On Sunday, March 12, 2023, the Chicago Prime Timers hosted Crocodile Rockstar at their open social meeting. David Zak interviewed him and presented the responses at the event. Here is the interview recap:
Do you remember where you heard your first Elton John song?
Rocket Man and Levon were the first Elton songs that I heard, and I immediately loved everything about them. I have a somewhat abstract mind and the imagery from the lyrics, music, melody, and background vocals just blew me away.
When did you try creating or wearing his costumes for the first time?
I’ve always played a few Elton John songs, but it wasn’t until I injured my right arm and wasn’t able to play piano for nearly a year-and-a-half that the Elton John tribute came about.
I was asked if I was able to perform a couple Elton John songs for a corporate Halloween event right after my injury. I told them that I could only play two or three songs and they said that was fine. When I told my husband, he asked me what costume I was going to wear. I remember replying, “Costume?” That was the catalyst for me starting my first Elton John costume.
How do you recreate the looks, and how does it feel when you are wearing one?
I start with a list of iconic costumes that I think people recognize. I sketch out a plan and then the Internet is my first stop. Every costume is like a new puzzle to solve; I’ve had to teach myself how to sew various fabrics, work with feathers, create wire harnesses, and work with leather to name a few skills I’ve taught myself. I make a lot of mistakes, but I try to learn from my mistakes and improve the costumes over time.
The costumes are an aspect of my performances that people really connect with. I always try my best to make them as accurately as I can; if I feel good about it, then I love performing in it. It’s amazing how much love there is for Elton John and people always love talking to me about the costumes after a show.
I know you are in Buena Park - do people recognize you when you walk down the street?
The costumes and glasses are so over-the-top that it’s not always easy to get an idea of what I look like behind the glasses. When I am not onstage, I am a quiet guy in khakis and black t-shirts, but once people hear my unique name (Beazley Phillips) or know that I am Crocodile Rockstar, that’s when they tell me when they saw me and want to talk about Elton John’s music, the show and costumes.
Have you ever been in touch with Sir Elton?
I have seen Elton John in concert many times over the years, but I’ve never met him. I love what he has come to stand for in our community and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather become for a night than Sir Elton John. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet him.
Events can be the highlight of the year for many companies. Morale, job satisfaction, and retention rates have all been shown to increase from company events. Thoughtfully produced corporate events foster connections between colleagues and enhance company culture. After being involved in corporate events for 25 years, I have found these four essential and most often-overlooked tips make corporate events ROCK:
A fun and relatable theme gives corporate events a focus around which you can create your event decor, presentations, food, entertainment, and ambiance. If you make a theme too specific or irrelevant to your audience’s interests, participation will decline. Themes can be integrated into presentations and spoken components, and they make it easy for employees to remember your event.
Picking a relevant theme your clients and employees can engage in also gives team members a way to participate in the spirit of the event – they become representatives of the experience you’ve created – and brings the spotlight of the event onto them – which is exactly what you want. You can encourage guests to dress up by offering significant prizes (free vacation days or bonuses) and giving out awards. Photo booths with props related to the theme are excellent additions that amplify the theme’s visibility both during and after the event.
Lighting can transform a space. You don’t have to spend a lot of money renting a venue for your corporate events – your office spaces can be vibrant backdrops to your special event. I’ve transformed ordinary conference rooms with event lighting that turned the spaces into magical wonderlands that facilitate more interesting conversations and memorable experiences:
King Arthur Court at The Intercontinental Hotel:
The Florentine Ballroom of the Congress Hotel before lighting:
Here is the Florentine Ballroom with our event lighting:
Entertainment is typically the most memorable component of corporate events. Consider your guests’ demographics when choosing your entertainment. Most guests prefer music they recognize; younger audiences tend to gravitate towards pop and house music, so DJs like Greg Haus or EDM DJ Sean G Parks make great DJs for events with younger audiences. More mature audiences tend to appreciate music from their era like DJ Marc Mooser Moder or an Elton John impersonator/tribute artist like Crocodile Rockstar. Elton John has wide appeal with music spanning across 5 decades, so it’s a safe bet that his music will connect with a variety of people and demographics. Crocodile Rockstar’s Elton costumes are also spectacular, which adds flair and panache to special events of all kinds:
Beazley Phillips as Crocodile Rockstar:
Whatever talent you choose to feature, make sure it resonates with your guests and elevates your event. Entertainment is a key component so you should make sure it is a net asset to your guests’ experience.
The connection that happens between colleagues during company functions is the holy grail for event producers. Downtime is possibly the most precious element of company events; it gives colleagues the time they need to connect, engage and enjoy their time together. Your responsibility as an event producer is to facilitate your guests’ journey to bond with each other and create more meaningful connections, so give them adequate time and conversation space to deepen their relationships.
Hiring the right performers for a gay pride festival, LGBT wedding or other special event is an integral component towards creating a thoughtful and meaningful experience for your guests. There are many reasons to hire an Elton tribute artist for your LGBT events – and even more compelling reasons to hire Crocodile Rockstar for your LGBT event:
This aspect of Elton John’s contributions to the LGBT community makes hiring an Elton tribute artist for your LGBT event a meaningful choice.
Importantly, Crocodile Rockstar Elton artist Beazley Phillips is an LGBT artist who gives back to his community. Beazley performed at the Gay Games (at Wrigley Field) in 2006; he and his husband raise money for LGBT nonprofits like the Center on Halsted and TPAN; performing for LGBT politicians, marching with the LGBT Hall of Fame in the Chicago Pride Parade, and being an active part of the LGBT community.
Choosing an artist who is an out, visible part of the community, shows you care enough to hire a performer for your LGBT event. Your guests will appreciate this important aspect.
Here are a few examples of his costumes next to Elton’s originals (and see more costumes here):
If you need any more reasons to hire Crocodile Rockstar, check out a few of his videos on our YouTube channel.
Three Piano Players We Lost in 2022
In 2022 I was devastated by the deaths of three of my childhood piano playing idols: Jerry Lee Lewis, Christine McVie and Ramsey Lewis. And while they may seem to have nothing in common, each of them were maestros in their own way whom I admired and loved for their unique relationships with the piano.
I remember one exchange during my weekly Undergraduate piano lesson. My professor recommended that for the Bach piece I was learning that I needed to work on my staccato.
“Staccato? “ I asked. “You mean like Jerry Lee?”
She pulled back in surprise trying to wrap her head around my comment. “The comedian?”
“No, No!” I laughed. “Jerry Lee Lewis.”
“That is not staccato,” she recoiled, “that is machine gun!”
Her opinion of Jerry Lee Lewis mattered little to me, I’d loved him since I first heard back when I was a kid. There was something about the emotion that he tore out of that piano that thrilled me. I learned all of his hits before I’d even learned to read music. At that time, I saw in Jerry Lee Lewis, a fellow southerner who was crusading against the white conservative religious establishment trying to play rock and roll and maybe to give them a little mischief at the same time. I learned from him to play with everything that I had no matter what those around me thought. Whole Lotta Shakin, Wild One, and Great Balls of Fire are still three of my favorite songs and I regularly end my performances with them.
After a particularly angsty performance in our living room one summer, my grandfather asked if I knew any soft and quiet songs. I did know quieter songs, of course, because Christine McVie was also one of my idols. I feel in love with her work listening to vinyl records in college my dorm with my best friensd. The first time I saw her in concert with Fleetwood Mac, I was so taken with her performance of Songbird that during a lull in the roar of the crowd, my quieter countenance was shattered when I screamed out, “We love you Christine!” I was so enraptured in her performance that this completed surprised me and my best friend who still laughs about that time I became such a fan boy. Christine’s first albums had been pure English Blues. There was something about her songs and the way that she played them, they were simple, honest and beautiful. She taught me that it was more important to support a song with your licks rather than overplay on a it
My Mom and I shared a mutual love of the jazz pianist, Ramsey Lewis. I’d listened to her vinyl collection that included several of his late sixties albums as I was growing. We were lucky enough to see him in Chicago one Christmas at a small club show. I was absolutely mesmerized by his voicings. No matter what genre he played, always created the best chords and had the most groove of any piano player I’d ever seen. I followed Ramsey for years, we both lived in Chicago and had a he had a great program, The Legends of Jazz. He taught me that you had to learn your craft through years of hard work and daily piano practice, and that no matter how hard you worked, there was always someone who worked harder.
Maybe these piano players really did have nothing in common other that there was at least one young listener out there who idolized their recordings and absorbed aspects of their performance styles. Whether they were pulling me from my seat, lifting me up, or allowing me to float on a groove they laid bare my existential thoughts in ways that I never could match with words alone.
I’m going to miss these artists, but I know that every time I play piano, a little bit of what I took from them still comes through in my playing.
Here’s a couple of my favorite clips of all three artists:
Jerry Lee Lewis Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On - Live Roma, Italia 1989
Christine McVie 1975 - You Make Lovin Fun (in all of it’s analog glory)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – The “In” Crowd – Live 1990
Great night last night! Performed for a party for outgoing Illinois Senator Greg Harris again and got to meet Lori Lightfoot in my verion of the iconic white Elton John costume from 1973!
After years of pounding the piano as a rock and blues performer, a 'stunt' piano player as my friend Eric Hill once put it, I woke up one day in excruciating pain in my right arm.
I was diagnosed with a large tear and a dozen or so microtears, in my lateral epicondyle (the tendon that attaches at the elbow and travels down the outside of your arm to your fingers).
For nearly two years, I couldn't play piano more than twenty minutes, a couple days a week, and even that caused so much pain I couldn't turn a doorknob. Surgery wasn't a viable option and physical therapy, performance specialists and various treatments, were not working. I was devasted to say the least.
Towards the end of first year, the Senior Vice President at my firm, told me the agency would be closing for Halloween for a full day of Halloween fun and team building exercises. She heard me perform, she knew that I loved Elton John and said I always reminded her of early Elton. She asked if I would be able to perform a couple Elton John songs for our firm's Halloween event. I told her that I could get through two or three songs at most, but she said that would be fine.
That night when I shared the news with my partner, who is one of the most creative people I ever met, the response was, "What costume are you going to wear?"
Above: my friends and me creating our X-Universe
Where to even start?
I didn't know the first thing about making stage costumes, but I have been a life-long comic book fan and a superhero cosplayer for years, which meant that I had some basic experience in putting together costumes.
My very first Elton John inspired costume
And while I couldn't play piano, I discovered that I could work with my hands on specific physical tasks that didn't stress the ole lateral epicondyle. I dove right into the Halloween Elton costume.
Looking back, while it was not my best, (you can see the newest version here), it would be the start of many Elton John inspired costumes.
All this time later, after years of physical therapy and long hours of work, I can play piano again.
I also have an entire room filled with my Elton John inspired costumes, which I call my Elton John closet! Also, the three-or-four Elton songs that I knew when this journey started, have grown into a repertoire of hours’ worth of Elton John songs.
In some ways, it was Elton John that saved my life and gave me a whole new outlook on life!