In Rocketman, Elton John (Taron Egerton) has complicated and strained relationships with pretty much everyone around him. This, eventually, leads to him forgiving a lot of people in his life in order to move on and get sober. One of these relationships is between Elton John and John Reid, his boyfriend/manager, who really isn't painted in the best light in the movie. Was that portrayal accurate?
In the film, Reid, who is played by Richard Madden, is pretty much a villain. His and John's relationship starts off positively and they have a ton of chemistry together. They live together and they work together, with Reid as John's manager, but things take a turn when work and life stop mixing so seamlessly. John's struggles with drugs and alcohol get worse and worse and Reid cheats on him. During one scene, Reid punches John in the face for being late to a performance. During another, he tells John that he'll still be collecting his 20% commission after John's dead.
While the movie implies a falling out with Reid happened much earlier, in reality, Reid and John were still working together until 1998. According to the Telegraph, Reid managed John from 1970 to 1998, and they were a couple from 1970 to 1975. Unlike in the movie, Reid wasn't already a suave, successful manager when John met him. In fact, John was his first client. Reid went on to also manage Queen for three years during the '70s. He plays a big role in Rocketman, but he was also featured as a character in last year's Bohemian Rhapsody, played by Madden's Game of Thrones costar, Aidan Gillen.
In their story about Reid, the Telegraph reported that he did have some some physical run-ins with people. He reportedly smacked a sound technician in 1973, and in 1974 was jailed in New Zealand for a month for punching a journalist. It's unclear if he really ever hit John as shown in the movie, but perhaps this was just a way to show the character's temper.
After Reid and John cut ties, they met in court in 2000 with John claiming Reid had stolen millions of pounds from him, as part of a bigger case about John's finances. In court John said, "I never thought he would betray me but he has betrayed me." Their dispute ended up being settled with Reid paying John £3.4 million, reports the Telegraph.
Additionally, Reid played a role in John's eight-year estrangement from his mother, Sheila Farebrother, which lasted until 2016. She died the following year. In addition to some other issues, which Farebrother brought up in a very long and detailed interview with the Daily Mail, she explained that the estrangement was due to her remaining in touch with Reid and another former friend/co-worker of John's named Bob Halley.
As for Reid and John's personal relationship, it clearly meant a lot to John at the time even though things didn't work out. And he's very proud that a sex scene between John and Reid is in the film. "If I am telling my story, it has to be honest," John, who is an executive producer on the film, told the Mirror. "I was a virgin until then. I was desperate to be loved and desperate to have a tactile relationship. When they tear their clothes off in the movie, that was how it happened. It was in San Francisco."
He added, "This is who I am and I was so joyous. When he is lying in my arms and I’m sitting back with a smile I’m thinking, 'Ah, I’m normal, I’ve had sex.'"
These days, 69-year-old Reid is retired from music management. In 2005, he appeared on The X Factor Australia as judge, but now, his whereabouts aren't exactly know. The Telegraph reported that he is said to either be living in Australia or in London. Either way, he didn't resurface when Bohemian Rhapsody was released and is unlikely to now for Rocketman.