The critically acclaimed Elton John biopic Rocketman explores the star's colourful past in detail - but what fans might not know is the story of how he got arrested in Auckland in 1974.

As the lauded biopic hits cinemas this week, we revisit Judith Baragwanath's first-person account of what happened, and what it's like to party with Elton.

This story was first published in the New Zealand Herald in 2002.

On Wednesday, February 27, 1974, the air in Auckland was electric: Elton John, at that time the biggest name in rock, had arrived in town for his only concert in New Zealand.

An estimated 34,000 fans from all over the country converged on Western Springs to see their pudding-shaped idol howl "Benny and the Jets", "Rocket Man" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" while cavorting about the stage like a fat chicken in an outfit made of feathers.

It almost never happened.

The evening before the concert, word got around that a swish press reception would be held for Elton at