John was also serenaded by H.E.R, Brandi Carlile and Demi Lovato, who performed a special tribute for the musical legend

By Tomás Mier
May 27, 2021 10:15 PM
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A star accolade for the Rocketman!

During Thursday's iHeartRadio Music Awards 2021, Elton John received the highly coveted Icon Award from Lil Nas X and Chris Martin. John used his speech to talk about young artists as he praised Lil Nas X.

"I'm very humbled because when I first came to Los Angeles in 1970, radio was so important. I'd never heard of radio in America before because I've never been here before, but it was just incredible to me. In England, we had one station," the 74-year-old said.

"Being played on the radio, for the first time, you hear yourself and you're so excited. What this award means is that I still cover new artists," he added. "That's what my life's about now. And when I do my shows, I try and promote young artists because they need exposure, they need the radio. I've had my time, as they say. I'm still glad people play my records, and I love that."

Elton John
Elton John
| Credit: fox

The Rocketman then had some special words for Lil Nas X, who presented him the award.

"He is a wonderful artist and has balls of steel," he said.

"Thank you for all your loyalty and love," he ended his speech.

Be sure to check out PEOPLE's iHeartRadio Music Awards coverage to get the latest news on music's big night.

iHeartRadio 2021 Arrivals
Lil Nas X
| Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty

Before accepting his award and being honored with a musical tribute from H.E.R, Brandi Carlile and Demi Lovato, Martin gave a speech by poking fun at the singer and joking that he got into a fistfight with the "teleprompter guy."

"I don't really know anything about Elton John, and I'm just gonna read what iHeart wrote for me. So, fingers crossed," Martin started. "He and his collaborator Bernie Sanders lived, worked and lived together in an apartment that his partner David furnished. He has some beautiful children. He also has children that are his songs. Who can forget such classics as 'Uptown Girl.'"

elton john
David Furnish and Elton John
| Credit: Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

"And my favorite Elton songs are the romances, particularly the one he wrote for his husband's parents, 'Don't Let Your Son Go Down on Me,'" he joked.

After a sizzle reel of John's accomplishments and career, Lil Nas X hit the stage to introduce the icon.

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"To me, he's a trailblazer who paved the way for people to live their lives freely and unapologetically. He's inspired me and so many other people by just being himself, being larger than life, flashy and fearless, especially when he's in front of that piano," Lil Nas X said. "On behalf of all the people around the world you have inspired, Thank you. Even if you didn't need to be a role model, you are."

This isn't the first time John has been awarded an award of this magnitude. He became the first-ever to win the Icon Award at the Brits back in 2013.

At the time, he dedicated his award to his husband Bernie Taupin.

"I wouldn't be here without [him]," he said then, before adding, "I'm addicted to playing live. I've played 92 countries, and I want to play 100. That's just the way I'm programmed."

The iHeartRadio Music Awards are jam-packed with performances from the likes of Doja Cat, The Weeknd featuring Ariana Grande and Usher, who is also hosting the show.

The iHeartRadio Music Awards are airing live from Los Angeles from 8-10 p.m. ET on FOX.