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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 02:58 GMT 03:58 UK
Sir Elton hosts NYC birthday bash
Elton John on stage during his concert in New York
Sir Elton held a lavish private party in Manhattan before the concert
Sir Elton John has performed to a sold-out audience of more than 20,000 fans at New York's Madison Square Garden to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Former US President Bill Clinton introduced the veteran pop star, who entered the stage dressed in a black tailcoat to a standing ovation.

He opened the show with his hit Sixty Years On.

It was his 60th appearance at the venue - eight more than the Grateful Dead's tally, a record passed in October 2001.

Opening the concert, Mr Clinton said: "Thank you for coming tonight to help celebrate Elton joining my favourite club, the 60-year-olds' club.

"I love it every time he plays. He reminds me we still have some youth left," he said. Mr Clinton also paid tribute to the work of Sir Elton's Aids Foundation.

A banner to mark Sir Elton's 60th concert at the venue
A banner was raised to mark Sir Elton's 60th concert at the venue

Sir Elton, born Reg Dwight in north London, said he had known several years ago what he wanted to do when he turned 60.

"I knew I had done 59 shows at Madison Square Garden and I said the only place I want to be is New York City on my 60th birthday."

Other famous guests included US actress Bette Midler, model Elizabeth Hurley, Italian designer Donatella Versace, actor Pierce Brosnan and English rocker, Ozzy Osbourne.

The show followed a lavish private birthday party held in Manhattan. A similar bash was held in London earlier this month.

'Record-breaking'

One of Sir Elton's most memorable Madison Square Garden shows was in November 1974, when he was joined on stage by John Lennon in what turned out to be the former Beatle's last concert appearance before his death.

Elton John in 1974

Sir Elton's career began in the early 1960s when he played piano in a pub near his home, and went on to form a band, Bluesology.

Later, he failed auditions for bands including King Crimson and Gentle Giant, but was introduced to lyricist Bernie Taupin and changed his name to Elton John, after Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and the musician Long John Baldry.

His first hit, Your Song, made the UK and US top 10 in 1971, and since then he has sold about 200 million albums.

Since the 1990s, he has been deeply involved in raising funds for his Aids charity, and his re-recorded version of Candle In The Wind, which he performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, became the fastest-selling UK single of all time in 1997.

He recently announced he would make his back catalogue of more than 30 albums available for digital download.

Sir Elton's concert was shown live on the internet by MSN, and was recorded for worldwide TV specials, including one airing on ITV1 on Thursday.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Celebrities arrive for Elton's Manhattan party



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Sir Elton John at 60
23 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
Sixty things for Sir Elton's 60th
23 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Elton John's party
14 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
Elton plans 60th birthday shows
01 Mar 07 |  Entertainment

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