Move Over, Madonna

Elton John’s Nastiest Feuds, From Madonna to Simon Cowell (PHOTOS)

We look at the Rocket Man’s biggest celebrity quarrels, from Madonna to Simon Cowell to Keith Richards.

Efrem Lukatsky / AP Photo

Elton John isn't exactly known for keeping his opinions to himself and he certainly isn't one to stand down in a fight. Most recently, the superstar filed suit against The Times of London for mistakenly claiming he was somehow involved in offshore tax evasion. This isn't the first time he’s gotten into a scuffle with one of Murdoch's newspapers, not to mention a fellow celebrity or even the music industry. Elton has a long history of cat fights. We look at some of the Rocket Man’s biggest quarrels with fellow stars, from Simon Cowell to Keith Richards.

Efrem Lukatsky / AP Photo

Elton John vs. The Times

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire can’t catch a break. As the phone hacking trials continue, it might have another day in court. Elton John is suing The Times of London for a defamatory article that he claims caused “severe damage to his reputation and personal distress and embarrassment,” according to his attorney. Called “How Movie Millions are Moved Offshore,” the two-piece series was about investment companies that helped celebrity clients avoid taxes. It claimed Patrick McKenna, CEO of Ingenious Media, was Elton’s accountant, but later published a correction saying that was false and that the company was not involved in such schemes. This hasn’t deterred Elton, who is seeking damages to his reputation. This isn’t the first Murdoch vs. Elton suit—in 1987 Elton won $2 million after the Sun alleged he was involved with teenaged prostitutes.

Armando Franca / AP Photo (left); J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photos

2012: Elton John vs. Madonna.

Elton threw the first punch at the red carpet of the Golden Globes in mid-January. As a nominee for Best Original song (Gnomeo and Juliet), he was asked by Carson Daly to size up his competition. “Mary J [Blige] might win it for The Help,” Elton John said. “Madonna doesn’t have a fucking chance.” Of course, once Madonna did actually win, the cameras panned to Elton—sulking. Later, Elton’s partner, David Furnish, reportedly posted this message on Facebook: “Madonna winning Best Original Song truly shows how these awards have nothing to do with merit ... And her criticism of Lady Gaga shows how desperate she really is.”

Dan Steinberg / AP Photos

2011: Elton John vs. the Music Industry

Even though he’s a major star, Elton John has never been particularly fond of the people who release his music. He went on a lengthy rant last year, in an interview with Shortlist magazine. “I think most of heads of record companies are idiots,” he said. “It’s like they’re having a hit of cocaine every 15 seconds … they’re sickening actually. They sicken me. They’re thick as shit.”

Chris Pizzello / AP Photos (left): Matt Sayles / AP Photos

2010: Elton John vs. Simon Cowell.

Does Elton not love Kelly Clarkson like the rest of us? In an October interview with the Daily Mail, Elton talked about why he turned down an offer to be a judge on American Idol. “I’m not a fan of talent shows,” he said, adding that all TV is “boring” and “brain crippling.” Later, Cowell shot back in an interview with Piers Morgan: "This is somebody who charges what, a million dollars a private gig? Two million dollars, you know? I don't know whether he's concerned about himself—maybe he is."

Dave M. Benett / Getty Images

2008: Elton John vs. Lily Allen.

At the GQ Awards, Elton reportedly criticized Lily Allen the British songstress who was his tipsy co-host, for trying to take another drink while the two were on stage presenting. “Fuck off Elton,” she snapped back at him. “I’m 40 years younger than you and I have my whole life ahead of me.” Elton’s reply was typically restrained: “I could still snort you under the table,” he told her. “Fuck off,” Allen said. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Robyn Beck, AFP / Getty Images (left); Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

2004: Elton John vs. Madonna, the Prequel.

Before he fought with Madonna at the Golden Globes, Elton attacked her at a different awards show. After accepting at Britain’s Q Awards for best songwriting, he said of Madonna: “Best fucking live act? Fuck off! … Anyone who lip-synchs in public onstage when you pay 75 pounds to see them should be shot." Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg responded that “Madonna does not lip synch.”

Fabian Bimmer / AP Photos (left); PRNewsFoto / Sony Epic Records / AP Photos

2004: Elton John vs. George Michael

Elton and George Michael used to be pals in the 1980s, but in an interview with Heat magazine, Elton spoke poorly of George’s alleged drug use. “George is in a strange place,” Elton said. “There appears to be a deep-rooted unhappiness in his life.” Michael was so distraught by the comment, he wrote a letter to the editor: “Elton John knows very little about George Michael and that's a fact. Contrary to the public's impression, we have spoken rarely in the last 10 years and what would probably surprise most people is that we have never discussed my private life. Ever." But according to a recent report in The Daily Mail, the two are back to being friends again. “The feud is over,” a source said. “George and Elton are getting on brilliantly again and everyone is thrilled.”

Ron Galella, WireImage / Getty Images (2)

1997: Elton John vs. Keith Richards

It’s one of the most legendary feuds in the music industry. For some reason, Keith Richards criticized Elton John to Entertainment Weekly after hearing him perform the song “Candle In the Wind” at Princess Diana’s funeral: “His writing is limited to songs for dead blondes,” Richards quipped. Elton quickly hit back—hard—with some of his harshest words for the former Rolling Stone. “I’m glad I’ve given up drugs and alcohol,” Elton said at the time. “It would be awful to be like Keith Richards. He’s pathetic. It’s like a monkey with arthritis, trying to go on stage and look young. I have great respect for the Stones but they would have been better if they had thrown Keith out 15 years ago.” Men’s Health ranked his reply as one of the “25 Meanest Things Ever Said By Men.”

Luca Bruno / AP Photos

1997: Elton John vs. Princess Diana

Elton John had yet another falling out—this time, with the legendary princess—over a disagreement about (in Elton’s words) “a charity event.” They reconciled at Gianni Versace’s funeral in July 1997, where Diana literally provided Elton a shoulder to cry on, and of course, Elton gave an iconic performance at Di’s own funeral in September. “Every friendship goes through a rocky period,” Elton told Reuters after Diana’s death. “It wasn’t that rocky but it was certainly a stand-off situation and thank God it got resolved.”