Elton John announced Wednesday that he is retiring from touring, with the consummate showman saying he wants to devote himself to his children — but after a final, massive swing around the world.
The 70-year-old British entertainer, revealing his plans at a gala New York event, said he planned to “go out with a bang” with a global tour that will open in September and last through 2021.
“It will be the last time that I’m touring and travelling the world, because my priorities have changed,”
John told several hundred journalists and guests after a mini-concert and virtual reality presentation of his career.
Saying he has had an “amazing life and amazing career,” he added: “My priorities now are my children and my husband and my family.”
John, who in the 1980s became one of the first openly gay major celebrities, has two children with his husband, Canadian filmmaker and former advertising executive David Furnish.
The original “Rocket Man” said he had no health concerns, despite a scare with a bacterial infection that caused him to cancel South American dates last year.
He said he would stay active, hoping to record more albums and write further musicals.
“I will be creative, hopefully, until the day I die,” he said.
Don’t let the sun go down on me
John, who closes his latest extravagant Las Vegas residency in May, said he was also open to concerts after the tour, but that they would likely only be in his native Britain.
He said he was more interested as a septuagenarian in taking his children to soccer practice than to traveling.
“I never thought that I could love anything as much as I love my sons. There’s not a word in the English dictionary that describes the love you have for a child,” he said.
The pop megastar said he remained excited by entertaining audiences — but was fed up with traveling, with his children often imploring him to stay home.
“I’ve been in the back of a van since I was 16,” John said.
John made the announcement under the Roman-inspired dome and columns of Gotham Hall, a former bank turned event space in Midtown Manhattan, where guests were offered champagne and shrimp tempura hors d’ouevres.
The self-described Luddite — “I’ve never downloaded anything, not even porn,” he quipped to laughs — offered a virtual reality retrospective of his career on headsets offered to the audience.
The mini-biography starts in 1970 at West Hollywood’s Troubadour club, where the little-known pianist, born Reginald Dwight, electrified the audience.
It then takes the viewer on stage with him at his legendary 1975 blowouts at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
John promised that the upcoming tour would offer a similar show-biz pizzazz.
He has already shown his signature flair in Las Vegas, where he is one of the biggest entertainment attractions.
The pop legend’s latest Las Vegas show, “The Million Dollar Piano,” opened in 2011 and features an elaborate display through dozens of video screens. It followed a separate Las Vegas residency, “The Red Piano,” from 2004 to 2009.
John, often known as Sir Elton after a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, has generated decades of hits such as “I’m Still Standing,” “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
His style brought together the old-school rhythm-and-blues piano of early rock ‘n’ roll with Gospel influences as well as a solid grounding in classical music.
The artist has also earned a fortune as a composer for musicals including blockbuster “The Lion King,” “Billy Elliot” and the upcoming adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Forbes magazine last year ranked him as the 26th highest-earning celebrity, earning $60 million over the previous year.
After struggles in the past with addiction and depression, John’s last studio album, “Wonderful Crazy Night,” carried a palpable sense of joy. Last year he put out a greatest hits collection dubbed “Diamonds.”