Elton John (right) with Bernie Taupin and Maxine Feibelman on their wedding day in 1971She was the inspiration for one of Elton John’s most popular songs, but Maxine Feibelman was never romantically interested in the British superstar – it was his longtime lyricist and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin who held a place in her heart. Taupin penned the track about Maxine after she joined him and John on tour as a seamstress. A trained dancer, she would spend most of the shows dancing at the side of the stage. The lyrics tell of Taupin’s feelings for his ‘Blue jean baby, LA lady, seamstress for the band’. He went on to marry Maxine in 1971, the same year that the single was released, in his home village of Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. But he could not make it work with his new American wife; his reported drink issues and love of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle saw the couple divorce five years later in 1976.
The song is literally about Maxine Feibelman, Bernie Taupin's first wife. (Taupin is Elton's long-time lyricist.) There is a picture of Maxine early in the video, and at the end.There is also a wedding photo, as well as various pictures of Elton.
More Than Words: Elton's Blue Jean Baby
Tiny Dancer, Elton John (Madman Across The Water, 1972)
“Hold me closer Tony Danzer” – say what now? Contrary to popular belief, this Elton John classic is not an ode to the ‘Who’s The Boss’ star. To those who know the song’s title, the chorus lyrics may seem a little more obvious.
Made popular again thanks to the tour bus sing-along in 2000’s cult movie classic Almost Famous, Tiny Dancer was written in 1971 by Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s long time lyricist. The "Blue jean baby, LA Lady, seamstress for the band" is Maxine Feibelman, Bernie Taupin's girlfriend. She was a dancer and traveled with the band on their early tours, often sewing together the costumes and fixing their clothes. She and Taupin married in 1971.
“Coming to the U.S. (California specifically) for the first time, Bernie was describing the spirit of the era through the women (particularly Maxine) he met on the sunset strip at the different restaurants & bars.... free spirits, sexy, ethereal... The way they moved - so different to what he was used to in England.” Lyric Interpretations.
According to Elizabeth J Rosenthal, author of “His Song: The Musical Journey Of Elton John", a lot of the lyrics can be taken quite literally. “The line "seamstress for the band" memorializes the fact that Maxine was actually the seamstress for Elton's band at one time. Bernie and Maxine were divorced within a few years, and Bernie now says that the song was really a general tribute to the young women of Southern California, but we know better. The song has always been one of Elton's favorites to play live. The song's use in the movie (Almost Famous) led to numerous covers, including Tim McGraw's (which he performed live with Elton at the 2002 American Music Awards).”
Ben Folds also covered Tiny Dancer on his live album Ben Folds Live. The original version was ranked #387 on the 2004 List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.