A big party for Elton John's 70th birthday? Now THERE'S a surprise. The Rocket Man did, however, make it for a good cause, joining friends on Saturday (March 25) in Los Angeles at a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the UCLA Hammer Museum.
Guests included Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga, who sang "Happy Birthday" to John, while Gaga also played her own "Bad Romance" and "Born This Way." John and Ryan Adams teamed up for a version of "Rocket Man." Other guests at the event included Rob Lowe, who hosted the event, Katy Perry, CBS late-night host James Corden and actors Jon Hamm and Neil Patrick Harris. U2 frontman Bono, Ellen DeGeneres, David Beckham and Britain's Prince Harry sent videos wishing John a happy birthday.
John issued a 70th birthday statement saying that, "I'm interested in moving forward all the time, with what I create, my collaborations, and also with discovering the work of other people. I think age is immaterial, provided we keep our minds alive by being open to new things. I can be as excited by a new artist who plays me their demo as I am by a new record of one of my musical heroes. I can be excited by playing a new city I've never played before, or revisiting somewhere I know well and seeing how it's changed. Life is a constant state of flux for us all, and I like to embrace that. I also feel very happy to use my position to bring attention to injustice in the world, and to try to help where I can. At this time in my life I'm the happiest I have ever been."
The party also celebrated 50 years of John's partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin, who also issued a statement saying, "It's been an unconventional partnership and while we pretty much patented the two-rooms technique I'd venture to say you'd be hard pressed to find a couple of songwriters more in sync with each other and their craft."
John returns to the road April 22 in Bakersfield, Calif., before heading back to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for four late April shows.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.