They say you should never meet your heroes, but in Tom Odell's case, that turned out to be a very good thing.
The buzzed-about 22-year-old British singer-songwriter-pianist, who grew up in a West Sussex small town listening to Elton John, was personally chosen by the Rocket Man to open for him.
So rather than a Long Way Down - also the name of Odell's buzzed about 2013 debut that arrived in Canada on Sept. 17 on the heels of his BRITs Critics' Choice Awards win earlier in the year - it turned out to be a major step up.
"He called me and asked me to support him in London out of the blue - it was crazy," said Odell. "And he said, 'I'm a big fan of your music,' which was just crazy cause I'm a huge fan of his. It's difficult for me really to find the words to explain this whole situation because it's never happened to me before. Honestly, when I first started songwriting, he made such an impression on me that to then be writing songs and releasing them and for him to even know my name is very, very overwhelming. And I have a few friends who are artists and he's done the same thing ... and to see someone who's had such a long career, he's been around since the late '60s, to be still so enthusiastic and still encouraging it, it's truly incredible."
We caught up with Odell in Toronto recently where he performed one of three Canadian fall dates.
How close have you gotten to Elton?
We saw him at a festival, 'cause we were both performing at another festival, and we got into his dressing room and we had a chat about music, it was me and the band. It was f---ing just amazing. I'm still flying high from this ... It fills me with a lot of confidence as well.
Is it destiny that you met?
It's weird isn't it? I mean I talk about him a lot in interviews ... I mean he even said that to me, he said, 'Thank you for mentioning me!' It's very strange, very surreal.
From Elton to the Rolling Stones, too. I heard they asked you to open for them at Hyde Park but you got sick.
The Stones, they were doing this big thing at Hyde Park, and they asked us to open, and I got hit with a really nasty chest infection. It was really annoying. And I had to pull out on the day (of the show).
Was winning the Brit's Critics' Choice award a big deal for you?
It was a big deal because it came at a time when I was almost completely unknown ... And to win the Critics' Choice at that stage, it definitely turned my life from one thing to another very quickly in terms of what I was doing every day. Which was, actually, quite overwhelming to start with, so nine months on I feel a bit more accustomed to it.
It must have raised your profile.
Which was great, because it's very difficult to get your music heard, that's one of the hardest things when you're a new artist, just getting your music in people's ears, and so the Critics' Choice was very good for that. But that award has got so much expectation from it and I didn't really notice at the time, but looking back, it went from lots of people at my shows being really excited about me, and then people turn up that didn't know about my music at all and kind of sat there stroking their chins. Instead of celebrating when you have that success, you're almost expected to have that success, which is a strange thing I think.
But the album has done well in the U.K. since its earlier release there in June.
It went to No. 1, the album, in the U.K., and it was Glastonbury weekend and we were playing and I found out literally just before we went on stage.