For many fans, it would be the stuff of dreams to be invited onstage while Sir Elton John sang Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting. But for a group of overwhelmed admirers in Las Vegas it turned into an altercation on Thursday night, after Sir Elton appeared to become irritated by a man touching him while he was playing the piano.
Mid-way through his performance of the 1973 hit at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Sir Elton, 70, could not hide his annoyance as a punter repeatedly tapped him on the shoulder and asked him for high fives.
Sir Elton jabbed his finger at the fan and was heard telling him to "f— off," before turning around and walking off stage in front of a stunned audience while his backing band kept playing.
Sir Elton normally invites a group of fans to stand near him while he plays the song as part of his "Million Dollar Piano" Las Vegas residency, but when the singer later returned to the stage, he announced that night would be the last time.
“No more coming on stage on ‘Saturday Night’,” he said told the audience.
Sir Elton added: “You f—– it up,” before playing Circle of Life as the encore.
In a statement, Sir Elton said: "’Last night in Las Vegas, a fan put his hands on the piano keys while I was playing and continued to do so even after I asked him to stop.
"He then proceeded to reach over the piano and try to take pictures, completely disrupting the performance.
"I bring fans onstage every evening when we play Saturday Night in the set, it is always a lovely part of the show where I get to meet them, shake their hands and have them right there with me while I play.
"They have always been very courteous to the fact we are in the middle of playing a song live. This guy was rude, disruptive and had no care or respect for our show and so I let him know how I felt, then left the stage until they had removed him."
This is the 17th leg of the Las Vegas show, which Sir Elton has been performing in stints in Las Vegas since 2011. Billboard estimates that the revenue from the shows, the set list for which include I and I, has topped $100 million.
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In 2017, he was forced to cancel his Caesar’s Palace spring shows in April and May due to a bacterial infection that his publicist said could have killed him.
Sir Elton has a history of voicing his displeasure on stage. He apologised after shouting at a steward at a 2015 gig in Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester, telling her: "This is not f—— China" after she told fans not to wave their arms.
In 2016 he became enraged by over-zealous security, threatening not to finish his set at Leicestershire County Cricket Ground if guards prevented fans from dancing on their seats.