Sir Elton John issues warning during coronavirus benefit

Sir Elton John hosted iHeart Living Room Concert for America on Sunday,an hour-long, commercial-free special honouring the health professionals and first responders battling the coronavirus outbreak, and encouraging viewers to donate to Feeding America and the First Responders Children's Foundation.

A-list stars such as Mariah Carey, Billie Eilish, and Alicia Keys participated by playing intimate performances, with John serving as master of ceremonies. And while the event was a largely joyous affair, at one point John, a longtime AIDS activist and founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, warned that the mistakes made during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s cannot be repeated during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"Not long ago, there was another infectious disease that was ignored," John stated sternly. "It took musicians, actors, dancers, but it also took writers and bankers and lawyers and sons and daughters and best friends. Day in and day out, the disease got worse, because we did nothing. Too many forgot about compassion and decency, and so millions and millions of people perished from AIDS. But this time, we aren't going to let that happen. So, stay home for the ones you love."

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Elton John
The Princess of Wales is greeted by singer Elton John for the charity premiere of the musical 'Tango Argentina' at the Aldwych Theatre, London, in aid of National Aids Trust and Aids Crisis Trust.
Paul McCartney and wife Linda from the band Wings show off their award for Best Single along with Elton John (c) who won the Best Male Singer and Best Concert Awards.
Elton John live in concert in London, circa 1976.
Elton John live in concert in London, circa 1975.
Musician Elton John sings in to the microphone on stage during a gig.
Elton John signs copies of his new album, 'Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player' at the Noel Edmonds's Record Shop, Chelsea.
Elton John live in concert at Wembley Stadium in May 1974.
Rock star Elton John performing on stage at Wembley Stadium, Londpn
Bespectacled pop star Elton John and television personality David Frost being presented to the Queen at Windsor when they were among a host of stars appearing in a gala variety performance in the Big Top at Home Park in aid of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal.
British pop singer Elton John (right), Lana Hamilton (second left), wife of actor George Hamilton, and rock singer Rod Stewart (left) at New York's Studio 54, to celebrate at a party given by RCA Records, who signed John to a contract with the recording company.
1982: Chairman Elton John leads his first team squad in a song at Vicarage Road as Watford get ready for their first 1st Division clash against Everton on Saturday at home. The club announced a 400,000 sponsorship deal with truck and bus giants Iveco.
The Ruritanian look for the pop singer Elton John, showing his new uniform in London, that will be his hallmark for his British tour.
File photo dated 19-05-1984 of Watford Chairman Elton John on the pitch before the match
Pop singer Elton John
The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Elton John, flanked by his drummer Ray Cooper (l) and Dire Strait's bassist John Illsley (centre) before tonight's rock extravaganza at Wembley to celebrate 10 years of the Prince's Trust.
Pop star Elton John, left, who sold his controlling interest in Watford FC to Robert Maxwell for �2 million, joins the publishing tycoon in the stands at Oxford.
1989: Pop star Elton John (left) and Bob Geldof at a BBC photocall in London . Elton is one of the singers who will be seen taking part in 'Our Common Future', an hour long programme of recorded musical highlights of the Planet-Aid global concert staged in New York. Geldof will be introducing the concert. CELEBRITY
1991: Elton John (r) meet actress Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, Larry Fortensky, at a Gala reception for the Aids Trust which was attended by Princess Margaret.
1991: Newly married actress Elizabeth Taylor with her husband, Larry Fortensky (2nd l), actor Michael Caine and pop star Elton John (r) at a charity reopening of the refurbished Mirabelle restaurant in London's Mayfair.
Watford President Elton John greets Graham Taylor at Vicarage Road today (Thursday) as he arrives to take up his new job as General Manager/PA. Elton John is back at the helm of division two Watford after heading a consortium of investors to take over at Vicarage Road from Jack Petchey, it was announced on 26.4.97. The multi-millionaire will now chair both the new board and a holding company which now owns the club. The former England manager Graham Taylor, who has been influential in bringing John back to Vicarage Road, will also remain a pivotal figure at the club as general manager.
Rock legend Elton John at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he received an honorary membership today (Wednesday). The singer-songwriter, who has sold 150 million records, joined the exclusive club of eminent musicians, whose 250 members include conductor Bernard Haitink and tenor Jose Carreras. Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA. Watch for PA story SHOWBIZ Elton.

While John's comments divided Twitter, almost everyone watching iHeart Living Room Concert for America seemed to enjoy the actual feel-good performances — which the participating all-stars all shot at home, using their personal cell phones and video equipment, in the name of social distancing. In fact, when the Backstreet Boys crooned their 1999 classic "I Want It That Way," they took social distancing to a whole other level, staying way farther apart than just six feet. Instead, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, and Howie Dorough performed as a clever virtual quartet, singing separately in self-quarantine and mingling their five-part harmonies digitally.

BSB weren't the only ones enjoying a virtual jam session. Tim McGraw did a remote poolside performance of "Something Like That," complete with his dog in the background and occasional interfering wind noise, while his isolated bandmates were seen in split-screen effect. Meanwhile, in a very rare (and impressively whistle-tone-embellished) performance of "Always Be My Baby" from Mariah Carey's home studio — dedicated to "dem babies for being so patient and staying here with me at home and not complaining too much" — the diva was joined by her sequestered backup singers and keyboardist Daniel Moore.

A couple other performers got a little more up-close and personal. Billie Eilish celebrated the one-year anniversary of her Grammy-winning debut album by kicking it on the couch with her brother, producer, and co-writer Finneas O'Connell for a laid-back acoustic cover of "Bad Guy," while the currently happily boo'd-up Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello dueted on "My Oh My."

Another famous Billie — Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day — performed, also with dogs nearby, keeping it real and raw as at one point he seemed to forget the lyrics to his own "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." (To be fair, it appeared that one of his dogs distracted him.) Armstrong's fellow '90s icon, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, dedicated "My Hero" to first responders, then advised, "If you sing that last chorus every time you wash your hands, I think you'll be in good shape!" Alicia Keys also dedicated "Underdog" to "the first responders and medical professionals that are risking their lives to keep us safe," while an actual medical professional, Dr. Elvis Francois of the Mayo Clinic, beautifully sang John Lennon's "Imagine" in his scrubs, with his uniformed colleague accompanying him on piano.

Other performers included H.E.R., Demi Lovato, and Sam Smith. The latter sang "How Do You Sleep" a cappella in his London bedroom, sheepishly saying, "I don't play an instrument, so it's just my voice. I hope that's OK." Elton had actually claimed he would not perform due to a lack of instrument and an apparent reluctance to sing a cappella — "I happen to be quarantined in the only house I've ever been in without a piano," he quipped — but at the end of the broadcast he surprised viewers by bringing out his son's portable electric keyboard and playing a bit of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" in his sunlit kitchen.

"Here we are, all together at home. You've got your family and loved ones. I'm keeping mine close too. We're taking care of one another, looking out for each other, doing what we can during this crisis," said John. "There's a lot of grief out there, uncertainty and fear. But let me tell you what's going to keep us together: all the goodness that's still happening in this world. Those doctors, nurses, and scientists on the frontlines. They're living proof that most superheroes don't wear capes. Families finding ways to sing 'Happy Birthday' to loved ones. Teachers writing letters to their students. It's inspiring. It shows us that once we get through these tough times, better days lie ahead."

Watch the full iHeart Living Room Concert for America below:

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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