Maxine Taupin has 'always known' Tiny Dancer was written about her
I always knew I was the ‘seamstress for the band’: Maxine Taupin reveals moment she realized Tiny Dancer was written about her as she prepares to auction off handwritten lyrics to Elton John songs penned by ex-husband Bernie
- Maxine recalled the moment Elton John sung the now iconic lyrics ‘Blue jean baby / L.A lady’ at London’s Trident Studios in 1971
- Instantly, she said she knew the song was about her and described the moment as one that would be impossible for her to ever forget
- Maxine recounted being at Château d’Hérouville in northwestern France while Taupin and John were working on the album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ in 1973
- On Monday, 67-year-old Maxine will be auctioning off a series of handwritten lyrics of some of Taupin and John’s most iconic tracks, expected to fetch $1.7M
- Lyrics of Candle in the Wind first draft is valued at $258,000
Maxine Taupin has revealed she always knew she was the muse behind Elton John’s famous ode ‘Tiny Dancer’, written by her ex-husband Bernie Taupin, as she prepares to auction off handwritten lyrics of the piano virtuoso’s classic songs.
Speaking to the NY Post, Maxine recalled the moment Elton John sung the now iconic lyrics ‘Blue jean baby / L.A lady’ at London’s Trident Studios in 1971, for the very first time – a moment she said would be impossible to forget.
‘I knew it was about me,’ Maxine said. ‘I had been into ballet as a little girl and sewed patches on Elton’s jackets and jeans,’ – which are two references in the song.
‘I had goosebumps,’ she continued. ‘Elton was on one side of me and Bernie was on the other. That song was like having your really good friends give you the best gift you could ever receive.
Bernie Taupin (left) on his wedding day to his first wife Maxine Feibelman in March 1971. She divorced him in 1976 and somehow managed to hold on to some of his early hand-written lyrics
On Monday, 67-year-old Maxine will be auctioning off a series of handwritten lyrics of some of Taupin and John’s most iconic tracks, including the first draft of the hit Candle in the Wind, a version of which was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Bennie and the Jets
The highly anticipated LA auction, tipped to make Maxing in excess of $1.7 million, also includes the original lyrics for Your Song, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting and The Border Song.
Maxine recounted being at Château d’Hérouville in northwestern France while Taupin and John were working on the album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ in 1973.
‘Bernie would be up in our bedroom, writing lyrics. When finished, he would show them to me. Next morning, he’d walk downstairs to the dining room to see Elton for breakfast. There was a piano there and that is where Elton composed the music,’ Maxine told the post.
‘Then Elton would give the lyrics back to Bernie and I would put them into folders for safe keeping. Over the years, I [started keeping] them in a temperature-controlled vault.’
But it was just her husband who helped pen lyrics for John, with Maxine herself credited with coming up with one of the pair’s most memorable song titles, 1974’s ‘The Bitch is Back’.
‘Elton had just come back from one of his tours. He was talking about how tired he was and about how difficult the long hours on stage had been,’ she remembered. ‘In the midst of all that, I rolled my eyes and said, “Oh, the bitch is back.”
‘We all started laughing and Bernie thought it would make a great song title.’
British songwriter Bernie Taupin (right) with Sir Elton John. Taupin was a longtime collaborator with the legendary pop star and is responsible for the lyrics of many of Sir Elton’s classic hits
Sir Elton’s album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is described as having come at the peak of his popularity. The song’s original lyrics are expected to sell for around $260,000 – one of the most valuable set of lyrics in Ms Taupin’s collection
Songwriter Bernie Taupin attends an event with his then-wife at an event in 1973 – three years later the couple had gone their separate ways
The Bitch is Back went on to break into the top-10 of the US charts and garnered gold-record status.
Ms Taupin – told Rolling Stone she could not remember how she wound up with the valuable lyrics after her divorce.
‘You don’t just normally sit in a room and divide things up, but it might have happened like that,’ she said. ‘I don’t really remember the moment. But some of them were framed on a wall in my home and other ones were in a bank vault, perfectly preserved.’
Ms Taupin said she was always amazed by how ‘prolific’ her ex-husband’s lyrics were.
‘When I heard the finished songs, I was instantly transported to that magical place these two creative forces have been taking us all to for so many years,’ she said in the Rolling Stone interview.
Born in 1952, her romance, and marriage at 19, to the songwriter and their subsequent break-up was a key inspiration behind many of the songs the singer-songwriter duo produced.
Sir Elton’s 1971 hit Tiny Dancer was one of those songs. It referred to her as the ‘seamstress’ in the band – a reference perhaps to her sewing patches onto his denim clothes.
She told Rolling Stone she had not spoken to her ex-husband in many years and she last saw Sir Elton in concert when he played at Radio City Music Hall in 2004.
However, Ms Taupin, who has kept a low profile in the years since her split from the British songwriter, has decided that in the wake of the success of the biopic Rocketman, the time is right to cash in on the lyrics.
Reviewers noted the irony that the inspiration for Taupin and John’s Tiny Dancer was played by statuesque model and actress Sharmina Harrower (pictured above with Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell as Bernie) in the hit movie Rocketman
The handwritten lyrics to Candle in the Wind is one of the most valuable set of lyrics in the collection being put up for auction. It shows how it was written as a tribute for actress Marilyn Monroe who died in 1962
Sir Elton John sings a rewritten version of his song ‘Candle in the Wind’ as a tribute to Diana Princess of Wales at her funeral held in London’s Westminster Abbey on September 6 1997
The film tells the tale of Sir Elton’s breakthrough years. Despite being a significant feature during that time, Ms Taupin is only mentioned in passing in the biopic.
The biopic also touches on the professional relationship that has over 50 years transformed into a solid friendship between Sir Elton and his longtime songwriter.
Australian actress and model Sharmina Harrower played Maxine Feibelman in the movie and reviewers commented that her height made her more tall dancer than tiny.
And while music is no longer Taupin’s day job – the father-of-two currently lives and works as an artist on a 30-acre ranch near Santa Barbara – his longtime friendship with the British legend remains very much alive.
‘I think we just found a bond of brotherhood and camaraderie that it was me and him against the world,’ Mr Taupin told CBS News in 2018.
The two first met back in 1967 when they both replied to an advertisement looking for songwriters. They soon discovered their strengths and weaknesses were a perfect match.
As Mr Taupin told Time writer, Andrew Chow, Sir Elton could not write lyrics, he could not write melodies – but together they could make songs. When Sir Elton was given a pile of Mr Taupin’s poems he was drawn to their lyricism and began cutting demos from them.
After meeting, they entered into what Mr Taupin described as a ‘non-sexual love affair’ – a complex relationship that had its ebbs and lows but out of which they always came out stronger.
With the release of Rocketman, the film of Sir Elton John’s breakthrough years, the ex-wife of his long-time songwriter has decided to try make money off some of his original lyrics
The melody for this song, the duo’s first monster hit, reportedly only took about ten minutes for Sir Elton to create
In fact, it was Taupin who helped pick Sir Elton off the ground when the pianist contemplated suicide in 1968, a few years before he found international fame.
That memory would become the inspiration for Someone Saved My Life Tonight, which went to number one in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975.
‘I wrote it from his point of view,’ Taupin explained. ‘A comical incident of him being depressed and attempting – a very feeble attempt I might add – of suicide.’
He’d found Sir Elton on the floor, with the ovens on, but the windows open. ‘I go, “What are you doing? Get off the floor”.
‘But it was a serious cry for help, so it made a good ingredient for the song.’
Two years later – armed with a stronger friendship and a way of working that has Mr Taupin create the lyrics first, before sending them to Sir Elton to create the melody -the duo broke through the music industry ceiling.
It was the start of what would be a five-decade strong career and more than 30 gold and platinum albums.
One of these is Candle in the Wind – the original lyrics of which have been put up for auction by Ms Taupin.
The handwritten lyrics show how the Marilyn Monroe-inspired song was initially written as a tribute for the actress, with Mr Taupin’s first opening line: ‘Goodbye Marilyn Monroe’.
He then crossed out ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and replaced it with her real name, ‘Norma Jean’, in the 1973 ballad paying tribute to the Hollywood star.
The page is headed ‘Marilyn Monroe’, suggesting Sir Elton and Mr Taupin had not yet come up with the final song title.
It is valued at $260,000 alone.
The lyrics for Bennie and the Jets (1973) which includes a second stanza that didn’t make it into the final version is expected to go for around $150,000
Maxine Taupin is pictured (right) with another woman, Marci Miller, at the Hip Hollywood Homes Book launch in the United States in 2006. Ms Taupin has kept a relatively low profile over the years with little known of her life since she separated from her former husband Bernie Taupin
Mr Taupin once said of the song: ‘It was just a metaphor for fame and dying young. The song could have easily have been about Montgomery Clift or James Dean or even Jim Morrison.
‘But it seemed that she had a sympathetic bent to her, so I used her.’
The lyrics were later altered following Princess Diana’s death in 1997, with the opening line changed to ‘Goodbye England’s Rose’.
Giles Moon, director of music and entertainment memorabilia at auctioneers Bonhams, said: ‘We are so excited to offer not just one, but six original, handwritten lyrics for some of Sir Elton John’s iconic songs.
‘The lyrics reveals Mr Taupin’s careful wordcraft and his famously inconsistent spelling.
‘In terms of the value of each lot, it depends on how commercially successful the songs were, so the more popular they were, the more collectible they have become.
‘His album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is seen as the peak of his popularity.
‘Maxine is selling them now because this is a good year for all things Sir Elton, with both the movie and his autobiography coming out.’
The handwritten lyrics for the 1973 hit Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road are also expected to fetch $260,000, with the pre-sale estimate for Your Song (1970) given as $275,000.
Sir Elton is said to have taken just 10 minutes to come up with the melody of the love song which would become his first ‘monster hit’.
The lyrics for Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (1973) – depicted on the left – are expected to fetch $210,000, with those for The Border Song (1970) valued at $52,000
The inspiration for the song, as depicted in Rocketman, sees Mr Taupin give Sir Elton (played by Taron Egerton) some lyrics as he goes up to brush his teeth.
By the time he comes down the stairs the melody was born – paving their way to becoming musical legends in the United States.
The lyrics for Bennie and the Jets (1973), which includes a second stanza that didn’t make it into the final song, are tipped to sell for $150,000.
The lyrics for Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (1973) are expected to fetch $210,000, with those for The Border Song (1970) valued at $52,000.
The sale is being conducted by auction house Bonhams Los Angeles.
The album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
The sale takes place on December 9 in Los Angeles.
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