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July 23, 2023

The Story of Elton John’s Pinball Wizard Tall Boots, 1975

These oversize boots, or rather stilts made from fibre glass, were worn by Sir Elton John when he played the Pinball Wizard character in the film Tommy, the Rock Opera, 1975.

Tommy, the Rock Opera by The Who originated in 1969. The musical, Tommy came out as a movie in 1975 with Roger Daltrey in the lead role. 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.

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.

Elton’s costume included a pair of his trademark glasses. The memorable piece was the giant boots. They had platform supports above metal calipers. Leather straps attached to his legs allowing him to move as if he were on stilts.

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.

The boots are currently on permanent display at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in The Shoe Collection.


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