Elton John fans are going to have to wait a long, long time to see the performer live again after he retires following his upcoming tour.
After more than half a century on the road, the Rocket Man is about to touch down — permanently. The 70-year-old performer says he’ll likely do his final dates sporadically over the next three years, giving both ample time and warning to those who want to see him sing “Your Song” in person one more time.
In a statement to the British press today, the former Reginald Dwight dispelled rumors that failing health has forced him off the road. Last year, a virus that was considered life-threatening forced the singer/songwriter to cancel nine concert appearances so John could focus on regaining his health.
“I picked up an infection,” he explained, “and I was very ill and it knocked me sideways, but I still did 96 shows. Believe me – if you ever do 300 shows, you’re not in ill health.”
While many think of Sir Elton John as primarily a recording artist whose rich catalog of hits sold him 300 million records and earned him five Grammys, it was live performing that first got him noticed as a solo artist. In 1970, his signature tune, “Your Song,” first appeared on an American album — by the superstars of the moment, Three Dog Night.
But when Elton appeared in Los Angeles to promote his first US release, it was his acrobatics at the keyboard — inspired in part by piano pounder Jerry Lee Lewis — that caught audiences’ attention and made critics sit up and take notice. While other pensive singer/songwriters of the moment like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell would be perfectly at home in a coffee house, Elton did handstands on his piano, and roamed the stage like a caged animal set free. His songs had such widespread appeal that he and David Bowie are the only white artists ever to be live featured performers on the Soul Train TV series.
Those days ended in the late ’70s, when John amassed a mountain of cash and several drug dependencies. A decade later, he entered rehab and came out — both from his addictions and the closet. He married film director David Furnish in 2014 and the couple now have two sons.
More than ill health, the singer says, his concerns have more to do with spending more time with his family. “Obviously I work,” he told the press. “But the work will get less and less and I’ll spend more time with my children growing up.”
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Last modified: August 7, 2018