Elton John's Tall Boots as The Pinball Wizard in Tommy, the Rock Opera
|Image used by permission|
The Shoe Collection,
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Tommy was Elton John’s first major feature film role. He's remembered as The Pinball Wizard and is credited as the Local Lad. The Pinball Wizard was a hit song in its own right.
Reports are that Rod Stewart turned down the part.
What do you know about the boots Elton John wore in that role?
Their Size & Construction:
As the Pinball Wizard, he wore giant Doc Martens inspired boots, standing 54”, 4 foot 6.5 inches high. They were modeled after 'cherry red' Dr. Martens.
They were made of molded fiberglass by an English company, the Northamptonshire chemical firm Scott Bader.
The boots themselves were put together by the props department of Columbia Pictures.
Tommy is deaf, mute and blind. He becomes fantastic at pinball, good enough to take on Elton John, the current Pinball Wizard, a.k.a. the local lad.
Because Tommy is so good and he has no distractions, he beats the local lad to become the new Bally table champ! The local lad finally wobbles and falls from his amazing tall boots into the crowd. The audience boos. Tommy is the new Pinball Wizard.
Doc Martensand combat boots have been Punk and other subculture fashion symbols in Britain and the US for several decades. How much, if at all, this played a part in the choice of this costume for the Pinball Wizard is hard to say.
Where are the boots now?
After filming, Elton, an avid collector, asked if he could keep the large boots that he wore for the part.
In 1988, the boots, hundreds of pairs of spectacles and other items of Elton's personal memorabilia were auctioned at Sotheby's. Boot and shoe-maker Stephen Griggs bought the boots for $20,200.
Can we go see them?
The boots are currently on permanent display at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in The Shoe Collection, as seen at the top of this post. Links to the museum are here, too.
As of the writing of this post, Elton John is appearing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. You can see him at The Million Dollar Piano. Chances are very good that you'll get to enjoy his singing The Pinball Wizard in person! I don't think he does it standing in boots that are four feet off the ground these days, though.
For any ladies who feel like strutting their stuff, a really tall boot for us is the The Ophelia Boot in Black, Lace Up Platform from Sole Boutique. It doesn't always have to be Doc Martens. And the guys don't have to have all the fun.
If you happen to visit the LL Bean Outlet store in Freeport, Maine, you'll see a much larger than life Bean Boot at the entrance. The Bean Boots were first introduced back in 1912. Couldn't find a height of this boot but it may be around 20' tall!
Elton John (right) Photo, Poster, Framed or not
Buy this poster
Thank you to The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery for permission to use their image of Elton John's Boots
If you visit their web site, you'll find so much information, including The History of Shoes
Check out their Museum Events such as the upcoming Shoe Heaven : Shoes, Pampering & Entertainment
Second image of the Pinball Wizard is from the Tommy video box, available Amazon
Several sources have been consulted and information is as accurate as possible but we're not experts.