Sunday 25 August 2019

Rocket man blasts off for final time

Piano man Elton John says farewell in Dubin on June 12 & 13
Piano man Elton John says farewell in Dubin on June 12 & 13
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

In his wanton 1970s and 1980s heyday, Elton John was probably more rock 'n' roll than Led Zeppelin and The Who combined.

Pre-Liam Gallagher, he was a one-man drug-snorting machine. Elton would complain to pilots on his private jets to stop the wind blowing too loudly outside before pointing to the gleaming white snow on the Alps below - and saying matter of factly that was roughly the amount of cocaine he had put up his nose over the years.

Then there was the cockles. Pots of them. Many pots.

"Sainsbury's cockles," Elton corrected. "I would not eat for three or four days because I was doing coke. Then I'd sleep for two days and then I'd get up and I'd be starving hungry.

"I'd have three or four pots of cockles, then I'd have three bacon sandwiches and then a pint of Haagen-Dazs' vanilla ice cream because it would make you throw up easier," Elton recalled sweetly.

"Then I'd go and throw up and I'd do the whole lot again because I'd be ravenously hungry. That's no fun either. Bulimia's fucking awful. But I wouldn't care. I would throw up and it would be all down my dressing gown.

"There was no shame in anything I did. Everyone told me, 'Elton you're being an absolute moron, you're going to kill yourself'. My mother left the country because of my drug abuse. My family didn't talk to me. No one could get through to me. I just couldn't refuse a line of cocaine."

Now, 72 years of age, it is a wonder the great man is alive to sing some of the greatest songs of his generation given his diet made Elvis look positively healthy.

But back to the most important thing about the man who is playing two shows in Dublin next month - his zeitgeist-defining songs.

The shy boy from Pinner, Reginald Kenneth Dwight, found a destiny in music. His 1973 masterpiece of Wagnerian grandiosity Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sold over 30m copies. It was, as Rolling Stone magazine dubbed it at the time, "an inspection of the inner feelings of several different versions of the Elton John persona". Elton called it his White Album. It is also one of the greatest albums of all time, and was recorded in 15 days.

As New York magazine told us last year, Elton found his own distinctive passage through "the apocalypse of the post-Beatles pop landscape - and offered us ever more ambitious pop constructions, culminating in some sort of weird masterpiece, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and then an odd autobiographical song cycle, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, in which he looked back to examine his life and the years of insecurity preceding his stardom."

Playing his final tour, named Farewell Yellow Brick Road, the piano man will be treating us to rarities combined with the greatest hits like Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, among many more.

Elton John plays 3Arena on June 12 & 13 as part of the epic three-year final 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour

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