Elton John: ‘Friend’s Death Saved my Life’

Monday, July 16, 2012

MUSIC legend Elton John is adamant he’d be dead if it wasn’t for his late friend who died of AIDS aged 18.

The Bennie and the Jets hitmaker — who has battled drink and drugs addiction — admits he was  “huge cocaine addict” during his friend Ryan White‘s plight and up to his death in 1990.

“Ryan was a true hero, a true Christian, because he unconditionally forgave those who made him suffer. Ryan changed the course of a deadly epidemic and helped save millions of lives,” Elton said.

“But when Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18, I didn’t know how to speak to someone unless I had a nose full of cocaine and a stomach full of alcohol. After his funeral, I returned to London and locked myself away at home, as had become my habit.

“My sense of values was buried under my self-destruction. But I’m here today because of Ryan.

“I’m deeply ashamed that I did not do more about AIDS back then when my friends, including Ryan, were dying all around me. I just did not have the strength or sobriety to do anything about it.

“I would go to funerals, I would cry, I would mourn, sometimes for weeks. And my behavior got worse, I was sleeping around without protection and it is a small miracle that I never contracted HIV myself.

“I remember watching television after Ryan’s death and seeing footage of the funeral. It was one of the lowest points of my life.

“My hair was white, my skin pale. I was bloated and gorged. I looked tired, sick and beaten. I looked horrible. It was almost too much to take. I had been overcome by addiction; I was completely out of control. I looked, quite frankly, like a piano-playing Elvis Presley.

“As messed up as I’ve ever been. There was no question: I was going to change, or I was going to die.”