Sir Elton John has revealed that former England boss Graham Taylor ‘saved his life’.
The 76-year-old singer reflected on their friendship in his new book, Watford Forever: How Graham Taylor and Elton John Saved a Football Club, a Town and Each Other, which is released on Thursday.
Graham worked under Elton during his two spells as Watford manager and the singer told how an encounter at a board meeting on Boxing Day in 1981 helped him in his battle against alcoholism.
Elton recalled pouring himself a whiskey during the morning meeting, which led to Graham calling him for a private chat the next morning, during which he threw a bottle of brandy on the table and told the singer, “That’s what you gotta do ‘. for breakfast, right?
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? You let yourself down and you let the club down. If you ever look like that again, I’m damned.”
Looking back: Sir Elton John has revealed that former England boss Graham Taylor ‘saved his life’ after confronting him about his drinking (pictured in 1996)
Elton said: “I have no doubt that Graham saved my life. Without him I would have been lost.”
Elsewhere in the book, Elton said the Watford manager was ‘like a brother to me and I loved him very much’.
Graham previously spoke about confronting the Rocket Man singer over his drinking, recalling: ‘Elton was a bit stunned and looked at me so seriously that I wondered if we were about to have a big argument.
‘But it seemed to resonate with him. If it wasn’t a turning point, I think it pushed him to address that aspect of his lifestyle.”
For a time, Elton and Graham were one of football’s great double acts as chairman and manager who put Watford on the football map.
In 2017, Graham died of a heart attack at the age of 72, a shock to family, friends and many others in the football community.
Elton paid tribute at the manager’s funeral, telling mourners: ‘We were an unstoppable force of nature.
‘We were Batman and Robin. And when Batman left for Aston Villa, Robin was stranded without his buddy.
‘I missed him and made some bad decisions, but I had to let him go. He had done the work of a thousand men at Watford.
‘Thanks to him I have engraved the name of Watford Football Club in my soul. I have sublime memories and a sense of achievement that no one else can ever take away.
“He is a legend in this community, in football and in life. I love you my friend. Thanks for everything.’
Reflection: The singer, 76, reflected on their friendship in his new book, Watford Forever: How Graham Taylor and Elton John Saved a Football Club, a Town and Each Other
Elton has been very open about his battle with alcohol and drugs, which almost derailed his career and cost him his life.
Reflecting on his wild past, he admitted to Variety: “The life I lived, flying on the spaceship, living in beautiful houses, buying things left, right and center – it was not a normal life.
‘I used to have cramps and they would find me on the floor, they would put me back in bed and half an hour later I would do the same thing. It’s crazy.
‘I am a survivor. I’ve survived a lot of things. Life is full of pitfalls, even when you’re sober. “I can deal with it now because I don’t have to run and hide,” he added.
The star also blamed his reputation as a diva on his past cocaine use.
He told the Awards Chatter podcast: ‘I saw someone doing cocaine and didn’t know what it was. They said it makes you feel good. So I thought, ‘I’ll give it a try.’ Worst decision of my life.
‘I was shouting at people. I wasn’t proud of that behavior because it’s not really who I am.
“It made a lot of people say I’ve always been a diva. I am not. Now I don’t use drugs,” he added.
Dynamic duo: Elton and Graham were for a time one of football’s great double acts as chairman and manager who put Watford on the football map