Red Piano May Result In Red Faces

The promoter responsible for putting together the recently canceled Elton John Red Piano dates in Europe is considering legal action against the act and his management.

A May 22nd press statement from Gary Farrow’s London-based The Corporation, a public relations company representing the artist, claimed five dates in high-profile settings were canceled because "the promoter has been unable to guarantee to put on the shows."

"Nobody knows where he is and so good luck with finding him. If you find him before I do, please let me know," Keith Bradley from 21st Artists told Pollstar in response to questions about the promoter’s identity.

The promoter turns out to have been Imagination Marketing, a Zurich-based firm that’s worked on some of Sir Elton’s previous corporate shows. Company president Andreas Vorsteher is telling a different story.

He said he’s surprised Bradley doesn’t know where to find him because he has all his contact points, including his home phone number. He said Imagination terminated the contract after May 1st, when the 3sat TV network screened a European TV broadcast of a Red Piano show recorded during the act’s Las Vegas residency.

"This contravened the artist’s contractual obligations regarding our rights," he explained.

Vorsteher said Imagination agreed to discuss the matter further and did so during a May 16th meeting at 21st Artists’ London offices with the act’s management team, including Bradley and company chief Frank Presland.

He claims both sides eventually reached a resolution that included Imagination being paid a "substantial financial settlement" for the May 1st breach and resulted in the drafting and signing of a new contract May 18th.

"Within 30 minutes I received a phone call from their in-house lawyer saying Elton John had decided he wouldn’t do any more interviews with print media until 2008, which included one that Imagination had permission to set up for May 25th at Cannes Film Festival.

"That was the second time we terminated the contract and this time it’s terminated for good," Vorsteher explained.

"Press is our life, without it we’re dead. Earlier in the year we had problems with a pre-arranged press conference. The society editor of Germany’s Bild magazine spent 15 hours flying to Las Vegas to attend one and was then told to write down some questions and he’d get a reply on an e-mail."

He also said his company is considering various courses of legal address, including taking advice on whether the May 22nd press release concerning the promoter failing to guarantee the shows is defamatory.

Bradley said he’s sticking by the content of that press release and declining to make further comment because he doesn’t want to "inflame the already very upsetting cancellation" of the 2007 European Red Piano shows.

"Please be assured that there will be Red Piano shows in the future, but under our direction," he added.

The European dates are an extension of the Las Vegas version of The Red Piano Show, which Imagination was presenting to commemorate Sir Elton’s 60th birthday and his 40 years of touring.

They were scheduled for well-known settings including the Piazza de San Marco in Venice June 5-6, Berlin Brandenburg Gate June 22nd, a Moscow show in a venue that was never announced July 3rd, the Versailles Gardens in Paris September 9th and The Plaza de España in Seville, Spain September 14th.

Vorsteher denied that any of the shows, which had capacities ranging from 5,000 to 12,000, were suffering from poor ticket sales.