Celebrities Elton John Can't Stand

There's little doubt that Sir Elton John is one of the finest entertainers on the planet. The man has been a fixture in the music industry since the 1960s, and is responsible for countless evergreen hit songs, including all-time classics like "Rocket Man," "Tiny Dancer," and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." What's more, he's done all this despite the fact that he's had an extremely tragic life.

In all fairness, there's also another side to John. He has a well-documented history of behaving like a diva, even by the entertainment industry's standards. Alexis Petridis of the Guardian tells us that during his wildest, cocaine-fueled years, John was once displeased by a storm, and demanded that his management change the weather to better suit him. Combine this trait with John's tendency to speak his mind, and it's no surprise that he has clashed with a number of fellow celebrities over the years. In fact, let's take a look at the many celebrities Elton John hasn't been able to stand.

Elton John can't help talking smack about Madonna

Madonna might not be the first person in the music industry most people would think of challenging, but hey, Elton John's not one to turn away from a challenge. As CBS News tells us, John's feud with the Queen of Pop dates back to at least 2002, when he criticized "Die Another Day," Madonna's theme song for the James Bond movie of the same name. While he labeled the song tuneless, he at least did maintain that he was a "big fan" of hers.

Two years later, the "big fan" part flew out of the window, when John started bashing Madonna for getting nominated in the "Best Live Act" category at the Q Awards, and accused her of lip-syncing. To make things worse, he delivered the putdown while accepting his own, Classic Songwriter award: "That's me off her Christmas card list, but do I give a toss? No." Though John eventually partially walked back his comments, he later repeated them, and the relationship between the two stars remained strained for years afterwards. In 2012, John even went as far as comparing Madonna to a "fairground stripper."

In 2016, John revealed on The Graham Norton Show (via the Independent) that he'd apologized to Madonna after a chance encounter in France, and promised he wouldn't insult her again. Per NME, this lasted all the way until 2019, when he was once again calling Madge "ungracious and nasty" over her feud with Lady Gaga.

Elton John and David Bowie used to be friends

Elton John and David Bowie were two of the most flamboyant and exciting artists of the 1970s, so it's only natural that the pair knew each other. As the Evening Standard tells us, Bowie, John and glam rock pioneer Mark Bolan of T.Rex used to be quite a tight unit back in the day, hitting gay clubs together and generally hanging out. 

Unfortunately, time took its toll on the relationship, and John admits that he and Bowie weren't on good terms in their later life. In part, he attributes this to the fact that they simply drifted apart. However, it appears that at least some of the mutual chagrin began when the Starman started badmouthing the Rocket Man. "He once called me 'rock 'n' roll's token queen' in an interview with Rolling Stone, which I thought was a bit snooty," John says. "He wasn't my cup of tea. No; I wasn't his cup of tea."

Regardless of Bowie's less than pleasant comments and perceived snootiness, John does point out that he was shocked when the Thin White Duke died of cancer in 2016 ... and also quite impressed with the "dignified way he handled his death."

Elton John's frenemy fallout with Rod Stewart

As the Morning Bulletin informs us, Elton John has enjoyed a decades-long frenemy relationship with fellow Sir and longtime musician, Rod Stewart. Their public relationship has been almost cartoonishly competitive, and the practical jokes they've pulled on each other are borderline wicked. John once hired a man with an air rifle to snipe Stewart's promotional blimps, and Stewart arranged a safari heist to "steal" a bunch of John's expensive Cartier jewelry. Still, they've been plenty friendly in their private lives. They've jokingly dubbed each other "Sharon" and "Phyllis," and exchanged many gifts that have been accompanied with the sort of grievous insults only best of friends can come up with. 

Unfortunately, it looks like their friendship isn't what it used to be. Per the Independent, Stewart provoked John's ire in 2018, when he appeared on the talk show Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, and criticized John for his lengthy, "money-grabbing" farewell tour. "I don't think this is a big deal, it stinks of selling tickets," Stewart commented. "It's dishonest. It's not rock and roll." In late 2019, the "Sailing" singer revealed that John didn't like his comments, and that the pair had fallen out as a result. In fact, Stewart admitted that they weren't even on speaking terms.

Elton John made too many comments about George Michael's personal life

George Michael is one of the several celebrities who started out as friends with Elton John but ended up on bad terms with him. According to NME, they drifted apart in the mid-2000s, when John lambasted Michael's 2004 album Patience as a disappointment, and told Heat magazine that he thought the former Wham! star was in "a strange place." Michael wasn't a fan of John's uninvited commentary. He promptly provided the same magazine with a scathing letter that made clear that John didn't know anything about his private life, and that the pair had only rarely interacted in the last decade or so. Michael even said that John's knowledge about him was largely "limited to the gossip he hears on the 'gay grapevine.'" Ouch.

To be fair, there's a chance John never intended his comments to take things this far. According to the singer's friend Paul Gambaccini, the falling out reportedly left the Rocket Man extremely upset. As NME tells us, after Michael passed away in late 2016, John had nothing but good things to say about him and their old friendship. "I'll miss him so much for his music, but more than anything for his humanity," John finished one of his emotional tributes to Michael. 

Elton John thought Bob Dylan was 'scruffy'

You can say many things about folk rock innovator and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan, but chances are "fashionista" isn't among them. According to Tom Skinner of NME, Dylan's dress sense came in play during one of Elton John's wild parties in the 1980s ... and unfortunately for the singer-songwriter, the host happened to be high out of his mind at the time. 

When John noticed an incredibly "scruffy" man he didn't recognize having a drink, he assumed it was a staff member who had ideas above his station. "I loudly demanded to know what the gardener was doing helping himself to a drink," John reminisces. After a stunned beat, his personal assistant swiftly informed the star: "Elton, that's not the gardener. It's Bob Dylan." That might have been that, if it wasn't for the fact that John then grabbed Dylan and steered the legendary musician inside with promises of an Elton John makeover. "We can't have you in those terrible clothes, darling," he remembers exclaiming. "Come upstairs and I'll fit you out with some of mine at once." 

Dylan was predictably terrified with the prospect of ending up in an Elton John outfit. Yet, his John-themed perils were far from over. The pair later had dinner with Simon and Garfunkel, and afterwards, Dylan found himself awkwardly playing party games with the rest of them. Apparently, he was so bad at it that John started pelting him with oranges.

Elton John is not a fan of Keith Richards

Much like Elton John, Keith Richards is known as a sharp-tongued individual. Both the Rocket Man and the Rolling Stone have been known to verbally skewer their music industry colleagues on occasion, and as it happens, the men harbor a healthy dislike for one another. According to Rolling Stone, their feud may or may not have started in 1975, when John reportedly "outstayed his welcome" in a long, 10-song guest spot at a Stones concert. What we do know is that the men have traded barbs since at least 1988, when Richards described John as "lovely bloke, but posing." 

The stealth disses eventually turned to real ones, when Richards repeatedly insulted John's theatrical antics and his Princess Diana tribute, "Candle in the Wind 1997." John soon replied with some choice words about Richards. "I'm glad I've given up drugs and alcohol," he said. "It would be awful to be like Keith Richards. He's pathetic, poor thing. It's like a monkey with arthritis, trying to go onstage and look young." He also pointed out that he has no beef with the other members of the Rolling Stones, though he does think they should have ditched Richards years ago. 

The two men are unlikely to become close friends, but these days, their mutual animosity seems to be on a back burner. In 2015, Ronnie Wood of the Stones even managed to make them pose for a photo together. 

Elton John had a baby fight with Dolce and Gabbana

In March 2015, the wrath of Elton John descended upon the famous fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, according to ABC News. Dolce and Gabbana were in a romantic relationship with each other at one point, but when Dolce discussed the possibility of children, he dismissed alternative methods to conceive babies as "synthetic" and touted the values of a traditional conception. "Surrogate mothers, seeds chosen from a catalogue," he said. "And then go and explain to these children who their mothers are. Would you accept to be a child of chemistry? Procreation must be an act of love, nowadays even the psychiatrists are not ready to face the effects of these experiments." 

This did not go over well with John, who the Independent reminds us is the father of two sons from a surrogate mother. "How dare you refer to my beautiful children as 'synthetic,'" the singer rumbled on Instagram. Then, he called a boycott on Dolce and Gabbana, which was soon joined by several other celebrities. The designers quickly released a statement where Dolce explained that he was merely talking about himself and his own, traditional Sicilian upbringing. Meanwhile, Gabbana soon joined the fight, despite not personally sharing Dolce's views. He labeled John's comments authoritarian and ignorant, and questioned the singer's intelligence.  

Still, it looks like this particular Elton John feud ended with an olive branch. According to the Guardian, Dolce eventually apologized for his comments, and John seems to have accepted the apology. 

Elton John's catfight with Lily Allen

As Marie Claire tells us, the 2008 GQ Men of the Year Award ceremony in London became an interesting event when the hosts, Elton John and singer Lily Allen, started a verbal catfight onstage. Things started out normally, but as time went by, John appeared to become annoyed with Allen's behavior, which reportedly became more erratic as the night went on. Finally, as Allen said the line: "...and now the most important part of the night," John couldn't contain himself anymore, and snapped: "What? Are you going to have another drink?" 

From that point on, it was a short, but impressive verbal sparring match. "'F*** off, Elton," Allen countered. "I'm 40 years younger than you and have my whole life ahead of me!" To which John replied: "I could still snort you under the table." This evidently threw Allen, who ended the dialogue with another eff-off, and stated that John didn't know what he was talking about. 

Allen later told MTV News that she had indeed happily and unapologetically indulged in champagne. She also stated that the perceived bad blood between her and John was entirely invented by the media. Regardless of what the truth is, John certainly doesn't seem to think that Allen is all bad. As Today tells us, in 2010 he named her as one of the young pop musician that he liked, along with Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga.

Elton John thinks Simon Cowell is bad for talent

As Radar Online and the Independent tell us, in 2011 Elton John turned his critical gaze toward music competition shows, saying that they "killed" talent and had ruined the UK's pop music scene. The most obvious target of such claims is, of course, TV talent show magnate Simon Cowell of American Idol, The X Factor, and America's Got Talent fame.  

Being something of a blunt-spoken man himself, Cowell soon struck back at John. In an interview with Piers Morgan, he said in no uncertain terms that he doesn't think much of the music legend's comments, since he sees John himself as something of a money-grabber. "This is somebody who charges what, a million dollars a private gig?" Cowell said. "Two million dollars, you know? I don't know whether he's concerned about himself — maybe he is." Cowell then advised John to use some of his private concert money to help aspiring musicians, in the same way he said his talent shows do. 

Still, it might just be that John delivered the most scathing comment in this particular feud a full year before it even started. In 2010, the musician revealed that he refused a judge's seat on American Idol's panel ... because he found the very concept "a**e-paralyzingly brain-crippling." 

Elton John won't go to a Janet Jackson concert any time soon

If you ever want to make an enemy out of Elton John, the easiest way is probably to become a musician, and then convince him that you're lip-syncing. As NME tells us, this came in play during his notorious feud with Madonna, when he uttered the infamous words: "Anyone who lip-syncs in public on stage when you pay £75 [$98.50] to see them should be shot." Elton John: Not a lip-sync kind of guy. 

In 2016, it was Janet Jackson's turn to go through John's patented alleged-lip-syncing grinder. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the singer-songwriter told in straightforward, expletive-laden terms that he thought Jackson was lip-syncing during her Unbreakable tour concerts, and that he didn't much care for it. "You know, f***ing music magazines writing a review of Janet Jackson saying, 'This is the greatest show — four and a half stars,'" John opined. "It's f***ing lip-synced! Hello! That's not a show!" 

He ended his Jackson-themed commentary by providing other options for spending one's hard-earned entertainment money. "I'd rather go and see a drag queen. F*** off."

Elton John's not the biggest fan of reality stars

Elton John has been known to diss several other celebrities, but as the Evening Standard tells us, he particularly disapproves of one very specific brand of famous person: Reality show stars. According to John, the whole point of stardom is that it's not easy, and that you should put in the work before becoming successful. In an interview on George Ezra's podcast, the singer rather bluntly stated his views on the celebrities of today. "The word 'celebrity' didn't exist, you were either successful or not," he reminisced the days of yore. "Now the word celebrity, you can be somebody off [the British reality show] Love Island, I don't know who they are." In fact, John says he outright hates the term "celebrity," and only accepts major movie stars, musicians, and other top-of-their-industry names under that umbrella.  

To be fair, John has some sympathy toward today's celebrities. He says that the advent of camera phones has made their life extremely difficult, because no one famous can behave as badly in public as he did back in the day. 

Elton John singled out Leona Lewis as a negative example of a modern pop star

In 2010, Elton John made his views about the sad state of pop music abundantly clear. In an interview with Radio Times (via Today), the Rocket Man revealed that he doesn't think much of modern songwriters, and noted that the only way pop stars can take a stand for themselves is if they write their own songs. As an example of his thinking, he name-dropped two winners of the British talent show X Factor. "Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are at the mercy of the next song they can get," John opines. He feels that the proper way to "sustain a career" is to apply some elbow grease and learn the craft, starting out with tiny clubs and paying your dues. As an example of this method, he names ... well, himself, as well as his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. 

While John is indeed walking proof that the ability to write Elton John-level songs yourself is pretty good for your career, at least one of the artists he singled out has managed to acquire some pretty decent songs in her arsenal. As Digital Spy tells us, in 2016 Leona Lewis recorded a rather enticing version of one of John's most famous tunes, "Your Song."