Did Elton John’s Manager Rip Him Off?

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Elton John’s former music manager John Reid has been portrayed as a cold-hearted person, driven purely by money. But was he like that? And did Elton John’s manager rip him off?

Here is what I found out:

Elton John’s manager John Reid did not rip him off. But Elton did sue Reid claiming that Reid had leaked embarrassing spending habits to the press, and the two settled out of court.

Reid is shown commenting in John’s biopic ‘Rocketman, “I’ll still be collecting my 20 percent long after you’ve killed yourself.” But in real life, Reid continued supporting Elton for nearly 25 years more after their alleged split.

But what about the court case Elton filed against Reid in 2000, claiming Reid stole millions of dollars from him? Did Reid betray Elton? And since he also managed Queen in the 70s, is there any bad blood between them?

Let’s dig deeper!

Did Elton John ever get rid of his manager?

Elton John got rid of his manager by ending his business relations with him in 1998. The closure was a result of a misunderstanding and a stressful lifestyle. 

The pair were mesmerized as soon as they saw each other in the crowd at John’s memorable performance in 1970. Reid had just stepped into music management to earn a name for himself.

So, when Reid set up his own company, Elton became his first client. Since then, the pair had been inseparable both professionally and personally.

They became a significant part of each other’s lives until things started going off course by the end of 1998.

As the couple overworked, tension grew within their personal life.

Also, Reid was accused of leaking John’s lavish spending to a newspaper which finally resulted in calling it quits. According to Circus, the pair decided to separate through mutual consent.

When asked, Reid expressed his grief by saying:

“It’s very sad that the long relationship I had with Elton has ended this way. I feel that the question mark that has been hanging over my integrity for the past three years has been removed, and that was the most important thing to me in this case. It should never have come to trial. It was ill-advised.” 

Despite the professional relationship ending so harshly, Sir Elton and Mr. Reid mended their beef, moving on in their personal lives.

What happened between Elton John and John Reid?

Elton John and John Reid embroiled in a nasty lawsuit after the latter was accused of having leaked Elton’s lavish spending to a popular newspaper. However, Reid denied the accusations.

According to the story that surfaced then, John argued that Reid’s management team had not met certain touring expenses out of the “generous” commission he paid them.

Additionally, John also thought that someone from Reid’s management had leaked a letter to The Daily Mirror describing details of his lavish spending.

As written by The Telegraph: 

“John found a £20 million hole in his accounts and sued Reid, an associate and accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

The argument led John to file a lawsuit against Reid and his management, who decided to settle it out of court by paying John a considerable sum.

Given Reid and John’s relationship, the trial became a media frenzy collecting hate. Although John eventually lost the battle, he lost something more valuable: his 30-year-old relationship with Reid.

How much did Elton John have to pay John Reid?

Elton John did not pay anything to John Reid. On the contrary, Reid paid around £3.4 million (US equivalent of $4.4 million) to settle a lawsuit that John filed against him in 2000. 

The Scottish music manager and lover of singer Elton ended his professional relationship with Reid over a leaked letter.

The duo was grateful to live a romantic relationship and parted ways without drama.

Although John did drag Reid into a legal court case, Reid settled out of the court. Elton spoke about their relationship claiming, “We live such separate lives and still on great terms.”

Did John Reid also manage Queen?

John Reid was also the manager of the high-profile band Queen from 1975 to 1978.

He opened up his music management company in 1971 and worked with famous singers of that time. Reid was already very successful at the time he met Queen.

He knew what he was doing. And the band Queen needed somebody to push them to the next level. And Reid seemed to be the right guy.

Also, as recorded by Aidan Gillen, the Irish actor who plays John Reid in “Bohemian Rhapsody”:

“The movie shows how Reid was a big part of Queen’s management. The film primarily focuses excellent attention on Reid’s portrayal, given that anyone who knew John Reid or Freddie Mercury had an idea how Reid should be played.”

Knowing that John Reid is also there in the movie Rocketman (a similar film about Elton John’s rise and fall and comeback), comparing the Reids is interesting.

With that in mind, I tried to look at how both the movies portrayed Reid: 

As a musical manager for Elton and Freddie (two of the most famous icons of their time), Reid’s tenure working with Freddie was way shorter than Elton’s. While Rocketman portrays Reid as a romantic figure, Bohemian Rhapsody shows him as a gentler figure.

Reid is essentially portrayed as an ambitious man who wasn’t afraid to push his clients’ creative limits and help them perform.

Other musicians Reid guided include Lionel Richie, Billy Connolly, Barry Humphries, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Michael Flatley. 

Is Elton John still friends with John Reid?

Elton John and John Reid are reportedly fond of each other and proud of their work together. The duo isn’t currently working together but remain good friends. 

After an endearing friendship of 30 years, the partner-cum-lovers have suddenly chosen to live in obscurity. However, Reid broke his silence and appeared for an interview with Radio Broadcast in 2019 to talk about Elton John.

In the interview, Reid mentioned meeting John for the first time in the summer of 1970 when he was at EMI.

From there, he handled management duties for Elton for 27 years. And even though they broke their relationship, they maintained their business smoothly, and “there was no big split”- as Reid recalled in the interview.

Reid also mentioned that he has so many memories with Elton that he lived in those crazy 27 years. Even though he didn’t make the records or write the songs, Reid was still an excellent support for Elton.

But then John never really wrote the lyrics to his songs. That job belonged to his long-standing lyricist Bernie Taupin. 

Luckily, I discussed in a recent article why John didn’t write his lyrics. After all, most rock vocalists did write their own lyrics in the 70s, and the idea of using someone as a lyricist is more of a throwback to the tin pan alley days.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


Elton John and John Reid shared a close to 30-year-old loving relationship starting from the 1970s. The couple were instantly attracted to each other and worked on creating a great music management company.

While the duo enjoyed cordial relations in personal life, their business relationship suffered a setback when Reid was accused of leaking John’s lavish spending to a popular newspaper.

The argument led John to file a legal battle against Reid, forcing Reid to pay millions to John. So, in those terms, Reid did not rip off Elton.

If the latest reports can be believed, Reid retired from management in 1999. He is currently living a private life in London, enjoying his golden years.

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Photo which requires attribution:

Elton John & Billy Joel Concert by Sean Biehle is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

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