Journalism Archive

Much of what I have written over the years has been lost or never filed.
What I have posted here is a selection of some of the journalism I have written over the years

Elton John - Why all the rumours are wrong

First published in TVTimes, 29 April 1989

After two rough years. Elton John says that the dark cloud of scandal, ill-health and divorce has lifted and he's happier than he's ever been. At the start of his 1989/90 world tour, the rock star tells Brendan Martin how he survived

.me and elton

Resident in the Imperial Suite of the Ritz Hotel in Paris is a man who has just emerged from his own personal hell.

Millionaire rock star Elton John says he determined that the events of the past few years are not going to get him down.

"Two years ago, the whole world fell in on me. Things were said of which I was ashamed, but all along I knew I was innocent," says Elton, recalling the cruel allegations made by the popular press about his lifestyle.

"It took a hell of a long time to prove my innocence. I went through a year and a half with that shadow hanging over me. It was a very embarrassing situation for me and the people around me. I could sit at home but the people who work for me had to listen to all the gossip and lies.

"People tend to believe what they read – halfway through, there was even a danger of me believing it! It became such an obsession. But that's behind me now.

"I don't bear a grudge – it taught me to be much stronger. It also showed me that people are incredibly kind. It was the people of Britain who kept me going last year. The generosity, the letters and everything.

"I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. What I didn't realise is that you think you're OK when you're not.

"A lot of people said I should go to a psychiatrist. I thought about it, but I've been down in the dumps before and the only way to deal with that sort of thing is to face it. That's why I went back to the studio.

"I'm a great believer in positive thinking. Do something positive, and things will get better.

"The best thing I ever did was stay in England. If I'd gone, it would have looked as if I was guilty. And I was determined to prove my innocence."

The sex-and drugs allegations, for which he received £1million in libel damages, came hot on the heels of another trauma – a throat cancer scare. (In fact, Elton was suffering from nodules on his vocal chords, and surgeons in Australia saved his career by operating.)

And, if all that wasn't enough, Elton's marriage to German-born recording studio engineer Renate Blauel was on the rocks.

"There was only one thing to do – I went back to work," says Elton. "I said 'I'm not going to sit on my backside, I'm going to do something positive.' I went into the studio and now I'm more prolific that I've ever been.

"I've got a new album coming out this summer, Sleeping with the Past; a new single with Aretha Franklin Through the Storm; plus an old album of good stuff coming out in the States. I'm enjoying myself again. Everything now is clear. My divorce settlement with Renate was very amicable. The whole thing was upsetting for both of is but it was amicable. I have no clouds over me now."

When the conversation turns to his marriage Elton won't be drawn further except to say: "It was a very hard situation for Renate to deal with. I more or less said in the agreement that I wouldn't talk about it. I think she wants to be left alone. We gave it our best shot and that was it.

I don't think I'll marry again. But you can never tell. I don't know that I'd be able to accept children now. I think I'm too set in my ways. There are too many children in the world as it is."

Having ruled out fatherhood, only-child Elton reveals that he has no one to inherit his estimated £40million.

"When I go, that's it. I have no nieces or nephews. That's why I travel in the best style possible. I'm not saving up for my old age. I'm a very wealthy man and I just don't see the point in hoarding it.

"For the time being, all I want to do is go around the the world for a couple of years, playing and promoting the new album and just having fun without responsibilities to anybody else," he says at the start of a marathon two-year world tour, which reaches Britain next month.

"My biggest problem is my weight. If I look at a doughnut I put on two pounds without even eating it. I'm a big bread fan and I could eat curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I just tend to put on weight if I do, especially if I'm not exercising.

"Ten years ago I was so obsessed with dieting I nearly became anorexic.

"I get depressed when I'm very overweight. But I'm happy with myself at the moment. I have got a treadmill that I use every morning and I play tennis when I can."

Elton John and his family are very close. When the singer threw a star-studded 42nd birthday in Paris last month his mother, Sheila, was top of the guest list.

Birthdays are important to Elton, even if they give his family the headache of thinking what to give the man who has everything.

"People, especially my aunts and grandmother, don't know what to get me so I usually ask them to buy me a tree or a sapling; then I can have it for the rest of my life. It seems like a nice idea."

And a good reason for not moving house? "I don't think I'll ever move from Windsor. Last year I contemplated it for a little while because of all the hassle I went through.

"But, contrary to reports, I don't have anywhere else. I don't have a house in Palm Beach. I don't have an apartment in Paris. I did have a house in Los Angeles but I sold it nearly ten years ago.

"I always buy Country Life and have a look at the houses for sale. But I've got a nice house, a lot of garden and my little recording studio. It's convenient – it's close to London, it's close to the airport, and it's close to Watford.

I've got everything I need there. I've got everything I want."

Talking to Elton John, one is struck by the shyness of the man, a complete contrast to his public image and flamboyant stage presence.

"I love plodding around the kitchen doing everyday things. Wherever I go I take my Colman's mustard, my Marmite and HP sauce with me," he says indicating the yellow tin and brown jar that sit on the hotel room's regency-style mantelpiece.

"I love shopping at the supermarket. When I go on holiday ito St Tropez, people often see me wheeling my trolley around the aisles. I like to get up at six in the morning and go down to the flower market. I shop for fresh bread, too, and fish that's just come in off the boats. I'm not a recluse – I don't shut myself away from the world."

Elton's desire for an ordinary life was also confirmed when he auctioned off many of his most treasured possessions at Sotheby's. It was, he says, an act of necessity.

He denies that he felt any sadness in parting with his treasures, only gratitude for the pleasure they gave him at the time. People, says Elton are more important.

"I have never been to a funeral," he reveals. "It's funny because although I write very sad instrumental music like Funeral for a Friend and Song for Guy, hardly any of my family have died yet. My grandmother is still alive. She's 89, I'm steeling myself for that sadness."

Since the sale, he says, his family and friends can visit without to move some hoarded treasure before sitting down.

"My life and house were cluttered. I never threw anything away. It was all becoming very complicated. So getting rid of everything swept out all the cobwebs. I wanted to get rid of everything and start again.

"I'll admit that a lot of my career has been excessive. I'm not the sort of person who does things in moderation."




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© 2008 Brendan Martin

Brendan Martin - Media Trainer and Journalist