Goodbye, Elton John: Inside the music legend’s final Dodger Stadium concert

A foggy silhouette of a man playing piano and singing into a microphone on a stage
Elton John during his final North American concert at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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After a dazzling opener on Thursday and a triumphant encore on Saturday (“Saturday, Saaaaturday!”), Elton John returned to Dodger Stadium on Sunday for his final North American bow.

The legendary performer let the sun go down on Los Angeles one last time as he stepped back onto the stage that catapulted him to superstardom nearly 50 years ago. At Sunday’s performance of the North American leg of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, John was joined by collaborators Dua Lipa, Brandi Carlile and Kiki Dee.

But they weren’t the only stars who came out to support the renowned singer and pianist at his grand Dodger Stadium finale, which was available to stream live on Disney+.
Other celebrities in attendance included Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Lizzo, Heidi Klum, Angela Bassett, Jude Law, Billie Jean King, H.E.R., Donatella Versace, Miles Teller, Kirsten Dunst, JoJo Siwa, Connie Britton, Christopher Lloyd, John Stamos, Raven-Symoné and Taron Egerton, who portrayed John in the 2019 biopic “Rocketman.”

Elton John performs in concert
Elton John’s Sunday Dodger Stadium concert was live-streamed on Disney+.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“This is a very special night for me — a very emotional night for me — and it’s been a long journey,” John told the crowd.

“I first came here to America in 1970 to the City of Angels … and I played a club called the Troubadour … and it helped me by accelerating my career in America with a review I got from Robert Hilburn for the L.A. Times. So I’ll never forget that.”

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The year was 1970 and Elton John, then just 23, was making his U.S. debut onstage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

In line with his previous Farewell Yellow Brick Road shows, John performed several of his greatest hits — from “Tiny Dancer” and “Bennie and the Jets” to “Saturday Night’s Alright” and “Your Song.” He also showcased his supporting acts by peppering in some duets: “Cold Heart” featuring Lipa, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” featuring Carlile and, of course, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” featuring Dee.

Elton John performs in concert
During the concert, Elton John paid tribute to Los Angeles as the city where, in 1970, he gained a foothold in the United States.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“In 1975, my next guest was here and sang with me, and we sang this song,” John said before introducing Dee.

“I thought it would be great to reenact that incredible moment. So I asked her to come over, and she did. Here is Kiki Dee!”

Beginning Thursday, Elton John will play his final U.S. concerts at Dodger Stadium, where, in 1975, he donned a sequined Dodgers uniform and made music history.

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Hordes of fans across generations arrived early to the ballpark to beat traffic, which was predictably nightmarish ahead of Thursday and Saturday’s shows. Sunday was no exception.

“I’ve been listening to him since my parents … and then going through the AIDS crisis, he stepped up and took the lead … which really meant a lot to me,” said concertgoer Sean Masse, a 53-year-old registered nurse from South L.A. who was dressed in his own extra-bedazzled version of John’s iconic Dodgers uniform from 1975. “Plus, everything he went through with his sobriety and his drug use … he’s been a beacon of light to everybody.”

A man and a woman wear spangled Dodger uniforms and matching blue feather boas.

Lance and Alex Hildebrand copy a famous Elton John look to attend Sunday’s Dodger Stadium concert.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“Elton John is an icon,” echoed concertgoer Thad Epting, a 51-year-old car salesman from Canyon Lake who wore a rainbow suit with a feather boa and flashing hat. “He’s one of the greatest songwriters ever, and as a kid I heard countless Elton John songs. … With my kids growing up, we were always singing Elton John songs in the car. So it’s been part of my childhood, part of my adulthood, part of my kids’ childhood.”

One of music’s greatest living showmen returned to the site of perhaps his most famed concert as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

Before saying his final goodbyes, John still had a few more tricks up his sparkly sleeves. Near the end of the show, he welcomed to the stage his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, who embraced his friend and gave a warm shout-out to John’s band.

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“We’ve been writing together since 1967, and we … love each other more than we’ve ever done before,” John said. “He’s amazing.”

Up next was John’s husband, David Furnish, and their two sons, Elijah Joseph Daniel and Zachary Jackson Levon, who waved to the audience amid thunderous applause. John explained that he has decided to stop touring in order to spend more time with his family, who he brought out “to show you why I am retiring.”

Elton John takes a bow

Although Elton John has concluded his final North American concerts, his farewell tour will continue abroad, concluding in July.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

With his Dodger Stadium swan song behind him, John is gearing up for the epilogue of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour — which will resume abroad next year and conclude in Stockholm in July.

“Thank you all for dressing up. It makes me so happy to see when you wear the most fantastic costumes,” John said during his final speech of the night.

“I became successful first in America, and you bought the singles and the albums … the cassettes, the CDs — and more importantly you bought tickets to the shows, which I love more than anything … I want to thank you for that because you made me. Without America, I wouldn’t be here. … I wish you health and love, prosperity. Be kind to each other, OK? And farewell.”