Elton John on Why His Disappointing Meeting With Elvis Became a Wake-Up Call

During the 1970s, Elton John struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, even as he was at a creative peak. At that time, he finally met Elvis Presley, but the Elvis he met was not the Elvis of his childhood. John has called the June 1976 meeting with the late King of Rock and Roll a wake-up call in past interviews.

John met Presley in Washington D.C., with him other Sheila joining him. It was a big moment for John, who idolized Presley. Unfortunately, the meeting was not what John hoped.

"It was so sad, because he turned into this big man with no eyes," John told Oprah Winfrey in 1997. "They had sunk into the back of his head and it was pathetic."

John continued, "In the end, there are pictures of me when I look at them and think, 'Oh my God, you know, I turned into Elvis. You just shut your door, and you gained weight, and you did this. You did that and you didn't care how you were.' It's very easy to do that."

John told Winfrey he knew Presley would be dead within a year. The "Crocodile Rock" singer was right, as Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977 at age 42.

Twenty years after John's interview with Winfey, John described meeting Presley again in Captain Fantastic, Tom Doyle's book about John.

"It was sad," John said. He told Doyle he asked Presley to perform "Heartbreak Hotel," but the singer refused to change his set for the concert John attended.

"Elton looked into the eyes of the King and felt there was ‘nothing there,’" Doyle wrote.

"It was someone who was in a complete drug haze giving nylon scarves away to these fans," John described. "And yet it was still, in a way, magical."

Today, John is now on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour, which John said will be his final tour. The 72-year-old also just published his first autobiography, simply titled Me, in which he wrote about his drug and alcohol abuse in a frank manner. He also wrote about attempting suicide three times before he became clean.

"It all changed with having children," John recently told NPR. "Ten years ago... I had nothing planned for the rest of my life except making music and touring, and then we had two fabulous little boys... And as much as I love playing, I want to be with my boys now. This is the new part of my life."

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John's life story also became a movie, Rocketman, starring Taron Edgerton as the singer. The film grossed $195.1 million worldwide.

Photo credit: Debbie Hickey/Getty Images

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