Elton John Announces Retirement From Touring
70-year-old Hall of Fame musician will say goodbye following three-year ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour
At an emotional New York press conference Wednesday, Elton John announced that he will retire from the road after a lengthy farewell tour.
“I’m not going to be touring anymore,” he told moderator Anderson Cooper at New York’s Gotham Hall. “I’m not going to be touring and traveling the world. My priorities have changed. I have young children.” Before he finishes, however, he will spend three years on the road saying goodbye to his fans with a 300-date tour he’s dubbed Farewell Yellow Brick Road. “That doesn’t mean I won’t still be creative,” he said. “But I won’t travel any more…I don’t want to go out with a whimper. I want to go out with a bang…It’ll be the most produced, fantastic show I’ve ever done.”
To start the event, organizers handed out virtual reality headsets, with the VR video taking attendees through a five-minute summary of John’s career. John appeared behind a piano to croon “Tiny Dancer” immediately following; the singer decked out in trademark glittered suit and sunglasses. From there, John performed a stripped-down version of his 1983 hit “I’m Still Standing.”
Many acts ”“ including Cher, Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne ”“ have launched farewell tours only to return to the road just a few years later. But Elton insisted this if for real. “I’m not Cher,” he said. He did say that after a long break following the conclusion of the tour in 2021 he will continue to write and record. “I’m 71. I can’t physically do the traveling anymore. I want to be at home. I really want to spend time with my children at home. I’ve had an incredible life, but life is all about change.”
He didn’t rule out the possibility of a future residency like Kate Bush’s 22-night stand at London’s Apollo Hammersmith in 2014. “I haven’t had much time off in my life,” he said. “I definitely want to make a couple more albums, but that will be easy since I can do that at home. I want to see friends. I want to spend time at my house and with my photography collection. I’m really looking forward to this tour and I’m really looking forward to the 300th date.”
The move comes nine months after he contracted aÂ “rare and potentially deadly” bacterial infectionÂ in South America that forced him to cancel a series of shows. John spent two days in intensive care and nearly two weeks in the hospital. “I am so fortunate to have the most incredible and loyal fans and apologize for disappointing them,” he said afterwards in a statement. “I am extremely grateful to the medical team for their excellence in looking after me so well.”
The Hall of Fame musician resumed his tour in early June, with his husband/manager David Furnish indicating that John had no plans to stop. “Without question, Elton must never stop performing,” he said. “We all have things that kind of keep us alive in life. Some people relish the idea of a retirement where they do nothing [but] for Elton that would be purgatory. Playing to live audiences is going to be something he always needs to do.”Â At Wednesday’s event, however, John dismissed reports earlier in the day that he was retiring because of ill health.
This isn’t the first time that John announced he was stepping away from live performing. “I’ve made a decision tonight that this is going to be the last show,”Â he told a stunned crowd during a 1977 show in London. “There’s a lot more to me than playing on the road and this is the last one I’m going to do.” He was back performing two years later and continued to tour at a punishing rate. Over the past 20 years, he’s played upwards of 133 shows a year that he balances between his residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and arenas and stadiums around the world.
Three years ago, John began discussing finally slowing down to spend more time with his young family. “I’ve had lots of time off with my children, and it’s all got to change now that [my son] Zachary is starting school,” heÂ toldÂ Rolling Stone. “I’ve got to be off when half-term comes. And I am planning on cutting down my shows to be with my children, because that’s what I really love.”