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Rod Stewart Recalls His Humiliating Christmas Gift Exchange With Elton John

Photo: Getty Images North America

Elton John and Rod Stewart are longtime friend who for years made a sport of upstaging one another and trading barbs in the press.

In his 2019 autobiography, Me!, Elton writes fondly of his decades of friendly fire with Stewart. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Stewart was asked to recount one of his favorite battles with the Rocketman.

Stewart's thoughts went to one Christmas season in the '70s. He noted that "where [Elton] showed me up the most was in private," but suggested that on this particular occasion, they put their rivalry on the back burner for a sincere gift exchange.

"We used to live 20 minutes from each other in Berkshire, so for Christmas I bought him a pop-up fridge from Harrods," Stewart explained. "You pressed a button and there’d be steam and lights and a bottle of champagne. It cost me £600; a lot of money in the 70s. We swapped presents and he said: 'Oh very nice, dear, thank you.'

"He gave me a Rembrandt painting! I’ve never felt so stingy. He’s eternally the most generous person I’ve ever known. I’m not sure what the best one I’ve done on 'her' is … he’s usually got one over on me. I can’t bear it. We communicate through the press now, but we love each other. That’s what counts."

Elton and Stewart apparently had a real-life falling out a few years ago when Stewart said the 'Farewell, Yellow Brick Road' tour "stinks of selling tickets." Elton replied that Stewart had "spent most of the last decade crooning his way through the Great American Songbook and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,'" and was therefore in no position to say what is rock 'n' roll and what isn't.

The pair traded apologies sometime last year but haven't spoken very much since.

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