When we think of two giant names in popular music and culture, we sometimes automatically assume that they must have come across one another at some point. Especially when names like David Bowie and Elton John are thrown into the mix — two artists who have been a part of many collaborations in the past — it doesn’t mean, however, that they are the best of friends.
The late David Bowie hasn’t always been the most sensitive or ‘sensible’ for that matter. He has said some pretty outrageous things in the past. To give you an example: during the mid-’70s, while doing copious amounts of cocaine and staying up for days on end and surrounded by Egyptian artefacts, he adopted a fascist persona. He commented that Britain could use a fascist dictator and said that “Hitler was the first rock star.” Whether it was theatrical or not, it doesn’t matter; one cannot always hide behind a character’s mask.
Bowie had that same kind of sharp edge to him that John Lennon had, although one of the differences between the two is that Lennon had a good friendship with the Rocketman, Elton John.
During an interview with Rolling Stone in 1976, Bowie had admitted to the magazine that he had called John “the Liberace, the token queen of rock.” Considering that the two of them, and Marc Bolan of T-Rex, used to frequent gay clubs together, perhaps John was a little disappointed in this public shaming.
Elton John commented, “we started out being really good friends. We used to hang out together with Marc Bolan, going to gay clubs, but I think we just drifted apart.” Adding that “David and I were not the best of friends towards the end.”
Sure enough, Elton John eventually forgave Bowie and he had commented that he was fairly certain that Bowie was strung out on cocaine when he made the comments. Bowie didn’t stop there, however. “I consider myself responsible for a whole new school of pretensions — they know who they are. Don’t you, Elton?” Bowie added, according to Grunge.
Elton John would later remark in 2016, “I thought it was a bit snooty. He wasn’t my cup of tea. No; I wasn’t his cup of tea,” referring to Bowie’s comments.
John has stated in the past that he was hugely inspired by Bowie and upon hearing the starman’s ‘Space Oddity’, he had instantly sought out the song’s producer and arranger — Gus Dudgeon and Paul Buckmaster, respectively.
While the two may have never reconciled the uncomfortable comments, John also remarked on Bowie’s death. “The dignified way Bowie handled his death, I mean, thank God. I knew he’d had a heart attack on stage in Berlin years ago, but not about the cancer. Everyone else take note of this: Bowie couldn’t have staged a better death. It was classy.”
Elton John played a tribute to the late starman in 2016: