The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Wednesday, Sept. 24, 1997


Tribute to Princess Diana a sellout at local music outlets

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

The candle on Elton John's newly released single blew out quickly at local record stores.

If you waited until after 4 p.m. Tuesday to hunt for John's rewritten ``Candle in the Wind 1997,'' you probably went home empty-handed.

``Shortly after I opened, I got hit pretty hard for it,'' said Kelly Butz, manager of Record Den, Hermitage. The store had sold 150 copies of the compact disc and cassette single, which also included a new John song, ``Something About the Way You Look Tonight.''

National Record Mart had a waiting list for 200 copies before Tuesday's on-sale date, and the remaining 300 copies sold in a matter of hours, said Manager Cynthia Funge.

Associate Brian Anderson said the CD was ``selling like crazy'' at Wal-Mart, Hermitage, and Snyder's Music N More, Grove City, had sold all but a couple of its 14 copies.

``That's a pretty big seller for me,'' said owner Margie Snyder, adding that while teens and young adults make up the majority of her customers, older adults were the ones looking for ``Candle in the Wind.''

Some of the region's John fans had to hunt even harder for the CD. Ms. Funge said she heard that other NRM stores didn't receive their shipments on time.

``The phone's been hard to deal with,'' she said. ``There are so many people who want to come in tonight.''

Ms. Funge said sales pressure increased because Wal-Mart ``broke the street date'' by starting to sell the CD Saturday, three days before PolyGram Records officially permitted sales.

Anderson refuted the claim, saying sales did not begin until Tuesday.

``We took names Saturday, that's all,'' Anderson said. ``We stopped taking them because we didn't know how many we were going to get. We got the CDs this morning (Tuesday) and the cassettes last night (Monday).''

John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song in 1973 as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. It found new chart life on John's 1987 album, ``Live With the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.''

John rewrote the lyrics to honor Princess Diana in the wake of her death Aug. 31 in Paris. All writing royalties and record company profits go to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund.

Some buyers are picking up more than one copy, either for family members and friends or to help the charities that will benefit from the royalty fund. But collectors also account for some of the multiple sales.

``Most of the customers are genuine and sincere,'' said Ms. Funge, meaning they are not looking to hoard copies in hopes that their value will increase.

``I think they were just touched by the song itself and wanted to have it in their collections,'' Ms. Snyder said of her customers.

The release of ``Candle in the Wind'' overshadowed the same-day release of John's new full-length album, ``The Big Picture,'' even though John appeared Monday on ``Late Night With David Letterman'' and John smiles out of a three-quarter-page ad in the November Musician magazine, which subscribers received Tuesday.

While NRM is ``not doing too badly'' in selling ``The Big Picture,'' other stores reported the 11-song album is collecting dust on their shelves.

``Hopefully, that will sell, too,'' Ms. Snyder said, confident that John's fans will learn of its existence.

``I don't think anyone knows it's out,'' Butz said.

9 At stores where ``Candle in the Wind'' sold out, customers wanted to know when the next shipment will arrive.

``We're supposed to get more back in tomorrow,'' Butz said Tuesday. ``In this business you can't count on anything too much.''

Ms. Funge said new copies should arrive throughout the week, possibly as early as this morning.

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