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Elton John wants fewer tats, more glam in rock

Singer laments lack of style among tattoo-laden American bands
/ Source: The Associated Press

Attention, rock 'n' rollers. Elton John is sick of your tattoos and piercings. John, who will perform at the third Fashion Rocks concert Sept. 7 at Radio City Music Hall, says he'd like American bands to adopt the cutting-edge, glam-rock style made popular by his peers.

"It's been a thing the British have always been very good at, with Bowie, myself, T.Rex, the Who, Queen. ... We all embraced that side of it," John, 59, tells Fashion Rocks magazine, on newsstands Aug. 8.

"And I think it's good that some American bands are beginning to do that, but it's still very rare for bands to make a real effort. So when you get groups like The Killers and Scissor Sisters who come along, it's thrilling. I'm so over the tattoos and the T-shirts and rings through the noses. It's not pretty, it's not pleasant, it's not exciting. Please stop it now."

John says his theatrical style, made famous in his '70s heyday, was meant "to give people a bit of fun" while he sat at the piano for long sets.

When he was starting out, his musical "heroes" — among them George Harrison, Leon Russell, Neil Diamond and Brian Wilson — supported his budding career. Today, John likes to mentor up-and-coming artists.

"When I hear something new that's really, really great, I ring people up and say, ‘I think that's a fantastic album,'" he says.

CBS will air a two-hour special on the Fashion Rocks concert Sept. 8 (9 p.m. EDT). Proceeds from the concert, which kicks off New York Fashion Week, will benefit John's AIDS foundation.

"I've been very lucky in my life," he says. "I was a drug addict for 16 years, at a time when AIDS was just getting started, and I put myself at so much risk. I came out of it negative rather than positive, and I wanted to do something to give back."