Not Quite Single

A Single Man is the twelfth studio album by Elton John, released in 1978. This is the first album where John would collaborate with Gary Osborne, who wrote the lyrics. The photographs for the cover art were taken by Terry O’Neill in the Long Walk, which is part of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire.

 
 

It is the first of Elton John‘s albums to not feature longtime collaborators Bernie Taupin (lyricist) and Gus Dudgeon (producer). As Gary Osborne was an unknown at the time, many people misinterpreted the album’s title to imply that John wrote the entire album himself. The only returning members of his band are percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone; the latter only played on one song on the album. Paul Buckmaster would not appear on another Elton John album until Made in England.

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The Good Fortune of Frienship

 
 

January 1989: Gianni Versace shows first couture collection in Paris. The Good Fortune of Friendship, a film by Sergio Salerni about Versace’s relationship with the choreographer Maurice Béjart, debuts. The Versus line bows. Dresses for Thought, an exhibit of Gianni’s designs, opens in Milan.

On October 21, 1990, the San Francisco opera season opened with Richard StraussCapriccio, with costumes designed by Versace. The following year the fragrance “Versus” was debuted and “Signature,” Versace’s classic line, was launched. Elton John, an ardent admirer of Versace, began his world tour for which Versace designed the costumes. In New York, for the Italian Trade Commission, Versace inaugurated the charity Gala “Rock’N Rule,” with profits given to the Amfar anti-AIDS Association. A retrospective show at the Fashion Institute of Technology featured Versace’s work.

Around 1989, Elton was deeply affected by the plight of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS. Along with Michael Jackson, John befriended and supported the boy and his family until White’s death in 1990. Confronted by his then-lover, John checked into a Chicago hospital in 1990 to combat his drug abuse, alcoholism, and bulimia. In recovery, he lost weight and underwent hair replacement, and subsequently took up residence in Atlanta, Georgia.The One was John’s first album project since his rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addictions and bulimia in 1990.

In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, intending to direct 90 percent of the funds it raised to direct care, 10 percent to AIDS prevention education. He also announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles (beginning with The One) in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research. That year, he released the Number Eight album The One, his highest-charting release since 1976’s Blue Moves. Also in 1992, Gianni designed costumes and album cover for Elton John’s world tour.

 
 

The One (1992), the 23rd studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John. It was dedicated to Vance Buck, and its cover artwork was designed by Gianni Versace. Photography by Patrick Demarchelier

 
 

Julian Schnabel’s Plate painting portraying Elton John. Front cover of The Big Picture

 
 

The Big Picture is the 26th studio album by Elton John, released in 1997. It was dedicated to John’s friend, popular fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was murdered a few months before the album’s release. This was the last album to date to be produced by Chris Thomas, who had worked with John almost nonstop since 1981’s The Fox. This is the only album in which neither Davey Johnstone nor bassist Bob Birch provide backing vocals. Drummer Charlie Morgan was let go from the band shortly after the album’s release and soon replaced by Curt Bisquera and John’s old drummer Nigel Olsson, who remains in the lineup to this day.

 
 

 
 

The video for the song (which is dedicated to the memory of Gianni and Diana, Princess of Wales, who also died that year) featured actors and actresses from the UK television programme This Life, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl. It’s regarded as one of Elton John’s best videos. John has publicly revealed (through his “warts and all” documentary Tantrums and Tiaras) that he finds videos “fucking loathsome” and after the album The Big Picture refrained from appearing in his own videos unless they were cameo appearances. It was directed by Tim Royes.

The Whole Picture

“This Album is dedicated to Matthew Shepard and Oliver Johnstone.

You will be never forgotten”

Elton John

 
 

Cover art photographed by Sam Taylor-Wood

 
 

The booklet contains a photograph taken with a wide-angle lens allowing more of the scene that’s happening inside a western cafe. The whole picture alludes to the song lyrics of this album. And the outfit Elton John is wearing (a sequined black jacket by Atelier Versace) might be a reference whether to The Emperor’s New Clothes, Black Diamond or Look Ma, No Hands. While the doves refers to the sixth track,  Birds:

 
 

 
 

“How come birds

Always look for a quiet place to hide

These words

Can’t explain what I feel inside?

Like birds I need a quiet place to hide…”

 
 

 
 

“Gonna miss the sunlight

When I lose my eyesight

Give me my red shoes

I want to dance…”

(Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes)

 
 

“I can’t eat, can’t sleep…”

(Original Sin)

 
 

 
 

“It’s a case of paradise lost

Ten years back on the hands of the clock…”
 

“….Sometimes the magic of the past is all we’ve got…”

(Mansfield)

 
 

 
 

“You may not believe it

But I don’t believe in miracles anymore

When I think about it

I don’t believe I ever did for sure…”

(This Train don’t Stop There Anymore)

 
 

 
 

“Western skies don’t make it right

Home of the brave don’t make no sense…”
 

“…Three lives drift on different winds

Two lives ruined one life spent…”

(American Triangle)

 
 

“Some days I think it’s all a dream

The things I’ve done, the places that I’ve been

This life of mine seemed surreal at times

Wasted days and nights in someone else’s mind…”

(The Wasteland)