Elton John admits he is in pain — so why, in just a few short weeks, will he embark on a 150-date tour around the globe?
At age 74, the music legend just had a hip replacement following an injurious fall that forced him to reschedule his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. He was seen supporting using a cane Wednesday as he received a prestigious honor from Prince Charles.
The musician leaned on the walking stick as he was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor for his music career and campaigning work on AIDS during a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
“He is not Superman. I wonder how he’s even getting insurance to do these gigs — can you imagine the premiums?” one musician who has known John for decades told The Post. “He should be at home with his kids and his husband, not stuck on the road. I worry that he won’t finish this tour.”
Insiders say that John is faced with a shocking litany of health concerns, but he keeps touring to support his lavish lifestyle.
“Why, why, why does Elton feel that he has to do this at this age?” asked the musician who knows him. “There is only one reason: cash.”
A representative for John had no comment.
In his typically blunt style, the legendary singer told UK TV host Lorraine Kelly recently that he’s in agony “most of the time with my hip,” adding: “I can’t move sideways, can’t get in and out of a car … “
Despite this, John now faces the onslaught of a schedule that starts in New Orleans in January and will take him through the US to Europe, Britain and Australia.
He won’t finish until 2023, when he’s 76.
As he’s suffered decades of health woes, multiple sources in the industry told The Post they are worried about John. Aside from his hip issue, he also has hearing loss caused by years of touring and deals with knee problems. In 2020, an emotional John had to cut short a performance in New Zealand in front of stunned fans after he lost his voice due to pneumonia and had to be assisted off stage.
Another record executive added: “I’d say Elton is pushing his luck. After all, he’s not as fit as Jagger and look what happened to him!”” (In 2019, Mick Jagger, who was then 75, had heart-valve replacement surgery.)
More recently, videos of John on tour show he is often helped onto the stage when the lights are dimmed in the venue, and industry insiders confirm this.
Fans only see the singer when the lights come up and he’s already seated at his piano. This is similar to how 70-year-old Phil Collins, who has been touring with Genesis for that band’s farewell tour, uses a wheelchair to get to a chair on stage.
“There are the flights, the time differences, the food, the travel … a boy of 20 would find it hard to keep up,” said the musician who knows John and believes it all comes down to money.
According to the UK Sunday Times Rich List, published in May, John has a net worth of $505 million (£375m) — up $20 million (£15m) in a year.
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour grossed $212 million in 2019, putting him just behind Pink for concert earnings that year.
But John does famously have an expensive lifestyle.
He owns a duplex penthouse condo in the swanky Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead. For years, he based himself part-time in that city where he set up the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
He also owns an apartment which lies in a 17th-century palazzo on the island of Giudecca in Venice. Amid recent rumors that he was selling off both, sources close to the star this week said there was no truth he was selling any properties.
Over the years, though, he’s sold off his record, art and clothing collections and, last year, he decided to get rid of 20 of his 28 cars, which sold as a lot for $2.64 million at Christie’s.
However, this has not stopped the star from spending even more. Records show that he paid $8.5 million in September to buy the house next door to his longtime Beverly Hills home — which John and Furnish extensively renovated — in the exclusive Trousdale Estates neighborhood.
The couple still owns their English country estate, their stunning home in the South of France — where they have hosted big names from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to the Beckhams — and a house in central London.
In September 2018, John announced he had signed a deal with Universal Music Group for his back catalog and any new work as well as brand management, merchandising and licensing rights for an undisclosed fee.
“So, in effect, the only money Elton has coming in is from touring — so he has to keep going to get the cash,” the musician who knows John told The Post.
John keeps a tight-knit team around him. Furnish, 59, a former ad exec turned philanthropist and entrepreneur, is both John’s manager and husband. According to music industry insiders, John’s career runs with the help of his longtime touring manager Keith Bradley.
“Nothing happens without Keith,” said one insider, noting: “Keith runs the tour, pays the band, he makes sure it all runs smoothly and looks after Elton.”
John’s many decades of touring have taken their toll. In 1999, the singer — who has been open about having battled alcohol and drugs — had a pacemaker fitted for an irregular heartbeat and had to cancel his singing gig at the wedding of Victoria and David Beckham.
He was hospitalized for influenza and a bacterial infection in 2009, and nearly died after an abscess was discovered on his appendix in 2013.
He suffered “gastric flu” near the end of 2016, forcing him to postpone a show in Dubai — and was still unwell for the rescheduled date in January 2017.
In his 2019 memoir “Me,” John revealed he had been “24 hours from death” after contracting an infection following treatment for prostate cancer.
After 11 days in the hospital, John was finally sent home to Furnish and their two sons, Elijah, now 8, and Zachary, 10. The musician spent the next seven weeks “recuperating” and “learning to walk again.”
“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,” he wrote.
John said that the health scare helped him realize he was ready to retire from touring and spend more time with his family.
“Music was the most wonderful thing, but it still didn’t sound as good as Zachary chattering about what had happened at Cubs or football practice,” he wrote.
Nonetheless, he headed back out on the road in September 2018, for what he has said is his last tour — the one he had to postpone for hip surgery after telling fans that he “fell awkwardly on a hard surface.”
He told “Today” show’s Carson Daly this month that he is ending the tour to be with the boys, adding: “They’re going to be teenagers soon.”
As he said recently: “I’ll be 76 [when the tour is over]. I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth after that. You know, I’ve had enough applause. I don’t want to keep traveling. I don’t want to be away from my family.”
A source close to John told The Post: “Elton’s doing well, feeling great and excited to be back on tour beginning January 2022 to play for his fans.”
The musician friend added, “I know he loves performing, but I just hope that he can manage all of this.”