Elton John Called a ‘Coward’ by Music Publisher’s Son
Stephen James, son of legendary British music publisher Dick James, is angry with how his father is portrayed in the Elton John biopic Rocketman.
James lashed out at the rock legend in a new interview for turning his back on the people who helped make him famous. "He's basically a coward," he told the Express.
"He's never been able to really express his emotions properly, certainly not to me. I don't understand why he seems to feel the need to try to destroy everybody who helped him. We only ever tried to do the best for him and to promote his career. I really am very upset that he has turned on people in this way."
Stephen Graham plays Dick James in the movie, which opened last Friday in the U.K. and arrives in the U.S. this Friday. Dick James is portrayed in Rocketman as a hard-nosed, old-fashioned music executive, which Stephen James said is far from realistic.
"It's rather upset me because my father was a nice guy," he explained. "Elton's own father had run off and wasn't around. He treated my father at the time as very much a father figure, and my father treated Elton very much as if he was a son. He gave him advice. He was always helping him. My father would always be there."
He added that the film "basically depict[s] my father in the film completely opposite to the way he was in real life. They have turned him into this stereotype with a big fat cigar, swearing every other word. He just wasn't like that. He never got aggressive. He never lost his temper. He never swore. But that's how they have made him in the film."
John and Bernie Taupin were caught sneaking into James' studio in 1967 to make demo tapes. After hearing them, the publisher signed the pair as staff songwriters; he eventually gave John an opportunity to be a recording artist.
Nearly 20 years later, John and Taupin sued James for the rights to their songs, claiming the contract was signed under "undue influence" because they were both under the age of 21. The case was resolved in December 1985, with James retaining the rights to the compositions, but John and Taupin were awarded back royalties. James died a few months later.