Pop legend Elton John had a tumultuous relationship with his mother Sheila Farebrother. His history with her was complicated. For nine long years the pair continued a feud with each other through the press, each accusing the other of bad behavior.
A mother and her only child were driven so far apart and it was very sad to see. Luckily, the pair did eventually reconcile, with John confirming on his Instagram that they were back in touch. But then came another sad twist ad blow to the heart.
Discouraged From His Passion
Elton John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) loved music from young age. His father Stanley discouraged John’s ambitions of being a singer, but his mother always took his side. After divorcing Stanley and remarrying Fred Farebrother, Sheila helped her son get a job as a pub pianist. This was Elton’s first step on his journey to worldwide super star.
By the late 1960s, Elton had begun writing songs for other musicians, he did release one album on which he sang. But his big break came with his second album in 1970. The self-titled record featured “Your Song”, and it was a huge success. From there, Elton came out with hit after hit, and defined his iconic glam-rock look.
Who He Really Was
As Elton’s fame grew rumors began to spread about his sexuality. Elton told Rolling Stone in 1976 that he felt he was bisexual, and in 1984 he married a woman, Renate Blauel. As it turned out, he actually was gay. “I wanted more than anything to be a good husband,” Elton wrote on Instagram in 2017, “but I denied who I really was, which caused my wife sadness, and caused me huge guilt and regret.”
Objection Of Partner
In 1993 Elton started dating David Furnish, who he eventually would go onto marry in a star studded ceremony. But while Sheila Farebrother claimed to the Daily Mail in 2015 that she had no problem with her son living as an openly gay man, she did object strongly to his partner. Elton’s mom didn’t like Furnish at all, and found him to be extremely controlling.
Removed From Wedding Photos
She told the Daily Mail that Furnish had sidelined her at her own son’s wedding. “One thing I didn’t do was to wear a hat,” she recalled. “That didn’t go down well with Furnish because he wanted it to be the Wedding of the Year. Then a call came through from Furnish’s secretary saying if we wouldn’t mind, we were not going to be in the photographs.”
Not Approving Of Furnish
“It seemed odd to me because Elton saw me as he arrived and said, ‘Mum, you look lovely,’” Farebrother said in the interview, which she declined payment for. “But we didn’t have our picture taken because we were told not to be in the photographs. So ridiculous. I don’t think Elton knows half of what goes on, really.”
She also felt let down and hurt that Elton wasn’t there when her husband and his stepfather, Fred, passed away. “Fred idolised him and he was so upset, you know, that he didn’t even bother to come and see him when he was in hospital. But clearly Elton wasn’t worried about him; he wasn’t worried about me, either.”
Mother, Son Feud
Her son in fact told her he hated her, Farebrother told the Daily Mail, back in 2008. It all started after Elton fired two of his most trusted members of staff and asked his mother to also end ties with the pair. However, she absolutely refused. An occurred during which she reportedly told Elton, “You think more of that f***ing thing you married than your own mother.” Elton then told her those heart breaking three words and slammed the phone down.
Rebelling Against His Commands
Since Sheila had known both the two men for decades, and also truly valued their support and friendship over the years, she refused to cut them out of her life. As far as she was concerned, they had always taken care of her throughout the years and therefore deserved her loyalty. She was not afraid to refuse her son’s demands, unlike other members of his entourage.’I told him: “I’m not about to do that and drop them. Bob is like a son to me. He has always been marvelous to me and he lives nearby and keeps an eye on me.”
The feud sadly lasted for a very long time. Elton reportedly continued to pay all his mother’s medical bills, but he didn’t speak to her. “It upsets me, but to be honest with you, I don’t miss her,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “When she says things in the press, like last year, ‘I haven’t spoken to Elton since he married that f***ing a**hole David Furnish…’ That was pretty hard to take.”
Don’t Want Her In My Life
“I don’t hate my mother,” he added in the interview. “I look after her, but I don’t want her in my life.” He said that he had sent her a bouquet when she turned 90, but that he hadn’t received any thanks. But a February 2016 interview with the Sunday Mirror revealed that actually, perhaps some acknowledgment had happened. “I can say that we are now back in touch and have been so since my mother’s 90th birthday,” he said.
Finally Back In Touch
Yet it wasn’t until 2017 that the relationship had been fully repaired. In May of that year Elton posted a picture of them both on Instagram. He wrote under the image “Dear Mum, Happy Mother’s Day! So happy we are back in touch. Love, Elton.” This came was only a few weeks after he had suffered a bacterial infection that could have cost him his life. Perhaps that had contributed to the final ending of the feud.
But, Elton and his mother didn’t get much time together to enjoy their repaired bond. On December 4, 2017, Elton took to social media to share some upsetting news with his fans. “So sad to say that my mother passed away this morning. I only saw her last Monday and I am in shock,” he wrote.
Eaten With Guilt
He went on, “Travel safe Mum. Thank you for everything. I will miss you so much. Love, Elton.” Elton’s huge fan base instantly began to send their condolences, and many media outlets noted something else. They reported how sad it was that Farebrother had gotten to spend so little time with her son after making up with him.
Grandchildren Left Behind
Sadly, there’s also a chance that Farebrother never had a relationship with her grandchildren, either. In May 2017 The Sun reported that an anonymous source had told the paper that Farebrother was “aware she doesn’t have many years” and wanted to meet her grandchildren Zachary and Elijah. Whether or not she did, Elton has so far kept to himself.
Life Is Too Short
Elton constantly shows pictures of his beautiful family on his social media accounts, but his mother was never present with her grandsons. It is so sad that by the time that they were able to make up, she never got to spend enough time with his children. It just goes to show how short life really is.
In Absolute Shock
“I’m glad to say she passed away peacefully, with no pain. But maybe sooner than she should have done, so I was quite shocked,” the star said. It’s possible Farebrother had died of a sudden illness. Sadly, this tends to happen to elderly people. “I was thinking how I could pay tribute to her tonight, and what song I should choose,” Elton told his crowd.
“Well, this next song I wrote at her house or her apartment,” Elton said. Indeed, the singer wrote most of his early hits at Frome Court, the apartment he used to share with his mom and stepdad. Tracks like “Your Song” and “Tiny Dancer” were written in that building, where John lived until he scored four simultaneous American Top 40 albums.
“I can remember every single minute of writing this song with Bernie,” John reported, referring to his long-time collaborator and co-writer Bernie Taupin. “So this is the song I want to dedicate to her. And it’s taken me from nowhere to somewhere. So thank you, mom,” he said, before beginning his beautiful hit “Your Song”.
The Perfect Tribute
The lyrics to “Your Song” include lines like, “I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do/My gift is my song and this one’s for you.” It seemed like the perfect tribute. It’s very sad that so much of Elton’s relationship with his mother in his adult years ended up being tied in a bitter rift. But their story also serves as a reminder, during this time of the year especially, to always try and reconcile with your parents while you still can.