Elton John says he ‘had to learn to walk again’ after serious infection nearly killed him

Ellie Harrison

Elton John has revealed he was “24 hours from snuffing it” when he contracted a serious infection after having surgery for prostate cancer, and said he was so sick he “had to learn how to walk again”.

The singer was successfully treated for prostate cancer two years ago but said he was close to death after becoming ill in South America.

“I came home and I got to London and I was very ill, I was rushed into hospital on intensive care,” said John, in an interview that will be part of the forthcoming BBC1 documentary Uncensored.

“I picked up an awful bug from somewhere. And I was about 24 hours from snuffing it. We didn’t tell people that was going on at the time, so I had an annus horribilis as they say for half the year.”

John, 72, added: “I literally had to learn how to walk again. I was extremely sick. All I could think about when I was lying in my hospital bed was, ‘Please don’t let me die, I want to see my children,’ and luckily I survived it.”

He continued: “Now I’m fine, but there’s very few bits of me left. There’s no hair, there’s a pacemaker, there’s no tonsils, there’s no prostate, there’s no appendix, I’ve had kidney stones. I’m like the Bionic Woman.”

The interview also explores John’s career, as well as his battle with alcoholism, with the musician revealing he “used to drink a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black every day”.

Elton John: Uncensored will air on 28 November on BBC1.