Sir Elton's heartbreak at 'sacrifice of stardom'

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Sir Elton John told the High Court yesterday of love, greed and betrayal; the sheer burden of being a star and the pain of giving away the publishing rights to a song - similar, he said, to sacrificing "a child" or a "part of your soul".

Sir Elton John told the High Court yesterday of love, greed and betrayal; the sheer burden of being a star and the pain of giving away the publishing rights to a song - similar, he said, to sacrificing "a child" or a "part of your soul".

Proceedings on the second day of the case, in which Sir Elton is suing his accountants and his management company, got decidedly personal as the pop star accused John Reid, his former manager, of swindling him out of millions of pounds.

Sir Elton and Mr Reid had been lovers for five years. But now there were just recriminations, bitterness and hurt. Looking at his former manager, a small figure who sat hunched just eight feet away, Sir Elton said: "He wouldn't be the first man to get caught with his hand in the till ... I trusted him all those years. I trusted him implicitly. I never thought he would betray me, but he has betrayed me."

Sir Elton said he had showered Mr Reid with favours, even giving him rights to his song. "He wanted a piece of my publishing. When I'm writing a song that is like a child to me.

"I was in the end prepared to give him song-writing to shut him up from the continual whining over the last two years that he was an underpaid, poor, curmudgeonly manager... You are giving away a piece of your soul, yourself, your song... When I write a song it's like a child to me."

Sir Elton is suing Andrew Haydon, 45, former managing director of John Reid Enterprises (JREL), and the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers. He alleges Mr Haydon was negligent in allowing JREL to charge him overseas tour expenses, including booking agents, accountants and producers. PricewaterhouseCoopers is accused of negligence in managing his affairs. Both defendants deny the allegations.

Sir Elton gave the second day of his evidence wearing a grey Versace suit, a dark-blue shirt, and a dark-blue and gold tie. He sat perched on a high chair in the witness box, his feet not quite touching the ground. Giving his testimony, he would lean forward combatively, his left hand thrust into his trouser pocket. His current partner, David Furnish, looked on from the back of the court.

On the first day of the case, the court heard details of how Sir Elton got through £40m in 20 months, including £293,000 on flowers alone. Yesterday the singer told the court that the money Mr Reid made from him enabled him to live "alifestyle as lavish as my own".

Sir Elton went on: "He was my manager, he loved being my manager and the kudos that came with it. The more I bought something the more he bought, so it became very competitive. He had free range to do whatever he liked."

The singer said the terms of business relationship between Mr Reid and himself had been hammered out at a meeting in St Tropez. He hadn't taken any notes, but pointed out: "It was a contract verbally between two people who had lived together for five years.

"He was a huge part of my life. He was my partner for five years. When I did a deal with him I didn't have to write anything down. Or so I thought."

Speaking about his own spending, Sir Elton said: "It is a choice of life. I am not a nest-egging person." But, he denied that he wanted to "spend every available penny", adding: "I had quite a few million in a pension fund, I had assets in publishing and objet d'art. I am not that stupid."

Cross-examined by Andrew Fletcher, counsel for Mr Haydon, Sir Elton agreed that in November 1988 he had borrowed £2.4m, but added: "I know my net worth as an artist. It doesn't seem to me that £2.4m was an awful lot to borrow on assets such as mine." Mr Fletcher suggested that Sir Elton's attitude towards his spending had added considerably to the administrative burden of his management company. The singer impatiently shook his head: "I just don't get this administrative burden thing. I was the only major artist they had. I have burdens. I have the pressure of going into the studio every year and writing 15 new songs.

"I have the burden of fulfilling concerts. I have to turn up on time and give a good show. They weren't out on the road with me. They weren't in the studios with me. What else were they doing?"

Proceedings ended early because the singer had to travel to Antwerp to play a concert, but the acrimony continued to the end. The last question Sir Elton was asked was whether he believed Mr Reid was capable of swindling him. He replied: "Why would someone with a criminal record be incapable of doing something like that?" Mr Reid shook his head.

The case continues.

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