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Who Is Elton John's Ex-Wife, Renate Blauel — And Why Is She Suing Him?

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Who Is Elton John's Ex-Wife, Renate Blauel — And Why Is She Suing Him?

Lots of people loved getting an insider's look at the life Elton John in his 2019 memoir Me and the movie Rocketman. But one person was decidedly unhappy with the details of his life being publicized in that intimate way: his ex-wife Renate Blauel. 

Blauel was married to the legendary musician for four years in the 1980s. At the time, John identified as bisexual and the relationship with a woman seemed in character for the singer. By the time they split up, he was only interested in pursuing relationships with men.

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Blauel never shared her side of the story because she is averse to attention and retreated from public life after their split in 1988. She has taken great pains to live anonymously in the decades since then but her privacy was damaged when the retrospectives about John's life were released. She is now suing John for breaking agreements they made at the time of their divorce to protect her privacy.

Who is Elton John's ex-wife, Renate Blauel?

Read all about the suit and her life since the divorce. 

Who is Renate Blauel?

Blauel was a music industry pro but not a performer. The German native worked as a sound technician who was part of the production team for John's 1983 album Too Low For Zero. The two met in the studio and became close. She even traveled with him on his tour to promote the album and he proposed to her in 1984. They were married in Australia later that year. However, the marriage didn't last. They announced they were planning to divorce in 1988. The split came in part because John's travel schedule meant they didn't see each other enough to maintain a relationship. The other major reason was that Elton John was ready to embrace being gay, after years of identifying as bisexual. 

Blauel values her privacy.

Being married to, and divorced from, a major superstar brings a type of public scrutiny that Blauel never really embraced. As part of the divorce settlement, she asked for legally binding privacy clauses that barred John from sharing details of their life together. Elton John also reportedly bought Blauel a house in Surrey where she could retreat after their divorce. While Surrey isn't completely cut off from the world, it is far enough away from the London tabloids  that Blauel could expect a nice degree of privacy living there. Later, she moved back to Germany to care for her aging parents. 

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In fact, Blauel changed her name for privacy's sake. 

Blauel was so serious about not spending the rest of her life being known as the Former Mrs. Elton John that she legally changed her name. Her current moniker is a secret so that reporters can't track her easily and she can presumably live her life as anonymously as she likes. For the sake of the recently filed lawsuit, she is using her old name, probably because that is the name that appears on all the relevant divorce documents cited in the court papers. She has allegedly also taken steps to change her appearance so that people didn't recognize her from old photos from her married days. 

She thinks Rocketman was a huge invasion of her privacy.

Protecting her hard-won privacy is the reason behind the suit. Blauel, who is now 66 years old, asserts that John's 2019 memoir Me and the film about Elton's life Rocketman revealed details about her life and their marriage that she never wanted made public. She allegedly even had the singer and his publisher remove passages from the book. She claims she was never consulted about being portrayed in the film and was horrified by the way their marriage was characterized. "In her mind, the film seeks to portray their marriage as a sham," her lawyers assert, "Which she wholeheartedly disputes and considers a false and disrespectful portrayal of their time together."


A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on Jun 30, 2019 at 7:18am PDT

Blauel did not like how the film portrayed her marriage.

Blauel and Elton John wanted kids while they were together.

One of the things Blauel disputes is the idea that she and her ex-husband didn't want kids. John indicates that starting a family was never part of their marriage plans but Blauel says otherwise. She reportedly claims that they "did attempt to have children during their relationship but were unable to do so."

John eventually went on to have two children with husband David Furnish. Blauel reportedly has a partner but she hasn't shared any information about that person with the media. 

Media attention then and now is devastating for Blauel.

Blauel's lawyers say that the divorce was hard on the sound engineer and she struggled with her mental health in the years after. She even had to undergo electric shock therapy to help her in the aftermath. Finding a private space to live in the decades that followed was beneficial to her. But the movies and book drove a new interest in her life and reporters started trying to track her down. The intrusion of the media in her life caused a serious relapse of her mental health symptoms including  “recurring nightmares, agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, fear, and has had to relive her past constantly”. 

Blauel's lawsuit may be for as much as $3 million. 

Blauel's lawyers say the damages Blaeuel is seeking are mainly to cover legal fees and the cost of the mental health treatment she has needed in the past couple of years. The figure could be as high as $3 million.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.