By Kate Ward
March 23, 2011 at 06:39 PM EDT
Kevin Mazur/

Following the death of close friend Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John has paid tribute to the Oscar-winning actress. Said the singer in a statement: “We have just lost a Hollywood giant, but more importantly we have lost an incredible human being.  Elizabeth Taylor earned her fame with her extraordinary talent as a young actress, making her first movie at the tender age of nine.  She earned our adoration for her stunning beauty and for being the very essence of glamorous movie stardom.  And she earned our enduring love and respect for her compassion and her courage in standing up and speaking out about AIDS when others preferred to bury their heads in the sand.” John and Taylor had worked side-by-side while raising money for AIDS. Taylor even had her own charity: Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. (The charity issued the following statement on their website about Taylor: “We mourn the loss of legendary actress, businesswoman, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor. If you want to honor the memory of Elizabeth, you may do so either by making a contribution in her name to the foundation or by posting a personal message here.”)

David Furnish, the chairman of the Elton John AIDS foundation, also issued a separate statement: “In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Elizabeth Taylor was a force of nature.  She compelled people to listen, made them respond, and urged them to act.  She gave comfort to the dying, roundly condemned the stigma associated with AIDS, and was fiercely critical of the government’s sluggish, reluctant response to the epidemic.”

For more on Liz Taylor and her storied life both on-screen and off, pick up the issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands April 1.

Read more:

Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79

All About Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor: 11 Roles for the Ages

Elizabeth Taylor: What’s your favorite role?

Elizabeth Taylor movie tribute marathon to air on TCM

Elizabeth Taylor: The unpublished photos from

Elizabeth Taylor: Mike Nichols pays tribute

Cover Story: 60 Years of Liz (1992)

Book Review: Donald Spoto’s A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (1995)

Book Review: C. David Heymann’s Liz (1995)

Encore: When Elizabeth Taylor met Richard Burton on the Cleopatra set

Encore: Cleopatra becomesHollywood’s costliest flop

Photo Gallery: Rare, behind-the-scenes photos from Elizabeth Taylor’s 1956 classic Giant

Encore: Remembering Elizabeth Taylor’s First Divorce, from Nicky Hilton