Elton rolls his eyes behind his glasses. “You know what I call that?” He adopts an American accent. “Bullshit.“
A call comes in. It’s his husband and partner of 23 years, David Furnish, whom the British tabloids and even Elton have nicknamed Yoko for the way he has pushed out much of Elton’s longtime inner circle and streamlined matters as de facto manager of Elton John Industries.
“Hello, darling. Things are going well. How are the boys? I’m gonna say good night, since it’s late there.”
It’s time to go back to work, but Elton needs to use the loo. I wait for him and can’t help but hear a voice emerging from behind the door. Elton is singing one of his new songs, “Blue Wonderful”: “I dive in, I dive deep, I just swim/I lose myself in you/Blue wonderful, blue wonderful, again.”
Sir Elton John emerges and heads back to his piano, sipping backstage coffee.
“This is a happy album.” He flashes the famous gap-toothed smile. “Because I’ve never been happier.”
Happy” does not mean “easy” in the world of Sir Elton John. He’d be the first to admit he is difficult. He laughs when remembering a scene from Tantrums and Tiaras, a documentary shot by Furnish in 1995, where Elton is in the South of France and returns to his room in full pout. He calls for his private jet and swears he’s never coming back. Why? A woman waved at him from the other side of the court while he was playing tennis. On another occasion, he asked a crony if he could turn down the wind outside his hotel.
“We’re all fucking monsters sometimes,” says Elton with a laugh at the memory. And there have been challenges to his throne. Capitol Records rejected his current album, forcing him to take it to Island. Yes, he has two sons now, Zachary and Elijah, with Furnish, but he may or may not be speaking to his number-one fan, Sheila Farebrother, a.k.a. his mother. Mrs. Farebrother recently turned 90 and spent her birthday in the company of an Elton John impersonator.
“It upsets me, but to be honest with you, I don’t miss her,” Elton says at his Beverly Hills home. “When she says things in the press, like last year: ‘I haven’t spoken to Elton since he married that fucking asshole David Furnish…'” He shrugs his shoulders, paraphrasing many of her comments since the feud started. “That was pretty hard to take.” He sent her flowers for her 90th birthday, but there was no call. “I don’t hate my mother,” Elton says. “I look after her, but I don’t want her in my life.”