Sir Elton John's album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," released 40 years ago, was a huge breakthrough for the flamboyant singer/songwriter. The album sold more than 30 million copies — and even today, is powerful enough to bring John to tears.
During the first part of a chat with TODAY's Matt Lauer Monday, John explained that he'd listened to the record in anticipation of doing interviews about it. The experience, he said, "Made me very emotional. I cried a little at it, because it reminded me of a time when I was very innocent."
But "Road's" success was also a gateway into a downward spiral for the then 26-year-old, who began abusing drugs and alcohol after fame swept over him. John has now been sober for more than two decades, and has regrets but no anger.
"I don't blame anything," he said. "I don't blame anybody or anything. It was just me being inquisitive. ... 'I'll join in. I'll be part of the gang.' Bad decision. If I could go back again, I would never do it."
Maybe not the addiction, but John, 67, would still be making music, his "soul mate." He told Lauer music has been with him through "sadness, through laughter, through love."
On Tuesday, the second part of John's interview with TODAY airs, and he'll discuss his upcoming nuptials with partner David Furnish. The pair plan to wed as early as May, now that gay marriage is legal in England.
"We'll do it very quietly," John told Lauer. "But we will do it and it will be a joyous occasion and we will have our children." They have two kids together, Zachary, 3, and Elijah, 1.
"I'm very proud of Britain and the laws that we've seen come into existence since we've been together," John said. "Having our civil partnership was an incredible breakthrough for people that have campaigned for a long time — through the '60s and the '50s in England when it was so hard to be gay and hard to be open about it. And it was a criminal act. So for this legislation to come through is joyous, and we should celebrate it. We shouldn't just say, 'Oh, well we have a civil partnership. We're not going to bother to get married.' We will get married."
The pair have been in a civil partnership since 2005, which John said had a "huge impact" on their commitment. "We didn't think it would make much difference to our relationship, but it solidified our relationship."
Meanwhile, John continues to be as involved in his other relationship — making music — as ever.
"I love it as much now as I did," he said. "I don't like the fame part of it, and I don't like the technology part of it so much. But, the thrill of the music will never die for me ... when you hear somebody young, like Lorde, or someone like that, making a record like she did, and you think, 'You're 16,' I am flabbergasted. And it makes you want to write the best song in the world, because you just cannot believe that this music has come out of someone so young, and so brilliant."
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Sir Elton John
Tune in Tuesday on TODAY for the second installment of the two-part interview.