By Adam Dutton
WOLVERHAMPTON, England — A pair of red carnation flowers given by Elton John to a fan on stage in 1976 could fetch hundreds at auction after being kept inside a book for nearly 50 years.
Deborah Williams, 64, was just 16 when she got to see her musical hero perform three times in a week during his Louder Than Concorde tour.
During one concert at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall, she caught a red carnation being thrown into the crowd by Elton, only to see it be snatched from her hand.
Elton saw what had happened and reached out from the stage to personally place two flowers in her hand, which Deborah has since cherished for decades.
The semi-retired government consultant pressed and dried the carnations and has kept them inside a book of Elton John song lyrics ever since.
The lifelong superfan is now parting with her rare memorabilia, which will be sold by Hansons Auctioneers on June 14.
Deborah, from Wolverhampton, England, said: “The music scene was amazing in the mid-70s. Venues were smaller, so you could get close to the stage and concert tickets were only around £2.50 [$3.10], so very, very affordable for teenagers.”
“I discovered Elton John in my early teens. I just thought he was an unbelievably good musician. I started buying his records at 15 and saw him live for the first time at 16. In 1976 his Louder Than Concorde Tour was taking place,” she said. “I managed to get tickets to see him perform at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre on May 3rd and 4th and then again at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on May 7.”
“I was wearing my Louder Than Concorde T-shirt and remember all the musicians waving at the fans when they arrived at Wolverhampton Civic Hall – a great venue.
“During the concert Elton started throwing red carnations into the crowd. I caught one but someone snatched it out of my hand.”
“I was leaning on the stage and Elton saw what happened. He reached out and put two carnations in my hand.”
“I have treasured them ever since along with all my other Elton memorabilia. I pressed and dried the flowers and kept them inside a book of Elton John song lyrics.”
“They’re very precious to me and that’s why I am selling them now. I have no children and if anything happened to me, I’m scared they would end up in a skip.”
“If someone found two old pressed flowers they’d have no idea why they were so special. Now seems the right time to finally let go.”
“I’d like my Elton John memorabilia to go to someone who will appreciate it.”
As well as the flowers, her treasures include Elton John T-shirts, flyers, programs, concert tickets, photos, badges and posters including a scarce Elton John and Ray Cooper circular poster from 1977.
Another rarity is a drumstick used by Elton’s percussionist Ray Cooper which she caught at Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre in 1979.
Deborah added: “They were on tour together and Ray had a habit of throwing his drumsticks into the crowd at the end of the concert.
“I caught it.”
Together, the collection is expected to make an estimated £500 while the lot featuring the flowers could fetch between £100-£150 ($124- $186).
Deborah added: “I’m not parting with my 50 Elton John records, though.
“I’m not ready for that yet. I know the lyrics to all of his songs. I saw him live about 10 times.”
“When I got back from a concert, I used to write down the complete playlist in order. I think I have a memory born out of obsession!”
“I also kept a handwritten list of all the records he produced with catalogue numbers. You did things like that before the internet.
“I also kept lots of newspaper cuttings. When I was a teenager everyone knew I was a huge Elton John fan.”
“My bedroom was plastered with posters of him. My grandma said she was going to write and tell him about me!”
“The last time I saw him play live was in 2006. It’s not the same now because venues are so huge. You don’t get that intimate feeling at big music concerts.”
“Plus, the tickets are a lot more expensive! Sometimes hundreds of pounds.”
“But I still enjoy his music. The first album I ever bought was Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. It includes Daniel and Crocodile Rock.”
“I think what makes Elton so special is his ability to blend country, rock, ballad and pop music.”
Claire Howell, music memorabilia consultant at Hansons Auctioneers, said: “Deborah’s collection is exceptional, rare and very touching.”
“Cherishing those flowers for nearly 50 years exemplifies what Elton John and his music mean to her. She must be one of his biggest ever fans.”
“Apart from that moment when he gave her the carnations, she has never had the opportunity to meet him.”
“Let’s hope he sees this, and her grandma’s wish comes true.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld and Jessi Rexroad Shull