When we think of rock legends, Elton John and John Lennon often come to mind. Their friendship, though brief, was nothing short of magical. In the mid-1970s, these two iconic musicians shared a bond that Elton later described as a "whirlwind romance." It felt like a dream come true as they laughed and reminisced about their favorite radio shows and songs from the '50s and '60s.

Elton once said that John was a "fountain of knowledge," and their connection was filled with love and mutual admiration. Despite its short-lived nature, their friendship left an indelible mark on both their lives and the music world. This unique bond between two of rock's greatest icons is a testament to the power of shared passions and genuine connection.

When did John Lennon and Elton John first meet?

Elton John and John Lennon first met in 1973 at a concert in London. John Lennon, already a fan of Elton's work, attended the concert and was deeply impressed by Elton's performance. They were introduced backstage, where their mutual admiration quickly evolved into a genuine friendship. Bonding over their shared love for music from the 1950s and 1960s, they found a common ground in their dedication to pushing artistic boundaries.

Their friendship was instant and profound. Both musicians admired each other's talents, with Lennon calling Elton a "genius" and Elton considering Lennon a major influence on his work. This meeting marked the beginning of a series of collaborative projects and personal connections that would deeply impact both of their careers and lives.

In 1974, their bond strengthened further during the "Lost Weekend," a period when Lennon separated from Yoko Ono and moved to Los Angeles.

Lennon collaborated with Elton on multiple occasions during this time, most notably on the single "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night." Elton invited Lennon onstage at Madison Square Garden in November 1974 for a surprise performance, which became Lennon's last major public concert appearance. This moment is remembered as a historic milestone in rock history, symbolizing their unique bond.

Their collaboration extended beyond music, influencing each other in various ways. Lennon credited Elton for re-energizing his passion for performance, while Elton drew inspiration from Lennon's fearless songwriting. This partnership showcased the best of both artists while cementing their status as icons in the music world.

Although their friendship was brief, and Lennon tragically passed away in 1980, the impact of their bond remains significant. Elton has often spoken about their friendship, cherishing the moments they shared and the influence Lennon had on his life and career.

Why did they hit it off?

Elton John and John Lennon hit it off due to shared interests and mutual admiration. Both artists had a deep love for '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll music, which served as a common ground. This shared musical foundation laid the groundwork for their friendship. John Lennon described their relationship as a “whirlwind romance,” indicating the intensity and immediacy of their bond.

Another factor contributing to their connection was their complementary personalities. Lennon’s kind, generous nature resonated with Elton, who was also known for his generosity and kindness. Elton often fondly recalled how they “just hit it off immediately.” They enjoyed each other’s company and shared moments of creative collaboration, such as their duet on "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night."

This duet, recorded in 1974, was significant not just for its musical impact but also for solidifying their friendship. When the track became a hit, Lennon kept his promise to perform on stage with Elton at Madison Square Garden. This performance marked Lennon's last concert appearance before his tragic death in 1980, adding a poignant layer to their already historic collaboration.

Their relationship went beyond music, involving personal support and shared experiences. For example, during Lennon’s "Lost Weekend" period, Elton provided both inspiration and companionship. They navigated personal and professional challenges together, enhancing the bond between them.

This deep, multifaceted friendship left a lasting legacy for both artists. Even after Lennon's passing, Elton continued to cherish their time together and appreciate the profound influence Lennon had on his life and career. Their story speaks to the powerful connection that can form between artists who share mutual respect and a love for their craft.

Did John Lennon and Elton John ever collaborate?

John Lennon and Elton collaborated in a significant way with the track "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night." This venture started in 1974 at the height of Lennon's post-Beatles career, a period when critics praised his work. Lennon invited him to the studio, merging their talents. He lent his vocal harmonies and played piano on the track, bringing his own flair to Lennon's signature style.

The collaboration had more than just musical importance. Despite the critical acclaim Lennon's solo work garnered, commercial success often eluded him. This situation led to a friendly wager between them. If the song reached number one on the charts, Lennon agreed to join Elton on stage. When "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" topped the Billboard Hot 100, Lennon honored his promise. They performed together at Madison Square Garden, marking Lennon's last major concert appearance.

The audience at Madison Square Garden that night witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. Lennon performed three songs: "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," and "I Saw Her Standing There." This moment wasn't only musically significant but also played a role in Lennon's personal life. The performance acted as a catalyst for his reconciliation with Yoko Ono, making it a night of professional and personal importance.

The impact of this performance extended beyond the night itself. While fleeting relationships often occur in the music industry, Lennon and Elton's connection remained strong, characterized by mutual respect. They didn't see each other regularly after this performance, but their bond stayed evident. Their collaboration and live performance left a lasting legacy in the music world, demonstrating the powerful synergy between two iconic artists.

Apart from this historic night, their friendship also influenced their respective careers. Lennon's influence on Elton provided a boost during critical moments, and their collaboration elevated the musical landscape of the 1970s. The night at Madison Square Garden remains a highlight in rock history, symbolizing the end of an era for Lennon and a testament to the enduring friendship between these two legends.

‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is another testament to the strong bond between Elton John and John Lennon. This iconic song, written by Lennon for The Beatles, sparked much speculation about its true meaning, with many believing it endorsed LSD. However, Lennon maintained it was based on a drawing by his son Julian.

Elton John decided to cover this classic track and aimed to infuse it with his unique style. Despite Lennon's original indifference towards the song, he agreed to contribute to Elton's version. He lent his talents under the pseudonym Dr. Winston O'Boogie, a nod to his playful nature and desire not to overshadow Elton.

Elton's cover became immensely successful, topping the US Hot 100 for the first two weeks of January 1975. Lennon’s subtle yet significant contributions boosted the track's appeal. Lennon provided backing vocals and played guitar, though his input stayed discreet, honoring his wish to let Elton shine.

The collaboration didn't end in the recording studio. On November 28, 1974, Lennon and Elton performed the song live at Madison Square Garden. This appearance marked one of the rare occasions Lennon performed live during that period, making it unforgettable for fans. Dressed in a black suit and playing a black Fender Telecaster, Lennon's stage presence was electrifying.

The connection between Lennon and Elton extended beyond music. After their collaboration, John and Yoko invited Elton to be their son Sean's godfather, cementing their bond in a more personal realm. This gesture highlights the depth of their friendship, transcending professional boundaries.

‘Whatever Gets You Through the Night’

The 1974 collaboration on "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" brought Elton John and John Lennon closer as friends and musicians. This track became Lennon's first No. 1 single in the US, marking a significant achievement in his solo career. Elton bet Lennon that if the song hit No. 1, Lennon would join him on stage at Madison Square Garden for a live performance.

On November 16, 1974, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" topped the Billboard Hot 100. True to his word, Lennon performed with Elton at Madison Square Garden during Thanksgiving. The event became historic as it was Lennon's last major concert appearance. They performed three songs together: "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," and "I Saw Her Standing There."

Lennon's participation in the concert was more than a fulfillment of a bet. It symbolized the deep bond and mutual respect between two iconic artists. Lennon later admitted he hadn't fully believed the song would reach No. 1. However, he spoke fondly of the experience, highlighting the spontaneity and excitement of performing live with a close friend.

Their onstage collaboration resonated beyond music. Lennon's return to the stage that night played a role in his reconciliation with Yoko Ono. This event marked a turning point in his personal life, showcasing the impact of his friendship with Elton.

The song's success and the memorable live performance at Madison Square Garden encapsulate the unique and profound connection between Elton John and John Lennon. Their bond, forged through music and personal moments, left an indelible mark on the history of rock and roll.

Why was their intense friendship so short-lived?

Elton John and John Lennon's friendship flourished through their musical collaborations and personal connections. Despite these deep ties, their intense friendship was surprisingly short-lived, mainly due to the unpredictable nature of fame and their individual circumstances.

One contributing factor was Lennon's reclusive lifestyle post-1975. After the birth of his son, Sean, Lennon stepped back from the music industry to focus on his family. This period of domesticity, known as his "househusband" years, minimized his public appearances and interactions, affecting many of his friendships, including his connection with Elton.

Elton's demanding career schedule also played a role. By the mid-1970s, Elton's career was at its zenith, with constant touring and recording commitments. This hectic pace limited opportunities for the two to spend time together. In an industry driven by continuous public engagements, personal relationships often face strains, and theirs was no exception.

The geographical distance further compounded their challenges. Lennon resided mostly in New York City, while Elton's base was in the UK. Unlike today, when digital communication can bridge long distances, living on opposite sides of the Atlantic made spontaneous meetings impossible, thereby affecting the sustainability of their friendship.

Additionally, both icons struggled with personal demons. Lennon faced ongoing battles with substance abuse and his public persona, while Elton encountered his own challenges with addiction and mental health. These intense personal struggles at different times hampered their ability to maintain consistent contact and emotional support.

Though their friendship was brief, it was deeply impactful. Their collaborations, shared moments, and mutual respect left an indelible mark on both their lives and careers. Even if the intensity of their connection faded over time, the legacy of their bond continues to resonate within the music industry and beyond.

The two eventually drifted apart

Elton John and John Lennon eventually drifted apart. There wasn’t any real drama; instead, life simply got in the way. Lennon got back together with Yoko Ono, and their son Sean was born in 1975. Naturally, Lennon spent more time with his family, which led to less interaction with friends, including Elton.

Despite the distance, Lennon didn’t completely forget about Elton. He asked Elton to be Sean’s godfather, reinforcing the depth of their bond. As time went on, both artists focused on their careers and personal lives. Lennon’s reclusiveness and dedication to family contrasted with Elton’s busy career, marked by tours and recording sessions.

In a 2020 interview with Sean Lennon, Elton reminisced about their whirlwind friendship. He described it as a wonderful, two-to-three-year period that significantly impacted his life. Elton shared how Lennon’s kindness and generosity helped him gain confidence. Their immediate connection and mutual respect made their brief but intense friendship memorable.

From pivotal musical collaborations to personal milestones, their time together left an indelible mark on both artists. Their eventual drift didn’t erase the strong bond they once shared. Through memories, stories, and mutual respect, the profound friendship between Elton John and John Lennon endures.

Elton After the Death of John Lennon

The tragic and untimely death of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, deeply affected me. I lost not just a friend but a significant source of inspiration. To pay tribute, he performed a heartfelt rendition of Lennon's song "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)." In 1982, he dedicated his album Jump Up! to Lennon's memory, reflecting the void his passing left in my life and the music world.

John's impact on Elton went beyond personal loss. His fearless spirit and profound songwriting continued to shape my career and artistic journey. Despite his absence, his influence remained, guiding my musical evolution. Their friendship and collaboration highlighted the power of artistic camaraderie and mutual inspiration.

The loss of Lennon was a shared grief within the music community. Stevie Wonder announced John's death to fans at a concert, a heartbreaking moment that underscored the widespread sorrow. The void left by John's death was felt not just by me but by everyone who admired his genius.

John's son, Sean Lennon, later asked Elton to be his godfather. This was a testament to how much our friendship meant despite the distance that had grown between John and me over time. Being Sean's godfather kept a part of John close to him, serving as a constant reminder of our bond.

Through the years, remembering John has been both painful and inspiring. His legacy continues to influence Elton's work and the broader music scene. Their friendship, brief yet intense, left a lasting imprint on his life, and he always strived to honor it through music and actions.

Empty Garden


Harlan Kilstein began playing piano during covid with no piano background at all. He taught himself how to play learning what to do and what not to do.
Today he's an advanced intermediate player and can help you grow in your skills because he learned all this on his own.