The Rocket Man fired off a warning flare to all the haters (and, perhaps, his own record label) Friday during a concert in New Hampshire, telling the crowd that his critically acclaimed new album, Songs from the West Coast, will be his last.
"It's the last record I ever make," he said during a show at Manchester's Verizon Wireless Arena. "I'm fed up with it. I like playing to you guys but I hate the record industry.
"I've made 40 albums and it's about time to get out."
Say it ain't so. Has the sun finally gone down on the career of Britain's favorite piano-pounding popster?
Don't bet your sequined spectacles on it. With sales of his new disc slumping, odds are that John's New Hampshire rant is just a cry for help--and a well-publicized slam directed toward his own label, Universal Music, for not giving him more of a promotional push.
Critics embraced Songs from the West Coast when it was released last month, cheering the 54-year-old songwriter's return to simpler roots, rather than the slick, Disney-style pop tunes John favored over the past decade. In fact, it was Elton who declared himself rejuvenated with this latest album, after finding new inspiration from young songwriters like former Whiskeytown troubadour Ryan Adams.
But despite John's catchy first single, "I Want Love" (and a memorable video featuring Downey), his album debuted at number 15 and then proceeded to take a nosedive. After eight weeks, the album has sold just 260,000 copies, putting it in 145th place--below even the release of newcomer rock band the Strokes, whose disc debuted a week later.
For John, that may have been enough to make Friday night alright for fighting.
John's spokeswoman couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday on whether he's really calling it quits when it comes to new music. But maybe the man himself will share some more of his angst Monday night on the A&E Network, when he performs Live by Request from Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Meanwhile, John did find time Friday to dedicate his signature tune, "Your Song," to George Harrison. He said the late Beatle once sent him a congratulatory telegram after his album Elton John reached number 18 on the U.S. album charts.
"I've never forgotten that gesture. It was such a mind-blowing gesture," he said. "I want to dedicate ['Your Song'] to him for all the wonderful music he's given us over the years. Wherever you are, George, be happy. God Bless You."