Los Rios Rock School Records Eight of Elton John’s Greatest Hits

Six years after Los Rios Rock School students shredded Van Halen at the Sunset Sound Studio in 2017, and three years after they flowed the entire, complicated, beautiful music of the Pet Sounds album by the Beach Boys in 2020, the instructors and students of Los Rios Rock School paid tribute to the music of Elton John. Crossing Y2K, this was an affiliation of 21st Century Gen Zers guided by 20th Century Millenialls to record some of the most memorable music to bubble out of the 20th Century: Your Song, Rocketman, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Crocodile Rock, I’m Still Standing, Bennie and the Jets, Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word, and Funeral for a Friend. 

Phil Allen is the Los Rios Rock School principal, an instructor, producer and Grammy-winning engineer who laid down a bass line for this project: 

“The teachers got to choose which songs we did.  For a lot of us, these songs had a huge impact on us at some point in our life, so it was great to pick one that we got to make ‘our own.

Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding was by far the most technical.  There’s a Dream Theater cover of it that Justin Norman used as an inspiration to inject some heavy prog-rock into it.  

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was also challenging because Chariya’s vision for it was so out there, but so cool.  It really stretched the kids’ comfort zone in the studio.”

When presented with the same questions as Phil Allen, Tyler Marolf says the Admin Team should be called The Ops Team as Tyler Marolf, Chris Bates, Melissa Marolf, Phil Allen, Justin Norman were the driving force behind the decision to do Elton John’s music.

“The Ops Team at the school brainstormed for a while on what our next project was going to be.  Our previous ones (Van Halen, Beach Boys) were two extremes, technical guitar-heavy rock and intricate vocal-heavy pop.  So we wanted to choose something that had a wider range of style than Van Halen, but also focused more on traditional “rock” instruments (drums, bass, keys, guitar, vocals) than Pet Sounds.  A big challenge we faced was finding an album that was stacked with hits that were appropriate for a school to play.  When Elton announced his retirement earlier in the year, a lightbulb went off for us.  He had a crazy catalog of hits, ranging from stripped-down piano vocal ballads to epic prog rock anthems.  For the first time, we thought it would be fitting to break our mold of doing complete albums and do a Greatest Hits compilation to honor one of the most incredible artists in history.”

Where Elton John, Bernie Taupin, his musicians and engineers got the entire Yellow Brick Road album in the can in two weeks, Los Rios Rock School met once a week for three months for their recording sessions.

Phil Allen said:  “One of the big things we focused on was pouring yourself into every take, even if it’s just a sound check. You have to be ready to record a keeper even if you’re unsure about the part. The musicians on these magical records (especially from this golden era of album rock) were on a different level and really captured magic in a bottle.  The studio is a weird, stressful, uncomfortable clinical environment and it forces musicians to dig deep to give a passionate performance.”

Did the students of Los Rios lay down those magical performances? Magic in a bottle? See and hear for yourself. Presently, two of the cuts are available on YouTube: Yellow Brick Road and Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on Youtube:

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Los Rios Rock School

Funeral For a Friend on Youtube: 

Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding – Los Rios Rock School

You can also here the complete audio recordings on YouTube as well for all 8 songs recorded by the Los Rios Rock School crew.

Full Los Rios/Elton John Tribute album:

Elton John Tribute Album by Los Rios Rock School

This is a bunch of teenages having a go at beloved, complicated music and making it shredtastic. For Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, the pianist is Chad Tamayo, the guitarist is Coy Wilson, the bass player is Jake McCrary and the song has not one but two drummers Hudson Bates and Lawson Matthews.

The video for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is also available now on YouTube. In that you will see the Los Rios Rock School Wrecking Crew for Yellow Brick Road had Mac Ullem on piano, Brody Sasena on electric guitar, Cash Ruffing on drums, Cooper Raleigh on bass, Julian Laviano on other guitar, Brooklyn Kuhn on Acoustic guitar, and, Sydney Haik and Chloe Knebls taking turns on the vocals.

About Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown is a writer and editor for the Experience at EEWorldNews.com.

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