Elton John Stresses the Need to Save Independent Music Venues like the Troubadour, a Crucial Stop in His Career


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Earlier this week saw the 50th anniversary of the day a young, hungry musician named Elton John took the stage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif. for what would prove to be a career-making performance.

Looking back on the show fills Elton (and those who were in attendance at the intimate concert hall) with warm memories, but the venue is among many in need of help in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the extended pause it put on the live music industry leaves spots like the Troubadour — one of the most beloved places to catch a concert in Los Angeles and a historic building that has hosted innumerable legends over the years — in jeopardy.

The BBC caught up with Sir Elton this week to discuss the 50th anniversary of his gig, and he took the opportunity to discuss the importance of venues like the Troubadour, and how much the music community needs them to exist:

“I’ve heard that it might be closing but I think it’s going to be OK,” he told music reporter Matt Everitt. “I made a few phone calls. There are a few irons in the fire,” said Elton regarding the Troubadour. 

As for the need to keep places like that in operation, Elton said:

“If venues like that disappear then it’s really grim stuff because they are so important for new people to go [to] and I’ve seen so many new acts there that have come from Britain.

“I saw Cat Stevens there when he did his first show in America. It’s a great launch pad. It’s a great room, it has atmosphere, it has everything going for it. If you can’t play well at the Troubadour, you can’t play well anywhere.”

The National Independent Venue Association was formed in recent months in response to the harsh realities of the pandemic and the lack of activity the Troubadour and other venues have received — and fundraising is underway to help them:

In early June, NIVA shared an update regarding its communal efforts to save the independent music industry, and things sounded rather dire:

Per a poll of venues involved in NIVA, 90% percent say they will have no choice but to shutter permanently  “in a few months without federal funding,” noting that PPP funding is not sufficient for what the venues would need to continue operations should the shutdown six months or longer.

Hopefully that turns around, and hopefully the words of Elton John strike a chord with those who can actually make a difference — whether financially, legislatively or otherwise — to ensure the continued existence of these venues.


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