While the zenith of Elton John‘s legendary career was the mid-’70s, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was 2019, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer made headlines on the road, at the box office, on the charts and in bookstores.
First launched in September of 2018, Elton’s ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour continued through 2019, garnering critical acclaim as well as sellouts worldwide. By mid-year, he’d made more money on the road touring than any other act this year. His were the most in-demand tickets of the year on the ticket sales website StubHub.
He ended the year in the #2 spot on Pollstar‘s Top 10 Worldwide Tour with a gross of $212 million — only Pink made more.
Elton also announced a slew of new dates for 2020; the tour itself is supposed to wrap up in 2021. Elton told The Daily Mirror, “I’m having so much fun…It’s joyous. I want it to be joyous because I want to say thank you to everybody for 50 years of support and love, and it’s turning out that way.”
But what really made Elton hard to avoid in 2019 was Rocketman, his no-holds-barred, years-in-the-making biopic. The film, more of a “musical fantasy” than a straight biography, starred Taron Egerton as Elton and got great reviews, though some countries censored it because of its depiction of gay sex. Egerton did all his own singing and earned a Grammy nod for it, in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.
Elton and Egerton also teamed up to record a brand new duet for the soundtrack: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” which became Elton’s 73rd entry on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart — he’s had more than any other artist.
Rocketman also boosted Elton’s entire catalog: Four of his classic hits re-entered Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs, and his most recent greatest hits compilation, 2017’s Diamonds, jumped up the chart to become his 20th top-10 album.
In October, Elton and Egerton sang onstage together at a special performance in Hollywood, which was meant to boost the movie’s awards chances. It worked: both Rocketman and Egerton received Golden Globe nominations, as did Elton and Bernie Taupin for co-writing “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” Egerton also received a Screen Actors Guild nod for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
But Elton wasn’t done telling his story. In October, he released his autobiography, Me, which was so full of sex, drugs and debauchery that it made Rocketman look like a G-rated kids’ movie. Me became a New York Times bestseller.
2019 also saw Elton immortalized on a set of stamps in Great Britain, receive the Legion d’Honneur award from France, celebrate 29 years of sobriety, raise millions for his AIDS Foundation, and contribute a new song to the CGI remake of The Lion King, even though he didn’t like the new version. An opening date and casting was also announced for Elton’s new stage musical, The Devil Wears Prada.
2020 will bring more shows, more awards and, as always, more surprises from the Rocket Man.
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