Sir Elton John turns 70 later this month. While he’s very much still standing—touring extensively and releasing records—evidently he’s increasingly upset about his new music not getting played on the radio anymore.
“There comes a point where you have to admit that you’re not gonna get played on the radio in America because it’s ageist,” John claims in the new book Captain Fantastic by Tom Doyle, a biography of the singer, which is due out later this month. “There’s a whole stream of different music come along now. And you have to face up to it.”
It’s not John’s first brush with American radio. In 1976 he came out as bisexual to Rolling Stone magazine and was reportedly dropped by some radio stations as a result. But ultimately his sales didn’t suffer.
Yet the last time his new music—as opposed to his classics such as “Your Song” and “Tiny Dancer”—received extensive airplay on US radio stations was 15 years ago with the singles from his Songs from the West Coast album.
Sir Elton is not the first pop icon to hit out at radio for being ageist. In 2015 there was an outcry in the UK when BBC Radio 1, Britain’s premier pop music station, wouldn’t play Madonna’s new music.
Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills defended the decision saying, “If you ask a 17-year-old about her [Madonna], they go ‘don’t care’ […] it’s a sign of the times, things change, it’s a generational thing.”
But Madonna told The Sun: “I thought it was so discriminatory and unfair. We’ve made so many advances in other areas—civil rights, gay rights—but ageism is still an area that’s taboo and not talked about and dealt with.”