SIR Elton John loved late jazz star NINA SIMONE - because she was "the diva of divas".

The pop star has poured out his heart about his heroine as part of his monthly column in America's INTERVIEW magazine, waxing lyrical about her performance last year (02) at New York's RAINFOREST FOUNDATION benefit concert.

He writes, "We were going to do a George Harrison tribute, and Nina had done a great version of HERE COMES THE SUN. I said, 'I don't care how much of a handful she might be, if we get her we'll never see the likes of it again.'

"She may have done one or two shows after that one, but I knew when I saw her that night she wouldn't be performing much again.

"At the end of the show, she and Patti Labelle were sitting at the front of the stage and Nina was crying, and the audience stood for her.

"I think she realised that people loved her and that maybe this was the last time she was going to perform in public like this.

"She was the diva of divas."

The MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME singer died this spring (03), aged 70.

15/07/2003 08:55