South Florida

Man From South Florida Known as ‘Surrogate Elton John'

Adam Chester talks about his inspirations and playing for The Rocket Man himself.

A pianist from South Florida has the best gig in all of rock 'n' roll.

"They call me the 'surrogate Elton John' ... so, I'm 'Sir Elton' with an S-U-R," says Adam Chester.

Chester is John's "sit-in" -- he preps the band for all of their performances and sits in for The Rocket Man at the piano and lead vocals.

Chester, a product of South Beach, graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1981. 

He honed his piano skills as a member of the high school's rock ensemble, under the direction of the late and legendary Doug Burris, who taught, conducted and inspired hundreds of kids in his wheelchair. He died in 2016 from complications from multiple sclerosis.

"What I think the overall good Doug taught was that you don't look at people in wheelchairs as being paralyzed or being less than, because he was so much more than any of us could ever be," Chester said. "He let me become the musician I wanted to be, he let me play, he let me stand and do things that I would’ve never thought of doing behind the piano."

Though he lives in Los Angeles now, Chester was back in South Florida to be inducted into his alma mater's hall of fame.

"The Band and I couldn't be happier for you," John wrote in a letter to Chester. "Congratulations from a fellow Hall of Fame member!"

And Chester will be joining Sir Elton John on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which is making stops this weekend at the BB&T Center and the American Airlines Arena.

"My dream though is that we get an Elton John mask, and they put it on me, and then I just continue on, and I’ll do it, you know, what the heck!" Chester said.

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