At first glance, it seemed like a beautiful 90th celebration. Sir Elton John took to the piano to play his iconic hit Daniel to the birthday girl, Sheila Farebrother, who enjoyed the touching tribute from her son. But on closer inspection, guests realised the shocking truth – it wasn’t the 64-year-old musician but a paid lookalike!
Paul Bacon, also known as “Ultimate Elton”, was hired by Sheila to play an hour-long set of 16 Elton John hits, including Yellow Brick Road and Candle in the Wind. For the big finale, “Elton” sang Don’t Go Breaking My Heart with real-life pop star Kiki Dee (68), who attended. Paul says it was the “ultimate accolade” to perform Elton’s songs for the legend’s mother. “It doesn’t get much better than that, when his own mother thinks you’re good,” he tells. “It was a really nice evening. Everyone was obviously up for a party.”
Sheila requested the tribute act after a friend convinced her to see Paul’s live performance. “She had such a good time that she said, ‘I’ve got to have you guys at my party because the other chap, the other Elton, isn’t available’,” tells Paul.
But behind the seemingly tongue-in-cheek surprise act lays a strained family history. Although he supports his elderly mother financially, Elton hasn’t spoken to Sheila for a number of years. Just a few months after the musician and his husband David Furnish had son Zachary (4), via surrogate in 2010, Sheila admitted she had “no interest” in meeting her grandchild. They’ve gone on to have another son, Elijah, who is two years old.
“[Elton] has cut me off completely,” Sheila said at the time. “He has had nothing to do with me since June 2008.”Sheila refuses to get into any mudslinging over her son, but it’s thought she made some offensive comments towards David (52), and Elton wasn’t having it.
Sadly, mother and son were once close, and Sheila was a witness at Elton and David’s civil ceremony in 2005. However, it is believed she was not invited to their wedding in December last year, which was attended by celebrity friends Elizabeth Hurley and the Beckhams.
After their falling out, Sheila moved house to West Sussex from Old Windsor, near London, where she used to be only 3km away from her son’s mansion. She also sold more than 200 memorabilia items of Elton’s, including 40 platinum and gold discs, at auction.
While Paul entertained the party-goers, it’s understood Elton was in Las Vegas, where he is on tour and due to take an extended residency at Caesars Palace for a reported $450,000 per show. On the flipside, “Ultimate Elton” earns around $4000 a night for his gigs. Elton is well-known for his feuds – he recently got into a spat with Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana, who criticised same-sex families and called IVF babies “synthetic”. Elton called for a boycott of their products, only to be spotted the next day carrying a D&G bag.
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