Elton John on his falling out with Princess Diana

They mended their differences just eight days before Princess Diana died.
Elton JohnGetty Images

No-one on the planet would think Sir Elton John’s life has been boring – but the extent of his drink, drug and sex-fuelled existence in the 1970s and 1980s has been laid bare in his new autobiography Me, along with shocking stories and twisted tales concerning his dysfunctional family, famous and flashy friends, and his own personal battles with addiction.

But among the tragedy, there’s also a heap of humour.

Here are some of the 72-year-old’s scandalous revelations.

His mum almost spoilt his wedding day

Elton’s late mum Sheila Farebrother turned into a “raving sociopath” at his wedding to David.

Elton’s mother Sheila, with whom he eventually fell out, was a difficult woman, he says.

On the day civil unions became legal in the UK, Elton and his lover David Furnish had planned an intimate wedding followed by a huge party at their Windsor home.

The singer was worried about anti-gay protesters but it was his mother who caused a ruckus, turning up “in character as a raving sociopath”, he writes.

“Then Mum announced she wouldn’t be joining the convoy of cars setting off for Windsor, nor would she be coming to the private lunch afterwards. Oh, great. The most important day of my life and one of Mum’s moods appeared to be upon us, the ones I’d lived in terror of when I was young.

“When David and I exchanged our vows, she started talking, very loudly, over the top of us: rattling on about how she didn’t like the venue and couldn’t imagine getting married in a place like this.”

He has a fabulously close friendship with Sir Rod Stewart

The pop star reveals that he calls Rod “Phyllis” and Rod calls him “Sharon”.

To this day, Elton refers to Rod by the name “Phyllis” – a drag name they chose for him in the 1970s. (Elton’s is “Sharon”.)

“When the press started speculating about my hair falling out, he sent me one of those helmet-shaped hairdryers that old women used to sit under in salons,” Elton says.

“Keen to reciprocate his thoughtfulness, I sent him a Zimmer frame covered in fairy lights. Even today, if Rod’s got an album out that’s selling better than mine, I know it’s a matter of time before he emails me: ‘Hello, Sharon, just writing to say I’m sorry that your record’s not even in the top 100, dear. What a pity when mine’s doing so well. Love, Phyllis.'”

Elton gets his own back, though. Upon learning Rod had hired a blimp to advertise a concert in Earl’s Court, London, he paid someone to shoot it down.

Apparently, says Elton, it landed on a double-decker bus and was last spotted heading towards Putney.

He’d constantly fall in love with straight men

Elton also says he was once quick to proclaim that the latest man he’d met in a gay bar was “the love of his life”.

“I didn’t pick them up so much as take them hostage. ‘Right, you have to give up what you’re doing, come on the road, fly round the world with me.’

“I’d buy them the watch and the shirt and the cars, but eventually they had no reason to be, except to be with me, and I was busy, so they’d be left on the sidelines.”

This happened so often that sometimes the scorned ex and his incoming replacement would cross paths at the airport.

Eventually it all got too much, and Elton overdosed on Valium.

He fell out with Diana, Princess of Wales, right before her death

Diana had agreed to write a foreword for a book called Rock and Royalty by designer Gianni Versace, with proceeds going to an Aids foundation, but unexpectedly backed out.

When Elton wrote to ask for an explanation, he received a cold and formal letter in return.

“I didn’t speak to her again until the day Gianni was murdered,” he says.

“She asked how I was, if I’d spoken to [Gianni’s sister] Donatella. Then she said: ‘I’m so sorry. It was a silly falling-out. Let’s be friends.'”

The princess died 16 days later and an emotional Elton sang at her funeral.

He and Diana otherwise enjoyed a long friendship.

He recalls a dinner party at which actors Richard Gere and Sylvester Stallone almost came to blows after Richard and the princess hit it off.

“‘I never would have come,’ [Sylvester] snapped, as David and I showed him to the door, ‘if I’d known Prince F***ing Charming was gonna be here.’ Then he added: ‘If I’d wanted her, I would’ve taken her!’

“We managed to wait until his car was out of sight before we started laughing.”

Rehab taught him how to fend for himself

In 1990, upon entering the only hospital that would treat him for his three addictions – drink, cocaine and food – Elton realised he was at rock bottom, and was determined to recover.

“The first days were tough. I couldn’t sleep, I had panic attacks, suffered from mood swings, felt ill all the time and lonely. And, most of all, I was embarrassed. Not because of my addictions, but because we were expected to do things for ourselves – clean our rooms, make our beds – and that was something I was completely unused to.”

He became strict about attending support groups.

“I liked the people I met. I always volunteered to make the tea, and I made lasting friends, people I’m still in touch with today: ordinary people, who saw me as a recovering addict first and Elton John second.”

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