Sir Elton John will celebrate his birthday in grand (piano) style when he and his band perform their greatest hits in Philadelphia for one very special night, March 25, 2011. John will turn 64 while performing at the city’s Wells Fargo Center. The show is sold out. There are approximately 20,000 seats.
Elton John has been a longtime Philadelphia fan favorite. He wrote a song about it: “Philadelphia Freedom,” dedicated in part to the sound of Philadelphia, especially the music of the Delfonics, producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and the Spinners and that group’s producer, Thom Bell. It was originally commissioned by tennis great Billie Jean King for her tennis team “The Philadelphia Freedoms.” It always gets a rousing reception when he plays it live to a Philly crowd, and he will no doubt play it.
In 2005 on the Fourth of July, Elton John was in the town where independence was founded, in front of Independence Hall to receive an award. For his work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the City of Philadelphia presented Elton John with the City of Brotherly Love Humanitarian Award.
Following that appearance, the Philadelphia Freedom Ball was held at 5:30 p.m. before a free Elton John concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Tickets were expected to raise 1 to 2 million dollars for Elton’s AIDS Foundation. Half of the money stayed in Philadelphia where there are about 30,000 people with HIV. In fact, Elton stopped by the Williams Way Center, an AIDS clinic at 13th and Spruce after he received the Award to meet some people there. The city named part of the street there “Elton’s Way”.
Hundreds of thousands of people line up along the Parkway every year for the 4th of July free concert and fireworks, and they were there to see Elton John in 2005.
The Elton John/Billy Joel concerts have always been a highlight in Philadelphia. They played three shows at the Vet, six shows at Wells Fargo Center and two shows at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
In addition, Elton John played at the Spectrum on these dates:
April 7, 1970 & 1971
April 10, 1973
Sept. 30, 1972 w/Family
Sept. 28, 1973 w/Sutherland Brothers/Quiver
Dec. 2, 3, 1974 w/Kiki Dee
July 6, 8, 1976
Oct. 20, 1984
Sept. 2 & 8 1986
Oct. 4, 5, 1988
Sept. 30 – Oct 1, l989
Sept. 22, 23, l992
April 10, l993
The concert in Philadelphia is the second date on a worldwide tour that goes as far away as New Zealand in November. In other news, Elton John will host Saturday Night Live on April 2, 2011. Musical guest will be Leon Russell, John’s collaborator on his/their latest record release.