LONDON (Reuters) – British singer-songwriter Elton John said he was so worried about getting the words wrong when performing an adaptation of “Candle In the Wind” at Princess Diana’s funeral that he had a teleprompter installed by the piano.
John, who was a friend of Diana, sang the new version of the hit song using revised words penned by lyricist and frequent collaborator Bernie Taupin.
His performance at London’s Westminster Abbey in 1997, after Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, was a standout moment at a televised service watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The song, featuring the line “Goodbye England’s rose” instead of the original words “Goodbye Norma Jean”, went on to become the fastest-selling single in Britain.
“It’s the first time I had a teleprompter, a teleprompter down on my left hand side, because I thought if I sing ‘Goodbye Norma Jean’ I’m gonna get hung, drawn and quartered,” John told a London audience late on Tuesday.
“So just for precaution, I had the teleprompter there.”
The 72-year-old was speaking at the Royal Academy of Music, where he once studied, at an event to mark the publication of his autobiography “Me: Elton John”.
He described the process by which he and Taupin worked together on some of their greatest hits.
“He (Bernie) always gives me a lyric,” John said. “I go into a room, put the lyric on the piano, look at the title. And as I start reading the song, a little movie comes in my head a bit like writing a film score where you get the visual part.
“By the time I finish the song or the lyric, I kind of know what tempo it might be or what genre it could be. And I just literally put my hands on the piano and that’s it. I hope for the best. That is it.”
Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Janet Lawrence