armatrading, Kiki Dee, Leo Sayer, Alice Cooper, the Who, Rod Stewart, and Meat Loaf.

Davey currently is musical director for Sir Elton, and they are still touring and playing to wildly appreciative audiences worldwide.

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07 June 2016 // Signing Off // Thank You
To all you wonderful people who have written in with great questions, observations, etc., I’m sorry to say, I no longer have time to address your posts — we are embarking on the last few years of the LONG and winding road of my career with Elton. I guess we’re looking at roughly another 3-4 years and then gracefully fade away ( at least that’s the plan! ) I hope you’ve enjoyed our connection as much as I have. In the roughly 5 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve really only had one or two negative posts out of several thousand, so thanks for being so articulate and interested.

In signing off I must thank Denny Seiwell, Jeff Silverman, and Tommy Onyx for making this forum possible, and I sincerely hope all you fans and interested parties understand my reasons for having to wind it up now.

Keep the faith and I’ll see you out on the rocky road!

Much love and respect,
Davey Johnstone

Comments 3,712

  1. snaff

    Hi Davey! During the albums recorded by the band in the studio as Elton wrote the songs, what is the process of adding the orchestral arrangements? My guess is that the band put down the tracks for songs like “Have Mercy on the Criminal” and “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” and then later it was decided the orchestration would be added to each, and then Paul and Del added strings to the material recorded by the band, after your studio work is completed. Is this how it is done? For something like “Philadelphia Freedom” was the use of strings assumed to get the ‘Philly sound’ as you recorded the band portion? THANKS!

    1. Davey Johnstone
  2. Rob H

    I’ve been enjoying watching some videos from the mid ’90s where you and John Jorgenson looked like you were having a lot of fun playing together. Simple Life is just awesome in that Rio 1995 concert! I was kind of curious about a few things– I imagine as musical director that you had a hand in asking John to join the band. How did you know about him– had you seen him in concert? Also, if I may ask, I wondered if that relationship may have felt less like a rivalry than your relationship with Caleb Quaye. I don’t even know if your relationship with Caleb felt like a rivalry at the time, I just sort of get that impression, as there had been such a shocking dismantling of the very comfortable band in 1975. Thanks so much. I hope this question isn’t intruding too much.

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      Elton’s “dismantling” of that band was purely HIS choice – he needed a break.
      John Jorgenson was EJ AND my idea because on Made in England, I played so many guitar parts we wanted to do them live. John & I are close, close friends.
      Any ‘rivalry’ you infer may between Caleb & I may have been true up to a point, as before I came onto the scene, Caleb had been the guitarist on much of the first couple of albums, along with Chris Spedding and Alan Parker.
      Most ‘rivalries’ are insecurities born out of low self esteem, and I certainly had no problem with Caleb – we were the ‘skirling brothers’ and had a healthy competitive streak. I hope this answers your question…….and yes, it was rather intrusive.

      1. Rob H

        Thanks so much for answering. I do apologize for the intrusive question– I’m wincing a bit as I see your response. But I am glad to see there weren’t any hard feelings between band members at that time. And again, like I said, you can really see the friendly chemistry between you and John in that live footage in the 1990s. I just hadn’t seen as much live footage of the 1975/76 band, so I just didn’t know what it was like back then.

        1. Davey Johnstone
          Davey Johnstone

          It’s all been great.
          As you will all find out, I’m having to retire from Musinq as I’m just too busy!
          Maybe one day there will be another similar forum where I can be of service to all of you.
          There will be an official sign off, but for now, take care and it’s been an education….for me!

          1. jamesrr

            Well Davey, thanks for all the questions answered. It’s been very enlightening to hear about the background of what you guys have achieved. I consider it a privilege to have had you answer some of my direct questions.

            I imagine the road is so tolling on you guys, and what time you have is for (1) family and (2) rest. Enjoy the two and good luck with the continuing shows.

          2. Davey Johnstone
          3. TinyDanseur

            Thank you, Davey. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to have you answer my questions. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule, and for being the amazing musician and person you are to us all! Have fun on tour!

          4. Davey Johnstone
          5. JanetSpeariett

            Ahhh Davey… Thanks for all the time you have given to us Fans!!! I will miss your witty answers.. Look forward to seeing you in Leicester… Liverpool, where I hope to meet you back stage .. and Ebinburgh……. yaayyy.. Where I am front row.. Yippeee. Keep Rockin’.. Love to you and Family as always .. Janet xxxx

          6. Davey Johnstone
  3. Sad One

    Hi Davey (and John Sinclair)

    Continuing on the mandolin theme, did you not used to use Ovation mandolins, Davey? Do you prefer Takamines?

    Cheers
    Steve

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      Yes, you’re entirely correct – Takamine and Ovation were the same company……Kaman Corporation, so I often think of them as the same outfit

  4. John Sinclair

    Hello Mate,
    two of my very good friends have extraordinary guitar collections. They tell me some of their vintage Fenders, Rickenbackers and Gibsons, etc, are worth tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t doubt it.

    Given those are some of the major makers of guitars, who makes the best mandolins? One never hears those names.

    Thanks in advance, love your work,
    cheers from Oz, John.

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      Gibson are probably the best acoustic mandolins around – that’s what I used on Holiday Inn, Captain Fantastic etc etc. Mine dates back to early 1900’s. The first electric mandolin I bought was the 3rd ever made by Fender. I’m not certain, but I don’t believe they make that unusual 4 string version.
      Onstage and in the studio nowadays, I use Takamine mandolins which are excellent. They also made me a Mandocello which is pretty cool.

    2. John Sinclair

      Thanks for the reply.

      You mentioned a short time ago that you folks have different sets of gear in strategic places around the globe.

      Is there only one “Captain Fantastic” Gibson?

      Approximately how many guitars do you tour with?

      Is a Mandocello played with a bow or a pick? Sorry if that’s a dumb question.

      Thanks from Oz.

      1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  5. Natalia

    Hello Davey! Thanks for the concert in. Piter. Sad that Elton not sung Nikita for mother, but concert was beautifull, and thanks for the Have Mercy… Waiting in Moscow in Crocus (rich) Hall.
    P.S.
    Maybe we (fans) must say sorry to Elton, if it’s he needs to only three series can to stay about stage.
    The security forbade us and said only about three series. But we ran through him and he fell from his chair :( And the sad and funny. Sorry, security :) :(

    Sorry for my English

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      It’s a shame about the security in Moscow. Elton’s bodyguard told the local security chief to ENCOURAGE the people to get up,dance and have fun….I heard him! But then it was the same old thing….people being told to sit down all evening.
      It’s sad because in St Petersburg the crowd was really rocking and nobody told them to sit down. Maybe one day they will learn that rock music makes people want to ENJOY themselves…..it’s supposed to be fun, right?

      1. IslandGrl

        Wow, thanks for the interesting behind the scenes story. I feel for those poor fans. I was in Moscow as a young teen in the 70’s, and they took us to a nightclub, and a Russian boy and I started dancing, and immediately, they grabbed him and made him stop. Very sad. You guys are great ambassadors though..

        1. Davey Johnstone
          1. Patricia1983

            It was the same in Leipzig in Germany last year or the year before. Situation became pretty bad and Elton himself was really angry towards the security people who were trying to stop the fans… which made us all love him even more, for standing up for his fans. Seems like the communication with security people from the venue is not always 100% ok and I hope next week will be better in Germany…

          2. Davey Johnstone
  6. Ros

    So, Mr Johnstone, I will be in Leicester two weeks tonight. I have a concert date with a guy named Elton John and his Band! I’ve heard they are totally brilliant!!!!! AND, I’m doing that Backstage Tour thing in the vain hope I may actually get to shake your hand and thank you for 40+ years of superb music.
    I have some very special M&M’s to deliver to you all as well (your daughter-in-law says I have to give you an extra pack for her, as she thinks she will only be at the Antwerp concert in the winter!!).
    Now, if I fail in my mission in Leicester, then I’m Backstage again at Liverpool!!! There’s no escape!
    Seriously, I am SO looking forward to a great time in June (Exeter and Blenheim as well) at all the concerts.
    I wish you all well for all your upcoming Europe dates. Travel safely and a million thanks for all you do. You make this humble fan so happy. X

    1. Davey Johnstone
  7. jnoble

    Hello Davey. Have you ever had a moment during a show where you lost your place in a song or just totally forgot what to play next? Elton has so many songs both old and new that I don’t know how all of you can memorize and perform them show after show without the occassional mental lapse or trainwreck.
    Also, how do you go about re-learning songs you haven’t played in many years?

    Thanks!
    -Jim

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      Sure, it requires constant focus. On a few occasions my brain has gone AWOL!
      I’m fortunate to have a good memory – I remember most of the old stuff quite easily.

    1. Davey Johnstone
      Davey Johnstone

      Oh right, the local journalists caused a dangerous situation, and E escaped back to London!
      We played the show the following day. Great gig, great audience, beautiful people

        1. ilankogan

          Davey you rocked!!!
          Thank you for the best show we’ve seen here in years!
          The new songs were absolutely great!

          Maybe you can also tell EJ that we’ve all agreed the he sounded even better than six years ago(!) both vocally and piano playing!

          1. Davey Johnstone
        2. Davey Johnstone
      1. IslandGrl

        I just watched you guys on video in Tel Aviv – lovely! How do you combat the jet-lag? And do you have different instruments on different continents when you tour?

        1. Davey Johnstone
          Davey Johnstone

          Jet lag sucks! It’s difficult to concentrate when you’ve only had a couple of hours sleep. Also, the exhaustion is a major problem. You just have to tough it out and do your best.
          Tel Aviv was awesome, but today we’re in Russia, so ……..praying!
          We have 3 different sets of guitars, pianos, drums etc all over the world.malso, I have a separate studio rig……that’s a LOT of gear!!

    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  8. rocket665

    are these guitars any good? i am looking to buy my first guitar and i’ve been told that this is a decent one to own.

    Fender Vintage Hot Rod ’52 Tele® Electric Guitar, Black, Maple Fretboard

    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  9. TinyDanseur

    Hi Davey,
    Do you find that audience reactions vary around the world? For instance, are some cultures more apt to get up and dance, while some tend to sit more quietly? Personally, it’s impossible for me to sit still at all during your amazing concerts! I love that! I’m thankful for the 40 + years of extreme pleasure you guys have brought us :-)

    1. Davey Johnstone
        1. Davey Johnstone
          1. Davey Johnstone
            Davey Johnstone

            Like they put on Chinese urinals….We aim to please, you aim too, please……

  10. santts

    Hello thereee! DJ,

    Happy delated birthday, lots of success always, love for u and ur family! And music,
    On your next Birthday will do a Jam session in Brazil together! Haha. Just kidding (but itd be breat)

    1. Davey Johnstone
  11. jcocucci

    Hey Davey! Happy belated birthday! Back in the day, when El Sid was into the outrageous costumes, he often would change outfits between sets and/or before the encore. Not counting Donald Duck in Central Park, did he ever totally stun/surprise the band by what he would pop out in? Did he ever crack you guys up enough to make it a serious effort to focus on the song?

    1. Davey Johnstone
      1. Davey Johnstone
      2. Davey Johnstone
  12. Sad One

    Hello again Davey

    About fifteen years ago I bought a copy of the Crop Circles CD. My friend John Jorgenson kindly signed it for me many years ago and I have patiently waited over the years to see if I would get the opportunity for you to sign it – the CD has been to many EJ concerts over the last 10 or 12 years!!

    Would it be possible to get my CD signed by you when you come to Lincoln (UK) next month? I know it’s a bit of a cheeky ask but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Keep rockin’
    Steve

    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  13. Phillip A. Trunk

    HAPPY DAY 2 U! I may be early, I may be late, but I am never to far away…I am sending Birthday Greetings to both you and Kim as he seems to share this time as well. Again, many thanx for all of your kindnesses (and those of the “other guys”) and may you and the Family Johnstone continue to be blessed with good health, warmth, safety, and HAPPINESS (Same to the Bullards if you would be so kind to pass it along!). PEACE, TOMMY (yup, the Red Hat Fan!)

    1. Davey Johnstone
  14. jacques_lapin

    Davey today please let me make an exception and make no question but wish from the bottom of our hearts a Happy BDay with all of our love. Man how great you are, rock better than ever and future is promising. Lots of love to you and the Johnstones ⚘

    eltonjohnallsongslist community

    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  15. Sandra Goes

    Happy Birthday, Davey! I wish you happiness and all the best life has to offer. Have a great day. . . you deserve it! ! Congratulations from Brazilians !

    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
    1. Davey Johnstone
  16. Sad One

    Hi Davey

    My wife, Helen, and I are very much looking forward to seeing you all in Lincoln (UK) next month. How is your ‘dance card’ 😉

    Cheers
    Steve

    1. Davey Johnstone
  17. goodbye

    2 Low For Zero and Breaking Hearts are great albums… it’s like you hit the pause button in 1975, then hit the play button in 1982. Can you share some stories about the sessions for those two albums?? The backing vocals were crisp and clear. ‘IN NEON’ sounds like a complex recording?

    Thanks Davey.

    1. Davey Johnstone
  18. suezq

    Curtains. Unarguably THE best closing track of any album, anywhere.

    Final Curtain Tour, Finale – Curtains = deliriously happy fans.

    Just puttin’ it out there for all of our Once Upon A Times…with peace and love as usual.

    1. Davey Johnstone
  19. ale.lew14

    Hi Davey,
    Glad to see Ray is getting better.
    I’m curious, apart from looks, what’s the difference between Tele, Les Paul, Strat, Flying V, Explorer? ..etc!? Are there anymore 😂

    1. Davey Johnstone
        1. Davey Johnstone
  20. Ros

    Just wanted to wish you (and Kim) a very Happy Birthday for Friday.
    At least you’re not on the road, so enjoy your day with family and friends.
    See you all in the UK in just over 5 weeks time!
    Best wishes as always.

    1. Davey Johnstone

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