31 December 2020
The 73-year-old singer is retiring from touring and once his final concerts – which have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic – have taken place, he wants to take on a small residency somewhere and play the more obscure tracks from his back catalogue because he’s tired of playing the same hits night after night.
He said: “I'm lucky to have so many great songs to play every night. But there is a point in time where you think, 'I don't really want to play this anymore.'
"There are things like ‘Original Sin' or '(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket' that I haven't really played before - not enough anyway.
"But if I have to go back and play 'Crocodile Rock' again, it's like, 'I'm gonna kill myself.'
"So, after I've finished this tour, I don't want to play some of these songs any more.
"I'd like to do something like Kate Bush, where I can do a show and play some of these songs that are deep cuts."
The ‘Tiny Dancer’ hitmaker has performed with a number of huge artists over the years, and remembers being in the presence of “true greatness”, which was often so overwhelming, he was “frightened”.
He told Record Collector magazine: “I just loved [Aretha Franklin]. She sang her last show at our AIDS Foundation event in 2017, at St. John The Divine Cathedral.
“I'll never forget it, because I was standing by the stage with Roseanne Cash and Sheryl Crow and we were just crying because she was playing the piano and she was so ill and yet she came on and did 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.
“And afterwards, she said, 'This is it I'm never going to sing again - this is the last thing I'll ever do.' "But those are the moments you know you're with true greatness. Sometimes that's frightening.
"I was so scared of Nina Simone. When she played her last ever Carnegie Hall show in 2003, I was assigned to look after her with Patti LaBelle. And at the end they sang 'Young Gifted and Black' and she's sitting in the chair and the whole audience stood up and she cried. And I cried. Everybody cried.
"Ray Charles did his last ever recording with me, when we did 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word'.
"I had to carry him into the studio, he was so frail.
"I've had a lot of those moments in my life. And the bottom line is that... you have to step up to the plate, otherwise you get left in the dust.
"I stepped up to the plate, but boy, was I frightened."