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Over the course of his long, storied career, Elton John threw many out-of-control parties with the era’s biggest stars. John admits that he had several embarrassing moments with other celebrities because of the haze of drugs and alcohol. Looking back, though, he can appreciate the humor in these stories. On one occasion, he mistook Bob Dylan for a party-crashing gardener and offered to give him a makeover. 

Elton John wears a blue coat and hat and sits at a piano.
Elton John | Getty Images/Bob Riha Jr.

Bob Dylan made Elton John realize he’d made it

In the late 1960s, John partnered with songwriter Bernie Taupin to create music. Taupin would write lyrics, and John wrote the accompanying music. They soon began to write successful songs that reached mainstream audiences. A moment with Dylan really made John and Taupin feel that they were a success.

John and Taupin were at a New York venue when Dylan stopped them on the stairs, telling them he liked their songs. According to The Guardian, this was the duo’s first “What the hell is happening to us?” moment.

John once tried to give Dylan a makeover

Despite his admiration for Dylan, John once inadvertently embarrassed the Pulitzer Prize winner at a party. He was hosting a party in the late 1980s and had invited everyone he knew.

“By mid-evening, I was flying, absolutely out of my mind, when a scruffy-looking guy I didn’t recognize wandered into the lit-up garden,” John wrote in his book Me, per NME. “Who the hell was he? Must be one of the staff, a gardener. I loudly demanded to know what the gardener was doing helping himself to a drink.”

John explained that the mood at the party immediately changed.

“There was a moment’s shocked silence, broken by my PA saying, ‘Elton, that’s not the gardener. It’s Bob Dylan.’”

John, a longtime fan of Dylan, quickly tried to smooth the situation over.

“Coked out of my brain and keen to make amends, I rushed over, grabbed him and started steering him towards the house,” he explained. “‘Bob! Bob! We can’t have you in those terrible clothes, darling. Come upstairs and I’ll fit you out with some of mine at once. Come on, dear!’”

Unfortunately, this only served to make the situation worse.

“His expression suggested he was trying hard to think of something he wanted to do less than get dressed up like Elton John, and drawing a blank.”

Elton John once threw oranges at Bob Dylan

This wasn’t the first time John had embarrassed Dylan. During a party at Neil Diamond’s house, the group decided to play charades. John was on the same team as Dylan, who couldn’t get the hang of the game. After several rounds, John grew annoyed.

“I’m getting f***ed off, and we’re losing, and apparently I threw oranges at him,” he told Howard Stern.


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The following day, John woke up to a hangover and a reminder from a friend that he’d pelted oranges at Dylan. His only thought was, “Oh, s***.”

Thankfully, John doesn’t believe he hurt Dylan, as the oranges were small.