SIR Elton John decided to put aside his political beliefs and join US President George W Bush to collect a prestigious American culture honour, because he owes his career to the country.

John was a recipient of a Kennedy Centre Honour a year ago (DEC04) and thought it would have been more hypocritical to stay away from the ceremony.

The 58-year-old, who attended the event with his partner David Furnish, says, "It doesn't matter who's in power, the president has nothing to do with choosing it.

"A lot of people said I shouldn't go. But America's given me everything. it was incredible. We did talk to George Bush for 10 minutes about AIDS.

"We were polite. Ultimately, I'm a great one for building bridges rather than higher walls. I'd rather go in and hold out a hand."