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Sir Elton receives Brits Icon award

Pop legend Sir Elton John drew rapturous applause - and a few shocked gasps - during a star-studded celebration to mark his Brits Icon award.

The multi-Grammy and Brit Award-winning performer rocked the London Palladium with a career-spanning set, mixed with surprise video messages from friends and colleagues in recognition of his work.

The pianist - real name Reg Dwight - opened with singalong classic I'm Still Standing, before slowing the tempo with Your Song - a hit he credited with changing his career.

Between numbers the father of two spoke candidly about his successes, as well as a failed suicide attempt and his childhood.

And it was during a discussion about his formative years that the 66-year-old left the auditorium stunned when he remarked: "The 50s was a very sedate era. You could play outside without getting raped."

Sir Elton also recalled a failed suicide attempt, when he swallowed 60 Valium tablets and leapt into a swimming pool, as well as joking about his infamous temper - something he said his long-term partner, David Furnish, had helped him control. The pop star also spoke lovingly about how becoming a father to two young sons was an "enchanting" experience, while being typically self-deprecating about his own abilities.

He was presented with the first Brits Icon gong in recognition of his musical achievements - selling more than 250 million records worldwide and producing the biggest selling single of all time, Candle In The Wind 1997.

The evening was hosted by Dermot O'Leary and included messages from Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, former US president Bill Clinton and songwriter partner Bernie Taupin among others.

The singer followed his rousing rendition of I'm Still Standing, and Your Song, with crowd favourites Tiny Dancer and Rocket Man. The set included two songs from his forthcoming record, The Diving Board, and closed with Sad Songs (Say So Much) - a duet with his close friend Rod Stewart, who flew in from America to present the award.

Accepting the gong, Sir Elton said: "It's very flattering. But I could think of a couple more people who deserved it more than me. I'll take what I can get at my age." The performance was filmed as part of a television special to be broadcast on ITV1 on September 13.

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