British singer-songwriter Elton John is to embark on a three-year farewell world tour as he bows out of live performing to spend more time with his children.
The 70-year-old hitmaker – who has been touring for almost 50 years – announced his retirement on Wednesday evening ahead of a celebratory concert next week at Madison Square Garden in New York.
He will kick off a mammoth tour of more than 300 dates, labelled Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, in the US on September 8th as he covers five continents over three years.
Sir Elton will arrive in Europe in April 2019.
His Irish date is scheduled for Dublin’s 3 Arena on June 12th, 2019. He most recently played in Ireland last year. Tickets will go on sale on Friday , February 9th at 9am.
Announcing the decision, Sir Elton said his “priorities have changed”, adding that he and his husband David Furnish’s two sons, Elijah and Zachary, had transformed their lives.
“In 2015 we sat down with a school schedule and I thought I don’t want to miss too much of this ... My life has changed, my priorities have changed and my priority now is my family.”
He promised to go out with a “big bang” adding it would be “the most fantastic show I’ve ever done”.
He said making the decision “wasn’t a hard struggle because I love my kids so much and they have taken over my life and are the most important thing.”
“I have had a good run”, he added during the press conference in New York which he opened with a performance of Tiny Dancer and I’m Still Standing.
His two sons will join him for a section of the tour as he revealed they would be taken out of school for nine months.
Asked if he could later reconsider his decision, Sir Elton vowed not to do a “Cher”, adding: “This is the end” but vowed to continue writing music and working creatively until the day he dies.
He also floated the idea of replicating a residency similar to Kate Bush’s 22 dates at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014.
Sir Elton added: “Three years’ time is a long time – I’ve been in the back of a van since I was 16 and I travel so much
“I can’t physically do the travelling ... I don’t want to do the travelling, I want to be at home. I’ve had an incredible life but life is all about change.
“They (the children) need me, they need David and I want to be there. You can FaceTime all you want but it’s not the same as being with them.”
He rejected claims his decision was motivated by a series of health problems he had experienced in recent years.
Last year I picked up an infection and I was “very ill and it knocked me sideways ... but I still did 96 shows,” he said.
“Believe me, if you ever do 300 shows, you’re not in ill health.”
His current Las Vegas residency is scheduled to run until May 19, while he is also billed to play two dates in Georgia in June and July before embarking on the tour in September.
On Sunday, the veteran musician is to perform one of his classic hits alongside Miley Cyrus at the Grammy Awards where he will collect the President’s Merit Award.
Meanwhile, a special tribute concert, Elton John: I'm Still Standing will see tributes from Cyrus, Kesha, John Legend, Chris Martin, Sam Smith as well as a performance from Sir Elton himself.
Last year, Sir Elton was forced to cancel a series of shows when he contracted a bacterial infection while in 2013 the star performed 10 concerts in pain before cancelling the rest of his tour, including a headline slot at London’s Hyde Park, after being diagnosed with appendicitis.
At the time, Sir Elton said he felt “grateful to be alive”, revealing that he could have died at any time while struggling through his European tour unaware he was suffering from the condition.
In 2012, he cancelled a number of shows as a result of a respiratory infection which struck him during a series of US dates.
He also missed concerts due to a bout of food poisoning.
Sir Elton’s last original studio album was 2016’s Wonderful Crazy Night — the 30th of his career.
He is reportedly working on the soundtrack for next year's remake of the Lion King alongside Beyonce.
Last year his mother, Sheila, died just months after the pair had reconciled following an eight-year feud. – PA