Elton curses massed photographers as 'rude, vile pigs' in fit of airport rage

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The Independent Culture

From stressful delays to draining jet lag, airports are rarely associated with bringing out the brightest side to one's personality.

From stressful delays to draining jet lag, airports are rarely associated with bringing out the brightest side to one's personality.

So it should probably come as little surprise when an A-list celebrity throws an A-list tantrum after alighting from his private plane at an international airport.

Sir Elton John yesterday became the latest star to succumb to celebrity air rage on arrival at Taipei airport in Taiwan where he was to perform a concert.

While the majority of celebrities traditionally depend on little more than a pair of dark glasses and a plastic grimace to ward off the inevitable crowds of airport paparazzi, Sir Elton clearly required something more robust to protect him.

Swapping his normally solicitous persona for that of an expletive-spitting prima donna, Sir Elton crossed his arms tightly across his chest before shouting at the crowds of waiting photographers and film crew.

Sporting the obligatory dark glasses paired with a bright blue tracksuit as he arrived at Chiang Kai Shek airport, he shouted: "Rude, vile pigs! Do you know what that means? Rude, vile pigs! That's what all of you are."

When one of the photographers asked him: "Why don't you get out of Taiwan?", he retorted through clenched teeth: "We'd love to get out of Taiwan if it's full of people like you. Pig! Pig!"

For Sir Elton, 57, it was an inauspicious start to his brief stay in Taiwan, where he was due to leave immediately after his performance last night as part of the final leg of a Far East tour.

Sir Elton later attributed his tantrum to the failure of police to protect him from the press pack. "No sooner had be disembarked from the aircraft than he was led into the public immigration area and was besieged by hordes of photographers. Police and security failed to protect Elton," said an aide.

Sir Elton may be reassured that he is not unique in the annals of celebrity air rage. Robbie Williams reacted in a similar way at the same airport in 2001. When reporters objected to his expletives when referring to Taiwan, he said: "I didn't insult your country. I will insult you," before launching into further choice invective.

TURBULENT SKIES

* The Gallagher brothers were banned from Cathay Pacific for life in 1998 after alleged drunken behaviour on a flight from Hong Kong to Australia. Months earlier, Liam Gallagher allegedly threatened to glass an airline captain who told him to stop bombarding fellow passengers with food and foul language.

* When a journalist said "Welcome to Bangkok" to Bjork in 1996, the Icelandic singer grabbed her by the hair and banged her head against the floor.

* Courtney Love was arrested at Heathrow in February 2003 after verbally abusing a stewardess on a flight from Los Angeles.

* Diana Ross was arrested at Heathrow in 2000 for allegedly attacking a female customs officer, claiming her search was too intimate. She was released with a caution.

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