Elton John World banner

Elton John World News: EXCLUSIVE: The Man Who Put ''11-17-70'' Together

EXCLUSIVE: The Man Who Put ''11-17-70'' Together-- Posted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday 17 November 2011 @ 17:22 - GMT

 On this date in 1970, Elton recorded an album which was heard live on the radio.

The man who came up with the 11-17-70 idea was Joe DiSabato. He approached record company bosses about the project, who agreed, but told Joe to coordinate the people and equipment.


DiSabato, who promoted tours for Elton and the Jefferson Airplane, died of an asthma attack in 1991. Michael Gravois, who was his partner, remembers the stories Joe told him about his musical career. 


He told EJW:


''Joe was quite a remarkable and accomplished man. I met him in 1984 and we were inseparable until his death.


''He told me many stories of his time with Elton John.. Joe had worked in the publicity departments for a couple of record labels in the 70s. When Elton was just hitting it big, Joe would fly with him to radio stations around the country so Elton could be interviewed. Joe had a half dozen mini-liquor bottles from the airplanes that Elton John had drank from, and I remember laughing when my partner first showed them to me, finding it funny he would secretly grab the bottles and put them in his jacket pocket. In my last move I threw them away; there's no way it could be verified that Elton actually drank from them, so they were essentially empty bottles.''


Michael continued: ''Joe had a piano in his office, and one day Elton asked Joe if he'd like to hear some of his new songs. He got a private concert in his office. People would stop as they walked down the hall to peek in to see what was going on. Gosh, how I wish I'd been there. Joe said that Elton played for an hour. Joe was in heaven. On our first date, Joe played his piano for me. One of my favourites that he played was Funeral for a Friend, which was the first time I'd ever heard that song. At his funeral, I showed a video tape of Joe playing that song.


''My partner's intention was to become a record producer. He leased a four-story building in New York's Chelsea (back when it was warehouses), with the plans of living on the second floor and converting the first floor into a studio. That never happened. As a way to make some money, Joe approached some record companies (drawing on his music marketing background) and sold some record ads to some gay publications. Thus, a new business, Rivendell Media, was born. This was in 1979. I met him five years later.''


In its many years in business, Rivendell Media has  become a leading LGBT media placement firm, representing over 150 publications to national advertising agencies. It is now overseen by DiSabato's friend, Todd Evans.