Inside Elton John And David Furnish’s Relationship

Inside Elton John And David Furnish’s Relationship

04/12/2021

Elton John and David Furnish met the way a lot of couples meet: connected by matchmaking mutual friends. But their relationship is hardly humdrum, because neither guy is what one would call a regular, normal, boring person. One of the two spouses is an international musical mega-star, the singer, songwriter, and pianist who sold millions of albums on the strength of classic pop-rock tunes like “Rocket Man,” “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “I’m Still Standing.” The other half of the pair is a Canadian advertising dynamo who heads a prolific entertainment company and a groundbreaking charity. 

Put them together, and Elton John and David Furnish have one of the longest-lasting relationships in show business: They’ve been together for nearly 30 years, at the time of this writing, through the good times and the bad. “Our life is the same as anyone else’s,” Furnish told CTV News back in 2015. “You know, sitting around the breakfast table, looking at the newspapers, drinking coffee, watching television, playing with the dogs, [and] playing with the kids.”

But while this famous pairing does their best to maintain a sense of normalcy amid all their celebrity, love and marriage is still an adventure — and it’s one that these two powerful people have navigated together. Here’s a look into the lives, and high-profile relationship, of Elton John and David Furnish.

Elton John and David Furnish met at a dinner party

According to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Elton John checked into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in 1990 to get his substance abuse issues under control. Doctors encouraged him to avoid the drug culture of Los Angeles if he wanted to remain sober, so after relocating to Atlanta for a few years, he moved back to his estate in Windsor, just outside of London, in 1993. 

“I wanted to meet new people so I rang up a friend in London and said, ‘Could you please rattle some new people together for dinner here Saturday?'” John later told Parade in 2010. David Furnish attended the meal as the plus-one of an invitee, but he quickly hit it off with the host. “I was attracted to David immediately. He was very well dressed, very shy,” John added. 

According to Biography, John invited Furnish to come back over the following night for a more intimate dinner, just the two of them. They ate takeout from the fancy London Chinese restaurant Mr. Chow’s. John explained to Parade, “After it, we consummated our relationship. We fell in love very quickly.”

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They obtained one of the U.K.'s first same-sex civil partnerships

In 2004, the Parliament of the United Kingdom heard the Civil Partnership Act, which would make civil partnerships between same-sex partners a legal domestic union across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. On Dec. 5, 2005, it was entered into the law of the land, a monumental moment that for the first time in the U.K. granted gay and lesbian couples similar rights to that of male-female married couples. According to the act, civil commitment ceremonies could take place on Dec. 21, 2005 or after — and Elton John and David Furnish made their relationship of 12 years official about as soon as they possibly could. 

On Dec. 21, 2005, John and Furnish registered their civil partnership at the Windsor Guildhall government services and municipal building in London, according to The Guardian. They were among 678 other very first same-sex civil service ceremonies performed on that day across the U.K. In March 2014, the U.K. legalized same-sex marriage, prompting many gay couples to tie the knot, according to BBC News. In a fancy ceremony on Dec. 21, 2014 — the nine-year anniversary of their civil union — John and Furnish married in front of friends at their Berkshire estate.

David Furnish's career is Elton John

David Furnish does not merely live off of the tremendous income generated by his husband’s music. He actually, and actively, and aggressively makes sure that Elton John’s substantial catalog, legacy, and personal brand stays relevant, lucrative, and far-reaching. 

According to Mr. Porter, Furnish serves as the CEO of Rocket Entertainment, John’s branded entertainment conglomerate that includes a record label, a music production wing, a management firm, a sports marketing agency, and a film and TV production unit. Through Rocket Pictures, Furnish has produced the hit films Billy Elliot the Musical Live (John had adapted the original 2000 flick into a West End and Broadway musical that his husband helped stage), Sherlock Gnomes (featuring an Elton John soundtrack), and Rocketman, the 2019 biopic of a certain piano-playing English rock star.

In addition to entertainment, John has generated a lot of money and attention for HIV/AIDS research charities over the years, including The Elton John AIDS Foundation. Under the guidance of its chairman, David Furnish, the organization has raised more than $450 million. All of these corporate and marketing endeavors are well within Furnish’s wheelhouse — he used to work in the advertising industry, according to The Guardian.

Elton John and David Furnish weren't allowed to adopt a baby

Elton John and David Furnish have been a couple since 1993, and as is very often the case for two partners in a long, committed relationship, down the line they decided to expand the team by starting a family. In 2009, as part of a charitable mission for HIV/AIDS research, according to The Guardian, John visited an orphanage in Makeyevka, Ukraine, reserved for HIV-positive children. It was there that he met a 14-month old boy named Lev. 

“I don’t know how we do that, but he has stolen my heart. And he has stolen David’s heart and it would be wonderful if we can have a home,” John said at the time, announcing his intention to adopt Lev. “David always wanted to adopt a child and I always said ‘no’ because I am 62 and I think because of the traveling I do and the life I have, maybe it wouldn’t be fair for the child.” His mind was changed not only by the loveliness of Lev, but by his keyboardist, Guy Babylon, a father of two who had just died of a heart attack at age 52.

The government of Ukraine ultimately disallowed the adoption, per The Guardian. John’s age conflicted with national law that adoptive parents be no older than 45, as well as how John and Furnish were not married — at the time, Ukraine did not recognize their U.K. civil union as a marriage.

This couple has two kids with curious names

Apparently undaunted by their ill-fated adoption attempt in 2009, Elton John and David Furnish were determined to start a family, and they welcomed their first baby on Christmas Day 2010. Born in California via a financially compensated surrogate mother and egg donor whose identities were not publicly disclosed, according to The Guardian, the kid weighed seven pounds, 15 ounces and was named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John. (According to Express, Furnish was listed as the biological father on the baby’s birth certificate.) 

Two months later, John and Furnish published the first photos of young Zachary in Us Weekly, donating the fee they received to charity. John told the magazine (via the Daily Mail) that he had some minor, age-related regrets: “I’m 63. Maybe people say I waited a little too long. That may be the case.” Nevertheless, two years later, according to BBC News, John (and Furnish) became dads for a second time when the same surrogate delivered another son for the couple, Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John.

Two little quirks about those kiddos: John and Furnish gave them middle names taken from the titles of two of John’s songs — Levon is from “Levon” and Daniel is from “Daniel,” a friend of the pair told the Daily Mail. And their godmother? None other than John and Furnish’s pal — the Mother Monster herself — Lady Gaga.

Elton John and David Furnish were previously in long-term relationships with women

It took Elton John and David Furnish a while to find each other. That’s in part because both men embraced their sexuality after long inner journeys, coming of age in an era when widespread public acceptance of anything other than heterosexuality was rare. Before they married each other, both John and Furnish were involved in lengthy relationships with women. 

In the late 1960s, John, still known as Reginald Dwight, met and dated a woman named Linda Hannon, according to the Mirror. They were even engaged to be married, before John suddenly called off the wedding around 1970. In 1976, he became one of the first superstars to openly identify as LGBTQ+, when he announced that he was bisexual in an interview for Rolling Stone, and eight years later (via Vanity Fair), he married Renate Blauel, a sound engineer from Germany. “Even though I knew I was gay, I thought this woman was attractive and that being married would cure me of everything wrong in my life,” John told the Los Angeles Times in 1992 of the ill-fated marriage, which lasted four years.

As for Furnish, his longest relationship before he met John was with a woman in a one-year affair in his twenties, he told The Guardian. Furnish told his parents that he was gay in the same conversation that he revealed that he was moving in with Elton John.

Both Elton John and David Furnish have both feuded with Madonna

The pop music space is a big one, but it’s apparently not big enough for both venerable and undeniable superstars Elton John and Madonna. According to CBS News, in 2002, John started a feud with Madonna, almost inexplicably. He called her Die Another Day theme song “the worst Bond tune ever” to Sky News, adding that he does not “think it’s the best Madonna record and I’m a big fan.” 

But is he? Two years later, when accepting a trophy for his songwriting at the Q Awards, he called out Madonna’s nomination in the best live act category: “Since when has lip-synching been live? Anyone who lip-synchs in public on stage when you pay £75 to see them should be shot.” He later told Access Hollywood that he had been “a bit unfair” to Madonna, who The Telegraph reported in 2005 sent back the Christmas cards John had sent her and who also refused to perform at his and David Furnish’s mutual bachelor party.

After smoothing things over in 2007, per the Mirror, Furnish fired up the feud anew in 2012. Madonna won the Golden Globe for best original song for “Masterpiece” from her movie W.E., beating out the likes of Elton John’s “Hello Hello” from Gnomeo and Juliet, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Furnish wasn’t having it, writing (and later deleting) on Facebook, “Madonna. Best song???? F**k off!!!” He added that Madge’s win “truly shows how these awards have nothing to do with merit.”

They mark their anniversary weekly

It’s quite common for couples that have been together for years or even decades to do things to liven up their relationship or reignite their romantic spark. That could be anything from regular date nights out to scheduled intimacy to celebrating milestones and anniversaries. Elton John and David Furnish have a sweet and unique way of appreciating one another, and their marriage, and it’s something they do with fervent regularity — because they first met on a Saturday, they consider that day of the week, every week, to be their anniversary. And when Saturday rolls around each seven days, they handwrite one another a card. 

“You write about the week that’s passed, and the week that’s coming, and you connect, and you tell each other that you love each other,” Furnish told the Love Renaissance YouTube channel in 2018. Even if they’re apart, because one or both is traveling for work, the other gets their card via the use of a courier. “I think seeing the handwriting on paper and feeling the person’s humanity through that, and the fact that we religiously do it every Saturday, has been a very powerful bonding thing for us,” he added. “We never miss it.” All the cards are collected and added to a storage box, securely kept in a safe in the couple’s home.

Elton John and David Furnish have some unlikely friendships

Elton John and David Furnish have a lot of famous friends. For example, according to Hello!, their wedding in 2014 was attended by the likes of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and former pop star Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice. However, some other pals of the couple are a bit more surprising. 

According to People, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh often disparaged the LGBTQ+ community on the air, but he really liked Elton John. The legendary singer met the broadcaster at a hotel in Hawaii where they both happened to be staying and were cordial. After Limbaugh was hospitalized during the vacation, per The Hollywood Reporter, John looked in on his recovery, and he was so touched that he invited John and Furnish to his 2010 wedding, and even asked John to perform. People reports that John played an 80-minute set (and signed over the $1 million he netted to his HIV/AIDS research foundation).

John also surprised viewers of the 2001 Grammy Awards when accompanied Eminem on the rapper’s hit “Stan.” At the time, Eminem was accused of homophobia owing to disparaging language in his lyrics, which John told The Graham Norton Show he “thought was nonsense,” adding that the duet allowed them to become “amazing friends.” John also mentioned that upon his civil union to Furnish, Eminem sent the couple a special gift. “It shows you how homophobic he isn’t,” he said. “We had two diamond-encrusted c**k rings on velvet cushions.”

How much are Elton John and David Furnish worth?

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Elton John is one of the top 10 bestselling musicians of all time, moving 79 million copies of his albums in the United States alone. His tribute to the late Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” wound up in 11 million homes, and at one time was the top-selling single in history. Per Variety, John and husband David Furnish have had a robust international real estate portfolio, with multimillion-dollar estates in Beverly Hills, Atlanta, France, and England. At one point, the pair generated a lot of income from John’s 93 percent stake in a major English soccer team, according to The Guardian.

Rocketman, the 2019 John biopic produced by Furnish, earned $192 million at the worldwide box office. This is all to say that John, and by virtue of marriage and professional partnership, Furnish, are fabulously wealthy. But just how rich are they? According to Celebrity Net Worth, John has a fortune in the area of $500 million, with Furnish adding a significant $50 million to the pile.

Who will get all that money when these two pass away? It’s not clear, but most of it won’t go to their two children. “Of course I want to leave my boys in a very sound financial state,” John told the Mirror in 2016. “But it’s terrible to give kids a silver spoon. It ruins their life.”

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