Elton John flew into Detroit aboard his own private Boeing 720 nicknamed “The Starship” and emblazoned with “Elton John Band Tour 1974” along the fuselage and featuring a custom-designed (bedroom, fake fireplace, 30-foot brass-trimmed bar with electric organ included, etc.) on December 13, 1974.
At the time he reigned as the biggest name in music. Elton’s popularity in the US was staggering; he was in the midst of a flurry of #1 albums and hit singles. During most weeks of the tour, Elton had two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and three albums on the Top 200. Caribou and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road remained throughout; Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player was replaced by Elton John’s Greatest Hits (all four were #1 albums).
Elton was booked for the the Olympia. He was booked for two nights. Both sold out within five hours, back in a time when you had to stand in line to purchase tickets. A third show was added and it sold out quickly too.
Feathered, sequined, or wired with multicoloured electric orbs, Elton performed all his latest hits, did handstands, tossed aside his piano bench and electrified his audiences.
While in Detroit, Elton John met with student journalists at the Shiawassee Hotel in Southfield. He also took time to serve as a visiting disk jockey at local Detroit and Windsor radio stations in the middle of the night, reading news, spinning songs, and fielding questions from schoolkids.
Life was good.
Tom Stanton, “Detroit helped Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets’ take off”, Detroit Free Press, December 19, 2021.