Sir Elton John has announced his epic Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour to mark his retirement from the road.
The 70-year-old musical icon will spend three years saying goodbye to fans as he plays more than 300 shows across five continents.
The emotional Rocket Man star, who promised to ‘go out with a bang’, said he’s quitting touring so he can ‘dedicate more time’ to his two sons – Elijah, five and Zachary, seven – with husband David Furnish.
He announced the news at an immersive event at Gotham Hall in New York, where fans were able to revisit some of his career’s defining moments thanks to interactive goggles monogrammed with his initials.
Elton – who has been touring for almost 50 years – announced his retirement on Wednesday evening ahead of a celebratory concert next week at Madison Square Garden in New York.
He will kick off the mammoth 300-date Farewell tour in the US in September 2018 before arriving in the UK and Europe in April 2019.
Announcing the decision, Sir Elton said his ‘priorities have changed’, adding that his two sons have changed his and David’s lives.
‘In 2015 we sat down with a school schedule and I thought I don’t want to miss too much of this… My life has changed, my priorities have changed and my priority now is my family,’ he said.
He added it was a chance ‘to say thank you to all my fans around the world and then to say goodbye. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to be creative anymore.
‘I have had a good run. I don’t want to go out with a whimper, I want to go out with a bang,’ he added during the press conference in New York – which he opened with a performance of Tiny Dancer and I’m Still Standing.
Donning the space-age style goggles, guests looked mesmerized as they enjoyed the visual spectacle. The announcement was live streamed globally exclusively on YouTube in VR180 and simultaneously transmitted to venues in Los Angeles and London.
Asked if he could later reconsider his decision, Sir Elton vowed not to do a ‘Cher’, adding: ‘This is the end’.
He also rejected claims it was down to health problems he had experienced in recent years. ‘Last year I picked up an infection and I was very ill and it knocked me sideways. But I still did 96 shows. Believe me – if you ever do 300 shows, you’re not in ill health,’ he said.
The tour starts in the US on September 8, 2018, reaching Europe in April 2019, Asia in November 2019, Australasia in December 2019 and into 2020, South America in March 2020, before returning to Europe and the UK late 2020 and finishing in North America in 2021.
‘Performing live fuels me and I’m ecstatic and humbled to continue to play to audiences across the globe,’ said Elton.
‘I plan to bring the passion and creativity that has entertained my fans for decades to my final tour. 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. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children. It’s time to come off the road so I can fully embrace the next important chapter of my life.’
Speaking about what he will do after he retires from touring, he said: ‘I’m always going to be creative, I’m always going to be interested in creative stuff, and you know, I think after this tour is finished, I’ll take a few years off and see what’s going to happen.
‘But creatively, I will be doing writing a lot, and who knows what’s going to happen. If you let things happen for you, that’s the magic of life. I will be creative, hopefully, up until the day I die.’
Tickets for the initial round of North American shows will go on sale on February 2, with other regions staggering their ticket sales dates across the next three years.
Fans can register their interest at EltonJohn.com, to receive updates when additional shows are announced and on sale around the world.
It comes after reports that the star was bowing out of stage performances following a bout of poor health, according to The Mirror.
He was left in intensive care last year when he was struck down with a ‘potentially deadly’ bacterial infection while touring South America.
Sir Elton – who started his touring career in 1970 and holds a residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas – admitted that he could have ‘easily died’ after the devastating incident if he didn’t go under the knife following the shock illness.
He shared: ‘I knew I was sick but I didn’t know I had such a dangerous thing inside of me until I had a scan, which was after nine shows, 24 flights, and a summer ball.’
In March last year, Elton himself revealed he planned to make a decision about his touring future in ‘the next six months’. The music icon admitted that he was keen to spend more time with the sons he shares with husband David.
At the time, he explained: ‘There will be a decision made in the next six months, probably. I will want to stop touring – not playing but touring. 70 isn’t 60, it’s not 50. I want to spend time with my boys.’
To date, Elton has delivered more than 4,000 performances in more than 80 countries since launching his first tour in 1970.
Last year, the Rocket Man singer announced 27 new Vegas performances of The Million Dollar Piano, his residency show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, between October 11, 2017, and March 2, 2018, before the illness struck.
A lengthy statement issued following his sudden illness read: ‘We regret to inform you that due to medical reasons, Elton John is forced to cancel his entire performance schedule for the upcoming April/May run of ‘The Million Dollar Piano’ at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
‘Elton is also canceling his scheduled performance for Bakersfield, California for Saturday, May 6.
‘During a recent, successful tour of South America, Elton contracted a harmful and unusual bacterial infection. During his return flight home from Santiago, Chile he became violently ill.
‘Upon returning to the UK, Elton’s Doctors admitted him to the hospital, where he underwent immediate treatment to remove the infection.
After spending two nights in intensive care followed by an extended stay in the hospital, Elton was released from the hospital on Saturday, April 22 and is now comfortably resting at home per doctors advice.
‘Infections of this nature are rare and potentially deadly. Thankfully, Elton’s medical team identified this quickly and treated it successfully. He is expected to make a full and complete recovery. (sic)’
Despite the news, in November last year, Elton’s husband and manager David said: ‘Without question, Elton must never stop performing. 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.’
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