Having an appendectomy performed is something of a minor medical rite of passage for many people, but for Elton John, having his appendix removed also seems to have been a cause for major re-evaluation.

"I knew I was sick, but I didn't know I had such a dangerous thing inside of me until I had a scan," John recalled during a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph. "I could have easily died at any point. Your sense of your mortality kicks in. This is a wake-up call for me, it really is."

With that wake-up call came not only a renewed sense of his own mortality (as he put it, "I'm 66, not 36 anymore"), but also a need to cut back on live performances. "I want to write another musical for Broadway and I want to spend more time with my children," John said. " I don't have to tour. I don't need the money. This has got to stop, this is crazy, why am I doing this? I'm a great believer in signs coming to you in life to tell you something. This appendix thing, it's so lucky I didn’t die. So I'm treating is as a sign in great big letters saying, 'For f--- sake, get a grip!'"

The main thing John would like to get a grip on? Fatherhood. With his oldest son Zachary getting ready to start kindergarten in a couple of years, he says, "I don't want to just be the father who reads them a bedtime story. I want to be one of the dads in the playground, there for parents' evenings, sports day. I've got all that ahead of me and I am so looking forward to it. ... I love every minute of fatherhood, staying up all night, changing nappies, kids crying, I find it really funny and inspiring. It connects you to the world in a new way."

In the meantime, John's latest album, 'The Diving Board,' his first LP of new material since 2010's 'The Union,' comes out on Sept. 24.