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'Coked out' Elton John really irked the Rolling Stones during a show at CSU's former stadium

Elton John overstayed his welcome in front of 40,000 fans during a cameo appearance with the Rolling Stones at Hughes Stadium.


One of the most talked-about stories from Elton John’s upcoming autobiography happened in Fort Collins … a town the Rolling Stones themselves once referred to as “Fort What?” when they played their first show at Moby Arena back in 1969.

During the band’s 1975 tour, some 40,000 people packed into Colorado State University’s Hughes Stadium, which was in the foothills some three miles from campus (this venue has recently been demolished and replaced with the on-campus Canvas Stadium). 

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Elton John was in town, and since he is Elton John, the Rolling Stones asked him to join them on stage for one song.  According to an excerpt from his autobiography, things got … a little out of hand. 

"Cocaine gave me too much confidence for my own good. If I hadn’t been coked out of my head when the Rolling Stones turned up in Colorado and asked me to come onstage with them, I might have just performed 'Honky Tonk Women,' waved to the crowd and made my exit. Instead, I decided it was going so well, I’d stay on and jam along to the rest of their set, without first taking the precaution of asking the Stones if they wanted an auxiliary keyboard player."

"For a while, I thought Keith Richards kept staring at me because he was awestruck by the brilliance of my improvised contributions to their oeuvre. After a few songs, it finally penetrated my brain that the expression on his face wasn’t really suggestive of profound musical appreciation. I quickly scuttled off, noting as I went that Keith was still staring at me in a manner that suggested we’d be discussing this later, and decided it might be best if I didn’t hang around for the after-show party." 

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Video of the moments before the concert show Elton John with the rest of the band, wearing a cool Dodgers jacket and a cowboy hat (pretty toned down by his standards).  

The July 20, 1975 Rolling Stones concert at Hughes Stadium was a huge deal. The Noco Scene reports traffic was backed up on Interstate 25 from Harmony Road to the Windsor exit, and people were camping wherever they could in town. 

The Scene also has a description of Elton John’s role in the concert, writing:

This was the infamous show when Elton John, dressed in an L.A. Dodgers windbreaker and cowboy hat, joined the band on stage for their opening number “Honky Tonk Woman,” which reportedly was the only Stones song he knew at the time. Mick Jagger later introduced Elton as “Reg from Watford.” After several songs, John reappeared and remained until “Midnight Rambler,” ten numbers later! Billy Preston and Ian Stewart were reportedly upset with John’s aimless noodling, as was Keith Richards, due to his presence hampering access to the keyboards throughout the performance. Numerous statements from concert-goers recall people booing, and the band having a difficult time getting him to leave the stage. After the show, the Stones even turned down Elton’s offer to take a helicopter to a ranch for a barbecue.

They turned down an offer for a barbecue? Ooof. 

(h/t KBCO for finding this awesome historical tidbit) 

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