Elton John was greeted by a standing ovation last night as the legendary singer took to the stage to discuss his memoir and his life in the spotlight.
The multiple Grammy-winning international singer-songwriter sat down with David Walliams in front of a packed house at the Hammersmith Apollo last night (19th November) to speak candidly about his rise to stardom, meeting songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, his marriage with David Furnish, fatherhood and getting sober.
Wearing a pale pink checked suit and matching specs, John, 72, was moved to tears as he opened up about his friendship with Freddie Mercury and the Queen singer's final days and later had the audience laughing out loud with tales of his exploits at Studio 54 in 1970s New York.
Explaining his reasons for publishing his memoir, Me (Pan Macmillan) which was written with Alexis Petrides, John said: "The film [Rocketman] coming out earlier in the year was very honest, it wasn't in the order of what happened, it wasn't necessarily true, but this is the truth. I needed to at this stage in my life write a book and it was really done for my children because when I'm dead and gone I want them to know what their daddy was like. They are not allowed to read it of course until they get to about 15 or 16."
David Walliams and Elton John (©David Bennett)
John revealed the book was originally going to be written by his friend and former international editor of Vanity Fair Ingrid Sischy.
"Ingrid Sischy, was a dear friend of mine for a long time, she had done a lot of research for the book but then unfortunately passed away from breast cancer and I sort of shelved the book. David said you should do the book for the kids because they have to know what happened in your life and you have to write your definitive story. So I thought, 'who is going to do this'," said John. "Alexis Petrides is a friend of mine who writes music critiques for the Guardian and also writes very funny blogs. He's got a great sense of humour and I needed someone with a great sense of humour to write about my life because some wonderful, funny things have happened to me. He caught my voice perfectly and we did a lot of interviews over a three year period and that's how it came to be. I think in its original form if Ingrid had done the book it would have been a lovely book, but it would have been far more analytical and it wouldn't have been so personal."
John also did not rule out a return to the stage, prompting cheers from the audience which included celebrities such as Lewis Hamilton, David Haye and Kiki Dee, as he prepares for his farewell tour to draw to a close in 2021. He suggested he would consider a short residency in London to perform some of his lesser known songs.
Interspersed with personal photos and clips of live performances, the evening drew to a close with John singing happy birthday to his husband Furnish after being prompted by Walliams. "That's incredibly cheesy, but then you do 'Britain's Got Talent' so I would expect nothing less," said John.
John's autobiography, Me, was released globally by Pan Macmillan and sister company Henry Holt in the US on 15th October, and has been backed by one of the biggest trade marketing campaigns the publisher has ever mounted. To date, John's memoir has sold 87,078 copies through TCM.
Later this week John's world exclusive interview with Graham Norton will air on the BBC and today (20th November) John will sign copies of his autobiography at Waterstones Piccadilly with tickets for the event selling out in less than 10 seconds. Ahead of the event at the Apollo, John appeared at a one-off event at the Royal Academy of Music in a Q&A with the Academy’s principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood and met scholarship students, who John has helped to fund.