Families in Recovery Category in Blog

“I Need Help” – Elton John, Hero of Hope

In early March, I attended Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Concert at the Barclay Center. I love Elton John and I love his music. His songs are the sound track of my life. Your Song is the song I sang to my babies every night as I rocked them to sleep. I had the good fortune to meet him in 2005 at a Christie’s auction of his clothing he was selling to raise money for his AIDS charity. He was gracious and kind. I will be first in line to see Rocketman, his biopic, which is opening this weekend.

The concert was a blast and inspiring.  Elton John would stop every few songs and tell a story from his life, the inspiration or process behind a song, or speak of the causes and issues he is passionate about.  Midway through the concert he said, “In 1990, I spoke three little words ‘I need help’ and my life changed for the better. I got sober.”  The capacity crowd of nearly 20,000 exploded with cheers and applause.

Elton John went on to tell how people in his life rallied around him when he uttered those three words and they helped him start his journey of recovery.  Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step. Asking for help is the next step.  Both take a lot of courage.  Knowing that people are there to help and want to help is a gift.

Obviously that night at the Barclay Center not all of us in the crowd were in recovery, but clearly the majority, in some way in our lives, had been affected by substance abuse or perhaps had a loved one in recovery. We all were moved by Sir Elton John’s words. With our cheers and hollers the concert crowd that night was showing our love and support not only for Elton John’s sobriety but also for everyone and anyone who is in recovery.

Recently Elton John sat down with Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air for an interview. Below is an excerpt where he talks about his recovery, but the whole interview is definitely worth listening to. Elton John remains a hero to so many, and his life journey and his songs will continue to inspire. Thank you Elton!

I had no balance in my life, Terry. I was, you know, this one person onstage and this person offstage who really didn’t know much about living. I’d progressed onstage as a performer, but I hadn’t progressed as a human being. And I was – you know, fame makes you very self-absorbed. I was very, very famous all around the world because I was a global artist; I went all around the world, and that leads you into a little bubble, and it leads you to become very insular. I had people around me who were very controlling. So I didn’t like confrontation, so I just delved into drug addiction and alcohol addiction.

Until I got sober in 1990, I really hadn’t grown up at all. So when I did get sober, at that point, I had a lot of catching up to do with the personality onstage, with the real person offstage. And to attain the balance in my life, I had to learn to walk again, basically. I had to learn how to function as a human being, and I really enjoyed that process. I mean, when people go to rehab and come out, they go through a difficult period, a lot of people; I never had that. I was so glad to be rid of all that crap, that, for me, to learn again and to function as a human being and learn how to participate in the human race again was just pure joy.

NPR Fresh Air, Terry Gross Interview with Elton John
A More Reflective Leap On Elton John’s ‘Diving Board’