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July 28, 2014

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Videos: Sir Elton John and secrets of his $1 million Yamaha piano

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Justin Timberlake & Friends featuring Sir Elton John, Diddy and Dirty Money, Christina Aguilera, Salt-n-Pepa, T-Pain, Lady Antebellum, Selena Gomez and Free Sol at Theater for the Performing Arts in Planet Hollywood on Oct. 23, 2010.

Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe

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The Million-Dollar Piano

The Million-Dollar Piano

The Million-Dollar Piano

The Million-Dollar Piano

Elton John and Celine Dion

The Million-Dollar Piano

It’s probably the first time in live music history that fans will spend as much time pouring over the piano as they will staring at the star. Yamaha has spent four years and more than $1 million to create the world’s best keyboard instrument for Sir Elton John’s new three-year run of shows at Caesars Palace premiering tonight.

The 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee starts with 16 performances through Oct. 23 at The Colosseum and continues on alternating with resident headliners Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, and then with Shania Twain at the end of next year joining the lineup.

Yamaha has kept Elton’s magical, majestic co-star under wraps but produced a series of videos to capture its creation. Elton promises that the piano will serve as the major attraction “under the gargantuan feast of music and imagery. It’s why the show is called Million Dollar Piano.”

The only secret we’ve learned about the show itself is that Elton will perform his big hits with an expanded orchestra of cello players and female backup singers. Elton took to his own Web site to encourage fans to send in souvenirs from his Las Vegas shows that date back to 1971, and everything from posters, ads and tickets will be flung up on the giant video screens to serve as a backdrop to “all those hits through all those years.”

Over a four-decade-long-career, Elton has conquered music, stage and screen and won five Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He’s sold more than 250 million records, with 35 gold and 25 platinum bestsellers.

Despite the fact that he’s badmouthed Las Vegas audiences in British interviews, Elton has been an all-out supporter of our hometown hero Andre Agassi’s annual Grand Slam education fundraisers over the years, including a headline performance last year at the Wynn. When he last played onstage in Celine’s home at Caesars, they sang together for another charity benefit concert.

Elton started out in life as Reginald Dwight, born in Pinner, Harrow, 20 miles outside London, where I also grew up, went to school and worked on my first newspaper. The now 64-year-old superstar entertainer began playing piano at age 3 and performed at parties and family events but started formal lessons at 7.

Nobody ever guessed that the kid who at 15 played piano in our local Northwood Hills Hotel pub would go onto worldwide fame and fortune -- now crowned with Yamaha building him a $1 million piano.

Next comes a film about his life, Rocket Man, produced by Steve Shaw and written by Lee Hall, who collaborated with Elton on the musical Billy Elliot on Broadway. Actors James McAvoy and Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman are being tipped to play Elton.

We’re now just hours from Elton’s triumphant return to The Colosseum and learning all of the show’s secrets. We’ll report the first-night premiere excitement right here at Vegas DeLuxe tomorrow. Just before curtain up, Yamaha released its final teaser YouTube video.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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