Martin flat out admitted, “I don’t really know anything about Elton John” and jokingly quipped that he hoped the “fistfight” he had with the show’s teleprompter guy didn’t lead to any mix-ups as he was “just going to read what iHeart wrote for me. Fingers crossed.”
“Elton John was born in the USA. He and his collaborator Bernie Sanders worked and lived together in an apartment that his partner, David, furnished,” Martin joked while reading from the prompter. “He has some beautiful children. He also has children play his songs. Who can forget such classics as [Billy Joel’s] ‘Uptown Girl?’ or [Stevie Wonder’s] ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You.’ Beautiful stuff, Elton.”
Further roasting the Grammy-winner, 74, who has 34 nominations to his credit, Martin joked that John “tried to be an actor for a while,” adding, “I think that’s what it says. Yes, but that didn’t go so well. However, it led to an incredible song, ‘I’m Still Standing.’ And then things went from good to better. And they made a movie about his life and how he thought about music and it was called ‘Rocketman.’ So he was flying.”
“Anyway, he’s one of the greatest guitarists of all time,” Martin said before a tribute video for the “Lion King” contributor played.
An insane tribute performance started with H.E.R. playing the piano while singing John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” She also sang “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” before entering into a groovy guitar solo. Brandi Carlile also took center stage in a 70s-style blazer and gold buttoned-down shirt to perform John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” before Demi Lovato entered in John’s trademark square glasses to perform his ’80s classic “I’m Still Standing”
In accepting his icon award John thanked iHeartRadio and its headman John Sykes “for honoring me this way, for paying tribute to me to let them know that this.”
“It’s very touching and I’m very humbled because when I first came to Los Angeles in 1970, radio was so important — I’d never heard of America before because I had never been here before,” John continued. “But I have to say, radio is such an important thing to all of us. That’s why you hear things. That’s when you discover things. That’s why I like doing the radio.”
“That’s why being played on the radio for the first time — when you sit down, you hear yourself and you’re so excited and it’s for me, what this award means is that I still covet new artists,” he pressed.
John added that in his current life, he’s devoted his time to discovering new artists who need exposure and quipped that his time as an artist in the spotlight has come and gone – which is more than OK with him.
“I’ve had my time, as they say, in the summer, and I’m so glad people play my records and I love it,” said John before issuing a huge thanks to Lil Nas X who also aided Martin in presenting John with the icon hardware.
“I just want to say a special thanks to Lil Nas X because he is a wonderful artist and has balls of steel,” he raved of the “Old Town Road” performer. “It’s so wonderful to see live people, as Chris said — it’s been a bleak year. Please wrap up, they said — well, I’m wearing a coat. I don’t want to wear another one.”
“Thank you for all your loyalty and love,” John said as he signed off.