Elton John, Bob Dylan and a terrible game of  charades: “he was so hopeless”

Elton John, Bob Dylan and a terrible game of charades

When you read the memoirs of an artist like Elton John, you can expect some pretty crazy stories. Anyone who knows anything about John knows the flamboyant rock star has had a lot of ups and downs in his turbulent life. Some of these stories are funny, and some are awfully sad, but there’s one thing you know for sure: John is going to tell it to you straight.

Take, for example, John’s multiple run-ins with fellow rock icon Bob Dylan. It’s hard to think of two artists more different from each other than John and Dylan: one is an outgoing glam rock legend who inspired the wild opulence of Rocketman, and the other is a reputedly reserved folk troubadour. It seems almost obvious that the two would have strange encounters, and it’s fitting that the two crossed paths in the drug-heavy haze of the 1980s.

“In the late 80s I threw a crazy party in LA and invited everyone I knew,” John wrote. “In the middle of the evening, I was flying, completely crazy, when a scruffy guy I didn’t know ventured into the illuminated garden”. John initially assumed the disheveled individual was a worker.

“Who the hell was he? Must be one of the staff, a gardener. I demanded out loud to know what the gardener was doing as he poured himself a drink,” John continued. “There was a moment of shocked silence, interrupted by my PA saying, ‘Elton, that’s not the gardener. It’s Bob Dylan.'”

“Coke out of my brain and wanting to make amends, I rushed over, grabbed him and started to steer him home,” John said. “‘Bob! Bob! We can’t get you in those horrible clothes, honey. Come upstairs, and I’ll outfit you right away with some of mine. Come on honey!'”

Already off on the wrong foot, John could sense that Dylan was “horrified” at the thought of getting a makeover from Elton John. “His expression suggested he was trying hard to think of something he wanted to do less than dress like Elton John and blank out,” John added.

You would have thought Dylan would have run for the hills after this experience, but when John offered another party invitation, Dylan accepted. “Another time I invited Dylan to dinner with Simon and Garfunkel, and afterwards we played charades,” John wrote. This experience went just as well as the first one.

“He couldn’t understand the ‘How many syllables?’ thing at all. He also couldn’t make “sounds like,” come to think of it,” John wrote. “One of the best lyricists in the world, the greatest man of letters in the history of rock music, and he couldn’t tell you if a word had one syllable or two syllables or what it rhymed with! He was so desperate that I started throwing oranges at him. Or so I was informed the next morning by a friend.

While you’re entertained by the mental image of Elton John bombarding Bob Dylan with oranges, here’s John talking to Howard Stern about the night of the charades.