Tag Archives: music history

“Candle in the Wind”
1973 & 1997

Marilyn Monroe in a troubled, far-away moment, captured by Richard Avedon, NY, May 1957.
Marilyn Monroe in a troubled, far-away moment, captured by Richard Avedon, NY, May 1957.
      “Candle in the Wind” is a name of a song performed by Elton John and written by he and collaborator Bernie Taupin in 1972. 

The song was originally written as a tribute to Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe who died at the age of 36 in August 1962. 

Taupin had been inspired by the phrase “candle in the wind” when he heard someone use it to describe Janis Joplin, the blues-rock singer who died of a heroin overdose in 1970.

In Monroe’s case, too, the phrase was especially appropriate, given her tumultuous life and untimely death. The song’s opening line, “Goodbye Norma Jean” refers Monroe’s real first name, and the lyrics chronicle her troubled life as a film star and international celebrity. 

John and Taupin’s “Candle in the Wind” aptly captures some of the tragedy and mystique that was Marilyn Monroe, and the long-standing public fascination with her life.

But as Taupin would later remark, the song is about “the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison ….how we glamorize death, how we immortalize people.”

Elton John's 1973 album, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,' included 'Candle in the Wind'.
Elton John's 1973 album, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,' included 'Candle in the Wind'.
     “Candle in the Wind” was first released on Elton John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and also appeared on later albums.  A single version of the song reached No. 11 on the U.K. charts in 1974.  It wasn’t released as a single in the U.S. until 1987, when a live version from Elton’s Live In Australia album charted.


Music Player
“Candle in The Wind”


In 1990, the song rose to prominence again when John rededicated it to AIDS victim Ryan White, performing it in his honor at the Farm Aid 4 concert and at White’s funeral.  But in 1997, following the death of Princess Diana, John did a remake of “Candle in the Wind” as a tribute to Diana, a personal friend.  This version of the song, with new lyrics, was released as a single and sold wildly throughout the world, peaking at number one in almost every country where it was sold. That part of the story continues below the lyrics and photographs that follow.


“Candle in the Wind”
Original Version
1973

Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you died
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude
Goodbye Norma Jean
From the young man in the 22nd row
Who sees you as something more than sexual
More than just our Marilyn Monroe


April 1952: Monroe on cover of Life. Click for copy.
April 1952: Monroe on cover of Life. Click for copy.

Candle in the Wind, single cover, 1974. Click for digital.
Candle in the Wind, single cover, 1974. Click for digital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess Diana Version

After Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, France on August 31, 1997, Elton John, who had been a very close friend of Diana’s and the Royal Family, went into a period of shock and mourning. Only a month prior to Diana’s death, John had been rocked by the passing of another friend, Italian designer Gianni Versace, a funeral which he and Diana attended in Milan on July 22nd.

Princess Diana & John at Gianni Versace's funeral, July 1997.
Princess Diana & John at Gianni Versace's funeral, July 1997.

Elton John and Princess Diana had been friends since 1981. He had performed at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle and received a thank-you letter from 19-year-old Diana Spencer, then engaged to Prince Charles. Prior to his friendship with Diana, John had been a friend of the Royal Family since the late 1970s. He had accompanied Princess Margaret to arts events, participated in Prince Charles’s annual concerts for youth charities, and had been a frequent performer at private royal events. He was also a friend of Sarah Ferguson, and he and former wife Renate were seated in the front row for the wedding of Ferguson and Prince Andrew. At Diana’s death, John was asked by the family to sing at Diana’s funeral and decided to write a tribute for his former friend. After meeting with his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, they found it would not be possible to write a new song in the time available and decided instead to rewrite the former 1973 “Candle in The Wind” song with new lyrics for Diana. George Martin, the music producer who had long been affiliated with Beatles, was also contacted to help produce the song. In production, a string quartet and woodwinds were added to the recording. This version was titled “Candle in the Wind 1997,” and was later released as a single with two other songs “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” and “You Can Make History (Young Again).”


“Candle in the Wind”
Princess Diana Version, 1997

Goodbye England’s Rose
May you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
And you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
And the stars spell out your name.
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind:
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
Along England’s greenest hills;
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will.
Loveliness we’ve lost;
These empty days without your smile.
This torch we’ll always carry
For our nation’s golden child.
And even though we try,
The truth brings us to tears;
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years.
Goodbye England’s Rose,
From a country lost without your soul,
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know.

'Candle in the Wind,' Princess Diana version, 1997.
'Candle in the Wind,' Princess Diana version, 1997.

Elton John & Princess Diana in happier times.
Elton John & Princess Diana in happier times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Giant Best-Seller

“Candle in the Wind 1997” carried the label of Elton John’s Rocket Records and was distributed by Hollywood-based A&M Records, a unit of PolyGram. Before the CD shipped, there were reportedly orders for more than 12 million copies in the U. S. alone. By late September 1997, the song took the American pop charts by storm, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1, smashing the existing record for first-week sales with nearly 3.5 million copies sold over six days from its September 22nd release.At its peak worldwide, the Diana version of “Candle in the Wind” was selling at an estimated rate of nearly six copies per second. The previous first-week sales record of 632,000 had been set in late December 1992 by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” All in all, “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold over 11 million copies in the U.S. In the U.K. sales also soared. In its first week the song sold 658,000 in one day, and over 1.5 million copies for the first week. The single would remain at No. 1 in the U.K. for five weeks and eventually sold 4.86 million copies there, becoming the best-selling single of all time in the UK. In Canada, it spent 45 weeks at the top spot and three years in the top 20. Worldwide, it is estimated that the single sold more than 35 million copies. At the peak of its sales, worldwide, it was estimated that nearly six copies were sold every second.

John performing 'Candle' at Diana’s funeral.
John performing 'Candle' at Diana’s funeral.
"The Mirror" newspaper of Sept 13, 1997 giving a boost to  "Candle 1997."
"The Mirror" newspaper of Sept 13, 1997 giving a boost to "Candle 1997."

      As of 2006, “Candle in the Wind, 1997” was ranked as the world’s best-selling CD single in history. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” was still ranked as the world’s best selling vinyl single.

All artist and composer royalties and record company profits from “Candle in the Wind 1997” were donated to “The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.” Many music store retailers, however, did profit on their share of the song’s sales.

Elton John sang “Candle In The Wind 1997” in public, for the first and only time at Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey on September 6th, 1997. 

John has repeatedly turned down requests to perform the song live and it has never been released on any of his albums. However, he has stated he will perform the song again if requested by Diana’s sons, which to date has not occurred. At concerts, John performs the original 1973 version.


Memorial Fund

By September 1999, income to “The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund” was estimated at $150 million, much of it from royalties generated by sales of “Candle in the Wind 1997.” 

Since then the Fund has continued to further humanitarian causes advocated by Diana with its grants, also helping improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world with grants and other assistance. It has also championed additional causes by lending the Fund’s name to other important efforts. More information on the Fund can be found below in “Sources, Links & Additional Information.”

For additional stories at this website on the lives and careers of interesting women, see “Noteworthy Ladies.” For more detail on Elton John, see “Elton John’s Decade: 1970s(w/Bernie)”. For stories on the history of music, with profiles of artists, song histories, the use of music in film and advertising, and other topics, see the “Annals of Music” category page. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle
 

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Date Posted: 26 April 2008
Last Update: 1 June 2019
Comments to:
jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Candle in the Wind, 1973 & 1997,”
PopHistoryDig.com, April 26, 2008.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

Princess Diana, "cover girl," People magazine, Sept 15, 1997.
Princess Diana, "cover girl," People magazine, Sept 15, 1997.
Candle in the Wind” and “Elton John,” Wikipedia.org.

Richard Harrington, “Elton John: Diana’s Song,” Washington Post, Friday, September 5, 1997; Page D-2.

Bill Carter, “Elton John’s Revised ‘Candle,’ For a Princess and Charity,” New York Times, September 9, 1997.

Reuter, “Elton John’s Diana Tribute Ignites U.S. Charts,” October 1, 1997.

Jon Pareles, “October 19-25; Roll Over, Bing Crosby,” New York Times, October 26, 1997.

Warren Hoge, “London Journal; Two Years On, Diana Is the ‘Forgotten’ Princess,” New York Times, September 1, 1999.

“Candle in the Wind 1997,” Wikipedia.org

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
 
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“The Sinatra Riots”
1942-1944

1940s: A  young Frank Sinatra in a CBS studio.
1940s: A young Frank Sinatra in a CBS studio.
      The screaming, adoring fans seen on the Ed Sullivan television show when Elvis Presley performed there in the 1950s, or when The Beatles appeared on the same show in 1964, weren’t the first such displays of fan hysteria for music stars.

In the early 1940s, as radio and recordings were making singers more broadly popular, it became clear they could also draw huge, adoring crowds to their live performances.  And one of the first modern “teen idols” to do just that was a young singer from Hoboken, New Jersey named Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra had begun to make his mark on the music world in 1939 with big band leader Harry James, and then in 1940-42 with Tommy Dorsey.  In July 1940, he had his first No. 1 hit with “I’ll Never Smile Again.” 

By 1942, as Sinatra’s music was broadcast on the live radio show, Your Hit Parade, sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, the young singer began attracting the attention of teenage girls. The “Bobbysoxers,” as they were called for their rolled-to-the-ankle white socks, were soon swooning in the aisles for young “Frankie.”

New York fans mob Sinatra, 1943.
New York fans mob Sinatra, 1943.
     In fact,  Sinatra’s vast appeal to this group revealed a whole new demographic for popular music and for marketing.  Sponsors had yet to recognize the vast economic buying power of teenagers and young adults, and had traditionally aimed their programming and sponsorship at the 30-to-50-year-olds.  But that soon changed.

 

At The Paramount

     On December 30,1942, when Sinatra played his first solo concert at New York city’s Paramount Theater near Times Square, the Bobbysoxers came out in droves.  After being introduced by Jack Benny, Sinatra walked on stage to loud and continuous shrieks and screams.  “The sound that greeted me,” he later recalled, “was absolutely deafening.  It was a tremendous roar.  Five thousand kids, stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding.  I was scared stiff.  I couldn’t move a muscle. [Band leader] Benny Goodman froze, too.  He was so scared he turned around, looked at the audience and said, ‘What the hell is that?’ I burst out laughing.”  The kids screamed in delight; some even fainted.  They also crowded the back stage door after the show shrieking for his autograph, and spilled over into Times Square, snarling traffic.  Sinatra by then had become a recording sensation. He was so popular at the Paramount, that his engagement there was extended to February 1943.  He played the Paramount for nearly four solid weeks, first with Goodman and then an orchestra led by Johnny Long“Not since the days of . . . Valentino has American womanhood made  such unabashed public love to an entertainer.”   –Time, 1943.   But Sinatra’s drawing power was real, and so was his talent.  Between 1940 and early 1943 he had 23 top ten singles on the new Billboard music chart.  And all through those years, back at Paramount and other venues, the kids continued screaming and swooning for Sinatra.

     “In various manifestations, this sort of thing has been going on all over America the last few months,” wrote one Time reporter who had observed Sinatra’s screaming kids at a July 1943 Paramount performance.  “Not since the days of Rudolph Valentino has American womanhood made such unabashed public love to an entertainer.”  Fans had not swooned or screamed over other singers, such as Bing Crosby.  So what was it with Sinatra?  Something else was going on, the critics surmised.  Although his singing was certainly a factor, some charged it was also Sinatra’s look; his seeming innocence, frailty, and vulnerability that evoked the passions of female fans.  Newsweek magazine then viewed the Bobbysoxer phenomenon as a kind of madness; a mass sexual delirium.  Some even called the girls immoral or juvenile delinquents.  But most simply saw them as young girls letting their emotions fly.  Still, Sinatra fan clubs were cropping up all over America, and not just among teenagers; 40 year-old women were enlisting too.

New York Times story of August 3,1943 on Sinatra appearance with the New York Philarmonic for a night of pop singing at Lewisohn Stadium at City College.
New York Times story of August 3,1943 on Sinatra appearance with the New York Philarmonic for a night of pop singing at Lewisohn Stadium at City College.
      In early August 1943, Sinatra played in New York city at City College with the New York Philharmonic, where a contingent of his fans showed up adding their boisterous approval.  In California, the announcement of Sinatra’s slated appearance for a mid- August 1943 show at the Hollywood Bowl “had thrown Los Angeles high-brow music lovers into a self-righteous williwaw,” reported one account in Time magazine.  When Sinatra arrived by train at the Pasadena station, his fans went “into a squealing ecstasy,” according to Time magazine.  But Sinatra’s symphonic debut at the Bowl was relatively calm.  “As he led into ‘Dancing in the Dark,’only a self-conscious handful of female fans whinnied ‘Oh Frankie!’,”reported Time.  “Halfheartedly, the press photographers posed a couple of shots of Hollywood babes ‘rushing’ an accommodating cop or two.”  Sinatra had drawn the biggest Hollywood Bowl crowd of that season, fattening the gate and no doubt pleasing his hosts.  Sinatra also appeared elsewhere across the country that year on a national tour, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he appeared in December 1943 with Philadelphia band leader, Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters.

Frank Sinatra being greeted by fans at Pasadena, CA train station, August 1943.
Frank Sinatra being greeted by fans at Pasadena, CA train station, August 1943.
      In October 1944, when Sinatra returned to New York city’s Paramount Theater –and by then he had also appeared in the films, Step Lively and Higher and Higher — some 30,000 to 35,000 fans, mostly female teens, caused a giant commotion outside the theater. 

Dubbed “The Columbus Day Riot,” the police were called in to diffuse the situation. Part of the problem had to do with fans who refused to leave the theater after having seen one complete show. Repeat performances were then being scheduled in tight rotation, running nearly all day and into the night. 

In theaters with a capacity for 3,000 to 3,500 fans, sometimes as few as 250 would leave at the show’s end. Some were known to sit through dozens of performances to the point of becoming faint, remaining in their seats for six or eight hours without food and refusing to leave until forcibly removed by attendants.

Frank Sinatra fans waiting on line, Pittsburgh, PA, December 11th, 1943.
Frank Sinatra fans waiting on line, Pittsburgh, PA, December 11th, 1943.
      Sinatra, meanwhile, was becoming a rich young man. Between October 1942, and mid-1943, he made an estimated $100,000 from radio, film, and personal appearances — a huge amount of money in those days. His adoring teen audience would prove to be something of a guaranteed market in the years ahead; an audience that would literally grow up with him, being roughly of the same age. They would follow his music and career as he aged, thus assuring Sinatra and his sponsors a continuing future audience. 

“[H]e is smart enough to know,” wrote Time magazine about his fan base in July 1943, “that if he is lucky they will be his adult public ten years from now, [and] will buy the cereals, cigarettes, radios, cars which he hopes to sell.”

     In the fall of 1944, Sinatra’s fame brought him into his first round of “up-close-and-personal” politics, meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in September. Sinatra publicly supported the president’s re-election bid that October.

In New York city, Sinatra’s young fans came out in some numbers to hear a late October speech he made on behalf of Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall. Sinatra also campaigned for Roosevelt in November 1944. 

Frank Sinatra by then had also entered the business world, setting up a music publishing business. But out on the concert circuit, and in the sale of his recordings, Sinatra’s singing continued to enthrall millions of teenagers and young adults.

Frank Sinatra giant marquee at New York's Paramount Theater, October 1944. (photo - Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
Frank Sinatra giant marquee at New York's Paramount Theater, October 1944. (photo - Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
      In January 1945, the New York correspondent for the London-based Guardian newspaper filed this report on Sinatra for readers back home:

“. . . The United States is now in the midst of one of those remarkable phenomena of mass hysteria which occur from time to time on this side of the Atlantic. Mr. Frank Sinatra, an amiable young singer of popular songs, is inspiring extraordinary personal devotion on the part of many thousands of young people, and particularly young girls between the ages of, say, twelve and eighteen.

The adulation bestowed upon him is similar to that lavished upon Colonel Lindbergh fifteen years ago, Rudolph Valentino a few years earlier, or Admiral Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay, at the turn of the century.Mr. Sinatra has to be guarded by police whenever he appears in public. Indeed, during the late political campaign he broke up a demonstration for Governor Dewey, the Republican candidate, merely by presenting himself on the sidelines as a spectator. . . .

Frank Sinatra, 1943 Life magazine photo.
Frank Sinatra, 1943 Life magazine photo.

. . .It is reasonable to suppose that his popularity with young people was at first a fiction invented by his press agent; it is not uncommon for myths of this sort to be set going by those enterprising gentlemen, and young people have even been hired to riot on a small scale in a music-hall or cinema to demonstrate the popularity of a performer. There is no doubt, however, that the matter has now become a genuine phenomenon . . .”

By 1946 Frank Sinatra’s recording company, Columbia, estimated that he was selling 10 million records per year. Yet these were still the early years for Frank Sinatra.  He had another 40-plus years of performing and music-making ahead.

Other stories at this website with Frank Sinatra content include: “Ava Gardner, 1940s-1950s” (see “Ava & Frank” sidebar on their relationship); “Mia’s Metamorphoses, 1966-2010” (Frank Sinatra / Mia Farrow marriage & divorce); “The Jack Pack, Pt. 1, 1958-1960,”(Sinatra’s Rat Pack help for JFK’s presidential run in 1960); and “The Jack Pack, Pt. 2, 1961-2008″ (Sinatra falling out with Kennedys, post election; Sinatra & Reagan, etc.); and, “Sinatra: Cycles, 1968,” profiles a classic Frank Sinatra song. Additional celebrity history can be found at the Celebrity & Icons page. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted:  18 March 2008
Last Update:   21 August 2016
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “The Sinatra Riots, 1942-1944,”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 18, 2008.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

A 1972 six-disc, boxed set of the early Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey years, RCA-UK, vinyl LPs.
A 1972 six-disc, boxed set of the early Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey years, RCA-UK, vinyl LPs.
CD cover of 1940s Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey recordings, 2005.
CD cover of 1940s Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey recordings, 2005.

“That Old Sweet Song,” Time, Monday, July 5, 1943.

“Symphonic Sinatra,” Time, Monday, August 23, 1943.

“Frank Sinatra Sings to 7,000 at Stadium; Heard With the Philharmonic – Steiner Music Played,” New York Times, Wednesday, August 4, 1943, p. 14.

Sinatra Fans Pose Two Police Problems And Not the Less Serious Involves Truancy,” New York Times, October 13, 1944.

“Youngsters Flock to Sinatra Speech; Overflow Crowd Hears Singer Urge Roosevelt Re-election at Carnegie Hall,” New York Times, Wednesday, October 25, 1944, p. 16.

“Biography of Frank Sinatra,” About the Artist, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

“Frank Sinatra and The ‘Bobby-Soxers’,” Guardian Unlimited (London), New York correspondent, Wednesday, January 10, 1945.

“The Life of Frank Sinatra, Part 2,” Originally written and compiled by Gary Cadwallader for Seaside Music Theatre and MaryAnn Eifert for research materials, posted at Summer Wind Productions.com, March 2008.

Frank Sinatra” and “1943 in Music,” at Wikipedia.org.

Antony Summers and Robbyn Swan, Sinatra: The Life, New York: Doubleday, 2005.

 

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