45 Years Ago: Elton John Shines Brightly at Dodger Stadium
In a career made up of legendary performances, Elton John’s 1975 concerts at Dodger Stadium stand out.
The shows, which took place Oct. 25 and 26, saw John at the height of fame. More than 100,000 fans packed the ballpark over two days to watch the flamboyant musician, his performances marking the first rock shows at the stadium since the Beatles nearly a decade earlier.
“You have to remember – in October 1975, no one was bigger than Elton John,” recalled photographer Terry O'Neill, likening the hype around John to that of Elvis Presley. “It is impossible to try to explain to people today what it was like – numerous No. 1 albums, touring nonstop, recording nonstop, media, press, television …he was everywhere.”
The circumstances surrounding the concerts make them even more impressive.
“Two days before Dodger Stadium I took an overdose of tablets and tried to dramatically kill myself,” John recalled in a 2019 interview. “After that, my stomach was pumped, and here I was on Dodger Stadium two days later. Because I have a very strong constitution, and the show must go on.”
Those in the crowd knew they were witnessing a moment of music history.
“I had never experienced fans so thrilled to be seeing a performer appear onstage,” recalled Robert Weedman, one of the fans in attendance. “Seeing those thousands of hands lift up high into the sky along with the roar of the crowd is something I will never forget.”
John, too, sensed something special about the shows.
“I know how to pull off a show because of all those years I spent in clubs backing Major Lance or playing with Bluesology playing to 20 people,” the singer explained in his autobiography Me. “I’ve got the experience, so my gigs are never really below a certain standard. But sometimes something else happens onstage. From the minute you start playing you just know you can do no wrong. It’s as if your hands are moving independently of your brain. You don’t even have to concentrate, you just feel as free as a bird. You can do anything you want. Those are the gigs you live for. And Dodger Stadium was like that on both days.”
As the 45th anniversary of the shows approaches, Iconic by Collectionzz has created a new limited edition poster to honor the occasion. Exclusively available via Collectionzz, the poster's artwork features John in his famous sequined Dodgers uniform.
“I wanted the poster to feel like it could've been used to promote the show in 1975,” artist Matt Ryan Tobin explains to UCR. The artist researched vintage baseball card designs to create the poster's distinctive look, fusing that influence with his subject’s distinct aesthetic. “There were bones there to work with that I took note of, but at the end of the day the card design needed to be elevated with that Elton style and flare.”
Keen observers may notice the reflection of a rocket ship in John’s glasses. The subtle addition was Tobin’s nod to John's classic hit “Rocket Man.” "I try to incorporate something subtle in all of my work that you might not see at first glance," he admits. "The baseball card composition needed just a little something more. A wink, if you will. Even the flashes of the cameras intentionally bleed into the sky with the stars. The entire feeling is cosmic in nature ... which was the direction that was always at the forefront of my mind.”