Share this news
The End Will Come For Us – Reid Sells Up
Posted by editor

John Reid talks about life after Elton
11 October 1998 @ 2:00

Edited by George Matlock


For nearly three decades, Reid’s name was synonymous with Sir Elton. He

has, he says, “been fortunate enough to have handled the career of a

talent so remarkable it happens once in a generation, if you’re lucky”.

By his own calculations, 70 per cent of his brain was always tuned into

taking care of Elton.


“It was an all-encompassing job, 24 hours a day,” he explains.


Together, they had weathered the pink hair, the green hair, the no hair

and the new hair; the records, tours, deals, domestic dramas, drink,

sex, drugs and rock and roll that featured along the way. It was an

artiste-manager relationship that, for longevity and mutual

codependence, was rivalled only by that of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis,

the Telegraph reported.


The photographer wanders about Reid’s house in an attempt to find out

where the best light is. You can tell she’s confused. Every room she

enters is grand and imposing. It’s like being in an Italian stately

home. Her confusion isn’t due to lack of co-operation from her subject.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like me to bunch these together, and maybe

lean between them?” he asks, standing between four immovable

19th-century Italian marble heads, each representing a different

continent. “I call them the Village People.”


They are expected to fetch between pounds 25,000 and pounds 35,000 at

auction. They dominate the dining-room which has a mahogany table

designed by David Linley, large enough to seat 24 without their elbows

touching. No, the photographer’s confusion has been brought on by the

fact that there was no rock and roll memorabilia. “I’ve only ever been

rock and roll in my habits, not my habitats,” Reid says apologetically.

“I’m much more middle class than people assume. More traditional.”


That may well be so, the Telegraph muses. But it’s perhaps neither very

middle class nor traditional to sell three houses simultaneously, and

most of their contents.


This sale at Christie’s is an upmarket version of a massive car-boot

sale. Last year Reid was darting between his home in London, his villa

in St Tropez and his penthouse in New York. On two occasions, he

achieved the hat trick of breakfasting in France, lunching in England

and catching Concorde to New York in time for dinner.


In the past six months, he has streamlined his life to eating all three

meals under the same roof. He’s trimmed his work commitments down to

concentrating on his involvement with Lord Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful

Group and producing a stage version of “The Graduate” film, and is

clearly having one hell of a physical and mental spring-clean, the

newspaper said.


“It’s a huge effort to run more than one house in more than one country.

I can’t be bothered with the sheer logistics any more. I once bought

2,000 monogrammed napkins at a house sale. I needed them. Running the

house in St Tropez was like running a small hotel. Now that I’ve sold

it, I can stop being a host and go back to being a guest.”


In 1999, Reid hits 50, a milestone he says he is indifferent to. “I

don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like,” he muses. “At this stage I

just appreciate being alive. I’m just grateful to be healthy, alive and

relatively sane. I’ve lived through some fairly insane periods, some

created by myself and some hooked into other people’s insanities. I want

to live a simpler life: less formal, less flash, less frenetic. Cosier.”


The reporter asked him if he’ll miss the financial rewards – politely

wondering if this is the reason he’s selling up? “Are you asking me if I

need the money?” he laughs, his soft Glaswegian accent becoming more

pronounced. “Oh, I could do with it. No question. It takes a great deal

to run three houses. I had two options open to me. Either I could sit on

all three and work to keep them going, or I could change the way I live

completely. And that’s the route I’ve chosen.


Reid went on: “This year (1998) has been savage. I’ve had two sudden

deaths to cope with, the first being my mother’s. Absolutely nothing

prepares you for the death of a parent – you go into a strange state of

free fall. “The second was David Croker’s, who was creative director at

John Reid Enterprises and exactly my age. I was talking to him in the

morning and that afternoon he was dead. That shook me to the core. And

then my relationship with Elton ended after 28 years.”


The two began their partnership while both were in their early twenties,

and although Reid has added and subtracted to his stable of clients

(also managing, at one time or another, Kiki Dee, Queen, Billy Connolly,

Barry Humphries, David Linley and Michael Flatley), Elton was always his

main man. Suddenly to stop being his manager Reid likens to “slamming

the brakes on after running at 100 mph. A huge void.”


Reid added: “I thought we knew where we were with one another,” he says,

“but I was wrong. It was like a relationship where one side has died,

yet the other person doesn’t know. Communication stops. Everything

slides away and it’s terribly sad.”


Reid stopped drinking eight years ago. “I now know that when most people

realise they have a problem, they struggle with it until such a time as

they just feel beaten. You finally admit to yourself you no longer want

to play Russian roulette. I got to that point. I had no fight left in



He happened to meet addiction therapist Beechy Colclough, who “simply

told me I could stop. The moment I walked into the centre Beechy ran, I

felt a huge sense of relief. It was quite similar to you know . . . ” He

stops as though he feels what he is about to say is disloyal. “It was a

similar sense of relief to letting go of the whole thing with Elton. In

the sadness of that, there was also a great sense of relief.”


Having conquered alcohol, he channelled the “manic energy” that was

previously spent drinking and having a good time into collecting,

travelling, buying, improving houses and learning. “Along with being

sober comes a different daily time-clock. It’s called `being awake’. I

had time on my hands and took a much more defined interest in how and

where I lived. I lived out fantasies. I always imagined New York was

like a black-and-white movie from the Thirties.” So he decorated the New

York apartment he owned on the 50th floor of the Millennium Tower in the

style of a black-and-white tableau from such a movie.


Although initially attracted to the romance of (auction) sales, Reid is

also addicted to the adrenaline rush they provide. He refers to it as

“the thrill of the chase”. “What happens is I see an artist I like and

tend to bid for three paintings instead of one – that’s addictive

behaviour for you,” he explains.


He tries very hard to limit himself but recognises going to sales brings

out an innately competitive side. “It’s like `No you’re not – I’m going

to get this’, and up goes your hand.”


The reporter asks if having money has brought him happiness. He says it

has brought him lots of fun. “Money’s a tool. You can either use it

selfishly or unselfishly. I’d like to think I’ve used mine unselfishly.

I hope I’ve used it to give other people fun and pleasure besides

myself. It can bring you comfort.”


It can also get you out of trouble, the reporter suggests. “And into

trouble,” Reid replies. Reid says that one thing he’s learnt as he’s got

older is that more is not better, and that’s the criteria he’s tried to

apply when deciding what to sell and what to keep.


“I used to collect Thirties Cartier clocks. For every one I’ve kept,

I’ve put three in the sale,” he says. “When you have sold all these

things,” the reporter asks him, “what are you left with?” Reid responds:

“A life.”

Did you like this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.