Musician Biographies » Elton John » Tragedy and the Future - The Lion King, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Honors, Tragedy Strikes, Aida, The Present And Into The Future - Finding Peace and Moving On, Knighthood

Tragedy and the Future - Tragedy Strikes

elton diana funeral versace

The past few years for Elton had been amazing ones. He was invigorated with his successes and he was flying high with the public's appreciation. Then, on July 15, 1997, one of the fashion world's biggest leaders was murdered outside of his home in Florida. On that day, Gianni Versace was shot dead by Andrew Cunanan. Elton John and Gianni Versace had been friends for years, and Elton experienced tremendous pain from the loss of his dear friend. His close friend, Diana, Princess of Wales, comforted the weeping Elton at Versace's funeral.

Did You Know?

March 25, 1997, was Elton John's fiftieth birthday, and he was ready to party. The quirky Elton John arrived at his huge party dressed as Marie Antoinette, the queen whose famous line, “Let them eat cake,” has been engraved into world history. Can you guess what Elton sang as he walked through the door of his party dressed as extravagantly as the queen? He sang, “Let them eat cake!”

Only a few months later, on August 31, 1997, the world lost another beloved figure: Princess Diana. She perished in an automobile accident in Paris, France. While just a few months earlier, Elton had cried in her arms at Versace's funeral, he now had to prepare himself to play the piano at hers.

Elton was overcome with enormous grief when he heard of Diana's death. Yet Elton wanted to pay tribute to this woman who had fought so hard as a humanitarian, especially in her fight for AIDS sufferers. In an interview with Barbara Walters before Diana's funeral, Elton spoke of his plan to see that she would never be forgotten: “In England they have been showing montages of Diana with ‘Candle in the Wind,’ which was a song that Bernie Taupin and I wrote about Marilyn Monroe. So rather than sing that, which I think is totally inappropriate because it's a song about Marilyn Monroe, I asked Bernie to write a brand new lyric. The first line is ‘Goodbye, England's rose.’”

Princess Diana's death was a shock, and Elton decided that after he played “England's Rose” at her funeral he would never play it publicly again. On the day of her funeral, much of the world watched. Diana had been popular because she loved and took care of the sick and less fortunate. As Elton sat down to play his good-bye message to Diana, he said he thought, “When I started singing and playing, I suddenly realized this was it. I was fairly composed all the way through and I sang it well. But at the beginning of the last verse my voice cracked and I was really chock-full of emotion and I had to close my eyes and grit my teeth and get through it.”

Elton donated all proceeds from “England's Rose” to a memorial fund in Princess Diana's name that would go to charity. The single made it to number one on both American and British Charts. It is his highest-selling single to date.

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