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Elton John bids farewell to the road. His goodbye tour performed its last show

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

After more than five decades, Sir Elton John is hanging up his feather boa, putting away the platform shoes and saying goodbye to touring.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD")

ELTON JOHN: (Singing) So goodbye, yellow brick road, where the dogs of society howl. You can't plant me in your penthouse. I'm going back to my plow, back to the howling old owl in the woods, hunting the horny-back toad.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Or that's what he says anyway. The 76-year-old has announced his retirement from touring at least five times since 1984. But the singer says he's been on the road since he was 16, and he's tired. He described his punishing travel schedule to Fresh Air host Terry Gross back in 2013.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JOHN: And no matter where I am in the world, I always look forward to coming home or - I mean, I - if I do a show in Chicago, I'll fly from Atlanta, where I have a home, and play the show and come back that night and sleep in my own bed. Even if I have two shows in a row in Chicago, I won't stay overnight. I'll come back home because that's where I want to be at this stage of my life.

MARTÍNEZ: The pop icon says he and his husband want to spend more time being parents now that their two sons are in school, and it isn't so easy to take them on tour.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JOHN: I want to be with my children. I want to be with my partner. It's just a sanctuary for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR SONG")

JOHN: (Singing) Don't have much money, but, boy, if I did, I'd buy a big house where we both could live.

MARTIN: Before his goodbye tour kicked off in 2018, John told Anderson Cooper that he felt lucky to do what he does.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN: Nothing is like playing to another human being and getting the emotional feedback.

MARTÍNEZ: The pandemic hiatus didn't stop John from playing 330 shows in 16 custom-made, glittering Gucci suits.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN: Some countries are a little colder than others, and you have to get them going. But that's all part and parcel of your craft. You never give in. You never say, I can't be bothered.

MARTIN: The tour wrapped up in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday and is believed to have grossed more than $900 million.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN: You know, I always wanted the audience to have the best time, and I want to have the best time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR SONG")

JOHN: (Singing) I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you're in the world.

MARTÍNEZ: And though Elton John has announced his retirement before, his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin says this really is the end of the road.

MARTIN: But Elton John says he won't stop making music, and he may even do a one-off show sometime in the future.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M STILL STANDING")

JOHN: (Singing) Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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