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A CELEBRATION OF ELTON & DAVID

Elton John and David Furnish were honored with the Artist and Manager Partnership Award at a ceremony in London Thursday night, where the star paid tribute to his “genius” manager and husband for bringing his career into the 21st century.

Furnish, who is CEO of Rocket Management and Chairman of his and John’s AIDS Foundation, took over management duties seven years ago, when he set about creating less reliance on touring.

“Before I had children, I was going to die onstage, a bit like Eric Morcambe or Tommy Cooper,” John told the audience at the Artist and Manager Awards. “Then David sat me down and said, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ I said, ‘Things have to change. I would like to do a farewell tour and then retire from touring but carry on with music.' He put together an amazing five-year plan, which he shared with the record company and touring people, and he delivered on every point.”

In addition to John’s ongoing (and final) Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, the duo have also worked together on securing John’s Rocket Hour Apple Music show, the award-winning 2019 biopic Rocketman, the best-selling memoir Me and this year’s U.K. #1 single, “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)” with Dua Lipa, and the top-charting album The Lockdown Sessions

Furnish likewise helped educate John about social media and streaming to further his legacy and helped increase his Spotify monthly listener count to more than 50m from 9m. “I thought Spotify was something you got on your face,” John quipped.

“That’s the genius of the man on my right," he continued. "Not only is he a great husband and father, he’s also a genius manager and we love working together. We have our fights, we have our issues, but he’s always right, which is really annoying. I’d love to pay tribute to him for being my rock and I’m deeply grateful for this award.”

John also gave a shout-out to young talent including Rina Sawayama, who presented him and Furnish with the award, Little Simz, Skepta and Sam Fender. “The future is young artists," he said. "I will always promote the young and try my best to make sure they get a fair hearing.”

Furnish thanked awards organizer the Music Managers Forum as well as his team at Rocket, Universal Music, tour partners AEG and Marshall Arts and PR firm Dawbell. “Finally, Elton, I’d like to thank you personally for believing in me and having faith in me,” he concluded. “I can’t think of a greater honor than to be recognized by your peers. This is the happiest moment of my life professionally.”

Other winners included Sawayama (Breakthrough Artist), Simz (Artist of the Year), Mogwai (Pioneer) and BICEP and its management team, This Is Music (Innovation). Glass Animals' manager, September's Amy Morgan, took home Manager of the Year, Grace Ladoja MBE was given the Entrepreneur Award and Kayleigh Thorpe of Little Runway Management was honored as Breakthrough Manager for her work with Gerry CinnamonThe Black Music Coalition received the Industry Champions award, Karma Artists took Writer/Producer Manager and YMU Music Group nabbed the Team Achievement Award.

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