Contact Us

10 Years Ago: Elton John Begins Las Vegas Residency

Elton John
Chris Farina, Getty Images

If there was ever a rock artist born to play Vegas, it’s Elton John. On Feb. 13, 2004, he began a long-term residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with five-nights-a-week performances for adoring fans, vacationing tourists, and high rollers who dropped a couple hundred thou at the poker tables for the privilege of seeing the Rocket Man up close and personal.

The modern Vegas show has evolved into a true theatrical event; look no further than the Cirque du Soleil Beatles celebration ‘Love’ or the intimate and improvisational Garth Brooks run for examples. John’s Vegas productions helped set the template for multiplatinum artist residencies on the Vegas Strip, with a level of production values far beyond just John and his seasoned touring band playing through his hits.

For his first Vegas show, ‘The Red Piano,’ John teamed with director David LaChapelle to develop a full production that incorporated videos playing on a massive screen–120 feet wide, 40 feet high–behind the band. For ‘The Bitch Is Back,’ Pamela Anderson performed a pole dance; a clip for ‘Rocket Man’ starred Justin Timberlake as a young Elton John, relating the song’s otherworldly lyrics to John’s own stratospheric launch into superstardom in the ’70s. ‘The Red Piano’ show also toured Europe and was made into a concert film for home video; in Vegas alone, it’s believed to have grossed more than $160 million dollars.

“I wanted to do a production that really reflected my tastes in art and photography,” John says. “It was a chance to be reflective about my career, not in a sentimental way but a fun way…It’s one of the biggest stages in the world, so if you don’t fill it up, you’re in trouble.”

In September 2011, John began his second Vegas show, ‘The Million Dollar Piano,’ this time building more variety into the set list by featuring some deep album cuts and a duet interlude featuring his voice and piano along with percussioninst Ray Cooper. The show’s production centerpiece is just as the title suggests, a Yamaha grand piano tricked out with 68 LED screens that play images as John plays the hits. In addition to Cooper, John has enlisted a Croatian cellist duo known as 2Cellos to accompany the band. They’ve also been known to open some of John’s live concerts with their cellos-only cover of AC/DC‘s ‘Highway to Hell.’

Today, artists as varied as Rod Stewart, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain have mounted their own long-term Vegas residencies, often departing for months at a time before returning for extended engagements. John remains one of the long-term denizens of the strip; with two productions under his belt and dates throughout 2014, the Rocket Man seems totally comfortable in Sin City.

Next: Top 10 Elton John Songs

Best of I-95

Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for I-95 Road Crew quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive I-95 Road Crew contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.