Elton John has been producing incredible music and putting on high energy live shows since the 1960s.
He's a timeless musical icon. He could easily have called it quits 40 years ago, and the world would still be singing along to "Bennie and the Jets" and "Tiny Dancer" and a dozen other hits. Instead, he has continued putting out hits into his 70s.
Just two weeks ago he was awarded his second Oscar for his song "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," from the soundtrack to the Elton John biopic Rocketman, and he put on a powerful performance at the ceremony that had viewers googling his age. He's 72 years old now, but his voice betrayed no sense of decline—as forceful and vibrant as ever. From the Oscars he almost immediately got on a plane to the other side of the world to perform for stadiums full of devoted fans as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" worldwide tour.
What is it that keeps him going at a pace that would drain men half his age? Is he a greedy man? No doubt the ticket sales make the travel worth his time, but over the weekend he made it clear that he's not in this for himself. On Sunday night in Auckland, New Zealand, John had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia, but he got on stage anyway. He played and sang until he couldn't anymore. He collapsed onto a stool after delivering "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," and medical assistance was on hand with oxygen to help him recover and continue the show. All this drama while the cheering crowd looked on. When, finally, he could not sing another bar, he broke down in tears and was escorted off the stage.
In an Instagram post shortly after, John apologized to concertgoers, saying, "I want to thank everyone who attended tonight's gig in Auckland. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible. I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had." Despite the fact that he performed for over two hours while seriously ill, he was apologizing to his fans for not delivering the best possible concert. He is not just a musical god, but an icon of devotion and hard work. Elton John is better than we deserve.
The remainder of his Auckland shows have been rescheduled for January of next year while John recovers his health and prepares for the next leg of his tour. This tour is intended as his last, but it's still hard to imagine a man like Elton John ever stopping. He will be performing in Europe, Australia, and North America throughout 2020.