Sir Elton John feared he wouldn't be able to perform sober again after his debilitating drug addiction resulted in a year-long hiatus in 1990.
The 'Bennie and the Jets' hitmaker, 72, revealed that the prospect of performing sober became highly distressing following his treatment with Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous.
"After I finally surrendered and decided to seek treatment for my addiction, there came a point when I wondered if I would ever go back to work as Elton John again," the musical icon admitted in an interview for Variety's recovery issue.
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"But at that time, I wasn't thinking too much about being an artist. I had reached the lowest ebb in my life - the absolute bottom."
John said he was consumed by feelings of self-hatred and shame as he abused multiple substances, including alcohol, marijuana and his self-proclaimed "worst best friend", cocaine.
"All I wanted to do was get well. I put all of the energy I had left towards my recovery," he revealed.
Although John took a brief hiatus during his recovery, he was determined to fulfill one scheduled charity concert performance. The prospect of performing with his newfound sobriety "terrified" the artist.
"When the day arrived, I was terrified - but I did manage to get through," he told the outlet.
"It was the only time I stepped on a stage that year, and I had to do it on my own without the band.
"In retrospect, I'm glad I went straight in at the deep end... that show gave me confidence to know that I could still perform sober."
Following his treatment, John completed his 1992 album, The One, and contributed to the Oscar-winning soundtrack for Disney's The Lion King.
The artist acknowledged that he continued to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings while on tour, finding local groups in non-English speaking countries to keep his recovery on track.
John celebrated 29 years of sobriety on July 29 this year, sharing a snap of his sobriety coin to his 2.3 million Instagram followers.
"Twenty-nine years ago today, I was a broken man," he captioned the post. "I finally summoned up the courage to say three words that would change my life: 'I need help.'
"Thank you to all the selfless people who have helped me on my journey through sobriety. I am eternally grateful."
John used his experience to mentor US rapper Eminem through his near-fatal prescription drug addiction in the mid-2000s. Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers, celebrated 11 years of sobriety in April this year.