Setlist History: Elton John Retires For The First Time in 1977

Elton John has threatened to hang up the bright costumes and slam the piano lid shut before. The first time was on stage at Wembley Empire Pool (now known as the OVO Arena Wembley), the indoor arena next to the enormous soccer field.

John told the crowd of about 20,000 fans that he hadn't been touring a lot and it was a painful decision whether to come back on the road.

"I'm really enjoying myself tonight, thank you very much," he said while tickling the ivories, "but I have made a decision tonight that this is going to be the last show. Alright? There's a lot more to me than playing on the road and this is the last one I'm going to do."

Elton bids adieu to touring in 1977.

John was truly at a crossroads in late '77. The previous year he galavanted around the US and UK supporting the Rock of the Westies album which was recorded just five months after Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Both of those LPs debuted at #1 and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was a #1 single in '76 in the UK, US, and all over Europe.

But in 1977 John wanted to stop touring and stop collaborating with Bernie Taupin.

So the prospect of his last show at Wembley on November 3, 1977 was kind of a big deal.

Because the flamboyant pianist had only performed a handful of full concerts in '77, the Empire Pool gig featured several live debuts including "The Goaldiggers Song, " which he never played again and whose limited run single for charity is considered a collector's item.

The single, sold to raise money for athletic fields in underserved communities, is super rare in part because they only printed 500 copies, and also because Elton autographed half of them.

"Shine On Through" was the first song on 1978's A Single Man, an album whose lyrics were written mostly by Gary Osborne instead of Taupin. John only performed it two more times after Wembley.

"Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance!)" is the final track off Blue Moves, the album John was sort of promoting at Wembley. And it was the final song at the show.

Rarely does Stevie Wonder seem uncomfortable sitting at the piano, but during the extended take of the tune, Wonder is handed a mic, a tambourine, and given room to improvise, but seems incredibly confused.

It was an awkward end to an already rocky gig. Fortunately John shook it off and returned to the stage in a more consistent manner in '78 and '79.

Unlike some of the other tunes he played that night, Elton did dust off "Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance!)" when he played Central Park in 1980 in his Donald Duck outfit.

So even though it seems like a record number of some of your favorite bands and artists are calling it quits after this year's tours, remember rock n' roll has a history of these not-so-long endings.

There may be encores in the future.

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