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Sir Elton John had no self-esteem as an adult because of the way he was treated as a child in the 1950s.
The 74-year-old pop legend – who was born in 1947 – has opened up about what it was like to grow up in England during that decade at a time when schools still used corporal punishment to discipline pupils.
He said: “The self-loathing, not having any self-esteem, that all comes from when I was a kid. That’s the way it was in the 50s – you got slapped round the face, you got a good hiding. ‘It was bloody good for you’ – it wasn’t good for me. It left me walking on eggshells.”
The ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ singer later struggled with addiction as he was topping the charts around the world with his music, but he has admitted he was too afraid to open up about his trauma and the reasons for his substance abuse until getting sober.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, he shared: “All my life, until I became sober, I was afraid of talking to anybody. They asked me when I went to treatment how I felt and I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t feel anything.’ I came to defrost, as it were, and discovered I did have feelings, and they went back a long time. And I think it stays with you for the whole of your life … I just have terrible feelings about myself; I feel bad about myself sometimes.”
Elton later spoke of how he has used his life experiences to reach out and help fellow pop star Olly Alexander, who he performed ‘It’s a Sin’ with at the 2021 BRIT Awards.
The ‘Starstruck’ singer – AKA Years & Years – was enduring a period of depression when Elton came to his aid.
Elton said: “Olly [Alexander] was down in the dumps recently, and I just said, ‘Go out, have fun! Sit there alone, and that ball comes down like in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ – an avalanche of bad feeling.”