NEW YORK — Elton John announced Wednesday that he is retiring from touring, with the consummate showman saying he wants to devote himself to his children — but after a final, massive swing around the world.
The 70-year-old British entertainer, revealing his plans at a gala New York event, said he planned to “go out with a bang” with a global tour that will open on Sept. 8 and last through 2021.
“It’s the last time that I will be touring and traveling the world, because my priorities have changed in my life,” John told several hundred journalists and guests after a mini-concert and virtual reality presentation of his career.
“I’ve had an amazing life, I’ve had an amazing career,” he said, adding, “My priorities now are my children and my husband and my family.”
He said he had been on the road since he was 17, adding, “I can’t physically do the traveling anymore. I want to be home with my children more.”
John and Furnish married in 2014 and the couple are raising two sons, Zachary, seven, and Elijah, five, who were born through a surrogate mother.
“I never thought that I could love anything as much as I love my sons… I never thought I could be a father, I thought I’m too selfish, too set in my ways,” he said.
John, who in the 1980s became one of the first openly gay major celebrities, has two children with his husband, Canadian filmmaker and former advertising executive David Furnish.
The original “Rocket Man” said he had no health concerns, despite a scare with a bacterial infection that caused him to cancel South American dates last year. He said he would stay active, hoping to record more albums and write further musicals.
“I will be creative, hopefully, until the day I die,” he said.
DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME
Sporting a floral coattail jacket with sequined lapels, John promised an extravagant affair for the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour which will open in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Anticipating 300 shows around the world, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour could easily become one of the most profitable in music history.
“It’s a way of going out with a bang. I don’t want to go out with a whimper,” he said.
John’s theatrics have made him a top attraction in Las Vegas. His second residency, the technically lavish The Million Dollar Piano, will close in May after more than 200 concerts.
The artist said he still relished pleasing crowds — but, as a septuagenarian, he was more interested in taking his children to soccer practice than in traveling.
“I never thought that I could love anything as much as I love my sons. There’s not a word in the English dictionary that describes the love you have for a child,” he said.
John made the announcement under the Roman-inspired dome and columns of Gotham Hall, a former bank turned event space in Midtown Manhattan, where guests were offered champagne and shrimp tempura hors d’oeuvres.
The self-described Luddite — “I’ve never downloaded anything, not even porn,” he quipped to laughs — offered a virtual reality retrospective of his career on headsets offered to the audience.
The mini-biography starts in 1970 at West Hollywood’s Troubadour club, where the little-known pianist, born Reginald Dwight, electrified the crowd. It then takes the viewer on stage with him at his legendary 1975 blowouts at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
John, often known as Sir Elton after a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, has generated decades of hits such as “I’m Still Standing,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
His style brought together the old-school rhythm-and-blues piano of early rock ‘n’ roll with Gospel influences as well as a solid grounding in classical music.
The artist has also earned a fortune as a composer for musicals including blockbuster The Lion King, Billy Elliot, and the upcoming adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada.
Forbes magazine in 2017 ranked him as the 26th highest-earning celebrity, earning $60 million over the previous year.
Once a hard-partying rock star with a voracious appetite for cocaine and alcohol, John has achieved the kind of long-lasting fame enjoyed by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
He also was one of the first celebrities to become involved in the fight against AIDS. His AIDS Foundation, established in 1992, has raised millions of dollars for prevention and services.
John’s last studio album, Wonderful Crazy Night, carried a palpable sense of joy. Last year he put out a greatest hits collection dubbed Diamonds.
John said he was open to one-off concerts after his tour but that they would likely only be in Britain.
But he has one firm red-line. He said he had instructed his eldest son Zachary, “When Daddy dies, promise me — there won’t be a hologram of me going around the world.” — AFP/Reuters