Elton John felt terrible for rejecting the offer to complete John Lennon’s final recordings shortly after the Beatle’s death.
The Rocket Man hitmaker was hit with an urgent request from Yoko Ono in the weeks after John’s 1980 murder, but he was too upset to take up the offer.
“She said she needed to see me, it was urgent, I had to come to New York right away,” Elton recalls in his new memoir, Me. “So I got on a plane… She told me she’d found a load of tapes with unfinished songs John had been working on just before he died. She asked me if I would complete them, so they could be released.”
Elton turned down Yoko’s offer, insisting it was “too soon” after his friend’s death.
“I didn’t think the time would ever be right,” Elton adds. “Trying to work out how to finish songs John Lennon had started writing… I wouldn’t be so presumptuous. And the idea of putting my voice on the same record as his, I thought it was horrible. Yoko was insistent, but so was I.”
The songs were eventually released in 1984 and Elton admits she still feels guilty about refusing to help Lennon’s widow.
“Yoko thought she was honouring John’s legacy, trying to fulfil his wishes, and I was refusing to help,” he writes. “I knew I was right, but that didn’t make it any less depressing. In the end, she put the songs out as they were, on an album called Milk and Honey.”
Elton paid tribute to Lennon by writing the 1982 song Empty Garden to honour his friend.
“It’s one of my favourite songs, but I hardly ever play it live,” he adds. “It’s too hard to perform, too emotional… I really loved John, and when you love someone that much, I don’t think you ever quite get over their death.”
Elton’s new memoir will be published on 15 October (19).