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In 1974, Bobby Riggs, a former tennis champion who boasted at aged 55, he could easily beat any one of the best women players of the time, challenged Billie Jean King to a match. In a widely viewed television ‘battle of the sexes’ events, Billie Jean King easily beat her foe. Her score, as seen on Elton’s T-shirt, was 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.”
Elton John wearing a Billie Jean King t-shirt. In 1974, Bobby Riggs, a former tennis champion, boasted that at age 55, he could beat any one of the best women players of the time. In a widely viewed television ‘battle of the sexes’ events, Billie Jean King easily beat her foe. Her score, as seen on Elton’s T-shirt, was 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.Terry O'Neill—Iconic Images
In 1974, Bobby Riggs, a former tennis champion who boasted at aged 55, he could easily beat any one of the best women players of the time, challenged Billie Jean King to a match. In a widely viewed television ‘battle of the sexes’ events, Billie Jean King easily beat her foe. Her score, as seen on Elton’s T-shirt, was 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.”
Both shows were an instant sell-out, 110,000 rock fans descended upon Dodger Stadium to witness music magic.
Amongst the many celebrities who were backstage included actor Cary Grant. “The first night we were in our trailer getting changed and hanging out, doing all sorts of things – one of the wives, a real London girl – looked out of the curtain and said ‘Oi! Gary Cooper is out there!’ Not likely, I thought, as he was dead. But low and behold it was Cary Grant – looking like a knight in shining armour. I loved Cary Grant! We went out and talked to him and he had some really profound things to say. I was very humbled.” -Davey Johnstone, guitarist
“When Elton was onstage, the whole stadium just vibrated.” – Kenny Passarelli, bassist
Even at rehearsal, Elton John gave a performance.
“I joined the backup vocalists – Jon Joyce, Cindy Bullens and Ken Gold – for several songs. We were all decked out in one-piece jumpsuits that looked like something a gas station attendant would wear. It was, after all, 1975 in all its glory!” –Billie Jean King
“Every time I photographed him, I never knew what he was going to wear. He had the most bewildering selection of clothes. He just produced all these magic looks.” –Terry O’Neill Bob Mackie’s now-famous sequined white Dodgers uniform hangs in the background
Billie Jean King stands in front of the 45-member James Cleveland Choir, who joined Elton onstage for several songs.
“I had to climb to the top of the stadium to see what it looked like filled with that many people.” – Terry O’Neill
Elton John wearing a Billie Jean King t-shirt. In 1974, Bobby Riggs, a former tennis champion, boasted that at age 55, h
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Terry O'Neill—Iconic Images
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See Photos From Elton John's Legendary Dodger Stadium Concerts

Oct 22, 2015

When Elton John took the stage for two back-to-back sold out shows at Dodger Stadium 40 years ago, on Oct. 25 and 26 of 1975, it wasn't because he was a big baseball fan. He preferred the English game of rounders, he told TIME, because it was "not nearly as violent" and didn't involve "sliding into bases and trying to get the guy with your cleats."

Rather, at the very height of his fame, the performer needed the stadium (twice over, in fact) to accommodate the 100,000+ fans desperate to see him play. So the baseball-phobe became the first artist to play Dodger Stadium since the Beatles nearly a decade earlier. And photographer Terry O'Neill was right there for all of it. The photos that resulted from O'Neill's deep access are now being brought together in the book Two Days That Rocked the World, from which the images above are drawn. Elton John was obviously a major star before the concerts took place—hence the legions of fans, and his appearance on the cover of TIME shortly before—but those days would come to be considered by many fans to be peak Elton.

How much did the spangled Dodger uniform, designed by Bob Mackie, cost? "Two thousand," Elton was quoted by TIME as quipping. "But that's just a ballpark figure."

Two Days that Rocked the World bookjacket Terry O'Neill—ACC Art Books 

Two Days That Rocked the World will be available Oct. 30 at bookstores and online.

Read TIME's cover story about Elton John from the summer of 1975, here in the TIME Vault: Rock's Captain Fantastic

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Musicians on the Cover of TIME

The Dixie Chicks (May 29, 2006)JILL GREENBERG FOR TIME
The Dixie Chicks (May 29, 2006)
JILL GREENBERG FOR TIME
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