Elton John lost his “humanity” and his “connection and respect” for himself when he initially became famous.
The 70-year-old singer was honored for his human rights work at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, alongside Cate Blanchett and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.
Elton, who received the honor for the money he raises through his AIDS foundation, took to the stage in front of world leaders, trendsetters, businessmen and policy makers to accept the award, and admitted that prior to becoming a philanthropist, he hadn’t liked himself very much.
“Passion led me into some very dark places. I wasn’t a great person for a long time,” he said. “I lost my humanity, my connection and my respect for myself.”
At that point, Elton realized something had to change, and began looking into charitable pursuits, explaining: “I wanted to reconnect, I wanted to be a decent person.”
Elton also used his speech to encourage the big names in the room to use their own fame and power to make a difference in the world.
“We must never turn a blind eye to suffering,” he said, before addressing the audience as he continued: “You’ve all made it, baby. But what are you making?
“What worth does it have if it does not strengthen the bonds of humanity? If we are not seeking to change the world for the better through our work, what is the point of coming here? Yes, there is glory perhaps, fame and prestige. There is wealth, too. But for what? Good work gives you something bigger than fame, richer than wealth, finer even than prizes.”
Concluding his speech, Elton said passionately: “It needs to be changed. The equality in this world is, to be honest with you, disgraceful.”