After becoming a Disney Legend for his leadership in the music industry and contribution to the Disney brand, (he co-wrote the soundtrack to classic Disney movie The Lion King), Sir Elton John has received the Billboard’s “Legend of Live” award. Elton John said: “Here you get awards for doing what you love most, and for me, that’s playing music. That’s what I love to do most. And I’d really like to thank Billboard for this award. It means a helluva lot, because, of all the things I do musically, playing live is definitely the most rewarding thing. It gets you in contact with people, it gets you scared, you know, it’s the most rewarding thing a musician can do. And the more you do it, the more you seem to love it. Well, I do, anyway.” He also mentioned gratitude for “all the promoters who took risk on me in the early years”.
Elton said: “More than anything, it’s about the new people coming up. I’m part of the old brigade that keeps coming back and selling out, and I’m very grateful for that. But I urge everyone to encourage all the younger bands. Book them. There are a lot of great bands, a lot of new acts that are worth taking a punt on. The best way to learn your path is by playing live. And I look forward to seeing The Killers and people like that take over our mantle. I hope there are people to take over our mantle. At the moment, it’s not going to be through people who make videos and just go out on tour. It’s the people who work and drive in the bus and go there from day to day”.
President Bill Clinton said in a special video message: “Sir Elton John is one of the most accomplished artists of our time in more ways than one. In addition to his presence on the Billboard charts every year for almost three decades, he has also been an advocate for charitable causes. Everyone in this room knows that he gives all of his royalties from the sales of his singles to support the fight against HIV and AIDS. My HIV-AIDS initiative has worked with the Elton John Foundation to save lives. Because of the funding of Elton’s Foundation that’s available, we were able to double the number of children in Kenya getting treatment and train nearly 200 health-care workers throughout the country. We have a long way to go in the fight against AIDS, but thanks to the commitment and dedication of people like Elton John, and the organizations like his foundation, we will reach the day when no child has to die needlessly because of AIDS”.
After Clinton’s message, Whoopi Goldberg said: “There are not a lot of people I would clean up for. Elton is one of the few, because for Elton, who has made it possible for me to do things I never thought I could do, I would do anything. He is the man who I will go to see wherever he is in the world. He is a man who, when he is on stage, I am singing. But I feel the way I guess you all do. This is a man who embodies what performance is. You don’t ever run the risk of hearing the music continue when Elton’s not playing. You don’t run the risk of hearing lines he actually isn’t singing. When he’s on stage, it’s him. And there’s nothing better for an audience, and I know this because I am this audience. He’s played to zillions of people, grossed gazillions of dollars, at thousands of shows, and he has delivered every single show. He’s one of the most consistent touring acts out there. But it’s not just the money. It’s not. It is the professionalism, the showmanship, the flair and the charisma on stage that makes Sir Elton John a Legend of Live”.