Celebrity Portrait

Loving Las Vegas & Loving Life

Photograph by Greg Gorman

Photograph by Greg Gorman

By Shep Morgan

Elton John is a little surprised that he feels at home in Las Vegas. “It’s more exciting than it’s ever been,” he says. “I really do love this town, and I never thought I’d say that. The audiences are amazing. It’s unbelievable whom you may come across at a show any given night—from celebrities to fans, from different parts of the world.”

The legendary entertainer first thrilled Sin City with “The Red Piano” and now he’s surpassed himself with “The Million Dollar Piano,” returning this spring to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The show features an enormous high-tech version of his signature instrument; it’s covered with LED video screens that change colors as he plays. “It’s something different,” he says. “I’ve never done a show with so much production.”

Besides the state-of-the-art piano—which Elton calls “Blossom” after jazz singer Blossom Dearie (it’s the sixth piano in his collection named after female vocalists, from Aretha Franklin to Nina Simone)—there’s a giant wall-to-wall video screen that explodes with images from his personal life and career. But even surrounded by spectacular effects, he still commands the spotlight while delivering an eclectic blend of his greatest hits mixed with musical surprises.

“I’ve always loved playing live. I cherish it more than anything else because you never know what the performance is going to be,” Elton says, adding that he’s his biggest critic. “Sometimes you go onstage feeling great and you’re not as great as you think you are. Some nights, you’re feeling tired and you give a really great performance. I truly do think that the older I get, the better I’m singing live. I just won’t be jumping on the piano anymore,” he jokes.

Elton’s post-show nights have taken a new direction of late—a path he is proud of. “It used to be that when I’d come offstage I didn’t know what to do with myself and, sometimes, that got me into trouble. Now, I have a balance in my life.”

Always A Performer

“What I love about doing the show at The Colosseum,” Elton says, “is that I don’t have to fly anywhere. I stay in one place for three weeks instead of getting on a plane every night. Now, instead of doing two-hundred flights a year, I may get down to a hundred.”

Even if he’s touring less, he isn’t slowing down. “I’m a workaholic,” he says. “I have a lot of energy. I work hard and I love it—whether it’s being onstage, recording an album or writing songs.”

He adds, “I really do enjoy my life. I live a healthy lifestyle now, and maybe I will try to relax a little more. But I don’t ever think about retirement.”

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