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Elton John Gives Billy Joel 'Tough Love' in New Rolling Stone Cover Story

Singer criticizes Billy Joel, explains his decision to play Rush Limbaugh's wedding and more

February 2, 2011 8:30 AM ET
Elton John Gives Billy Joel 'Tough Love' in New Rolling Stone Cover Story
Photograph by Mark Seliger for RollingStone.com

See video from John's cover shoot below.

In the new issue of Rolling Stone – on stands and in the digital archives Friday (subscription required) – Elton John reflects on his 40-year career. Just days after the birth of his son Zachary, John speaks about the joys of fatherhood, his enduring relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin, how he's mentored Eminem through difficult times – and his true feelings about his longtime friend and tourmate Billy Joel.

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"At the end of the day, he's coasting," John tells Scaggs."I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness. It upsets me. Billy's a conundrum. We've had so many cancelled tours because of illnesses and various other things, alcoholism."

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He goes on to criticize Joel's past attempts to stop drinking. "He's going to hate me for this, but every time he goes to rehab they've been light," John says. "When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs. I love you, Billy, and this is tough love. Billy, you have your demons and you're not going to get rid of them at rehab light. You've got to be serious. People adore you, they love you and respect you. You should be able to do something better than what you're doing now."

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Other highlights from the piece:

- John explains his controversial decision to play Rush Limbaugh's wedding. "I could not believe when I was asked to play," he says. "I thought it was a joke. I had dialogue with him before and he said, 'I'm not anti-gay, I want you to come, bring David.' My goal is for Rush to say, 'I support civil partnerships,' and if I rang him right now, I think he might agree. He was one of the first people to congratulate us on the baby."

Photos: Elton John's Outfits Through the Years

- He regularly speaks to Eminem on the phone. "We call each other cunts," John says. "He's worked really hard at sobriety and it's changed him so much. He's also got a great sense of humor. When David and I had our civil partnership, he sent us a present. In a case, on velvet cushions, were two diamond cock rings. So there's a homophobe for you [laughs]."

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- Lady Gaga is one of his favorite new artists. "I've heard her new album," John says. "It's amazing. The first single, 'Born This Way,' is the anthem that's going to obliterate 'I Will Survive.' I can't think of how huge it's going to be."

More From the Cover Story: Elton John on Playing With Kanye, Hanging With Dylan and Filling His Baby's iPod

Plus: Rob Sheffield on Elton John's Greatest Non-Hits

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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