Elton John Crashed A Rolling Stones Concert While High On Cocaine

By Kelly Burch 10/10/19

In his new memoir, the sober icon recalls some of the shenanigans he got into in the midst of his cocaine addiction.

Elton John
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Most people in recovery have embarrassing stories about what they did while high or drunk, and Elton John is no different.

The legendary singer, who has been sober for 29 years, recalled in his new memoir the time he crashed a Rolling Stones concert because he was high on cocaine. It was 1975, and John was joining the Stones on stage to sing one song, "Honkey Tonk Women."

However, when that ended, John was convinced that he should stay put for the rest of the set.

“If I hadn't been coked out of my head when the Rolling Stones turned up in Colorado and asked me to come onstage with them, I might have just performed "Honky Tonk Women," waved to the crowd and made my exit,” John wrote in Me, which is out later this month. The Daily Mail published an excerpt of the book.

A Keyboardist Named Elton

John continued, “Instead, I decided it was going so well, I'd stay on and jam along to the rest of their set, without first taking the precaution of asking the Stones if they wanted an auxiliary keyboard player. For a while, I thought Keith Richards kept staring at me because he was awestruck by the brilliance of my improvised contributions to their oeuvre. After a few songs, it finally penetrated my brain that the expression on his face wasn't really suggestive of profound musical appreciation."

It was then that John realized his mistake. “I quickly scuttled off, noting as I went that Keith was still staring at me in a manner that suggested we'd be discussing this later, and decided it might be best if I didn't hang around for the after-show party,” he wrote.

His Relationship With Cocaine

John then went on to explain his fascination with cocaine.

“There was something more to cocaine than the way it made me feel,” he wrote. “Cocaine had a certain cachet about it. It was fashionable and exclusive. Doing it was like becoming a member of an elite little clique, that secretly indulged in something edgy, dangerous and illicit. Pathetically enough, that really appealed to me. I'd become successful and popular, but I never felt cool.”

In the late ’80s, John said that his partner at the time, Hugh Williams, prompted him to get help.

“I noticed he was shaking. 'You're a drug addict,' he said. 'You're an alcoholic. You're a food addict and a bulimic. You're a sex addict. You're co-dependent.’” John wrote.

At that point, he decided to seek treatment for all his addictions. ”Getting help wasn't straightforward, as I needed to be treated for three addictions at once: cocaine, alcohol and food,” he wrote. 

Nearly three decades later, John has maintained his sobriety, and still stays away from people who are doing cocaine.

“I never felt like having a line, and I still can't bear being anywhere near people who are doing it,” he writes. “The second I walk into a room, I know. I can just sense people are on it—from the way they're talking, their voices pitched slightly louder than they need to be, not really listening—and how they're behaving. I just leave—because, quite frankly, it's a drug that makes people act like assholes. I wish I'd realized that 45 years ago."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.