Before Sir Elton John returned to the stage Wednesday night in New Orleans, the iconic singer was feeling a little anxious.
"I haven't played for two years," he told CBS News senior culture correspondent Anthony Mason. "I think it feels strange for everybody who's a performer. I've been to a couple of shows, and the audience go nuts. So I'm looking forward to it from that point of view and I hope I'm not too rusty, that's it."
John had to halt his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour during the pandemic and postponed it again for hip surgery.
But lockdown didn't stop John from having one of his best years in decades on the charts. Three of his recordings reached No. 1 in the U.K. last year: "Cold Heart" with Dua Lipa and two collaborations with Ed Sheeran.
"It feels quite surreal and I'm very grateful. And it has all come as a bit of a surprise, really, because last year I wasn't gonna do any music whatsoever," John said.
But younger musicians started reaching out to collaborate with the legend. He collaborated with Charlie Puth on "After All." Texas duo Surfaces asked him to work with them on "Learn to Fly." He also collaborated with Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X and Dua Lipa on what became "The Lockdown Sessions."
In a way, John went back to his roots as a session musician, his producer, Andrew Watt, said.
"Yeah, I did," John said. "Fifty-four years before that I was in the same studio playing on The Hollies record of 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.' And I thought, 'You know what? Fifty-four years later, the studio's exactly the same, the desk, the stuffing's coming out of the desk. It's still tatty. And here I am … 54 years later, doing the same thing.' And I thought, 'The circle has been closed, and it feels pretty good.'"
During the pandemic he spent a lot of time at home with his husband, David Furnish, and their sons, Zachary and Elijah.
"It was just the best time possible. It was great," he said.
He also shot a video for Britain's National Health Service to promote COVID-19 vaccinations and was honored by Prince Charles in November for his charity work and music.
In the middle of it all, John, known for his outrageous eyeglasses, created a collection of eyewear with Walmart. Sales will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
"We went through all the old eyeglasses I have upstairs, and my old looks from photographs, and we put them into categories," he said. "And it was a lot of fun."
John said he's looking forward to the end as he embarks on the final leg of his farewell tour.
"I want to be with my family. I mean, I've been touring since I was 17 in the back of a van. I've had the most incredible life. I've been so lucky, and I've loved every single minute of it. But I've had enough of that applause, and I really want … I'll be 76 years of age when I stop touring in 2023. I want to do something different with the rest of my life."
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