Surrounded by the new design Elton John tour merch mixed with luxury goods from Fendi and Balenciaga in a special Rocket Man-themed pop-up shop at The Webster at Beverly Center, David Furnish – husband and business partner of the beloved pop star – joked that everyone thinks his house looks like this Los Angeles shrine to Elton.
“We do have a Captain Fantastic pinball machine at our home in Windsor,” he admitted Billboard, sitting in an alcove at The Webster with that very arcade game called “Philadelphia Freedom” playing over the speakers. “But we don’t play Elton John 24/7 music in our house.”
For the past nearly decade, Furnish has been helping Elton plan his retirement from the road after more than 50 years of touring world, and this pop-up shop is one of many special flourishes that send him off. “Elton said he wanted to go out on a high,” says Furnish.
So that’s the plan: He’ll wrap up his U.S. tour dates with a trio of concerts at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, including Sunday’s final show. streamed live by Disney+ and including special guests Dua Lipa, Kiki Dee and Brandi Carlile. And all the while, RJ Cutler will continue filming the Disney+ documentary Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, along with Furnish as a producer under his and Elton’s Rocket Entertainment.
“LA has always had that professional resonance,” Furnish says of why Dodger Stadium is the final American tour stop, 47 years after Elton was the first solo artist to play the ballpark. “You know we have a home here. Our sons were born next door [to The Webster] at Cedars-Sinai; they are coming next week to come and see the performances. We hold our annual Oscar party here; we have raised $95 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation with this event for over 25 years. So LA is a very, very special place for us.”
Below you will find highlights from Billboard‘s chat with Furnish, including why Elton is retiring now, his continued relevance on our charts and how the pair hoped music would be a “huge healer” for Elton’s latest duet partner, Britney Spears.
Why is Elton John retiring from touring now?
I think the most important thing and the most important thing for us is what it means for our family. Because as long as I’ve known Elton, he’s been on the road doing 90 to 100 shows a year. It is a big commitment. Time, travel, rest between shows. And now we have two beautiful sons; they will be 12 and 10. And we were able to take them with us in the early days. And now they have their own lives. And it’s really important that they continue to have their own lives, their own identities, to not have their lives defined by their father’s career.
About Elton John’s love affair with Billboard charts, including two top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits this year: “Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa and “Hold Me Closer” with Britney Spears.
He gets your charts daily. He gets them printed out on paper copies. Because he goes through with highlighters. And he literally has different highlighters for the different records he lists – the ones from the UK, the ones from America, the ones that are coming up, the ones that are his, the ones that he has a connection to. He sees it daily. It feeds a part of his soul. And he is completely over the moon with the way these new records have performed. And you know you’re going to see more. He just doesn’t want to stop. And I’m excited for him and excited for what great music he can bring to the world. Our streaming numbers, seeing that 58% of his music is now being consumed by 18- to 35-year-olds — that’s one of the things that I think he’s most proud of. That he has written songs that survive, that stand the test of time, and that resonate with a whole new generation, that to him is like “Wow.”
Why Britney Spears was the perfect duet partner on “Hold Me Closer.”
During the lockdown we saw the documentaries that came out and we didn’t realize … we had heard about the conservatory but we hadn’t understood the details and the practicalities of it. It was really disturbing, like, “Oh my God, that poor girl, she’s just been in a prison for so long.” And like a drug addict – both of us [David and Elton] is in recovery – we truly understand the impact of trauma.
When I Raised Britney [as a possible collaborator], [Elton] was like, “Oh, my God, she needs the hand to help take a step forward to get back on the charts again.” And I think the outpouring she got from her fans, you know it’s a great record, I know she’s really chuffed to pieces, as we say in England, with the response it’s gotten. And I hope, and Elton hopes, it gives her more courage and more sense to get back in the studio, because music is a great healer.
“Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium” will stream live Sunday at 11:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM PT on Disney+.