Friday, June 21, 2024

Elton John On His Lifelong Battle Against Baldness: “Without hair, I bear a disturbing resemblance to the cartoon character Shrek”


Elton John’s memoir, “Me,” already number 2 on the amazon books best seller list, is a refreshingly honest visit with one of the world’s great rock stars. I told you on Monday about Sir Elton’s encounters with other rockers and celebrities. But one of my favorite passages has to do with his hair. Elton (like me) lost his locks early, and started looking into remedies.

He writes, amusingly: “My hair had started thinning a little in the early seventies, but a bad dye job in New York had suddenly caused the stuff to stage a mass walkout. Impressed by the way the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes seemed to change her hair colour to match her outfits, I had been getting mine dyed every shade imaginable at a salon in London for years with no apparent ill-effects. I’ve no idea what the New York hairdresser had put on it but, not long afterwards, it started coming out in chunks. By the time of the 1976 tour, there was virtually nothing left on top. I hated how I looked. Some people are blessed with the kind of face that looks good with a bald head. I am not one of those people. Without hair, I bear a disturbing resemblance to the cartoon character Shrek.”

He recounts attempts at hair transplants that didn’t take, and how he started wearing a baseball cap — after he was told not to — which only made him look worse. Finally, he went to a toupee.

“That said, a wig is not without drawbacks of its own. A few years back, I was sleeping at my home in Atlanta, when I woke up to the sound of voices in the apartment. I was convinced we were being burgled. I pulled on my dressing gown and started creeping out to see what was happening. I was halfway down the corridor when I realized I didn’t have my hairpiece on. I rushed back to the bedroom, reasoning that if I was going to be bludgeoned to death by intruders, at least I wouldn’t be bald when it happened. Wig on, I went into the kitchen to find two workmen, who had been sent up to fix a leak. They apologized profusely for waking me up, but despite my relief, I couldn’t help noticing they were staring at me. Perhaps they were starstruck, I thought, as I headed back to bed. Stopping off in the bathroom, I realized that the workmen weren’t bedazzled by the sight of the legendary Elton John appearing before them. They were bedazzled by the sight of the legendary Elton John appearing before them with his wig on back to front. I looked completely ridiculous, like [famous British comedian] Frankie Howerd after a heavy night in a strong wind. I took the thing off and went back to sleep.”

How can you not love him? “Me” is on sale now, and it’s full of stories like that.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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