|The signed photo that hangs proudly at the Fancy Guesthouse.|
With news Elton John is about to release his 33rd studio album (entitled Wonderful Crazy Night*), there’s one lingering question that remains tantalizingly unanswered for fans:
Did he or did he not stay at a 2-star guesthouse while in Cambodia a few years ago?
According to the proud owner of the Fancy Guesthouse in downtown Phnom Penh, it most certainly was Elton John who decided to forgo his traditional penchant for 5-star luxury and settle for something a bit more budget conscious. Maybe Elton was going through a rough patch financially? More likely, according to Mr Fancy, he was tired of being recognised at the plush hotel across town. At the Fancy Guesthouse Elton could enjoy the privacy, comfort and more reasonable price he deserves.
Mr Fancy explained he’d never heard of Elton and was only informed by other guests just how famous this portly, middle-aged Westerner is. At the time the Fancy Guesthouse had only recently opened and the man who once had seven consecutive US #1 albums was said to be “very impressed” with the accommodation, not to mention the savings he was making.
|Phnom Penh’s Fancy Guesthouse|
Not comfortable in accusing the sweet Mr Fancy of being a little liberal with the definition of “stayed at my guesthouse,” I researched if in fact Elton had been in Cambodia at the time in question (2008). To my surprise he had. What!? Could Mr Fancy’s photo be legitimate? Unfortunately, I couldn’t verify which hotel Elton had chosen during his stay, but I could compare the signed picture with other published Elton autographs.
And that’s where the story becomes…how do I put this? Less fun? Over? That feels so mean-spirited! Let’s just say that the overwhelming online evidence when googling “Elton John’s autograph” is conclusive.
Regardless, it makes for a half-decent yarn and one I’d love to one day put to the man himself. Could make quite an alarming first question in an interview: “So Sir Elton, new album to one side, what everyone really wants to know is did you or did you not stay at the Fancy Guesthouse while in Phnom Penh, Cambodia back in 2008?”
|The backstreets of Phnom Penh.|
2015 Followup: It was only a couple of years after writing the first version of this story that I noticed the name signed on the picture is not “Elton John” but the less well-known “Eldon John”! Perhaps there really is an Eldon John out there who looks just like his near namesake…
*Elton’s new album Wonderful Crazy Night will be released in February. It was reportedly recorded very quickly in a burst of inspiration and is his first since 2013’s well-received The Diving Board. The album also sees him teamed up with his long-term band-members Nigel Olsson (drums) and Davey Johnstone (guitar) who featured so heavily on his classic 70s recordings. As is usually the case, Bernie Taupin has provided the lyrics.