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Elton John and David Bowie Were Originally Rejected by the BBC

Elton John David Bowie
Hulton Archive / Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

Elton John — “dull?” David Bowie — an “amateur?” These were the opinions of the BBC before the singers became famous, according to newly discovered notes that will be used in an upcoming documentary.

Auditioning for Auntie,’ which will air on BBC Radio 4 on Oct. 21, looks at the process by which up-and-coming British acts would have to audition before the Talent Selection Group in order to perform on the BBC’s pop-music programs. In their research, the creative team uncovered a few howlers in judgement, as reported by the Daily Mail.

After singing three songs — ‘All Across the Havens,’ ‘Lady Samantha’ and ‘Skyline Pigeon’ — Elton John was dismissed as such: “The items are not songs. Pretentious material, self-written, sung in an extremely dull fashion without any feeling and precious little musical ability. Thin, piercing voice with NO emotion. Not a tuneful voice … He writes dreary songs and he sounds like a wonky singer.”

John’s rejection was overruled by the Talent Selection Group’s bosses, who heard the tape, but Bowie had a tougher time. He was called an “amateur-sounding vocalist who sings wrong notes and out of tune” after performing ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ from the movie ‘Mary Poppins.’

Other rock legends who were rejected by the Talent Selection Group include the Rolling Stones (“unsuitable for our purposes”), Marc Bolan (“crap, and pretentious crap at that”) and the Who (“overall, not very original and below standard”).

Next: Top 10 Elton John Songs

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