Elton John might be considered a generous man with a big heart these days, but in the early 1980s, he was anything but caring and loving. At least that’s the beloved singer’s take on himself. In a lengthy interview with Today’s Matt Lauer, airing this week on NBC, John speaks candidly and openly about spending the early years of the AIDS epidemic absorbed in his own world of addiction and selfishness. He says many of his friends “right, left and center” tragically died while he couldn’t be bothered to put down the bottle.
"I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the me generation had ended."

It was a long process for the “Tiny Dancer” singer to eventually come to terms with what was happening/ still is happening, but now that he has a better sense of himself, he’s doing everything he can to be there for those he loves as well as raise awareness and research funds for AIDS. His new memoir, Love Is The Cure: On Life, Loss And The End Of AIDS, will donate all its profits to John’s AIDS Foundation, and by writing without a filter, he’s hoping many will choose to read the book.

In addition to his period of addiction, John also covers his decision to come out and the lack of effect it had on his career. For a short window, fans burned his records and some deejays boycotted his music, but compared to what other artists went through, he doesn’t think there’s any reason to complain. Besides, it’s not like people aren’t back on board now. His Million Dollar Piano show in Las Vegas is currently wowing fans who have been traveling from around the world, and with any luck, that positive response will continue.

You can check out the second half of John’s touching interview this morning on Today.

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