Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player
The title of the album came from friend and actor/comedian Groucho Marx. Elton was playing the piano at a party at Groucho's home; Groucho, who referred to him as 'John Elton', held out his middle and index finger in the style of a pistol. Elton then raised his hands and said "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player" at Marx's gun imitation.
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
The album was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK and US album charts. It is one of only three albums to feature just the core band of John on pianos and keyboards, Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, without percussionist Ray Cooper. The other two are Honky Château (1972) (bar a performance by Cooper on congas on the song "Amy") and Breaking Hearts (1984).
The album's title comes from something Elton said during an evening spent with Groucho Marx. After an evening of constant ribbing from Marx, Elton's comeback was to hold his hands up and say, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player." The album's cover photograph, which shows a young couple outside a movie theatre whose marquee reads: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player starring Elton John; on the wall is a movie poster advertising the Marx Brothers' 1940 film Go West as a tribute to Groucho Marx.
The title is also a play on the 1960 François Truffaut film Shoot the Piano Player and the original Oscar Wilde quote "Don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best", which Wilde said he saw in a saloon on a visit to the U.S.
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April 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM Thanks Henry! I know what it is like to take the terrifying step of playing public, and I do it now quite often, but I'm pretty thick skinned these days so I don't get too uptight. But some good advice from a young violinist after I played in a piano trio and I moaned about playing like a drain was "don't beat yourself up over it." And my wife pointed out that even if the performance generally was felt by me to be not very good, if the audience enjoyed it then don't dissilusion them, because it was probably better than I thought it was.
May 1, 2012 at 01:55 PM Dealing with performance anxiety is such a personal issue. My experience (I'm 78) may amuse you: As a kid, I was of course fearless (age 17 I gave a full memorized concert (Mozart Concerto Nr 5 in A; 1st Mvmt Bach unacompanied sonata, etc.) without a shaking knee or missed note. But after not playing for years, I so choked in church playing the simplest tune--with a small group!--I had to lower my shaking bow to the string with my left hand! Much too self-concious; hubris (wanting to show what I could do at home). Continuing to play with local college groups, I dared not touch the string for that first breathless note (after once sending a terrible screech throughout the hall!). Fear that my bow would shake caused it to shake! Same causes. Frequent performances gradually restored my confidence, along with unceasing practice. Now, performing only a few times a year, I consciously will my bow arm to relax (but still don't quite touch the string!) And after an orchestra performance and a brief solo passage Sunday,I am still berating myself for being too self conscious and not concentrating purely on the music as though in rehearsal. Violinists and hubris--inseparable?