Elton John (left) and music manager John Reid attending a party held by Whitney Houston in London
Photo credits to Dave Hogan

John Reid - the famed manager in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Rocketman' films


One of the historical figures depicted in the hit Queen biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was John Reid, played by Aidan Gillen. In the film, he was not portrayed as a very likeable man.

Reid will also be making an appearance in Elton John's upcoming biopic, Rocketman, portrayed by 'Bodyguard' actor, Richard Madden. But who is John Reid? What was he famous for?

Aidan Gillen as John Reid in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

Well, he started his career in 1967 at the mere age of 18, as a promoter for EMI. He then became the Tamla Motown label manager for the UK a year later.

Three years later in 1971, Reid set up his own company with only a few hundred pounds in savings and a £5,000 loan. He went on to manage Elton John from the 1970s until 1998, and managed Queen from 1975 to 1978.

Sometime in 1974, just before he became the manager for Queen, Reid got into a fight with a journalist in a New Zealand nightclub over "the lack of whiskey at a press launch" and was sentenced to prison for a month.

In 1994, he was also the manager for 'Riverdance' star, Michael Flatley. After Flatley left 'Riverdance' and ended his relationship with Reid, Flatley paid Reid approximately £1 million to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Reid then retired from management in 1999 and became a judge for 'Australian X Factor' in 2005. 

Reid had a romantic relationship with Elton John while he managed him - the pair originally met at a Motown Christmas party and later moved in with each other and became lovers. 

Richard Madden as John Reid in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

John Reid (left) and Elton John
John Reid (left) and Elton John (Photo by M. Fresco)

This personal relationship ended after five years, but Reid continued to manage Elton until 1998. Their professional relationship sadly ended over a leaked letter from Elton's accountants, which detailed Reid's spending, which was found by Benjamin Pell and published in the 'Daily Mirror'. This led to legal action in the year 2000 with Reid settling out of court by paying Elton £3.4 million.

Reid was a big part of both the Queen band and Elton John's lives, which you can get a glimpse of in both biopic films. 

Rocketman is due out 31st May this year.