You're forgiven if it's slipped your mind that Elton John makes music for a living. Over the past six weeks he's enjoyed one of the biggest spurts of ink and airtime of his 35-year career, but this time he didn't earn it with hit records or over-the-top live performances. Instead, it's all thanks to a pair of profanity-laced public tantrums. In September, he snarled at a group of paparazzi at the Taipei airport, calling them ''rude, vile pigs.'' No big deal, except the outburst was, much to the delight of tabloid-TV producers, captured on camera; John's minor meltdown was aired incessantly for days. Then he trashed Madonna during Oct. 4's televised Q Awards luncheon in London, accusing her of lip-synching on her last concert tour and insisting that anyone who does ''should be shot.'' For a while there it looked like one of our most treasured singer-songwriters was turning into the world's grumpiest man (or at least angling for Simon Cowell's job).
Well, we're happy to report that effective immediately, the bitch is gone and the musician is back. Earlier this year, he won raves for his eye-popping Las Vegas revue, The Red Piano, which kicked off at Caesars Palace in February and will run periodically for three years. Now Sir Elton is set to release his 43rd (!) album, the emotionally and lyrically frank Peachtree Road, named after his American address in Atlanta (his main residence is in Windsor, England).
Entertainment Weekly had a sit-down with the 57-year-old Rocket Man in his gargantuan top-floor suite at Caesars, where he talked about his place in the music industry, his personal life (he's been with partner David Furnish for 12 years), and his recent public brouhahas.