Elton John has revealed he could have died at any time while struggling through his European tour unaware he was suffering from appendicitis.
The star told The Sun he feels “grateful to be alive” after discovering the source of his recent “agony”.
A series of shows including a headline performance at London’s Hyde Park have been cancelled as he prepares to undergo surgery in the next few weeks.
He is receiving intensive treatment to contain the condition after a series of scans and blood tests by UK doctors to identify the source of his ill health.
Elton, 66, told the newspaper: “I was a ticking time bomb. I guess I could have died at any time.
“I feel so lucky and grateful to be alive.”
The veteran musician said he performed 10 concerts in pain, which he had thought was due to food poisoning, but was finally forced to walk off stage during a concert in Halle, Germany, on Friday.
Doctors advised him to cancel all the dates on his current tour.
A statement on behalf of the singer said he had been diagnosed with an “appendix abscess surrounding retrocaecal appendicitis”.
He is expected to undergo surgery in the UK in the next few weeks when doctors are sure they have reduced toxins around the inflamed appendix sufficiently.
The singer’s spokesman said Elton will not return to touring until fully recovered from the surgery and the damage caused by th abscess.
He went on: “Elton is incredibly disappointed to postpone these tour dates. To know that he made such super-human efforts and continued to perform to thousands through his illness only confirms his dedication to his European fans.
“He is eager to be back on top form and return to play the remaining shows starting in early September 2013.”
It is the latest health scare for the chart star.
Last year he cancelled a number of shows as a result of a respiratory infection which struck him during a series of US dates. He also missed concerts due to a bout of food poisoning.
In 1999 he had a pacemaker fitted after doctors found he had an irregular heartbeat.
Elton has recently been promoting his forthcoming album 'The Diving Board', which is due to be released in September.
It is his first studio recording of new solo material since his 2006 album 'The Captain & The Kid'. His most recent album was his 2010 collaboration with Leon Russell, called 'The Union'.