John Reid, the equally flamboyant former manager of Elton John, spoke of Eltons incandescence over leaks, and of the snub over the Knighthood which made Elton a Sir.
Mr Reid was giving evidence at Londons High Court on December 4, 2000, the 20th day of Eltons missing millions case brought against John Reid Enterprises (JRE) former managing director, Andrew Haydon, and the rockstars former accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Mr Reid, who previously settled with Elton in a reportedly £3.4 million out of court deal, was invited to give evidence for defendants PwC. Mr Reid, 51, told the court he agreed to appear on behalf of PwC after the accountants promised not to sue him if they lost the case to Elton, 53.
Sir Elton is suing Andrew Haydon, of Elton's former management company John Reid Enterprises (JRE), and City accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which looked after his business interests.
Elton alleges Haydon was negligent in allowing JRE to charge him tour expenses - including booking agents, accountants and producers. Elton's case is that the "several millions" which he paid out in touring expenses should have been borne by JRE under a management agreement. PricewaterhouseCoopers (at that time called Price Waterhouse) are accused by Elton of negligence in managing his affairs. Both defendants are contesting vigorously Elton's legal action. The case, which began October 30, 2000, is expected to last eight weeks.
Describing relations with Elton, Mr Reid documented events surrounding the private letter from PwC warning Elton to cut back on spending or face the consequences. That letter, together with Eltons bank statements, showed up in newspapers in early 1998.
Elton exploded with rage when The Mirror tabloid published a letter exposing the singer's financial exploits, the court heard, and Mr Reids personal and professional relationship with his boss crumbled after the publication of the figures in 1998.
"He was incandescent with rage and he believed that someone from John Reid Enterprises had sold that information to the newspapers and told me in no uncertain terms to find out how it happened", explained Mr Reid in the presence of presiding judge, Mr Justice Ferris.
Mr Reid continued: "I was very angry about it tooand for a couple of weeks there was a terrible tension between myself and Elton and within the office structure because everyone was under suspicion of having somehow leaked this letter to the press."
The pair parted company after a falling-out over Mr Reid's honesty, which he said was questioned by Elton.
Mr Reid hit back in court, after sitting through Eltons own evidence on November 16, 2000, when Elton had accused Mr Reid of dishonesty and betrayal, citing that Mr Reid was somebody he trusted, but that he'd been "caught with his hands in the till." Elton was not in court on December 4, 2000.
Mr Reid said publication of the letter "kicked the year off quite badly" in terms of his relationship with Elton.
The first Mr Reid knew of the leak was when enraged Elton rang him in New York at seven in the morning at the beginning of 1998, convinced that someone from John Reid Enterprises (JRE), had stolen the letter.
He was incandescent with rage. I arranged for a firm of private investigators to see how this could have happened. I was very angry about it too. I had no idea how it could have happened and for a couple of weeks there was a terrible tension between myself and Elton and there was a terrible tension in the office.
Mr Reid said he had spoken to Mr Haydon following his phone call with Sir Elton, and had told him to hire a firm of private investigators to see how the letter had been leaked.
"It wasn't until afterwards that we discovered it had been Benjamin Pell, who claims to have gotten the letter from the rubbish bins," he said.
Mr Reid, who managed the singer for 26 years until they fell out in 1998, in February that year was on the same transatlantic flight to Britain from Los Angeles as Elton, who was travelling to the Palace to be knighted. Mr Reid was returning to London to attend his mothers funeral.
He didnt invite me to go with him, which upset me, Mr Reid complained.
Although he later learnt that pop fanatic called Pell claimed to have found the letter in a rubbish bin, Elton already began to lose faith in him. Elton started to become a bit frosty Later, Mr Reid detailed how Elton had snubbed him by refusing him an invitation to his investiture at Buckingham Palace.
with me. I sensed things were not right and I tried to put that right by finding out about the letter, but we really didnt get any satisfactory answers until much later, he said.
After the knighthood ceremony, the rift between the two men continued to widen even as Elton began a tour of Australia with Billy Joel. Mr Reid told the court: Things by this time were really frosty and I had heard that Elton had been asking if people thought I was dishonest.
Mr Reid added: "So I went to his suite and asked him ... He said no, he didn't think I was dishonest, but he was concerned about where all his money was going and he had appointed KPMG to do an audit. I told him I was pleased he was doing that and if there was any discrepancy in our conduct, I was responsible because I was responsible for the company."
Mr Reid told the court that he had offered to make sure that everything that should be done was being done.
Mr Reid explained that he had made arrangements to fly back to the UK that day (March 18, 1998). "That was the last time I spoke to him and the last time I saw him," Mr Reid said.
Around the time of Hercules 10th birthday on May 10, 1998, Elton and Mr Reid parted company with a £5 million severance agreement. Since then Mr Reid has disposed of three of his properties in St Johns Wood, London, New York and St. Tropez for almost £10 million in total.
Haydons barrister Andrew Fletcher read out an interview with Mr Reid printed in a Christie's sales catalogue when he auctioned off his plush furniture two years ago.
Referring to his comments, Mr Fletcher asked: "Have you not said in the past money is the first thing you set out to collect?"
Mr Reid replied: "I said it as a joke. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek."
Contradicting Eltons genteel version of the St. Tropez meeting at which Elton agreed more generous remuneration terms for JRE in 1984, Mr Reid said Elton had countless heated meetings with Mr Reid as they thrashed out a management agreement.
Mr Reid was unhappy with his cut of Elton's earnings in the early 1980s. But he finally settled on a deal entitling him to 20% of the gross takings from Sir Elton's future gigs. Before that, it had been 20% if Eltons post-tax earnings.
Mr Reid told the court: "My incentive was to keep Elton John's income as high as possible and to make sure he was happy."
The pair, who were lovers from 1970-75, also rowed over who was to pay for hiring agents to promote overseas tours.
Mr Fletcher told the court Mr Reid had eventually backed down and agreed to pay for tour promoters, although he had no recollection of it.
Earlier in the day Mr Reid admitted he had difficulty remembering details of his management agreements at that time because he had "serious" drug and booze problems. Elton and Mr Reid had helped each other through addiction to these vices.
Under cross-examination from Sir Eltons QC, Gordon Pollock, Mr Reid contradicted the Eltons earlier evidence, insisting they had an agreement that tour expenses would always be paid by Sir Elton.
But under fierce questioning he accepted his memory of the 1980s and early 1990s could be hazy, admitting that during that period he had a severe drug and alcohol problem. He also accepted he was often volatile, foul-mouthed, had in the past been violent and was keen on money.
Mr Reid said he frequently tried to persuade him to moderate his spending and lavish lifestyle. His general reply would be: I earn plenty of money, dont tell me how to spend it. He said Sir Elton would rarely read any papers that had to be signed but would trust him as his manager to tell him what they were about.
The case continues.
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