Elton John Speaks Out After Breaking Down And Being Escorted Off Stage
Elton John has been gracing the stage since the '60s. But during his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in 2020, he stopped singing, broke down in tears, and had to be escorted from his beloved piano. His post-show statement explained what happened.
2018: Farewell Yellow Brick Road
In 2018, the legendary Elton John went on the road for one last ongoing tour titled Farewell Yellow Brick Road. Fans from all around the world bought tickets to see the iconic singer and pianist perform one last time.
But, in February 2020, something unexpected happened, and Elton John was escorted off the stage.
In 2017, He Was Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time Elton John has had to withdraw from a tour. In his memoir, Me, John reveals that he was battling major health issues back in 2017. That year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Instead of going through chemotherapy, the singer opted for surgery. In his memoir, he wrote, "I didn't like the idea of cancer hanging over me – us – for years to come. I just wanted rid of it."
The Operation Was For His Family
Unfortunately, the operation had side effects, such as the inability to control one's bladder. But John wanted to go through with it for his family. After the surgery, he went on to perform his South American leg of a tour but soon experienced complications.
John was rushed to King Edward VII's Hospital in London.
The Hospital Couldn't Help
As it turned out, John's complications were so severe that the hospital didn't even have the equipment to take care of him properly. He was quickly transferred to the London Clinic, where he went into yet another surgery, this time, to drain lymphatic fluid from his diaphragm.
For the next few days, John was in the intensive care unit.
One Last Tour And Then He'd Retire
This medical scare actually prompted Elton John to pursue the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour -- he needed to slow down.
In his memoir, John wrote, "In the hospital, alone at the dead of night, I'd prayed: please don’t let me die; please let me see my kids again, please give me a little longer. In a strange way, it felt like the time I spent recuperating was the answer to my prayers – if you want more time, you need to learn to live like this; you have to slow down."
There Were Lingering Side Effects
The surgery put his life in perspective. While he loved music and performing, John decided he loved being at home with his family more. It was time for him to retire. The thing was, there were lingering effects from the surgery.
Even so, starting in 2018, he was set on embarking on one last tour.
He Wanted To Spend More Time With His Kids
On Elton John's website, he wrote of the tour and what would happen after it ended. He said, "After the tour finishes, I'm very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road."
He continued, "I need to dedicate more time to raising my children."
Tampa And Orlando Were Canceled
But the tour didn't exactly go as planned. The singer was still battling various health issues. He even wound up having to cancel shows in both Tampa and Orlando, Florida, just hours before he was supposed to appear on stage.
This time, John was battling an infection in his ear.
In Verona, He Had The Flu
Orlando and Tampa weren't the last cancelations either. In 2019, Elton John was forced to cancel his performance in Verona; he'd caught the flu. An official statement was released, stating, "Yesterday [John] was battling the flu."
"He was struggling with his vocal warm-ups before last night's Verona show, and although he battled through, it was touch-and-go if he would be able to complete the [performance]."
2020 Was Going To Be A Better Year
Even so, Elton John left 2019 behind him and was looking forward to a better year in 2020, especially after winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song. He was ready to get back on the road and complete his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
But things didn't go as planned.
He Was Escorted From Stage In New Zealand
Elton John was performing at Auckland's Mt. Smart Stadium in New Zealand in February 2020. And, as fans could see and hear, the singer wasn't doing too well right from the start.
Something was very wrong with the iconic musician they had gone to see perform that night. But they never expected him to be escorted from the stage.
Only 16 Of John's 25-Song Set Were Performed
John began to play his set, getting through 16 of the 25 songs he planned to perform that night.
After the 16th, he turned to the audience and said, "I don't know how much longer I can sing; I just don’t have anything left. I will try, but I just can’t promise anything."
John Began Crying; He'd Lost His Voice
And he wasn't joking. When John went to sing his popular song "Daniel," he broke down in tears. Turning to the audience, he said, "I've just completely lost my voice. I can’t sing. I’ve got to go. I’m sorry."
It didn't take long for a few assistants to escort the singer from the stage.
He Was Diagnosed With Walking Pneumonia
It was a few days before Elton John released a statement, explaining to fans why he'd left the stage so abruptly. In the statement, he explained that he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and had completely lost his voice.
The statement said, "I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible."
Even With The Diagnosis, He Wanted To Perform
The statement continued, with John saying, "I played and sang my heart out until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset, and sorry."
He continued, "I gave it all I had. Thank you so much for your extraordinary support and all the love you showed me during tonight’s performance. I am eternally grateful."
The Audience Gave Him A Standing Ovation
Even with his diagnosis and history of health issues, Elton John wanted nothing more than to go out on stage and give his fans a great show. He played and sang until his voice went out.
And, when he left the stage, his fans gave him a standing ovation, not caring that they weren't going to hear the rest of the set.
People Had Nothing But Nice Things To Say
Both audience members and other celebrities wished Elton John a speedy recovery. One person wrote, "My mum went to the concert tonight, and she told me how amazing you were and that just seeing you give it your very all was so fantastic."
While John's longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, said, "I love you and will be praying for your recovery."
Others Weren't Too Thrilled With His Departure
But, as it goes, there were also people who were not happy with Elton John's sudden departure.
One audience member spoke to Stuff, a New Zealand website, saying, "It's so tragic that he was ill, but I wish he’d just canceled and given us the opportunity to have our money refunded, or perhaps have it another time when he was better."
Some People Wanted A Refund
Another equally unhappy person went to the website, explaining that they should be entitled to a refund. They said, "I think he should have canceled it. I think everyone should be entitled to half [of] their money back."
We did see half a show – and it was good, it wasn't great. I feel they pushed the show to the halfway point, so no refunds will happen."
He Promised New Zealand That He'd Be Back
In the end, Elton John didn't let the backlash get to him. He was going to do what was best for himself and his family and but hit health first.
But, to his fans' delight, he promised that he'd return to New Zealand and, eventually, complete that leg of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.