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!