Pic Terry O Neill, courtesy of Robin Morgan
Caroline Boucher looks back on the heady 70s where a drunken lunch turned into a plane ride across the pond to see Elton....
We’d chartered the 747 before the end of the main course. It really couldn’t have been easier. All you had to do in those laid-back days of the Seventies was ring BA, drop a name – Elton John – and they’d put a nice big plane on hold to fly the office and friends to LA.
I was Elton’s in-house PR, and the week before he and I had an office lunch at around 4pm at my desk to work out the LA interview schedule. We munched gloomily on chicken salad brought in from Richoux, the next door restaurant in South Audley Street. Elton was knackered from touring and rather strung out.
So the plane-chartering lunch a week later with Elton and the band already schlepping round America was a much more relaxed affair at Montpeliano, an Italian restaurant that’s still across the road from Harrods and just down the street from John Reid’s house. Reid managed Elton and between them they had founded Rocket Records and employed a load of us to work there. The office workers tended to operate as a pack, so we’d often have long lunches, or enforced long sojourns in the pub. Sometimes Reid – who still has a temper like a bear – would fire us all and we’d go en masse to the pub waiting for him to come and get us. Nobody was left to answer the phones, and it was usually Elton ringing in a fury from LA to find out his chart position.
We’d set out for lunch that day with no intention of hiring a plane. But Elton was about to play Dodger Stadium and we all wanted to see him. Lunch that day was pretty much calamari-based which we all thought the height of sophistication plus with Fiorucci jeans and boiler suits in fashion we were on permanent diets. All washed down with Verdicchio, then the wine de nos jours. And, of course, plenty of cigarettes.
We filled the plane easily. The office, friends, Elton’s mum, other artists on Rocket like Kiki Dee, the footballer Rodney Marsh. Everybody had a party bag waiting on their seat - a camera in each one (well, until the ground staff nicked a few) - which I dragged out to the plane on a trolley. The hack from the Telegraph got so drunk we had to wheel him through customs at the other end. We partied all the way over, all the next week and all the way back. Happy days!