I'm still standing after all this time ... a true survivor
SIR Elton John has been living in the public eye for most of his life.
And now his bumpy road to super-stardom is being played out on the silver screen in the new movie Rocketman.
The Grammy-award winner was heavily involved in the project along with actor Taron Egerton, who plays the singer in the film, and he wanted the grittier scenes to be included in its making.
It was important to the 72-year-old that his real-life issues with drug addiction, an eating disorder, mental illness and his sexuality be explored.
"This is how my life was and I didn't want to cover it and gloss it over," Elton said.
"And it's difficult to watch because I thought 'God, I don't want to go back there'.
"Thank God I came out of it."
Elton's Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour kicked off in the United States in September and the singer is in the process of performing across five continents before ending the tour in 2021.
"It's time to come off the road so I can fully embrace the next important chapter of my life," the singer said when announcing his farewell tour.
"After the tour finishes, I'm very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children."
Even though the Oscar winner admitted he had tremendous fame, he said it came at a great cost.
"Success was fantastic and then I couldn't cope with it. And you can't leave out the bad," he told Newscorp.
He may be happily married now to David Furnish but back in 1984, in Australia, but he famously married a woman in an attempt to escape the pain and shame of his sexuality and addictions.
The marriage, which is briefly depicted in Rocketman, only lasted four years - one could hazard a guess as to why.
In a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone, he had admitted to being bisexual, and his homosexual affairs were well known in music circles.
News of his marriage in 1984 to Renate Blauel - a 30-year-old German sound engineer - sent jaws dropping throughout the entertainment industry.
Rod Stewart captured the sentiment in a telegram - referencing one of John's hits - that he sent the star: "You may still be standing but we're all on the f---ing floor."
"It was unexpected," said Harley Medcalf, his tour promoter at the time, who was charged with planning the wedding in four days after the singer proposed to Blauel over dinner in Australia.
John and Blauel first met in 1976 when he was working on a new track Don't Go Breaking My Heart for singer Kiki Dee at London's AIR studio.
"That was her first session as a full-fledged engineer," said David Motion, an assistant engineer on the project.
"Renate was quite nervous. She was keen (to)... do a good job, which she did."
The crew regularly toiled away until 1-2am each day.
While sparks didn't fly with Blauel right away, she apparently made an impression.
"There was a kind of chemistry that developed," said Elizabeth J Rosenthal, who wrote the biography His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John.
"She found him very funny," said Rosenthal of what she was told by insiders.
"Everything he said she would giggle at."
The wedding was attended by stars including Olivia Newton-John and tennis pro John McEnroe.
John's best man was his manager John Reid, who was also an ex-boyfriend.
"It was an incredible event," said Harley Medcalf.
"There was lots of love. But at the same time, the (ex) boyfriend (Gary Clarke) was on the fifth floor of the hotel half out the window watching."
Blauel had a dress custom-made for her by Aussie designer Keri Craig-Lee, with a heart-shaped pendant sporting 63 diamonds - a gift from John - sewn into the bodice.
It seemed that marriage had the intended effect for John - at first.
"He owned a football club and there used to be homophobic chants on the terraces at the games. This all turned around a bit when he married a woman," said journalist Lesley-Ann Jones, who covered John at the time.
Blauel and John skipped a honeymoon, as he still had the rest of his tour to complete.
"I think it's tough for anybody to keep up (with Elton)," said Harley Medcalf, citing the tour's late-night parties and pressure-filled days.
Despite being one of the top recording artists of the 1970s and '80s, John has said he was unhappy for much of that time.
His excesses and vices are on full display in Rocketman, which he co-produced.
In one scene, John (played by Taron Egerton) admits to being an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, shopping addict and bulimic.
Behind closed doors at John's UK estate, where the two slept in separate bedrooms, the marriage was deteriorating.
A scene from Rocketman shows the newlyweds eating breakfast together, in complete silence, as John chugs a massive screwdriver.
According to a 1988 People magazine article, the pop star was continuing to meet male lovers at hotels.
That same year, John barricaded himself at home after negative articles concerning his sexuality came out and there were reports Blauel climbed a ladder to his window to check on her husband.
'I've had enough boyfriends and that's not made me happy, so I'll have a wife; that will change everything,' Elton later said in an interview.
"And I loved Renate. She's a great girl. I really, really loved her. But, you know. It is one of the things I regret most in my life, hurting her."
Despite a $US44,000 ($A64,000) birthday party Elton threw for Blauel, the two divorced in November, 1988.
The divorce settlement was rumoured to be as high as $US45 million ($A65 million) (though other media sources reported it as closer to $A8.6 million).
In 1993, Elton met David Furnish.
The two married in 2014 and have two young sons who were born with the help of a surrogate.
And nowadays their son Zachery, 7, is a member of the junior academy of Watford FC - Elton's beloved football club while younger brother Elijah, 5, is also a keen player.