Elton John said the moment he started using cocaine in 1974 was the “worst decision” he ever made and said it led directly to his “diva” reputation.

As depicted in his 2019 fictional biopic Rocketman, John attended rehab in 1990, where he faced his past demons and managed to clean up. Last year, he announced he’d been sober for 29 years.

“I saw someone doing cocaine and didn’t know what it was,” John told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview. “They said it makes you feel good. So I thought, ‘I will have a go … .’ Worst decision of my life. I shouted at people. I wasn’t proud of that behavior because it is not really who I am.”

He noted the way he behaved while under the influence helped spread the word he was a “diva” within the music industry. “It led a lot of people to say I’ve always been a diva,” he reflected. “I am not. Now I don’t take drugs. ... Music, from the age of three or four, was my comfort blanket. And when I was doing terrible things to myself in the '70s and '80s, it was also my comfort blanket. And so it kept me alive. Music has been everything to me. … If I hadn't have had that love of music, I would have died, without question. Because even when I was at the depths of despair, I used to play music all the time.”

John and longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin were nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category this week for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” the only new track written for the Rocketman movie, which recently won two Golden Globes. He also collaborated with Ozzy Osbourne on the title track of the Black Sabbath icon’s upcoming album Ordinary Man.


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