Sir Elton John launched his namesake Aids Foundation as a way of making up for his years of oblivion as friends died from the disease.
The rocker has raised millions for the fight against Aids through his charity work, but he still wishes he had done more earlier in his life when the epidemic first started claiming the lives of pals.
Elton tells U.S. newsman Matt Lauer he was too drug-addled and "self-absorbed" to pay attention to the breakout of Aids.
In a Today show TV special, he says, "I wasted such a big part of my life. When this epidemic was beginning to happen in the early 1980s, I was a drug addict and self-absorbed; I was having people die right, left and centre around me, friends, and yet I didn't stop the life that I had."
The Rocket Man tells Lauer he even continued having unsafe sex, despite the warning signs - because he was too high to heed the advice of friends.