LOS ANGELES Though pop veteran Elton John now has a Legend Award Grammy to add to his British Knighthood and quarter-century of hit songs, he's none-too-impressed with the latest hoopla surrounding him.
"It doesn't mean a thing," he said of the newest honor backstage at the Grammys, where he clowned around with fellow piano man Billy Joel. Joel introduced John's spirited performance of "Philadelphia Freedom" at the 42nd annual gala.
Goofing off as if they were old roommates, the pair turned the backstage media area into the "Billy and Elton Comedy Show." Joel, 50, bowed down on the carpet to John, as if saying, "I'm not worthy."
"Thank you, Sir William," John, 52, deadpanned.
But John, whose numerous hits include "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Crocodile Rock" (RealAudio excerpt), "Candle in the Wind" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" appeared serious about the slight regard in which he holds the annual Grammy tradition.
"It's kind of bullsh--, this show, isn't it?" John said. "Who's to say what the best record is?" Wednesday's performance at the Staples Center gala marked John's first participation in a Grammy ceremony, he said, though he's won four Grammys in years past.
Joel mostly played the straight man to John's comedian routine at times in more ways than one.
As John, who is gay, joked, "I've slept with all the boy bands," Joel crept away from the microphone, only to be pulled back by his cohort. "This is the heterosexual part of this duo," John said.
The pair, who toured together in 1994, said they may hit the road jointly again in the future.
But for now, John is enjoying rooting for others. Among his favorites, he said, are soul singer Macy Gray, who lost the Best New Artist award to pop star Christina Aguilera; and dance-music master Moby, who lost out to Santana for Best Rock Instrumental Performance and to Beck for Best Alternative Music Performance.
And of course he likes teen superstars the Backstreet Boys, who sang back up for him during "Philadelphia Freedom" (RealAudio excerpt).
"Everyone slags them off, but those boys can sing their asses off," John said. "They have my utmost respect."