Awards

Fresh Off Elton John's Win, Here Are 6 Highlights From His AIDS Foundation Oscars Viewing Party

Sir Elton John, David Furnish and Bernie Taupin
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Sir Elton John, David Furnish and Bernie Taupin attend the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party sponsored by IMDb, Neuro Drinks and Walmart on Feb. 9, 2020 in West Hollywood, Calif.

It was a celebratory night at Elton John's 28th annual AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, and not just because the gala raised more than $6.4 million for the global effort to end AIDs. This year, John arrived at his party with a golden statue in his hand.  

The legend took home the award for best original song on Sunday night (Feb. 9) for his and songwriter Bernie Taupin's Rocketman hit, "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again." The win was the cherry on top for an already julbilant evening, which included a specially-curated dinner and live auction to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which works in over 23 countries to provide treatment, testing, care and support to people at risk of or living with HIV.  

Hosted by the Fab Five of Netflix's Queer Eye, there was never a dull moment. See below for six highlights from the viewing party.

1. The best original song moment

You could hear a pin drop while the best original song nominees were read on the television screens hung around the gala. The star-studded attendees eagerly waited to see if the evening's guest of honor would have something extra to celebrate. When Gal Gadot, Brie Larson and Sigourney Weaver announced John's name, the room erupted into Earth-shaking cheers, as the lights were turned on to reveal guests jumping and embracing each other. The moment of excitement was amplified when the screens then aired the "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" music video, which had the entire venue grooving along to the beat.

2. John's favorite part about having two Oscars

Upon their arrival, John and Taupin were met with a standing ovation and plenty of hugs and congratulatory messages. Speaking to the press about his win, which marks his second best original song trophy (he won back in 1995 for The Lion King's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"), John noted that he was "so moved, so overwhelmed."

"[Taupin] and I have been 53 years together and it seems like after 53 years, we got recognized for a song which was so important to the film about my life," he explained. "The film is so personal, it was about my journey until I got sober. And the lyrics that he wrote were like the redemption to when I got sober, when he came to see me in rehab and afterwards."

His favorite part about having two Oscars? "One for each of my boys," he replied, referring to his sons Elijah and Zachary. "We’ve already been FaceTiming them in the car."

3. Taupin's key to lifelong friendship

Taupin added to the sentimental moment between friends, explaining that the key to his decades-long friendship with John is as simple as their mutual love of music. 

"We literally shared our lives from 1967 through to the mid-70s, because we really did depend on each other. We had nobody else. And as you grow older, you become your own person, you live your own lives, you find your own partners, you stretch your wings and fly solo," he explained. "If we had stayed connected at the hip from day one, it wouldn’t have lasted. We became individuals." 

"But the theme of music is the thing that is run constantly throughout our lives," he continued. "The thing we talk about most when we talk on the phone or if I visit him in the minutes before a concert and I sit with him in the quiet time before the storm. It always ends up talking about music. That is the thing that I think that has connected us, that has kept us together and we always look back on the times that we struggled and there’s a devotion to that, that nobody could ever tear apart."

"He was always there," John sweetly added of Taupin's undying support even in the dark times, mirroring his acceptance speech. "At a distance, but he was the one constant thing in that film that kept us that tied. That bond from the day we met has only gotten stronger to the current day and I think that’s incredible and I’m so proud of it and I love you, I just adore you."

4. Sam Fender's performance

The 25-year-old British crooner was hand-picked by John to provide the evening's live entertainment. "It’s ridiculous," he told Billboard of the opportunity. "I was like, 'Are you sure? You can have anyone you want.'"

He performed a number of songs of his 2019 debut album, Hypersonic Missiles, but it wasn't long before John hopped onstage with him. The duo performed Fender's high-energy cut, "Will We Talk?," with Fender on the guitar.  

The duo are clearly fans of each other, as Fender was quick to tell Billboard his favorite Elton John song. "'Bennie and the Jets' on full belt at family parties? Such a banger," he admitted.

5. John's mini concert

The live auction was fittingly lively, and when the white Yamaha Grand Piano featured in Rocketman was up for grabs, John took matters into his own hands to get the piece auctioned off properly. The legend hopped on the ivories and performed a snippet of one of his hits every time a new bid was placed.

He breezed through fan-favorites such as "Tiny Dancer," "Bennie and the Jets," "Daniel," "I'm Still Standing" and "Rocketman," giving the attendees a 10-minute concert that was well-received with cheers and plenty of shouted-out requests for what John should play next.

6. Getting in on the auction fun

The icon continued his participation in the live auction, bidding for a sought-after painting with his Oscar in hand. The painting specifically created for the Elton John AIDS Foundation by Nathaniel Mary Quinn, "She Would Have Loved The Galas,” was bought by John after an intense bidding war. 

Sharon Stone ran onstage to help conduct the auction with Alexander Gilkes. "Come on, people, Elton won an Oscar for God's sake," she egged on the crowd, and her charisma ended up successfully auctioning off two VIP tickets to the Versace Cruise Collection fashion show taking place in a secret location.