Last Night Elton John Sang For His Old Friend, David Bowie

After taking a group picture with fans at a SiriusXM Town Hall taping Tuesday night (Jan. 12) at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, Elton John swiveled around on his bench and began playing his red piano. "Ground control to Major Tom," he sang, breaking into a lush piano version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" as his band was still setting up their instruments and the crowd of only 50 fans and reporters remained hushed.

It was just the night's first tribute to his musical peer and kindred spirit, who died Sunday at age 69 after a private, 18-month battle with cancer.

"There are so many incredible words written about him in the last couple of days," John told veteran rock journalist David Fricke, the night's moderator. "It's so wonderful. We all know how inspiring he is. We all know that his music stands. We don't have to say anything about the music: It speaks for itself. He was innovative, he was boundary-changing, and he danced to his own tune -- which in any artist is really rare.

"But what I loved about him towards the end was his incredible privacy during what must have been 10 years of incredible bad luck with illnesses, heart attacks, cancer, whatever," he continued. "He kept it private in an age we're living in with Twitter when everyone knows everything about everything -- he kept it to himself. He made two albums without anybody knowing he was making them. He had treatment for his illnesses without anyone knowing or anyone saying anything. And that is the mystique of the man, because we know David Bowie the figure, the singer, the outrageous performer, but actually, we don't know anything about him -- and that's the way it should be in music and should be in any art form whatsoever."

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