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    Elton John's "Fantastic" Follow-up

    Elton John has decided that Captain Fantastic needs a partner.

    A Sept. 19 release date has been set for the Rocket Man's next studio album, a follow-up to 1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy called The Captain and the Kid. A North American tour in support of this latest offering kicks off Sept. 15 in Sacramento.

    "It was [Sanctuary Group CEO Merck Mercuriadis'] idea," John told Billboard last September, "because he said, 'You're always saying how [longtime songwriting partner] Bernie [Taupin] has become the Brown Dirt Cowboy'--he lives on a ranch in Santa Ynez--and I'm this guy who plays concert after concert, buying art, buying photographs, living a very lavish lifestyle.

    "I've become Captain Fantastic."

    Captain Fantastic, which featured, among others, the songs "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Bitter Fingers" and "Tell Me When the Whistle Blow," was a Sergeant Pepper-style conceptual album detailing John and Taupin's rocky road to success. John's upcoming sequel will contain musical musings on the last 30 years.

    "One of the things I'm most proud of in my life is the relationship I've had with Bernie," the 59-year-old singer said.

    The first single off of The Captain and the Kid, "The Bridge," will be available for downloading from Apple's iTunes Music Store starting Aug. 22.

    John told Billboard that he started penning the music for this project early last year in Atlanta--where he's now suing the Fulton County tax assessor's office for allegedly overvaluing his 12,000 square-foot penthouse.

    When asked how he had time to squeeze out another album while maintaining a packed schedule--sporadically filling in for Celine Dion at Caesars Palace, prepping the hit London musical Billy Elliott for its Broadway debut, penning songs with his pet band, Scissor Sisters--John credited clean living.

    "You know, I'm 15 years sober today [Sept. 2, 2005]," he said. "That's changed my life. The energy that I used to spend doing drugs and everything, I spend doing great things, like getting up in the morning, going to Tower Records, trying to find new acts, trying to promote them. I have the most fantastic life. I really love it so much."

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