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Elton John’s touring life may have come to an end last year with his five-year, 330-concert worldwide Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, but the work continues, including recording new music.

“He’s been working away,” says his husband and manager David Furnish. “I don’t think you’re going to have to wait too long [for new music]. I can’t say when but he’s making real progress. It was important for him when he came off the road to have a little bit of a breather and a break. But he’s always said he’s retiring from touring, but he’s not retiring from working.”

John, who turns 77 on March 25, is physically moving around better than he has in recent years after he suffered mobility issues due to arthritis. He had one knee replaced earlier this year and will have the second done in the spring after he and Furnish co-host the 32nd annual Academy Awards Viewing Party benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in West Hollywood Park. “He’s walking brilliantly,” Furnish said. “Both his knees were bent so badly, but his left knee is now perfectly straight. His right knee is still bent so he’s going to have another surgery in April.”

Joining the couple for the Oscar party hosting duties this year are Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka and Tiffany Haddish. “We feel we can end AIDS by 2030 but we can’t take our foot off the accelerator,” Furnish said.

A performance by R&B-soul-rock trio Gabriels will headline the party following the Oscar telecast. John has been championing the group since being introduced to their music a couple of years ago. In June, John invited Gabriels’ lead singer Jacob Lusk to perform “Are You Ready for Love” with him at the Glastonbury Festival. “I’ve had crazy dreams,” Lusk told Variety. “I’ve dreamed of winning an Oscar, I’ve dreamed of winning a Grammy. I’ve had dreams of living in a $5 million mansion and driving a Maserati. I’ve never dreamed of singing with Elton John at Glastonbury — and in a pink tuxedo! I’ve never dreamed of seeing him play at Dodger Stadium and being asked to go backstage with his family. Never dreamed of that.”

Gabriels will perform a full set at the Academy Awards party with John joining them for a song or two. “Elton will perform with them,” Furnish said. “It’s hard to keep him off the stage.”

Presenting sponsors of the party include A+E Networks, Chopard, Gilead Sciences, Health Care Advocates International, Robert and Dana Kraft, Bob and Tamar Manoukian and Cheryl and Haim Saban.

John’s post-second-knee-surgery plans include opening two stage musicals this year with “The Devil Wears Prada” launching in London and the Tammy Faye Baker bio-musical, “Tammy Faye,” premiering on Broadway.

It was recently announced that Tony nominee Vanessa Williams will star in “Prada” as Miranda Priestly, the role that Meryl Streep played in the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel. Later this month, “Tammy Faye” details, including its theater and dates, will be announced at an event in New York.

“I describe it as ‘Book of Mormon’ meets ‘Evita,’” Furnish said of “Tammy Faye.” “And we’re going to open it in an election year. It’s just the way it kind of worked out. But it’s really interesting given the non-constitutional role that religion is playing in politics today.”

The show includes a scene about the deal Ronald Reagan made to earn Jerry Falwell’s support in the 1980 presidential election. “You didn’t say ‘God’ in the White House until Reagan. Falwell said, ‘I’ll give you 30 million right wing Christian evangelicals voting Republican if you put God back in the White House,’” Furnish explained. “That was never part of the founding principles of America. America ran away from religious persecution to create a free society where people could be equal and free.”



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