Sir Elton John is to guest-edit a special World Aids Day edition of The Independent and its newly launched sister paper, i. All circulation revenues from the one-off editions on 1 December will be given to the musician's charity, the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Sir Elton embraced the idea in the knowledge that it would give him an opportunity to commission news, features and commentary to highlight the World Aids Day campaign, which aims to increase awareness of HIV in the UK and globally. He will edit The Independent during a break from a major American tour with the country singer-songwriter Leon Russell.
"I was thrilled to be invited to guest edit The Independent," said Sir Elton. "I'm really looking forward to spending a day in the editor's chair, and I'm pleased to get the chance to put the subject of Aids at the top of the editorial agenda."
The musician has had run-ins with British newspapers in the past, and when he performs "Candle in the Wind" (a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and later the Princess of Wales) he sings: "Even when you died, oh, the press still hounded you." He is said to have already begun planning the special edition of The Independent.
Sir Elton is well connected across the worlds of entertainment, sport and politics, and his White Tie and Tiara Ball has become one of the showbusiness events of the year. He is friends with Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of The Independent. "We are proud to have Elton editing the paper for a day," said Mr Lebedev. "His Aids foundation has done a lot of important work around the world which I have witnessed first-hand, and we are pleased to be able to help the cause."
Sir Elton's guest editorship follows a similar experiment in 2006 when Bono edited an iconic (RED) issue of The Independent, raising money to help fight Aids in Africa. The edition was warmly received and led to a sales increase of 70,000 copies. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, said: "From football to music to politics, and, of course, on the subject of Aids, Elton has much to say, and I'm sure The Independent of 1 December will be diverse, entertaining and impactful."