Bernie Taupin tells Chris Evans about his encounters with John Lennon with Paul McCartney: ‘Is this really happening?’

Virgin Radio

4 Oct 2023, 12:59

Bernie Taupin talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio.

Bernie Taupin joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch to talk about his new autobiography and, as well as recalling seminal moments from his partnership with Elton John, he also shared some stories about John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

The legendary lyricist’s autobiography, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me, is out now and is a Sunday Times Bestseller. Predominantly known for teaming up with Sir Elton, in the book Bernie also shares encounters with superstars like Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, Graham Greene, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and John Lennon. 

Bernie told Chris about encountering another Beatle, Paul McCartney. “At that particular point in time, Elton was playing piano for different bands in the studios,” he said. “And I used to just come and hang out and be a spare part with him. 

“We were in the studio at EMI, and this was right back in the early days, and we were we were working in there with the Barron Knights, I was just sitting in the corner, and Paul McCartney was in there and came into the studio and said, ‘I want to play this new song that I've just written’. And he sat down and played Hey Jude in its entirety, and we were just sitting there, sort of, ‘Is this really happening?’.”

Bernie also told Chris about an experience he and Elton later had with John Lennon. “We were actually on the way to play a date in Boston. And prior to that, John had had a number one record with Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, which Elton had played on. And they'd made a kind of temporary deal that if the record got to number one, John would perform with Elton at Madison Square Garden later in the month. 

“So, the reason that John was on the plane going to Boston was because he wanted to see the show and see what he was setting himself up for. So we did that and then we came back, and I think the show was on a Thanksgiving. And obviously Elton had persuaded John to come on and perform with us. 

He continued: “I think what people tend to forget is that [John] hadn't performed live for years. So the whole dynamic was completely different. You know, the monitors on stage, the technicality of it was completely different. 

“It wasn't in his wheelhouse anymore. So he was obviously very nervous to the point where he was actually sick backstage. But he had a lot of people backing him up there, one of them being me. And by the time it was time for him to go on stage - and by the way, he looked like a million dollars, I mean, he looked incredible, he looked every inch of the rock god -  but at the side of the stage before he went on, he was going, ‘I can't do this. I don't know if I can do this. You got to come on with me’. And it's like, ‘And do what? What am I supposed to do? Stand there like a complete tool?’

“Anyway, we ended up propelling him on stage and the rest is history. And the place went absolutely nuts.”

Bernie added: “The reception he got was phenomenal. And so when he came off stage, obviously he had to go on for an encore. He just literally collared me, stuck a tambourine in my hand and said, ‘You're coming on now’. And again, I still looked like a tool!”

During his chat with Chris Bernie also recalled the first time he met Elton John, and recalled writing Your Song with him.

Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me is out now.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.