LATEST: Elton John has fired back at Rupert Everett, who accused the pop star of being "cranky" for criticising the gay pair's mutual pal Madonna.

Elton hit the headlines when he slammed Madonna for lip-syncing at a recent awards dinner in London, prompting Everett to attack the rocker.

But Elton insists his comments at The Q Awards were justified because his friend Madonna beat top live acts The Darkness and Muse to win a Best Live Act honour.

He tells America's Entertainment Weekly magazine, "Rupert obviously needs publicity. He said I should stop being so cranky. Well, I'm not cranky. I just happened to say (it).

"I don't want to escalate it because I like Madonna. She's been to my house for dinner. It was something that was said in the heat of the moment,

"The reaction to it was hysterical. It was like I said I think all gays should be killed or I think HITLER was right."

01/11/2004 10:50