In 1978, Elton released his next
album, 'Single Man', written with Gary Osbourne, failed to glean
any top hits. That same year, Elton returned to live performances,
first by jamming at the Live Stiffs package tour, then launching
a comeback tour in 1979 accompanied only by percussionist Ray Cooper.
'Mama Can't Buy You Love', a song Elton recorded with Phillie soul
producer Thom Bell in 1977, put him back on the top ten charts
but that years 'Victim Of Love' proved a commercial disaster.
In 1980, Elton re-united with Bernie Taupin for '21 at 33' featuring
the top single 'Little Jeannie'. In September, Elton performed
a free concert at The Great Lawn in Central Park in New York City
to a huge audience within hearing distance of his friend, John
Lennon's apartment building. Only a few months after this, John
Lennon would be murdered. Elton would pay tribute to his friend
in the hit ballad, 'Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)', (which was
taken from the album 'Jump Up!') released in 1982. For the rest
of the 1980s, Elton would consistently release one gold album after
the other, with each album spawning hit singles (sometimes more
than one). Among them were, 'I Guess That's Why They Call It The
Blues' and 'I'm Still Standing', (taken from 'Too Low For Zero'),
'Sad Song (Say So Much)', (taken from 'Breaking Hearts'), and 'Nikita'
(taken from 'Ice On Fire').
While Elton's career continued to be a success his private life
was in utter turmoil. Since the mid 70s, Elton had become addicted
to cocaine and alcohol and the situation did not improve during
the 80s. In a surprising and what might have been an attempt to
help his career, Elton married engineer Renate Blauel in 1984.
They stayed married until 1988 although Elton would later admit
that even before the marriage he was homosexual.
In 1985 Elton performed at Wham's farewell concert and appeared
on the historic Live Aid concert that same year. In 1986, during
his Australian concert, Elton collapsed on stage and was rushed
to hospital where he underwent throat surgery; even this did not
deter his cocaine and alcohol addiction which resumed after his
Following a record-breaking, five-date stint at Madison Square
Garden in 1988, Elton auctioned off all of his theatrical costumes
which included thousands of pieces of memorabilia and his extensive
record collection through Sotheby's. The auction was a symbolic
turning point for Elton. Throughout the next two years, Elton would
battle both his drug addiction and bulimia as well as undergoing
hair replacement surgery at the same time.