Elton John last night said that he had not been a very nice person for a long time.
“I was a self-absorbed, alcoholic drug addict for 16 years,” he said. “I’m OK now.”
John was at the Rockefeller Foundation’s “Celebration of American Philanthropy,” where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for the work of his AIDS-focused foundation.
The musician sat opposite Michael O’Neill, the chairman of Citigroup Inc. (C), a fan of “Candle in the Wind,” and Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development, who said he preferred “Rocket Man.”
“I always cried when I heard it as a kid,” Donovan said.
Thomas Perez, secretary of labor, said he likes John’s song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
The event drew the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Judith Rodin, and Rockefellers including Senator Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat, and David Rockefeller Jr., the foundation’s chairman.
“This organization has a long association with people named John,” David Rockefeller Jr.,told the guest of honor, referring to his great-grandfather,John D. Rockefeller, and grandfather, John Rockefeller Jr.
John said he was inspired by the Rockefeller Foundation’s historic campaign to eradicate hookworm and other diseases.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor also attended the event.
Earlier in the day at the U.S. Capitol, the Who’s singer Roger Daltrey performed for an audience that included Speaker of the House John Boehner, Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The occasion was a dedication of the new bust of Winston Churchill, the former U.K. prime minister whose mother was American.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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