SYDNEY - Pop icon Elton John has talked of his darkest days addicted to drugs and alcohol, his most outrageous outfits and being disgusted at himself for not being able to operate a washing machine.

John, 60, says his most self-destructive period came in the 1980s, a period which preceded him wearing such outfits as a Donald Duck costume on stage.

"The height of it, the showmanship, was probably the tour I did with the orchestra when I came on beforehand, and you know, the outfits were just beyond belief," he tells Enough Rope with Andrew Denton in an interview to air tomorrow night on ABC television.

"I mean punk hair-dos and punk wig, yellow pink hair, that was, you know, soon after that it was, you know, that was a pretty low time, even though the orchestral shows were fantastic in Australia."

John lists getting sober among his life's great achievements and talks about how he chose "boot camp" style rehabilitation rather than the luxury many celebrities favour.

"I really was at the end of my tether and so I really needed to wise up," he tells Denton.

"I went away for six weeks to a hospital in Chicago, which wasn't a fancy treatment centre. I read about Malibu places with televisions and swimming pools, I'm sorry, I don't get it. When you have a severe problem like I had you didn't . . . know how to live a life properly."

He said with sobriety came his independence, something he hadn't embraced since he became the superstar known as Elton John.

For a man renowned for his extensive wardrobe, it was just as well he says that he learned to operate a washing machine.

John says when he lived by himself for the first time he tried to adopt as "normal" a lifestyle as someone in his position could.

He says the breakthrough made him capable of an adult relationship with his now life partner David Furnish.

"I've come a long way . . . I now have a loving relationship with someone, [it] took me forty three years to find out how," he says.

But not all days are rosy for the artist behind Crocodile Rock, Tiny Dancer and the hit musical Billy Elliott.

"I do have blue days but they're very few and far between and I know how to cope with them so much better," he says.

"I have a person to help me cope with them and I don't run away and lock the door anymore. I use to run away into the bedroom and lock the door."


New Zealand Herald July 08, 2007