Elton John and Prince had a complicated friendship that had its ups and downs. In the 1980s, they were both at the height of their careers and often found themselves competing for the top spot on the charts.
However, despite this rivalry, they also had a deep respect for each other’s talents and occasionally collaborated on music together.
Elon and Prince John frequently ran into one another, and in a few instances, they even shared a stage for a live performance.
Nonetheless, despite spending time with Prince, Elton never fully got the American persona right.
During the Grammy Awards ceremony, the two musicians first met at a restaurant in Los Angeles, an encounter that John related in Duane Tudahi’s book ‘Prince and the Parade and Sign O’ the Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986’.
He said, “He was standing alone by a wall, so I went up and introduced myself to him: ‘Hi, my name’s Elton, and I’m a huge fan of yours, and I just wanted to say… ‘ That was as far as I got – Prince just walked off without a word,”
He added, “As you can imagine, that was quite a deflating experience, but I knew how shy he was – everyone knew how shy Prince was – and I loved his music so much that a few years later, I tried again.”
In less than a year, Prince started a six-month residency at the Club Rio in Las Vegas, and Elton was there to take in the show.
The Englishman had a backstage conversation with “The Purple One” prior to the performance, and they decided to sing a duet of “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles together. But, Elton was left adrift once more.
He recalled, “So I went on stage with him, and we started playing ‘The Long and Winding Road’. It’s sounding great. Midway through the song, I looked around. No Prince: he’d just walked off again.”
In 2007, at London’s O2 Arena, the two eventually sang a duet on a Beatles song, which John compared to singing with “John Lennon, Bob Dylan, or Ray Charles.”
Elton also described Prince as “a true genius” and “the greatest performer I have ever seen” after Prince passed away in 2016.
Elton also wrote, “This is truly devastating news, The greatest performer I have ever seen. A true genius. Musically way ahead of any of us. Sang with him twice on stage. What an honour. Rest in peace you purple warrior. This is truly devastating news. The greatest performer I have ever seen. A true genius. Musically way ahead of any of us. Sang with him twice on stage. What an honour. Rest in peace you purple warrior. #Prince #RIP “
John also discussed Prince’s success and the hot streak of his career in the 1980s in the prologue to the book, describing it as “slightly inexplicable and unearthly too.”
Prince was an outlier who deviated from mainstream music conventions and proudly sported his eccentricity.
Although Elton John was never able to get on Prince’s Christmas card list, the two musicians appeared to appreciate one another, and the American probably never intended to belittle his rival.
Away from the flashing lights, he was just an awkward conversationalist who preferred to keep to himself. Prince, on the other hand, became a new beast as he entered the stage.