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Rod Stewart and Elton John’s Notorious Friendly Competiveness

Here’s the last item (I think) from Rod Stewart’s new book. It’s all about his friendly competition with Elton John:

From time to time this rivalry has driven Elton to pull off some beautifully organized stunts. In 1985 I had a bunch of massive footballs, the size of blimps, tethered above Earls Court to mark the fact that I was doing concerts there. Elton hired a sniper to shoot them down with an air rifle. Or like the time the banner for my Blondes Have More Fun tour, outside the same venue, was matched by one that Elton put up on an opposite building, which read, “But Brunettes Make More Money.”

There is no more generous person on this earth, though, than Elton— just incredibly generous. I have watches he has given me for birthdays: lavish, thickly jeweled pieces engraved “From Elt.” He gave my first wife, Alana, with whom he remained good friends after she and I separated, a Steinway piano. Those don’t come cheap.

And then there was the Christmas where I thought long and hard about the present I was going to give him. That’s always a tough one: What do you get the man who has bought himself everything? Eventually, though, after a bit of scouring around the shops, I lit upon the solution: a novelty portable fridge. … And it cost me about £ 300, which I thought was enough. Elton’s present to me that year: a Rembrandt. A drawing— The Adoration of the Shepherds. A fucking Rembrandt! I felt pretty small— although not as small as Elton presumably wanted me to feel when he later referred tartly to my present as “an ice bucket.” It was not an ice bucket. It was a novelty portable fridge.

Anyway, I played it a bit better on his fiftieth birthday in 1997. I bought him a full-size, sit-under hairdryer like the ones you see in women’s hair salons. Two years later, he marked my marriage to Rachel with a £ 10 voucher from Boots.* On the card he wrote, “Get yourself something nice for the house.”