The Rock’et Man
Nowadays, the rock of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, is – undeniably – assimilated to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Queen, and some other great names. However, after looking deeper at the influential artists of the rock era, the legendary English singer, pianist and songwriter, Elton John, popped out.
In his earlier years, Sir Elton John was very creative – especially during the 1970s – as he created a music that was modern, outgoing, and energetic. His way of integrating electric guitar and acoustic piano into his music, made an interesting combination as it incredibly well mixed with his low tenor vocal style. With seven consecutive No. 1 albums in the three-and-a-half-year period from 1972 to 1975, Elton John won his place as one of the dominant forces in rock.
Release in October 1973, his seventh album called Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, has earned over the years, the merit to be his most popular and successful album. But before talking about the release and reception of the album, let’s dig into the recording session.
The Rolling Stones’ eleventh album Goats Head Soup, got Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin somehow inspired, as they decided to imitate the band, and went to Kingston, in Jamaica, in order to record John’s new album. Unlike the Rolling Stones, Elton John did not like what the studio offered. The recording system, as well as the material, were outdated, thus John and his team went back to France, where they had previously recorded his two previous records. However, going to Jamaica gave John enough material to write song after song, creating a double album containing seventeen songs, for almost eighty minutes of music.
Elton John’s creativity flourished all the way during the recording of the album. As producer Gus Dudgeon explained, “I was doing the mix and for some weird reason, Elton happened to have hit the opening piano chord of the song exactly one bar before the song actually started. [I thought], ‘It’s the sort of thing that people do on stage just before they’re going to start a song.’ For some reason that chord being there made me think, ‘Maybe we should fake-live this.’ So we did. The whistling is me and some other guys and the applause is taken from when Elton did the Festival Hall, plus a bit of Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle Of Wight.”
Such innate inspiration had no other way but to bring Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, at the number one position on the Billboard 200 chart, for eight weeks. Furthermore, it also hit number one in UK, Canada, and Australia.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin had just created a magnum opus!