elton john performing

Sir Elton John shocks fans with retirement news to spend time with children

The 70-year-old made the big announcement at a press conference

Gemma Strong

Sir Elton John has revealed his decision to retire from touring. The 70-year-old singer made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday, broadcast simultaneously in New York and London. He said: "I am not going to be touring anymore apart from September, which will be a global tour. My priorities have changed in my life. We had children, they have changed our lives." Elton added: "In 2015, David [Furnish] and I sat down with a school schedule and I said 'I don’t want to miss too much of this.' The priorities in my life have changed, my priorities are now my children, and my husband. I thought the time was right to say thank you to all my fans around the world globally, and to say goodbye, to have a breather." 

Elton teased that his final tour - The Yellow Brick Road tour - would be the biggest yet, saying: "This is a mega-tour - to go around the world and to say goodbye to all the people in the countries that I am popular in will take around three years." The doting dad – who shares two sons, Zachary, seven, and five-year-old Elijah, with husband David Furnish – will be bringing his children on some of the tour with him. He said: "They will be coming on some of the tour with us, I am going to take them out of school for nine months with a tutor. When the tour stops they are going to be ten and eight. I love them so much, I don’t want to miss them and I don’t want them to miss me." A countdown clock had previously been displayed on the star's official website, counting down to 5.30pm GMT, alongside the message: "I've finally decided my future lies…" – a reference to his hit song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and the name of his final tour. 

Sir Elton John has announced his retirement from touring after nearly 50 years

Sir Elton is set to end his six-year Las Vegas residency in May 2018. He embarked on the sell-out Million Dollar Piano show, held at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in September 2011. Elton remains one of the world's most in-demand live performers, and has sold more than 200 million records over the course of his career.

STORY: Elton John gives rare glimpse into family life as son Elijah turns five

Last year, he was forced to cancel nine shows in Las Vegas and California because of a bacterial infection he contracted during a tour of South America. Nevertheless, he played a staggering 96 shows around the world throughout 2017, as well as performing at his Las Vegas Show. At Wednesday's press release, Elton clarified that his final tour had nothing to do with reports on his health, adding: "It isn’t because of ill health, I am in great health. Last year I picked up an infection in South America and it knocked me side-ways, but I still did 96 shows last year."

Elton and husband David Furnish are parents to two sons, Zachary and Elijah

Sir Elton is set to perform a duet with Miley Cyrus on Sunday at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and on Tuesday will host a special concert in his honour at Madison Square Garden, with guest stars including Chris Martin, Sam Smith and John Legend. The iconic musician is also currently working on a Broadway musical based on the film The Devil Wears Prada, as well as the live action version of Disney's The Lion King, and upcoming animation Sherlock Gnomes, produced by his own production company Rocket Pictures, and starring the likes of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mary J. Blige and Johnny Depp.

STORY: Elton John's mother dies months after ending eight-year feud

More on: