Elton John may have already leant his life story to the 2019 film Rocketman, but now the award-winning singer is going even further into his personal history by releasing his upcoming memoir Me, which is our favourite, most-Elton John title for an autobiography we can think of. The book is filled with stories of John’s struggles with addiction and famous friendships, including an anecdote about the time Richard Gere and Sylvester Stallone almost came to blows over Princess Diana. Yeah, we can see that.
In a new excerpt published in The Daily Mail, John recalls the time he attended a dinner party in London held by Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg. The party took place while John was working on the Oscar-winning soundtrack for The Lion King, with his longtime friend Princess Diana and his now-husband David Furnish also in attendance. Elton remembers that Gere, who had just separated from Cindy Crawford, and Diana, who was no longer with Charles, seemed to spark up an easy conversation, something that was a sore spot for fellow dinner party attendee Sylvester Stallone, who was also interested in Diana.
“As the rest of us chatted, I couldn’t help notice a strange atmosphere in the room,” writes John. “Judging by the kind of looks he [Stallone] kept shooting them, Diana and Richard Gere’s newly blossoming friendship was not going down well with Sylvester Stallone at all. I think he may have turned up to the party with the express intention of picking Diana up, only to find his plans for the evening ruined.”
When it was time to eat, the group noticed that the two Hollywood heavyweights (well, one semi-real heavyweight plus a Golden Globe winner), were absent from the group. Furnish reportedly found the two men outside “squaring up to each other, apparently about to settle their differences over Diana by having a fist-fight.” Violence is never the answer, but we will say that Diana had a very difficult marriage and deserved two A-listers fighting over her for one night.
John says that Furnish was able to break things up, but the tension between the threesome was palpable for the rest of the evening. “After dinner, Diana and Richard Gere resumed their position together in front of the fire, and Sylvester stormed off home,” says John. He also notes that Stallone later yelled that he “never would have come” if he knew “Prince f—n’ Charming was gonna be here.’” It’s tough to compete with the guy from Pretty Woman, we get it.
John writes about his first meeting with Diana in 1981 at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party, where the pair became fast friends. Following Diana’s tragic death in 1997, John has remained close with the royal family, especially Diana’s sons, noting in his new book that William and Harry have inherited their mother’s ability to put people at ease, noting “Prince Harry in particular; he’s exactly the same as his mum, no interest in formality or grandeur.” But after all their years together, it was seeing two of the most famous men in the world becoming undone around Diana that John remembers as his a-ha moment in their friendship.
“Over the years I knew her, she was fabulous company, the best dinner party guest, incredibly indiscreet, a real gossip: you could ask her anything and she’d tell you,” says John. “Maybe she hadn’t realised what was happening. Or maybe stuff like that happened all the time and she was used to it. After she died, people started talking about something called the Diana Effect, meaning the way she managed to change the public’s attitudes to the Royal Family, or to Aids or bulimia or mental health. But every time I heard the phrase, I thought about that night. There was definitely another kind of Diana Effect: one that could bring Hollywood superstars to the verge of a punch-up over her, like a couple of love-struck teenage idiots.”
Elton John’s Me is set to be released on October 15, 2019.