Some things are born out of planning, preparation and execution, while other things are born out of happy accident. Perhaps the greatest things are born when a happy accident occurs while executing another plan.
When Ron Camilleri put down his guitar one night to spontaneously try a shouted request from the crowd at his well-rehearsed, new band’s show, a brand new career emerged. The request was for an Elton John song and, after playing it, the crowd went wild. So they played another from John’s catalogue and then another. It wasn’t long before the foremost Elton John tribute act, Elton Rohn, was born.
The faithful tribute to the iconic composer and performer of hits like Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, The Bitch is Back, Your Song, and dozens more comes to the Georgian Theatre on Sept. 29.
“The next thing I know,” Camilleri said, “I’m playing the Sound of Music festival in Burlington as Elton Rohn and I’m fielding requests to play from all over, including Las Vegas.”
The Las Vegas show was especially important. It was for the Elton John Expo, an international convention for hardcore fans. While headlining there, Elton Rohn had the good fortune to play for members of Elton John’s longtime backing band, guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson, and earned a ringing endorsement too.
“Davey said, ‘you are probably the best 70s Elton in the world,’” says Camilleri. “That’s what they told us. They love us.”
After Vegas, as the show became more successful, Camilleri invested more time, effort, and money into the project. No stranger to the music business – he was Columbia Records Canada director during its most successful period in the 1990s and is now a successful composer for television – he knew from experience there was a way to build on the early success of the group.
Today, the show features high-definition video projections. Some shows feature a larger band and songs with a string section. The band plays hundreds of shows a year throughout North America.
“Every show is different,” explains Camilleri. “The first time in a market we usually go in as a five-piece (band) and that just rocks. Just Elton like used to do through the 70s.”
Camilleri has found that once he enters a market with the smaller show, there is almost always a request for something more next time. So, Elton Rohn returns with a bigger band, then a bigger show and so on.
“It becomes more finesse at that point.” he said. “It still rocks, but there is much more to it.”
Elton Rohn will come to Barrie this time with an eight-piece band and a production complete with costume and video projections. As for the exact setlist, Camilleri has a solution to the problem of paring down Elton’s career into a two-hours show.
“There are four hours of hits alone,” he exclaims, when asked how he picks material. “This is why we usually take requests.”
Audience members can email requests to the band’s website, eltonrohn.com. The band will go through the list and build the set from there. When asked what else the audience can expect, Camilleri doesn’t hesitate or mince words.
“We take you back to Elton at his peak,” he says, with confidence. “We hit the high notes and bring the energy of a classic Elton John concert.”
Elton Rohn plays the Georgian Theatre on Sept. 29. Tickets are available here.