He stunned his audience at a U.S. concert at the weekend by saying his latest album, "Songs From The West Coast," would be his last, his London-based spokesman said.
"It's the last record that I ever make," he said Friday from the stage at the sold-out Verizon Wireless Arena.
"I'm fed up with it. I like playing to you guys but I hate the record industry," said John, who has amassed an estimated $210 million fortune in a career spanning more than three decades.
"I've made 40 albums and it is about time for me to get out."
John's spokesman told Reuters he was unsure whether the final curtain had really come down on John's record career.
"He certainly said he would never make another record but whether it was just something he said on the spur of the moment, or whether he meant it, we don't know yet," he said.
John ended the concert by dedicating his poignant ballad "Your Song" to Beatle George Harrison, who died in Los Angeles on Friday after a long battle with cancer.
He said Harrison had taken the time to send him a congratulatory note when he was just starting to make a name for himself.
"I've never forgotten that gesture. It was such a mind-blowing event. I want to dedicate (Your Song) to him for all the wonderful music he's given us over the years. Wherever you are, George, be happy. God Bless You."
"Songs from the West Coast" is John's first album of new material for four years, although its tone harks back to the vintage tunes of the 1970s that made him an international star.
The CD gets back to the basics, with John returning to his piano and a swinging, bluesy style.
The CD, issued in October, features guest appearances by Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston. It also marks the first full-album collaboration between John and longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin since 1997.
One tune, "American Triangle," is John's reaction to the 1998 murder of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard.
Born Reginald Dwight to a working class family, John has been one of the music industry's most prolific performers, delivering scores of hits -- among them "Candle in the Wind," "Crocodile Rock," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
In recent years the singer's flamboyant dress sense and extravagant lifestyle have kept him in the headlines more than his music.
Last year, John lost a multi-million pound court battle with his former accountant and ex-manager that was memorable for the details that emerged about the star's lavish spending.
The court heard how John spent $57 million in a 20-month period, including $195,000 on flowers.
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