Elton John Gets Candid About Baby Zachary & Fallout From Billy Joel Rehab Comments

Between raising a newborn and executive producing Disney’s new animated film, “Gnomeo & Juliet,” Elton John has had his hands full – and the rocker says that he’s loving every minute of it.

“We had Zachary on Christmas Day which was really wonderful. That’s why he’s got the name Levon, because in the song ‘Levon’ it says, ‘He was born a pauper to a pawn on Christmas Day,’” Elton told NBC’s Matt Lauer about his new son’s moniker in an interview on the “Today” show on Thursday. “[Zachary] is great. I’m getting on a plane shortly after this to go see him… I can’t wait to see him today.”

Elton and his husband, David Furnish, welcomed the baby boy — Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John — born via surrogate, nearly two months ago and the singer said he’s received a bit of flack for having a child so late in life.

“I’m 63,” Elton told Matt. “People say, ‘You waited a little too long.’… It is the most challenging and the most responsible thing you can do is to bring up a child and I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to try it.’

“And I’m sure as much as I can give him, he’s going to give me a thousand-fold back,” he added. “Already, in seven weeks he’s done that.”

The “Benny and the Jets” crooner also made headlines in early February when he characterized his former touring partner Billy Joel’s rehab stints as “light” – something Billy has not taken quite as “lightly.”

“[Billy] hates me at the moment and I understand why,” Elton told Matt. “He sent me a message and he’s not happy and I understand that. I really love the guy — I just am concerned.

“He’s going to hate me… he’s not going be happy with me, but it comes from a place of love,” he continued. “I’m sorry I had to say it, but I said it because I really want Billy to live a long life and be very happy. I understand why he’s pissed with me and I can take that on the chin.”

As someone who has battled drug and alcohol abuse as well, Elton said he understands Billy’s angry reaction.

“Years ago when I was using and people tried to tell me, I didn’t talk to them for years,” Elton told Matt. “Now, I look back and they were only trying to help. And I’m only trying to help. Maybe I should’ve done it privately, but I’ve been so frustrated over the years at some of the things.

“I do love him and I want to stress that,” he added. “He may want to punch my face in at the moment, but it’s OK,” he added.

However, Billy responded to Elton’s “Today” show comments on Thursday afternoon (in a statement released by the “Uptown Girl” singer’s publicist to Rolling Stone), saying:

“1. I do not hate Elton John
2. I do not want to “punch him in the face”
3. If he wants to call me, my number is still the same.
4. Good luck with the movie.

Elton’s animated film, “Gnomeo & Juliet,” featuring a duet with Elton and Lady Gaga, hits theaters on Friday.

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