PopZette

Elton John Is Retiring: What Other Celebs Can Learn from Him

As singer announces farewell tour, today's highly politicized artists should study not just this man's music but also his note of grace

“I’m not going to be touring anymore,” Elton John told Anderson Cooper in a video live-stream Wednesday afternoon.

The 70-year-old musician may have been announcing his retirement — but in true Elton John fashion, he also announced a massive farewell tour, which will last for three years and contain 300 stops.

The “Rocket Man” singer has never been known for doing anything small — and that now includes retirement.

“My priorities now are my children and my husband and my family,” John said. The flamboyant musician, who controversially came out as gay years ago, shares two children with a husband, David Furnish.

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John also said in 2016 that he was working on a memoir. “My life has been one helluva rollercoaster ride, and it’s still lumbering on,” he said in a press release at the time. “I hope readers will enjoy the ride, too.” The book is due out next year.

John assured fans in his new video announcement that he isn’t completely saying goodbye to music. “I always thought I was going to be like Ray Charles, BB King — on the road forever,” he said. “My priorities have changed. We had children and it changed our lives. That doesn’t mean to say I’m not going to be creative, but I’m not going to travel.”

Some speculated John was retiring from performing due to poor health. Last year, he had to cancel nine shows after he picked up a bacterial infection during a South American tour.

John denied the bad health rumors and insisted his three-year tour should silence any further theories about his health.

“Last year I picked up an infection, and I was very ill and it knocked me sideways. But I still did 96 shows,” he said. “Believe me — if you ever do 300 shows, you’re not in ill health.”

John has sold over 300 million records throughout his 50-plus-year career — and still sells out arenas. Often regarded as one of the most skilled piano players and one of the most influential songwriters alive today, the singer is truly a gift to music and art.

Related: 2018 Oscar Nominations: Surprises and Predictable Politics

There’s something else that’s incredibly special about Elton John as an artist, beyond his music — and it isn’t talked about nearly enough. Unlike many artists today, John has never been aggressive about sharing or articulating his political opinions. He’s never demonized or insulted fans, and he’s always been open to communicating and collaborating with people who may think differently from him.

Think about this: Many artists were boycotted, blacklisted or shamed for playing at the presidential inauguration last year. Many other artists have demonized fans who vote differently than they do — and even openly insulted Trump voters. Some went so far as to say they would never want to have a dialogue with the president.

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Elton John, meanwhile, has always thought as an artist should think — he was always focused on dialogue and connecting to different people. This was shown clearly in his friendship with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, a relationship that would likely destroy the career of a younger, less established artist today.

“I’ve been sober for 24 years now, and one of the best lessons it taught me is to listen,” John told The New York Times about his relationship to Limbaugh. “When it comes to people like Rush Limbaugh, or people who might enrage you sometimes, dialogue is the only way. You have to reach out … whether you make an impact in one year or 30 years, it doesn’t matter. You have to put your foot in the water and start the process.”

John performed at Limbaugh’s wedding in 2010 and revealed over the years that the two kept a warm friendship going.

“He sends me the loveliest emails,” John told USA Today.

Related: A Conservative and a Liberal Have an Honest, Heated Conversation

The musician said he would often talk to Limbaugh about gay marriage in order to open a dialogue. He also revealed to The Times that Limbaugh was one of the first people to call and congratulate him on the birth of his son Zachary (born through a surrogate mother) in 2010.

Plenty of left-leaning outlets have criticized John for not demonizing Limbaugh over the years — but the artist has shown no signs of caring about that.

John also faced resistance when he refused to boycott Russia over its controversial LGBT anti-propaganda laws in 2013. Instead, Elton John went to the country and began a dialogue there. At a 2013 concert in Moscow, he called the laws “inhumane” — and Russian President Vladimir Putin actually responded.

Plenty of left-leaning outlets have criticized John for not demonizing Limbaugh over the years — but the artist has shown no signs of caring about that.

“Elton John — he’s an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation,” Putin said in an interview with BBC1’s “Andrew Marr Show.” The two reportedly later talked by phone in 2015; Putin also invited John to discuss the laws further when he returned to Russia.

Younger artists shouldn’t just be taking notes on John’s amazing music; they should be taking notes on how he conducts himself as an artist.

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected].

(photo credit, homepage: Elton John in Norway, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Ernst Vikne; photo credit, article image: Elton John The Rocket Man, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Mustafa Doğan Özçelik)