Costume designer Julian Day on his challenging work for the new Elton biopic 'Rocketman'.
By Sarah Rodman in Entertainment Weekly
ho wouldn't want to design a film about Elton John and his life?" says Rocketman costume designer Julian Day. "He's pretty much the most flamboyant rock star that has ever lived." Day is no stranger to theatrical musicians after working on last year's Bohemian Rhapsody, but Rocketman provided new challenges -- and a reunion with star Taron Egerton, whom he dressed for 2018's Robin Hood. "With Bohemian Rhapsody it was much more of the idea of copying some of the items and a true representation," says Day. "With Rocketman we had the freedom to redesign."
Egerton was ready to slip into John's skin via his memorable stagewear, which the actor refers to as a "Suit of armor, making yourself feel capable." He adds: "My sense is that it comes from a place of 'If you make yourself look ridiculous, then nobody else can.' I mean, I don't wish to deconstruct Elton; that's how I approached it in terms of character, and Julian understood that completely.
Some outfits hew closely to John's originals, including a few looks John donned for his starmaking U.S. debut at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1970. But Day took liberties with a few of the more eye-popping getups, including an insanely elaborate, colorful wings-and-horns number (pictured above). "That is a very iconic look, and you really can't change the shape of it," says Day, who nonetheless made alterations subtle and less so, like adding thousands of Swarovski crystals in place of the sequins used on the original by designer Bob Mackie. "It was comfortable," says Egerton, adding with a laugh, "The problem is, because it's covered in Swarovski crystals, we couldn't wash it for the whole three months, and I wore it every third day. So I'm glad I never to have to get in it ever again, because it probably stinks."
Echo In The Canyon (May 24) - What is the "California Sound"? Find out in this spotlight on Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon, which the likes of the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and Buffalo Springfield all called home in the '60's.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese (June 12) - The famed filmmaker zooms into the life of the iconic musician during the fall of 1975 with performances, personal insights, and cameos by Joan Baez and others in Dylan's orbit.
Yesterday (June 28) - A flailing musician named Jack Malik (newcomer Himesh Patel) wakes up from a freak accident following a global blackout to find that no one has ever heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. And so, Jack passes off a few of their classics as his own, then a few more; suddenly, a (borrowed) star is born.
David Crosby: Remember My Name (July 19) - The rock legend gets up close and personal, tracing his career through his Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young days to now, all the while grappling with his own mortality and reminiscing on his wild youth.
Blinded By The Light (Aug. 14) - Director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) delivers another lovely coming-of-age story with the music of Bruce Springsteen at its center.
Almost 50 years after George Clinton started gathering One Nation
By Rodney Carmichael in Entertainment Weekly
he Funk has left the building. Well, technically, the Funk has only retired to a room adjacent to the stage where his masseuse awaits. "I need my massage," says George Clinton, founder of Parliament-Funkadelic. The musical pioneer is one of the most influential artists in history, which everyone from Prince -- who inducted Clinton & Co. into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 -- to generations of hip-hop artists, who've sampled his songs, giving props to the always colorful bandleader. Having wrestled with his share of demons, at 77, he is now in a good place. Though this summer's tour is his last, Clinton fully expects the band to keep performing and waving the funk flag.
You always danced around genre, even when creating Parliament and Funkadelic as separate groups with the same members. Was it as simple as putting the guitars on the rock stuff and horns on the R&B stuff?
Most of the time. Every once in a while, I could do something weird enough with the horns that it could go with the rock stuff -- it could be like Sun Ra, but it would have to be way out there. Or a guitar might end up on a Parliament song. But basically that's the way we did it. The loud guitars was on the Funkadelic. And the horns was on Parliament.
Were you purposely trying to genre-hop and not be bound by stereotypes?
Well, not be bound by no one particular thing. You have to survive because people just get tired of the same name. In three years the kids grow up.... You have to reinvent for the younger ones to actually relate to.
You recently became sober. What made you realize you had to clean up?
I was 70 years old when I started to clean it up. You ain't got that much energy and that much time, and the drugs weren't working no more. Matter of fact, it was getting in the way -- had been in the way and I didn't know it. Then there's my wife, and she's going to remind me. It just came to a natural [conclusion].
Fans tend to worship artists now like religious figures, particularly ones who have died. Are you comfortable with that?
Aw, hell, naw [laughs]. They say, "Do you want to be a role model?" Only for what not to do. You can't follow all the s--- I've done. I feel lucky and blessed I got away with the things that I did do. But there's got to be an easier way.
How hard was it staying grounded after being on the famous Mothership, which floated above the stage on P-Funk Earth Tour in the 1970s?
I felt lucky being up on that spaceship. That s--- was two feet wide and it shook like hell. I was high as hell. My boots was nine inches tall. That's 25 feet up there. I had every reason in the world to fall off. One dude ran up there one time. He hit me on the feet in front of, like 20,000 people. I was holding on to that rail so tight. When the smoke went down, he fell down and cracked his head open. I was thankful every time I didn't fall.
So this is your last tour?
It's through the end of the year. I might have to extend it a little bit after that. [The Grammys are] doing this lifetime achievement [for Parliament-Funkadelic]. And I can see that's getting ready to light up everything. I might have to stay with [the band] another six to nine months.... The group is pretty hot right now anyway, so it's at a good time to transition it to those young kids in the group.
How hard has the legal fight been to get ownership of your music rights returned?
That's really hard. We had to slow down and approach it another way. You can get caught up and they'll keep... draining you of cash.
Why do you think that is, with the history of black music and the industry finding ways to basically steal from artists?
They've made so much money off of us since it started in '40s and '50s that they ain't trying to let it get away. It's a business. But [young artists are] doing a lot better than what we did. Now, whether they know what to do about intellectual properties and all that -- we're just learning that. So they've really got to put their head to the grind, because I know a lot of [lawyers] want it to be work for hire. That's the new thing that they've got to deal with.... And if you're new and young and trying to get into the business, you'll go for anything. I did it. But I had a bigger plan.
What was the bigger plan?
Give me a spaceship, I can outfly this s---. And once we got a hit record, that's what I did.
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