Elton John was performing a show as part of his farewell tour in February 2020 when suddenly everything came to a stop. As fans looked on concerned, the legend bent over his piano crying and shaking his head. It turns out he had ceased singing to explain that something had gone terribly wrong. But it wasn’t until after the show that he released an emotional statement revealing exactly what had happened up there on stage.
This show was to form part of John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, and it came as a result of the singer’s desire to ultimately spend more time at home with his family. This isn’t the first that time the legend has had to forgo time on stage during a tour, however. Yes, the singer’s 2019 memoir Me: Elton John’s Official Autobiography revealed that he had fought a major health battle while on the road in 2017. Things were so bad, in fact, that he came dangerously close to dying.
John revealed in the book that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. And the star explained that he decided to have an operation to treat it – rather than chemotherapy – for the sake of his family. He wrote, “I didn’t like the idea of cancer hanging over me – us – for years to come. I just wanted rid of it.”
But John seemingly knew that this procedure could lead to complications. He noted in his book, “A lot of men won’t have it, because it’s a major operation. You can’t have sex for at least a year afterwards, and you can’t control your bladder for a while. But effectively, my kids made the decision for me.”
Unfortunately, John did go on to experience complications from his condition. While in South America for his tour, you see, the singer had to be hurried back to England for further treatment. He wrote in his book, “I was taken to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London – where I had a scan. I was told that my condition was so serious, the hospital didn’t have the equipment to cope with it.”
So John was hastily transferred to another hospital, the London Clinic, where he then went under the knife. The singer recollected in his book. “By 2:30 p.m., I was on the operating table, having more lymphatic fluid drained – this time from my diaphragm. For two days afterwards, I was in intensive care.”
The singer wrote, “When I came round, they told me I’d contracted a major infection in South America and that they were treating it with massive intravenous doses of antibiotics. But the fever came back; they took a sample of the infection, [and] it was much more serious than they’d first realized.”
John described just how bad the situation was in his autobiography. He wrote, “There were MRI scans and God knows how many other procedures. The doctors told [his husband], David, [he] was 24 hours away from death. If the South American tour had gone on for another day that would have been it: brown bread.”
And it was this brush with death that led John to do a farewell tour in the first place. He wrote, “In the hospital, alone at the dead of night, I’d prayed: please don’t let me die, please let me see my kids again, please give me a little longer. In a strange way, it felt like the time I spent recuperating was the answer to my prayers – if you want more time, you need to learn to live like this, you have to slow down.”
John went on, “It was like being shown a different life, a life I realized I loved more than being on the road. Music was the most wonderful thing, but it still didn’t sound as good as Zachary chattering about what had happened at Cubs or football practice. Any lingering doubts about retiring from touring just evaporated.”
Although John had seemingly put his life and career into perspective, he still had several health problems to deal with after that. You see, the singer’s body struggled with the effects of the operation. John was left with awkward incontinence problems, and he even had to retrain himself to walk.
Despite his ailments, John subsequently embarked on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in September 2018. On his official website, the star declared, “After the tour finishes, I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children.”
It became clear early on, however, that John unfortunately still had health problems to contend with. And in November 2018 the singer had to call off shows in Orlando and Tampa just hours before he was supposed to be on stage. The cause was another infection; this time, it was in his ear.
Some fans weren’t happy about the news, either – especially since it was so last-minute. One talked to the Tampa Bay Times and said, “Within earshot of me, there were some very irate people – understandably so. People got up and started filing out. A lot of people were still sitting there because they really couldn’t believe it [had] happened that way.”
John apologized profusely on social media for what had happened. He wrote, “I’m so deeply sorry to everyone attending the shows in Orlando last night and Tampa tonight. I have been on a course of antibiotics to combat an ear infection, and it was expected that these would clear the infection up in time for me to play Orlando.”
The singer continued, “I traveled to the venue in preparation for the show, but after further consultation with doctors before taking the stage, the decision had to be taken on their advice that I still wasn’t well enough to perform. We always play 100 percent live, and with impaired hearing and ear pain, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver the performance that my fans deserve.”
That wasn’t the end of the cancelations, either. That’s right: in May 2019 John had to pull out of another farewell tour concert in Verona. A statement was released on Facebook that read, “Yesterday [John] was battling the flu. He was struggling with his vocal warm-ups before last night’s Verona show, and although he battled through, it was touch-and-go if he would be able to complete the [performance].”
The statement went on, “The cold, damp conditions at the outdoor arena also exacerbated the condition. Unfortunately, after a night’s rest and consultation with a doctor today, [John’s] condition hasn’t improved. His vocal cords are inflamed, and he has now been advised [that] he shouldn’t attempt to complete the show tonight.”
May 2019 still turned out to be a pretty good month for John, however, as his biopic, Rocket Man, came out in cinemas. The film – which starred actor Taron Egerton as John – was a massive success. And as soon as it was released, praise from film critics began flooding in.
John, too, was impressed with the film and especially with Egerton’s performance. He did find some parts of it hard to view, though. Indeed, he told The Daily Telegraph, “This is how my life was, and I didn’t want to cover it and gloss it over. And it’s difficult to watch because I thought, ‘God, I don’t want to go back there. Thank God I came out of it.’”
The film, meanwhile, ended up winning multiple awards. In recognition of his performance, Egerton was nominated for a BAFTA and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award among others. And he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. What’s more, a song that John had performed with Egerton for the movie, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” also won a number of accolades.
That’s right: the piece ended up winning John his second Academy Award for Best Original Song – the first having been awarded to him back in the ’90s for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King. So, 2020 was seemingly off to a great start for the star, but just a week later he suffered his breakdown on stage.
John, you see, was performing another leg of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert in February when the incident happened. Yes, this concert took place at Auckland’s Mt. Smart Stadium in New Zealand. But unfortunately, fans knew right from the start that the legend they’d paid to see wasn’t doing so well.
The night took a turn for the worse, you see. John was able to perform 16 of the 25 songs he’d planned for the show, but eventually, he had to be examined by a physician. After that, he told the audience, “I don’t know how much longer I can sing, I just don’t have anything left. I will try, but I just can’t promise anything.”
But it soon became obvious that the concert couldn’t continue. After attempting to sing his hit song “Daniel,” the famous musician broke down into tears. He told the crowd, “I’ve just completely lost my voice. I can’t sing. I’ve got to go. I’m sorry.” After that, assistants helped John leave the stage.
Despite the star’s admission, though, the crowd continued to cheer and applaud. Yes, according to the people who watched the incident unfold, the crowd got on their feet to clap and cheer. Then the music to the song “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” sounded through the speakers, and everyone began singing along as John departed.
And it was presumably these loyal fans who John had in mind when he wrote an Instagram post explaining the situation. On February 16 he wrote, “I want to thank everyone who attended tonight’s gig in Auckland. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible.”
John continued, “I played and sang my heart out until my voice could sing no more. I’m disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had. Thank you so much for your extraordinary support and all the love you showed me during tonight’s performance. I am eternally grateful.”
Fans and friends of the singer left many positive and encouraging comments underneath the post, too. Bernie Taupin, John’s long-term songwriting partner, wrote, “I love you and will be praying for your recovery.” And the actor and musical star Neil Patrick Harris also commented, writing, “Feel better, Captain Fantastic!”
Another person commented on John’s post, saying, “My mum went to the concert tonight, and she told me how amazing you were and that just seeing you give it your very all was so fantastic. She thoroughly enjoyed herself as did so many others, and we all just want to wish you a speedy recovery. [We] applaud you for going out there and continuing to give a spectacular performance when anyone else would have just canceled the concert.”
As you may have expected, however, not everyone was happy with the situation. One fan who’d been at the concert told the New Zealand news website Stuff, “It’s so tragic that he was ill, but I wish he’d just canceled and given us the opportunity to have our money refunded, or perhaps have it another time when he was better.”
And another fan, who said he had spent a lot of money on the concert tickets, told the website, “I think he should have canceled it. I think everyone should be entitled to half [of] their money back. We did see half a show – and it was good, it wasn’t great. I feel they pushed the show to the half-way point so no refunds will happen.”
But what of John’s diagnosis? Well, it seems that walking pneumonia is certainly no picnic. While it’s not as bad as what’s called “general” pneumonia – which can lead to hospitalization and even death in some cases – it does still affect the throat and voice. And that’s not all. The condition is caused by a bacterium called Mycoplasma pneumonia, and it also makes people fatigued, feverish and prone to coughing.
The American Lung Association (ALA) notes on its website, “Bed rest or hospitalization are usually not needed, and symptoms can be mild enough that you can continue about your daily activities – hence the term ‘walking.’ But don’t be fooled. Walking pneumonia can still make you miserable – with cough, fever, chest pain, mild chills, headache, etc.”
The ALA, therefore, recommends that people who come down with the disease rest up and take in lots of fluids. It’s also noted on the website that walking pneumonia “feels more akin to a bad cold, and despite what the term ‘walking’ implies, taking care of yourself is the best path to recovery.”
Naturally, fans wondered if John would be able to continue the rest of his New Zealand tour. At first, his tour promoters said that only one show would be postponed, but that soon changed. And as a result, they then had to update the media with another explanation about the situation.
The statement read, “Despite the best efforts of a performer who never wants to disappoint his fans, upon further consultation from doctors and specialists, it has this evening been decided that Sir Elton John’s two remaining Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, performances will be rescheduled to Friday 15 and Saturday 16 January 2021.”
John, too, released a statement. He said, “I always want to be able to give 100 percent, and I’m afraid that, right now, I’m not able to do that. I am grateful for the love and loyalty I have been shown by all of you, and I can’t wait to return in January next year to perform my final New Zealand shows.”
The farewell tour did carry on, however. By the following week, John was in Australia, and he wrote on Instagram, “Australia, I’m back! I love looking back on all the highlights here. Let’s make plenty more with my final six shows. I was gutted to have to reschedule my last two shows in New Zealand.”
John went on, “Thank you to my NZ fans for all your support this last week. I’m desperately sorry for the inconvenience, but I had to put my health first.” It seems his loyal fans will no doubt show up for the rescheduled New Zealand concerts, then, as they might very well be the last shows the music megastar ever plays.
So, it seems that not even the rich and famous can keep their health in tip-top condition. And this is appears to be true for stars a lot younger than Elton John, too. That’s right: you see, when Jaden Smith’s fans thought he looked sick, it worried his parents enough for them to intervene.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith could tell that there was something wrong with their son, Jaden. The actor appeared gaunt, gray and tired, in fact, and this naturally worried the celebrity couple. So, the famous parents sat Jaden down for an intervention with one question in mind: why did their eldest child look so unhealthy? As it turned out, though, the star had a surprising explanation for why he didn’t seem his normal self.
What’s more, Jaden apparently felt just as unwell as he looked. The energetic musician and movie star was gone, replaced by a boy who couldn’t sleep and wasn’t doing well. Will and Jada shared a hunch, too, that their son’s eating habits may have been the root of the problem. At the time of the intervention, you see, Jaden was following a vegan diet.
In particular, Jada worried that her son wasn’t getting enough protein. The actress feared, then, that Jaden was “wasting away,” as she put it on a September 2019 episode of her Facebook show Red Table Talk. Fortunately, though, she and Will – not to mention the young star’s fans – had noticed his problem. And, ultimately, the family brought in a doctor to advise Jaden on how best to restore his health.
Jaden should be pretty used to being scrutinized by now, though, as he was born into a life in the spotlight. Indeed, at the time of his arrival in 1998, his father, Will, had already established himself as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors. Famously, Will had starred in the beloved TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before going on to appear in popular films such as Independence Day and Men in Black.
Hollywood has been kind to Jaden’s mom, as well. Throughout the course of her career, Jada has nabbed roles in such hits as The Nutty Professor, The Matrix and 2017’s Girls Trip. And yet despite the attention afforded to her and Will, the couple had hoped to raise their son in as normal a manner as possible.
To Will and Jada, this meant that Jaden, his younger sister, Willow, and Trey – Will’s son from another relationship – would give back to the community. As kids, then, the trio offered their time to nursing institutions and orphanages. The children also often donated items to those in need, which Jada credited to an awareness that they had an exceptional lifestyle.
Furthermore, for Jaden, that extraordinary existence extended beyond a comfortable upbringing with two movie star parents. After all, he also broke into Hollywood at a young age. It all started when a then-six-year-old Jaden joined the cast of the TV show All of Us. His parents had created the show, which had been inspired by their own circumstances.
And Jaden’s on-screen work with his folks only continued from there, as three years later, he starred alongside Will in 2006 movie The Pursuit of Happyness. Throughout the drama, the Smith family patriarch portrays Christopher Gardner – a down-on-his-luck salesperson who works tirelessly to make it as a successful stockbroker. Jaden, meanwhile, fittingly plays Gardner’s son in the movie.
Jaden earned acclaim for his role, too, in the form of an MTV Movie Award. And from there, the young star continued to go from strength to strength. In fact, he would soon branch out to films in which he would perform without one of his parents in tow.
And during the next stretch of his career, Jaden found great success. In 2010, for instance, he won a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor for the sci-fi flick The Day the Earth Stood Still. That same year, he also starred in the reboot of The Karate Kid, which shot to number one in the U.S. box-office chart upon its release in 2010.
Then Jaden and Will found another project on which they could collaborate. This time, they would co-star in After Earth, with Jaden playing a hero trying to keep himself and his dad safe. Unfortunately, though, the 2013 sci-fi received an icy reception from both critics and audiences. Jaden even earned a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.
Understandably, that experience left Jaden disillusioned with life on screen. In fact, he went on an acting hiatus in the wake of After Earth’s underperformance. Nevertheless, the press junket on which Jaden had embarked to support the film had given the public an idea of his upbringing. Yes, when talking to the media, both he and Will shared details about life in the Smith household – and some of what the father and son revealed gave fans pause.
When Will and Jaden were interviewed by Metro in 2013, for instance, the elder Smith spoke about his and Jada’s disciplinary style as parents – or lack thereof. Yes, when the interviewer asked the actor about the last time Jaden had received a punishment, Will simply replied, “We don’t do punishment.”
Instead, Will and Jada chose to give their children more responsibility and choice in the ways they lived their lives. The father of three explained, “Our concept is: as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible. And the concept of punishment, our experience has been – it has a little too much of a negative quality.”
In the same interview, Jaden said that his ability to make his own decisions “works pretty well.” The then-14-year-old explained, “Other teenagers go to parties, and sometimes I be like, ‘Why am I here right now?’ And most of the time, I just leave right then and there. Some things I don’t like to do that other teenagers do.”
And yet, within a year, Jaden would want even more space than his parents had already given him. On a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, Jada revealed that her son had asked for emancipation from her and Will at just 15 years of age. But although she also described that request as “one of the most heartbreaking moments of [her] life,” the Smith family matriarch ultimately acquiesced.
Jada explained, “Every child needs something different. Being in this lifestyle, in this world is a bubble, and he wanted out. I understood that because I didn’t have the bubble. I knew what having my freedom outside the bubble – what I gained from that. I knew the sooner I let him go, the faster he was going to come back.”
Just as Jada suspected, Jaden did actually change his mind about filing for emancipation from his parents. Even so, he remained out of the spotlight until 2016, when he returned to television in the series The Get Down. The Netflix show, which ran for two seasons, told the story of disco and hip-hop’s growth in ’70s New York.
On top of that, Jaden has made strides toward a music career. He used his middle name of Syre to title his 2017 studio album as well as a 2018 EP that he dropped via Instagram. In the summer of 2019, meanwhile, he came out with a second LP called Erys – which, neatly, is “Syre” spelled backwards.
Clearly, then, Jaden has come to walk a path all on his own – just as Will and Jada had hoped. And yet for years, the couple faced plenty of backlash for their parenting style. For instance, online commenters ripped the Smiths’ decision to let Jaden wear a skirt in a 2016 Louis Vuitton ad.
Perhaps, then, the Smiths may have just been a bit too progressive for some. In a 2019 piece for Oprah magazine, writer Michelle Darrisaw explored this possibility when considering the criticisms of Will and Jada as parents. That article even quoted an expert who suggested that the couple’s approach to raising Willow and Jaden would be much more acceptable today.
Lexi Montgomery – a brand strategist who has experience of both marketing and neuropsychology – explained to the publication, “The Smiths were ahead of their time. Willow shaved her head, and Jaden wore a dress before people were openly supporting self-expression to the degree we see in the media today. Their past actions have become trend-worthy and admirable due to the cultural climate changing and becoming more accepting. In other words: what used to be weird is now considered cool.”
Plus, this forward-thinking approach seems to have set Jaden on his own path – one that has come to include everything from acting to music-making and trying different diets on for size. In fact, Jada and Will’s eldest child even began practicing veganism. But while this decision sent some fans into a tailspin, they actually piped up to voice concerns rather than to criticize.
On a December 2019 episode of Red Table Talk, Jaden explained, “I walk in the street, and people are like, ‘Oh my god! Are you sick? Can I pick you up? Could I get you some water?’ Come up to me like, ‘You can have my food, man.’” And as it turned out, the Karate Kid star’s fans weren’t the only ones to hear alarm bells ringing; Will and Jada worried about him, too.
In fact, the couple had expressed their fears about Jaden’s vegan diet on a September episode of Red Table Talk. There, Will and Jada admitted to feeling “really nervous” about their musician son, and that anxiety had in turn led the two to stage an intervention. Jada explained, “We realized [Jaden] wasn’t getting enough protein.”
Like Jaden’s fans, Will and Jada had noted that their son didn’t look as healthy as he usually did. His mom described, “He was wasting away. He just looked drained. He was just depleted, [and] he wasn’t getting the nutrients.” His skin had also seemed to take on a grayish hue, and he had dark circles under his eyes.
When confronted by his parents, though, Jaden told Will and Jada that he hadn’t just stopped eating meat. In fact, he had cut way back on food in general. He explained, “I was just eating, like, two meals a day… maybe one. Maybe just one big meal, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you know, I didn’t get around to it.’”
And as it turned out, Jaden wasn’t the only Smith with an unhealthy eating pattern. Patriarch Will called an emergency meeting for the entire family – including his oldest son, Trey, and mother-in-law Adrienne Banfield-Jones. During that gathering, moreover, Jada conceded that she too ate infrequently – just as Jaden said he did.
At the same time, Will shared the details of his own problem – and it was quite the opposite of the issue impacting his son and wife. The Fresh Prince star claimed, you see, that he found himself over-eating when he was bored. And it turned out that the habit had become particularly bad after he’d gone on a recent vacation. Will even claimed that he feasted “like an addict” sometimes.
So, a December 2019 episode of Red Table Talk had the Smiths dealing with these and other issues head-on. And for this health-centric installment of the show, the clan brought in both Dr. Mark Hyman and nutritionist Mona Sharma. The A-listers hoped that the medical professionals could help assuage their lingering problems – including their diet-related ones.
To begin with, though, Jaden was hesitant to have any medical test results presented in front of a camera. This is referenced at the start of the Red Table Talk episode, when Will asks Jaden why he doesn’t want to participate in the process. In response, his son mentions the episode of the show in which he revealed his veganism, alluding to the unwanted press that his announcement had created.
In the end, however, Jaden took part in both the health check-up and the on-screen results reveal. Yes, he and the rest of the Smith family underwent what Jada called “extensive medical testing.” Dr. Hyman and Sharma had the clan collect and send saliva and stool samples, while their blood was also subject to analysis.
In Jaden’s case, he had dealt with severe stomach issues that he thought may have been related to his veganism. The medical tests ultimately revealed, though, that the After Earth star had vitamin and omega-3 deficiencies. Gluten and dairy sensitivities had apparently further exacerbated his digestive problems.
Yet according to Dr. Hyman, Jaden didn’t necessarily have to loosen his dietary guidelines; instead, he could simply increase his vitamin intake. The medical professional explained to the musician, “When you fix your stomach, your diet expands [and] you take a few supplements, everything’s back to normal. You’re gonna rock the world.”
Nevertheless, Jaden had previously said that he had changed his diet to become a vegetarian instead. On the September episode of Red Table Talk, he had revealed, “I’ve tried to eat vegan meals. I’ll go vegan for a week or so, but for the past year I’ve been vegetarian.”
Furthermore, while Jaden has yet to speak further about his health on Red Table Talk, website Amo Mama has reported that he has increased energy levels after improving his diet. And Jada is still definitely close to her son. She shared a snap of the pair in January 2020 and described the time it was captured as a “proud mommy moment.”
Jaden hasn’t completely severed his ties to veganism, either. In the summer of 2019, for instance, he announced that he’d started his own food business called I Love You. According to its Instagram page, I Love You is “a pop-up food truck making vegan food accessible for low-income communities.” The truck has continued to serve patrons into 2020.
And that’s just one of several ways in which the Smith family has helped promote good health. Will carried on this work, too, when in December 2019 he shared a video of a colonoscopy procedure he had undergone. During this check-up, moreover, doctors pinpointed a polyp that could ultimately have progressed into colon cancer.
In the clip, Smith also says, “There’s a certain amount of commitment and embarrassment involved with being healthy. Just gotta do it, man. It’s important to me to be able to share this with people, so, you know, other people can become compliant patients to stay healthy and happy to have all the glorious years we can possibly have.”
And there’s undoubtedly more good advice to come from the Smiths, as Facebook has extended the contract for Red Table Talk until at least 2022. Perhaps, then, future episodes will cover more of Jaden’s journey to good health.