Skip to comments.Elton John at Harley like engine oil in water
Posted on 09/03/2003 8:30:26 AM PDT by nowings
By now I'm assuming that Harley-Davidson has figured out whom to fire for putting Elton John in front of 150,000 of its best customers as the 100th anniversary party's grand finale.
So I called the company to check.
"No, of course not," said Harley spokeswoman Amy Alarupi. "No one is going to lose their job over this."
How about a forced transfer from the Juneau Ave. office to the Juneau, Alaska, outpost?
There's nothing wrong with Elton John that being The Rolling Stones instead wouldn't fix. Anyone who says he was a good choice for these leathery bikers is still stuck in last week's mind-set that it's unpatriotic to say anything unflattering about Harley-Davidson or its party.
Harley threw a fantastic bash. It was fun, it was peaceful, it came off with surprisingly few mishaps and serious crashes, and it showcased and enriched Milwaukee. Plus, the biker babes were primo.
But final impressions count, and Elton John belting out his pop hits for a Harley crowd Sunday night was like mixing engine oil and water. Witnesses said people were streaming out of Veterans Park with each new song.
Can you imagine a beer-fueled Harley rider trying to dance to "Don't Go Breaking My Heart?" Didn't think so.
You like to see fans holding up cigarette lighters during a concert, but not with the idea of burning down the stage.
Elton John is close to the right age to headline for Harley riders, and the right weight, too. Being gay does not make him a bad match for the crowd, although the idiot concert-goers using words like faggot to express their disappointment would probably disagree with that.
But his music is all wrong for the audience. He's a diva in pants who speaks not at all to the rugged, rebellious, road-hardened rockers who ride Harley motorcycles, and those who pretend on weekends to be those things. He's Metallica at German Fest, Carole King at Metalfest, and a tie score at the All-Star Game.
The problem, as you already know, was the tremendous citywide guessing game leading up to the concert. Harley threw us into a frenzy by saying the performers would remain a mystery until they took the stage. We spent weeks speculating about every major act - dead and alive - who might show up.
Harley is lauded for its marketing genius and for knowing its customers and how much they like the Steppenwolfs, ZZ Tops and George Thorogoods of the world.
Yet it gave them Tim McGraw, a country singer crooning sweet love songs, and Kid Rock, who nobody heard of until he hooked up with Pamela Anderson. The average Harley rider has saddle bags older than this guy.
And, finally, Elton John as the headliner. I was at a family reunion that night and we were groaning at the television when he came on, and feeling fortunate that we didn't have to fight traffic and wait hours to buy beer and hot dogs to see this mismatch in person.
Bo Black must make it look easier than it really is to put the right bands in front of the right crowd. Harley may want to snap her up if Summerfest sends her packing as expected.
I wanted to ask Elton John's New York publicist, Fran Curtis, how the star thought the show in Milwaukee had gone. She didn't call me back Tuesday.
If you're Harley and you're throwing the party of the century, you'd think someone would have raised his hand at a staff meeting and said, "Excuse me - Elton John?!"
Because you can tell everybody this is your song, but that doesn't make it true.
From the Sept. 3, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Elton John at Harley like engine oil in water (9/2/03)
Elton John must have been selected because the Village People broke up.
Nobody will be fired, perhaps, because Harley actually may have done a GOOD JOB in matching the marketing tastes of their customer base!!
I'd be curious to find how many "road-hard" anythings actually had the resources to finance a trip (especially after forking over for a Harley-brand-name) to such a concert. I suspect a large faction are the wannabe 'pretenders' that could afford the trip. And I'll bet they liked Elton just fine. And I'll bet Harley Marketing gets internal accolades for keeping on top of the changing customer base.
The real "road-hards" probably can't afford a Harley, and ride beat up rice burners to the local quickimart to buy Milwaukee's Beast to drink at home.
HA! (Donning asbestos suit.)
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