Elton John and Ray Cooper

I remember when Elton John was allowed to play in the U.S.S.R.  It was a huge deal.  I also remember when, a few years later, Horowitz returned to Moscow to play a concert.  Big stuff.  People today (I won’t limit it just to the young) forget how brutal and ugly Communism was in the U.S.S.R. and how brutal and ugly it is by nature.

I’ve always loved how Elton and Ray Cooper played together.  Cooper is a maniac on stage and endlessly entertaining to watch.  I found this short clip captivating in part because of the comments at the beginning.  Despite the attempts by the Soviet government to shut out freedom and the West, it found its way into the culture.  Freedom finds its way, just as life finds its way.

There are plenty of dark corners in this world today, but people will always yearn to be free, and liberty will prevail.  Freedom to worship, dance, paint, play music, tell jokes, insult the neighbors…whatever it is people want to do.  That will win.

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Layla

Wild man Ray Cooper somehow manages to steal the spotlight from the monster-talented group of guitarists.

Ray Cooper — Elton John

Ray Cooper is a fantastic percussionist.  Let me say that another way.  Ray Cooper is a fantastic entertainer with a couple extra doses of showmanship.  He also happens to be a percussionist.  I recall when Elton John received permission to tour the USSR.  He took Ray Cooper along with him.  That was it.  A two-man show, a pianist and a percussionist.  Gutsy.  Cooper has stage presence, that’s for certain.