James Newton Howard credits rocker Elton John with offering him his first orchestral experiences in the 1970s: “I toured with him, recorded with him and, most spectacularly for me, I was permitted to do his orchestrations. Elton showed immense faith by allowing me to do it. Working with the London Symphony Orchestra, watching how orchestras worked with rhythm tracks and synthesizers, were opportunities that really prepared me” for film work.
Howard played keyboards for John 1975-76, and also handled string arrangements on the No. 1 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” He rejoined the band for a tour in the ’80 and conducted the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for John’s “Live in Australia” tour and album in 1986. The musicians reunited for another tour in the summer of 2004, including concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Radio City Music Hall.