Climb to Fame
Tumbleweed Connection And More Touring
In August 1970, Elton's third album, Tumbleweed Connection, was released. This album celebrated Bernie's deep love for the Old West. As a child, he was hooked on tales of Billy the Kid and the Oregon Trail. The mood of the album was folkie and down-home, with references to trains, riverboats, preachers, and cornfields. Song titles on the album included “My Father's Gun,” “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun,” and the infamous “Burn Down the Mission” from his passionate performance at the Troubadour only a few months before. Within just a few weeks, the album reached an amazing number five on the Billboard magazine charts.
After a short break, Elton went back on the road to make more American fans. Pictures started popping up from America of Elton on tour in strange outfits and dramatic stage costumes. One photo in Rolling Stone magazine was taken by a young photographer named Annie Liebowitz—a woman who is now famous for her work. In this picture, Elton is onstage dressed in red underwear, with socks pulled up to his knees and a pair of boots. His mouth is wide open and his fists are clenched. Elton knew that America demanded spectacular stars, and since he did not look like a star, he would make up for it by acting and dressing like one. He decided he would be fantastic and eccentric—pure star qualities.
Elton's offstage personality, however, was just as down-to-earth and quiet as ever. He still lived with his mother in Frome Court. Many interviewers also commented on how strange it was to watch his lively concerts and then go backstage to interview him and find the vivacious performer gone. In front of them sat a quiet, shy young man.
Elton was so shy that he even had trouble approaching other performers. One night while playing at the Fillmore East in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Elton went to Bernie backstage and very quietly told him to follow him. Bernie thought it was something serious so he stopped working and followed Elton through the maze of people backstage. When they stopped, Elton introduced Bernie to Bob Dylan, an idol of both of theirs. Elton looked at Bernie after introducing him to Bob Dylan and just beamed.