David Bowie stands out as one of the most magnetic personalities in rock history, consistently leaving his audience in awe with his musical brilliance. However, he was no stranger to showcasing his sharp-edged side when he felt the need.
Many remember Bowie’s eerily accurate predictions about the internet’s future trajectory during a 1999 conversation with Jeremy Paxman. Still, few realize how openly critical he was of some of his contemporaries. Some of his critiques were so severe that they bordered on pettiness.
Throughout his career, notable figures like Gary Numan, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and even Paul McCartney experienced Bowie’s razor-sharp criticisms.
Notably, aside from Gary Numan – whom Bowie criticized for perceived imitation – another prominent figure felt the weight of his disdain. This individual was none other than the glam rock giant, Elton John.
It’s curious, given that in their youth, Bowie, along with T. Rex’s Marc Bolan, would regularly socialize with John. But a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone unveiled some friction. Bowie divulged that he once referred to John as “the Liberace, the token queen of rock,” a comment that likely didn’t sit well with the latter.
But Bowie’s critiques of Elton didn’t end there. He even insinuated that Elton had drawn too much inspiration from his work, quipping, “I see myself as the progenitor of a certain brand of theatricality — and some have clearly taken notes. Isn’t that right, Elton?”
In time, Elton John shed light on the rift, noting, “We began on great terms, bonding over shared nights out with Marc Bolan at gay clubs. But over time, the friendship faded.”
He elaborated, “Towards our careers’ latter years, David and I weren’t exactly close.”
While Elton John later chose to forgive Bowie, a full reconciliation never materialized. He surmised that Bowie’s harsh words might have been influenced by the latter’s intense battle with cocaine during that period. Reflecting on Bowie in 2016, Elton mused, “His words were a tad haughty. We simply weren’t each other’s brew.”