Musical Director, Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals
Born: May 6, 1951 – Edinburgh, UK
First show with Elton: Feb 5, 1972
Having already learned the violin at age seven, Davey Johnstone got his first guitar when he was 11. In 1971, Davey lent his guitar and mandolin skills to Elton’s Madman Across The Water album. Very soon after, Elton invited Davey to join drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray both in the studio and on stage — and thus was born the group that solidified Elton’s sound.
In the 1980s, Davey co-wrote the hits I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues and Wrap Her Up and became Elton’s Musical Director in 1988. He has performed on the majority of Elton’s albums and continues to support Elton on stage and in the studio, making many contributions to everything from tour set lists to song arrangements on new recordings, as well as Elton’s theatre and film projects such as Billy Elliot the Musical and Gnomeo & Juliet.
Born: Feb 10, 1949 – Wallasey, UK
First show with Elton: Apr 20, 1970
Nigel Olsson started out as a lead singer and, after becoming a drummer, joined the London group Plastic Penny, which recorded two albums and the UK hit Everything I Am.
In the late 1960s Nigel played on some of Elton’s songwriting demos at the Dick James Studios in London and made his first appearance on an Elton record on Lady What’s Tomorrow, from the 1969 album Empty Sky.
Nigel became Elton’s concert drummer in April 1970 and went on the road to support the Elton John album, culminating with Elton’s career-changing performances at The Troubadour in Los Angeles.
In 1972, Elton, Nigel, Dee, and Davey became The Elton John Band on record as well as on stage. This incredibly successful configuration would continue through five #1 albums, numerous smash hit singles, and record-breaking world tours during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1970s, Nigel also had solo chart success with Only One Woman and the Billboard Top 40 hits Dancin’ Shoes and A Little Bit Of Soap. Nigel has been Elton’s full-time drummer since late 2000.
Born: Jan 23 – Canton, OH
First show with Elton: Jul 8, 1997
Multi-instrumentalist John Mahon’s early days were based in drums, recording and performing jazz, progressive jazz, rock, R&B and pop music with bands in Northeastern Ohio. Moving to Los Angeles in 1983, he continued to play and study music. John was featured with the band Windows and went from there to record and tour with Peter White. This led to tours and gigs with Al Stewart, Helen Reddy, Boney James and Rita Coolidge. Before joining Elton’s band, John’s own band, The Stickmen, employed Bob Birch on bass.
John was originally hired for the Elton John Band as a percussionist, but during tour rehearsals it was discovered that he could add his vocal talents to the mix — and now John is often spotlighted as a harmony vocalist on songs like Daniel and Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.
Born: Sep 19 – Watford, UK
First show with Elton: Feb 5, 1972
Ray Cooper studied piano and trained in the theatre arts before beginning a career as a session percussionist in the 1960s. He has played on hits by America, Carly Simon, and David Essex, as well as many other acts.
Ray has appeared on a dozen of Elton’s albums. The pair famously toured in the USSR in 1979, one of the first times a Western act had played the Communist country.
Ray continued to perform and record with Elton sporadically through the 1980s, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tour in 1986. During the ’80s, Ray also played in the studio or on stage with George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, among others, and began to work in film, most notably with Monty Python director Terry Gilliam.
Although featured in The Million Dollar Piano residency in Las Vegas, this is Ray’s first world tour with Elton and the band since 1995.
Born: May 6 – Atlanta, GA
First show with Elton: Oct 7, 2009
Kim Bullard studied classical music and by the age of 14 had begun playing out with local bands before moving to Los Angeles and continuing his musical education at UCLA. His extensive session and stage resume includes the bands Yes, Nine Inch Nails, Kelly Clarkson, Phil Colins, Tori Amos, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Art Garfunkel, and Poco, of which he was a member for five years.
When Guy Babylon passed away, Kim was asked to become the keyboardist for the Elton John Band and immediately took to the task of learning his parts for European The Red Piano concerts coming up in less than a month’s time.
Kim currently lives in Los Angeles, in the house where the television show, Mr. Ed, was filmed.
Bass Guitar, Vocals
Born: Jul 25, 1961 – Detroit, MI
First show with Elton: Sep 11, 2012
Matt Bissonette is a musician, writer and producer who was born into a musical family in Detroit, Michigan. His brother, Gregg, is a drummer. When he was twelve years old his parents bought him a bass guitar and, effectively, he’s been playing it ever since.
Since moving to Los Angeles, he found steady work playing for Gino Vanelli, Sheena Easton, A-Ha, Christopher Cross, Brian Wilson, Captain & Tennille, David Lee Roth and Rick Springfield, in addition to forming his own band, The Mustard Seeds.
Matt had known Davey Johnstone for many years and following the tragic death of Bob Birch, Davey invited Matt to join Elton’s band.