“Elton John’s Greatest Hits” reaches #1

“Elton John’s Greatest Hits” reaches #1

On November 30, 1974, Elton John’s Greatest Hits began a 10-week run atop the Billboard 200 pop album chart on its way to selling more than 24 million copies worldwide.

Elton John was born and raised as Reginald Dwight in suburban London, and if you’d rearranged his DNA or his childhood environment just a bit, he might have become an RAF fighter pilot instead of one of the biggest pop stars of all time. His father, Stanley, wanted young Reginald to follow his footsteps into the British military, but his mother Shirley Dwight’s Elvis Presley records sparked his interest in rock and roll, and her uncritical devotion made it possible for the bespectacled boy to pursue his dream of rock stardom without discouragement. And he displayed remarkable tenacity in pursuing that dream, even to the point of ruining his vision by wearing a pair of Buddy Holly-style eyeglasses until his eyes adjusted to their strong prescription.

An accomplished pianist with a gift for composing original melodies, Reg Dwight toured extensively with a band called Bluesology while still a teenager in the mid-1960s, but his path toward stardom really began when he landed a 9-to-5 songwriting job at DJM Records in 1967 and was paired with a lyricist named Bernie Taupin. Taking the stage-name Elton John in 1969, Dwight began recording original material written with Taupin while still turning out bland, commercial ballads by the hundreds as part of his day job. His debut album, Empty Sky (1969) failed to catch on in the UK and was not released in the United States until years later, but his follow-up, Elton John (1970), was a breakthrough smash thanks to “Your Song,” his first top-20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Over the next four years, John would produce new material at a rate that is utterly astonishing by today’s standards. Prior to the November 1974 release of Elton John’s Greatest Hits, he released six full-length studio albums—Tumbleweed Connection (1970), Madman Across the Water (1971), Honky Château (1972), Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) and Caribou (1974)—and scored 14 American top 40 hits, 10 of which were included on the greatest-hits album that reached #1 on this day in 1974.

Over the subsequent decades of his phenomenal career, Elton John would release further volumes of greatest hits, sell tens of millions of albums worldwide and establish an American chart record that may never be equaled by placing at least one hit on the Billboard Top 40 in each of 30 consecutive years from 1970 through 1999.

Greatest Hits (Elton John album)

Greatest Hits is the eleventh official album release for Elton John, and the first compilation. Released in November 1974, it spans the years 1970 to 1974, compiling ten of John's singles, with one track variation for releases in North America and for Europe and Australia. It topped the album chart in both the United States and the United Kingdom, staying at number one for ten consecutive weeks in the former nation and eleven weeks in the latter. It was the best-selling album of 1975 in the United States, and is his second best-selling album to date, being his first to have received an RIAA diamond certification for US sales of more than 10 million copies – as of April 2016 the album has been certified for 17 million units in the US. [3] It remains John's best-selling album in the U.S. and one of the best-selling albums of all time, with 24 million copies sold worldwide. [4] However, although all of its songs are available as downloads, the album is currently out of print, having been superseded by four other greatest hits releases over the years The Very Best of Elton John in 1990, Greatest Hits 1970–2002 in 2002, Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits in 2007 and Diamonds in 2017.

The 30 Best Elton John Songs, Ranked

You don't like No. 1? Well, I guess that's why they call it the blues.

Where does someone even start when making their way through the expansive catalogue of Elton John's music? That's about as easy of a question as the one that follows: which song is the best? With a career spanning five decades, over 50 Top 40 hits, and 300 million records sold, it's not like finding a good Elton John song is particularly difficult. But of the whole crop, the flamboyant rocker has had a few that seem to rise to the top of the heap. From the song that serves as the name for his 2019 biopic, to the album that started his career, here are the 30 best songs to come from one of the greatest musicians of all time.

As insane as it sounds, the 1990 track &ldquoSacrifice&rdquo was one of John's only few No. 1 hits in the U.K. (his first as a solo artist&mdashno, that&rsquos not a typo). The song is a major departure from John&rsquos early work, leaning much harder in the soft rock style that was popular in the early '90s. "Sacrifice" is somewhat of an anti-love song, chronicling the sad end of a relationship.

&ldquoEgo&rdquo is a strange deep cut that shows off a bit of Elton John&rsquos glam rock side. It wasn&rsquot particularly well received, but the curious train whistle effect and dizzying piano is proof that John wasn&rsquot ever fearful of playing with his style. This did preempt a strange disco age, but even some of John&rsquos biggest swings are still more commendable than other artists' safe moves.

&ldquoMadman Across the Water&rdquo wasn&rsquot released as a single, but it highlights how powerful Elton John&rsquos vocals can be when stripped down from the excitement of rock guitars and playful pianos. While John is mostly known for his soft rock and rock pop hits, "Madman Across the Water" gives a little more of a glimpse into his purely rock artistry.

"Honky Cat&rdquo is its own beast. The funky, horn-laden hit of the early '70s is sandwiched between two other mega hits, but it&rsquos hard to compare the odd mix of electric piano and wheezing saxophone to any other single in Elton's songbook. It's easily one of the tracks he has the most fun with, but it's not as much of a standout as the song that followed it, "Crocodile Rock."

An early '80s hit, &ldquoI Guess That&rsquos Why They Call It The Blues,&rdquo shows off a slower side of Elton John. After a strange late '70s turn to disco, the pseudo-ballad pushed John back into the spotlight. The song reached No. 4 and remains one of his greatest hits. Of all his early '80s ballads, this is one that manages to push Elton in a new direction while carrying a big dose of the past along with him.

The duet with Kiki Dee came at a time when John was careening toward bonafide superstar status. This was John&rsquos sixth No. 1 hit in the States, and the first No. 1 for both him and Dee. He later re-released the song as a duet with RuPaul (even dancier and more fabulous), but the original remains canon. The 1976 hit was Elton John and Bernie Taupin at their best: catchy music and ear worm lyrics that stand the test of time.

No, Elton John's version doesn&rsquot start with that signature yell, but his performance of The Lion King&rsquos opening track is iconic in its own way. It&rsquos also worth noting that neither version of the song would have existed without John, who composed the music for the mega hit. Nominated for an Academy Award, it ultimately lost when another of John&rsquos entry beat it. Thanks a lot, &ldquoCan You Feel the Love Tonight?&rdquo

A hat tip to one of the greats, Elton John&rsquos &ldquoEmpty Garden&rdquo is a perfect tribute to his late friend, John Lennon. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics to the single that calls back to the relationship between John and Lennon, with reference to the mountain of flowers that mourners left for John in the wake of his death.

It&rsquos a perfect response to the changing times. After a tumultuous '70s, a disco album misstep, and a tonal shift in the musical landscape, &ldquoI&rsquom Still Standing&rdquo was John&rsquos response to the threat of becoming irrelevant. Still working with Bernie Taupin, the lyrics and rhythm were early proof that John had what it took to last the long haul. Five decades into his career, and John is standing taller than ever before.

&ldquoGrey Seal&rdquo kicks off with the exciting piano that John is so well known for. While this is an excellent example of what John and Taupin can do together, it&rsquos so easy to overlook on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road&mdashan album so weighted down with iconic hits that a good song appears mediocre in comparison.

The 10-minute opening track of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road really sets the tone for the 1973 album. Composed by John as what music he might like at his funeral (?!), the swelling rock and classical instrumental stretched how innovative the rocker was. The back half of the song moves into a piano-heavy vibe that sounds a bit more like the bombastic rock hits that John released later in the '70s. Even better, it was never released as a single, yet stands out as an essential John hit (on an album full of bangers, no less).

In the canon of Elton songs, you can&rsquot overlook his contributions to the Disney songbook. &ldquoCan You Feel the Love Tonight?&rdquo is the kind of ballad that could have gotten swallowed up in the Disney machine as an accompanying song to a blockbuster, but John isn&rsquot one to be overshadowed. &ldquoCan You Feel the Love Tonight?&rdquo is proof that the larger than life singer was as iconic as The Lion King itself.

&ldquoTake Me to the Pilot&rdquo is just a damn good song. The heavy piano and strings that kick off the single are a perfect marriage of the energy of the late '60s and the emerging rock culture coming in the '70s. It also served as one of John&rsquos first major hits both in the U.K. and the United States. With that being said, the lyrics make absolutely no sense. That&rsquos not particularly a bad thing because ultimately &ldquoTake Me to the Pilot&rdquo keeps your foot tapping until its final seconds. It also initially outperformed its A-side counterpart&mdashmore on that below.

The mid-'80s hit from John is a bit of a strange one. He captures the '80s in all its glory, with a catchy tune and a bit of keyboard, but in some ways, it seems the least like the rocker. His signature glasses are missing from the music video, as well as the album cover. The single feels like a turning point in John&rsquos career, departing from the in your face liveliness of past hits. Either way, the single is a banger in its own right.

This mid-'70s hit was another of John&rsquos long list of No. 1 hits. Fun fact: Elton John wrote the song as a favor to tennis legend Billie Jean King, who played for the Philadelphia Freedoms. Yeah, Elton is a major tennis fan. Who knew?

A gut punch of a ballad, the original 1974 hit tells the story of Elton John finding rejection from someone he once cared about. It&rsquos a power play that didn&rsquot just see success with its original release, but again in the '90s when John re-released the song as a duet with George Michael. Drum heavy and full of big notes, it&rsquos a must have on any Elton playlist.

Coming off of &ldquoHonky Cat,&rdquo Elton John&rsquos follow up single took some of those funky vibes of the early '70s and produced one of the biggest hits of his career. The organ-heavy single is early rock and roll magic, but unlike some of John&rsquos other greatest singles, it didn&rsquot take years for audiences to put that together. &ldquoCrocodile Rock&rdquo snagged John his first American No. 1. And outside of Queen, it&rsquos hard to think of a more identifiable falsetto in the game.

&ldquoSorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word&rdquo opens up with 20 seconds of pared down piano before Elton John sadly croons, &ldquoWhat do I gotta do to make you love me?&rdquo If that doesn&rsquot cut to your core, why are you here? The beauty of Elton John is that 70 percent of the time, he brings the party. But on the off chance that you&rsquore looking for a single to hit deep, he knows how to take you there. In this case, it&rsquos in the most devastating way.

Written as a late-game memorial for Marilyn Monroe (and later repurposed for the death of Diana, Princess of Wales), &ldquoCandle in the Wind&rdquo is among John&rsquos best-known hits. It tells the true story of Monroe, who was plagued by paparazzi and the onslaught of media attention. Taupin&rsquos lyrics directly address the starlet and her untimely passing, saying, &ldquoEven when you died, the press still hounded you. All the papers say is that Marilyn was found in the nude.&rdquo

This early-'70s soft rock track was written by Taupin after seeing a story about a man who returned home to Texas from the Vietnam War. "Daniel" highlights the storytelling capability that Taupin brings to so much of John&rsquos music.

Face it: it&rsquos impossible to dislike &ldquoSaturday Night&rsquos (Alright For Fighting).&rdquo The single is one Elton John&rsquos most commercially successful and the encapsulation of his '70s rock vibes. The single&rsquos lyrics are another product of Bernie Taupin&rsquos genius, setting a perfect background for a night out on the town. Pair that with some heavy guitars and a fast-paced beat, and you've got one of the best hype up jams in history. Another big hit from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, "Fighting" manages to stand out among the crop. Saturday! Saturday!

If this were a Bernie Taupin lyric ranking, &ldquoYour Song&rdquo may have very well landed at No. 1. Of all of Elton John&rsquos songs, &ldquoYour Song&rdquo is handily his best love ballad, simplistic in lyrics and downplayed in melody. The song was initially less successful than the B-Side &ldquoTake Me to the Pilot,&rdquo but time has recognized the single as the powerhouse it is. Anything more musically or lyrically complex and the sheer beauty of &ldquoYour Song&rdquo might have been overshadowed. Sometimes, the ornamentation isn&rsquot necessary when a message can stand alone.

&ldquoThe Bitch is Back&rdquo is pure glam rock. It&rsquos the perfect encapsulation of John&rsquos flashy exterior and his penchant for pushing the buttons of more conservative listeners. The single initially had trouble getting airplay on account of its racy title, but John remained unmoved. The guitar-heavy track is fun, dancey, and iconically Elton John. Bonus: listen to Tina Turner&rsquos very good cover of it.

To be honest, no one in history (maybe not even Elton) knows the full lyrics to this song. But &ldquoBennie and the Jets&rdquo is karaoke royalty. Piano bar gospel. Elton John perfected. Even if you&rsquore not an Elton fan (is that a thing?), you can&rsquot help but join in when &ldquob-b-b-Bennie and the jets&rdquo hits. It also, unsurprisingly, landed John another No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Sometimes it&rsquos hard to reconcile commercial popularity with artistry, but I&rsquod dare anyone to compile a list of Elton John songs and not have &ldquoBennie&rdquo in the top 10.

&ldquoTiny Dancer&rdquo is beyond analysis. Mix a little bit of Taupin&rsquos storytelling (allegedly, the song is about his wife), a little bit of country twang, and that signature Elton John piano, and you&rsquore left with one of John&rsquos biggest hits. The 1971 mega single is the encapsulation of John&rsquos early career, yet somehow only managed to only make it to 41 on the Billboard charts. Oh, and don&rsquot even start with the Tony Danza jokes. &ldquoTiny Dancer&rdquo demands more respect.

&ldquoRocket Man&rdquo is iconic Elton John. (The movie was named Rocketman, after all) The spacey song wasn&rsquot particularly a hit when it first came out (shocking, right?) but its storytelling and Bowie-esque vibes place &ldquoRocket Man&rdquo among his greatest singles. Squarely in the timeline of John and Bernie Taupin&rsquos collaborative heyday, the deep impact &ldquoRocket Man&rdquo had on the course of John&rsquos career and rock history is undeniable.

"Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters&rdquo comes with a little bias on this ranker's end. The beautifully written ballad serves as songwriter Bernie Taupin&rsquos snap judgment of New York City&mdasha spotlight on the grueling metropolis that can lean a little more gritty than welcoming. The song&rsquos lyrics gives a nod to Ben E. King&rsquos hit &ldquoSpanish Harlem&rdquo in its opening lines, while John&rsquos musical composition provides a masterclass on all that can be done in a five minute song. &ldquoMona Lisa and Mad Hatters&rdquo doesn&rsquot offer a sweet resolution like many of John&rsquos other songs, making it all the more powerful.

If a last minute switch happened and &ldquoGoodbye Yellow Brick Road&rdquo slid by and landed at No. 1 on this list, you&rsquod be hard pressed to find someone who&rsquod disagree with the decision. The titular song off John&rsquos seventh studio album is often regarded as one of the singer&rsquos best. Calling back to a simpler time, &ldquoRoad&rsquos&rdquo message feels both incredibly personal and uniquely universal. Plus, who doesn&rsquot love a solid Wizard of Oz reference? It's hard being the single that leads an album, but if there were ever one to carry an album across the finish line, it's this one.

Off Madman Across the Water, &ldquoLevon&rdquo is a top tier Elton John single. It&rsquos not the most commercially successful, nor is it his most well-known, but it&rsquos hard proof of what can happen when Taupin&rsquos lyrics and John&rsquos compositions come together in perfect harmony. The single is laced with piano and strings, as John gives one of the strongest vocal performances of his career. The lyrics tell a magically dizzying story about a man named Levon and his son named Jesus. To be frank, the lyrics are wide open for interpretation and have been the root of speculation for years, but even with no clear answers about what they mean, the single is a standout in John&rsquos expansive collection.

In terms of story alone, this is John and Taupin's greatest. &ldquoSomeone Saved My Life Tonight&rdquo is the brave autobiographical story of John&rsquos attempted suicide. If there&rsquos a single that offers a testament to the bond that John and Bernie Taupin share, it's this one. John entrusted his story to Taupin and the result is a breathtaking cut that combines the heady vibes of '70s pop rock and the deepest vulnerability a human can expose. The song clocks in at well over six minutes, but John reportedly wouldn&rsquot allow any to be cut. That move proved to be beneficial, with the 1975 single peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. The song is more than a pop hit&mdashit&rsquos an anthem of survival, resilience, and being able to throw a finger to the vices that nearly ruin our souls. There are bigger Elton songs that people know every word to, but no song in his songbook captures his range as an artist like "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

Tuchel makes managerial history as Chelsea reach Champions League final

Thomas Tuchel has become the first manager to reach the European Cup or Champions League final in successive seasons with different clubs.

Chelsea defeated Real Madrid 2-0 on Wednesday in their semi-final second leg, sealing a 3-1 aggregate win and a place in the final alongside Manchester City.

Tuchel led PSG to last year's Champions League final, seeing his side fall 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Editors' Picks

What was said?

When BT Sport posited that Tuchel must be doing something right to have achieved such a feat, the manager said with a laugh: "Or not because it's not the same club! It depends who you ask."

Tuchel added: "I'm very happy that we've achieved this. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to live my life in football and this passion as a profession.

"So grateful to do it on this level and to get to another final, I'm very grateful for that."

Managerial change pays off again for Chelsea

Chelsea have now reached their third Champions League final and in all three seasons they have done so, they sacked their manager mid-season.

In 2007-08, Jose Mourinho left the club and was replaced by Avram Grant, who helped Chelsea to the European showpiece. The Blues fell in penalties against Manchester United that season.

The Blues also reached the 2011-12 final under a new boss, with Andre Villas-Boas sacked mid-season and replaced by Roberto Di Matteo, who led Chelsea to victory over Bayern Munich in the final.

History has now repeated itself after Tuchel took over for Frank Lampard in January. The German has led Chelsea to the FA Cup and Champions League finals and has the club on course for a top-four finish in the Premier League as well.

Managerial change hasn't only helped Chelsea in the Champions League though, as six of the club's last seven European finals have come after sacking their head coach during the season. Only in 2018-19, when Maurizio Sarri won the Europa League with the Blues, has a mid-season change not been made.

1 - @TTuchelofficial (@ChelseaFC) is the 1st manager in the history of #ChampionsLeague and European Cup to reach the final in consecutive seasons with different clubs. Versatile. #CHERMA pic.twitter.com/QRc1zAYqOx

Tuchel solidifies Chelsea's defence

Much of Tuchel's success at Stamford Bridge stems from his ability to strengthen his side's back line.

Chelsea kept just 26 clean sheets in 84 games under Frank Lampard – managing the feat 31 per cent of the time. Under Tuchel, the Blues have kept 18 clean sheets in 24 matches – 75% of the time.


The Big Thing Edit

The group now known as Chicago began on February 15, 1967, at a meeting involving saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath, drummer Danny Seraphine, trombonist James Pankow, trumpet player Lee Loughnane, and keyboardist/singer Robert Lamm. Kath, Parazaider, and Seraphine had played together previously in two other groups—Jimmy Ford and the Executives, and the Missing Links. [21] : 29–49 Parazaider, Pankow and Loughnane met as students at DePaul University. [21] : 48–49 Lamm, a student at Roosevelt University, [22] was recruited from his group, Bobby Charles and the Wanderers. [21] : 49 The group of six called themselves the Big Thing, and like most other groups playing in Chicago nightclubs, played Top 40 hits. Realizing the need for both a tenor to complement baritones Lamm and Kath, and a bass player because Lamm's use of organ bass pedals did not provide "adequate bass sound", local tenor and bassist Peter Cetera was invited to join the Big Thing in late 1967. [23] [21] : 58–59

Chicago Transit Authority and early success Edit

While gaining some success as a cover band, the group began working on original songs. In June 1968, at manager James William Guercio's request, the Big Thing moved to Los Angeles, California, [24] signed with Columbia Records and changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority. [5] It was while performing on a regular basis at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood that the band got exposure to more famous musical artists of the time. [25] Subsequently, they were the opening act for Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. [21] : 77–78,106–107 [26] As related to group biographer, William James Ruhlmann, by Walt Parazaider, Jimi Hendrix once told Parazaider, " 'Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me. ' " [26]

Their first record (April 1969), Chicago Transit Authority, is a double album, which is rare for a band's first release. The album made it to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 album chart, [11] sold over one million copies by 1970, and was awarded a platinum disc. [27] The album included a number of pop-rock songs – "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Beginnings", "Questions 67 and 68", and "I'm a Man" – which were later released as singles. For this inaugural recording effort the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for 1969 Best New Artist of the Year. [14]

According to Cetera, the band was booked to perform at Woodstock in 1969, but promoter Bill Graham, with whom they had a contract, exercised his right to reschedule them to play at the Fillmore West on a date of his choosing, and he scheduled them for the Woodstock dates. Santana, which Graham also managed, took Chicago's place at Woodstock, [28] and that performance is considered to be Santana's "breakthrough" gig. [29] A year later, in 1970, when he needed to replace headliner Joe Cocker, and then Cocker's intended replacement, Jimi Hendrix, Graham booked Chicago to perform at Tanglewood, which has been called a "pinnacle" performance by Concert Vault. [30]

After the release of their first album, the band's name was shortened to Chicago to avoid legal action being threatened by the actual mass-transit company of the same name. [26]

1970s: Chicago Edit

In 1970, less than a year after its first album, the band released a second album, titled Chicago (retroactively known as Chicago II), which is another double-LP. The album's centerpiece track is a seven-part, 13-minute suite composed by Pankow called "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon". The suite yielded two top ten hits: "Make Me Smile" (No. 9 U.S.) and "Colour My World", [12] both sung by Kath. Among the other tracks on the album: Lamm's dynamic but cryptic "25 or 6 to 4" (Chicago's first Top 5 hit), [12] which is a reference to a songwriter trying to write at 25 or 26 minutes before 4 o'clock in the morning, [31] [21] : 109 [32] and was sung by Cetera with Terry Kath on guitar the lengthy war-protest song "It Better End Soon" and, at the end, Cetera's 1969 moon landing-inspired "Where Do We Go from Here?" [33] The double-LP album's inner cover includes the playlist, the entire lyrics to "It Better End Soon", and two declarations: "This endeavor should be experienced sequentially", and, "With this album, we dedicate ourselves, our futures and our energies to the people of the revolution. And the revolution in all of its forms." [34] The album was a commercial success, rising to number four on the Billboard 200, [11] and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1970, and platinum in 1991. [35] The band was nominated for two Grammy Awards as a result of this album, Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. [14]

Chicago III, another double LP, was released in 1971 and charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. [11] Two singles were released from it: "Free" from Lamm's "Travel Suite", which charted at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 [12] and "Lowdown", written by Cetera and Seraphine, which made it to No. 40. [12] The album was certified gold by the RIAA in February 1971, and platinum in November 1986. [35]

The band released LPs at a rate of at least one album per year from their third album in 1971 on through the 1970s. During this period, the group's album titles primarily consisted of the band's name followed by a Roman numeral, indicating the album's sequence in their canon. The exceptions to this scheme were the band's fourth album, a live boxed set entitled Chicago at Carnegie Hall, their twelfth album Hot Streets, and the Arabic-numbered Chicago 13. While the live album itself did not bear a number, the four discs within the set were numbered Volumes I through IV.

In 1971, the band released Chicago at Carnegie Hall Volumes I, II, III, and IV, a quadruple LP, consisting of live performances, mostly of music from their first three albums, from a week-long run at Carnegie Hall. Chicago was the first rock act to sell out a week at Carnegie Hall and the live recording was made to chronicle that milestone. [7] Along with the four vinyl discs, the packaging contained some strident political messaging about how "We [youth] can change The System", including wall posters and voter registration information. [36] [37] The album went gold "out of the box" and on to multi-platinum status. [7] William James Ruhlmann says Chicago at Carnegie Hall was "perhaps" the best-selling box set by a rock act and held that record for 15 years. [7] In recognition of setting Carnegie Hall records and the ensuing four LP live recordings, the group was awarded a Billboard 1972 Trendsetter Award. [38] Drummer Danny Seraphine attributes the fact that none of Chicago's first four albums were issued on single LPs to the productive creativity of this period and the length of the jazz-rock pieces. [39]

In 1972, the band released its first single-disc release, Chicago V, which reached No. 1 on both the Billboard pop [11] and jazz album charts. [ citation needed ] It features "Saturday in the Park", written by Robert Lamm, which mixes everyday life and political yearning in a more subtle way. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1972. [40] [41] The second single released from the album was the Lamm-composed "Dialogue (Part I & II)", which featured a musical "debate" between a political activist (sung by Kath) and a blasé college student (sung by Cetera). It peaked at No. 24 on the Hot 100 chart. [12]

Other albums and singles followed in each of the succeeding years. 1973's Chicago VI was the first of several albums to include Brazilian jazz percussionist Laudir de Oliveira [42] and saw Cetera emerge as the main lead singer. According to William James Ruhlmann, de Oliveira was a "sideman" on Chicago VI, and became an official member of the group in 1974. [42] Chicago VI featured two top ten singles, [12] "Just You 'n' Me", written by Pankow, and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", written by Pankow and Cetera. Chicago VII was the band's double-disc 1974 release. Three singles were released from this album: "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long", written by Pankow, and "Call On Me", written by Loughnane, which both made it into the top ten [12] and the Beach Boys-infused "Wishing You Were Here", written by Cetera, which peaked at number eleven. [12] Writing for Billboard magazine, Joel Whitburn reported in October 1974 that the group had seven albums, its entire catalog at the time, on the Billboard 200 simultaneously, placing them seventh in a list of artists in that category. [13] Their 1975 release, Chicago VIII, featured the political allegory "Harry Truman" (No. 13, Top 100 chart) and the nostalgic Pankow-composed "Old Days" (No. 5, Top 100 chart). [43] [44] That summer also saw a joint tour across America with the Beach Boys, [42] with the two acts performing separately, then coming together for a finale. [45] Chicago VI, VII, and VIII all made it to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, [11] all were certified gold the years they were released, and all have since been certified platinum. Chicago VI was certified two times multi-platinum in 1986. [46] Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits was released in 1975 and became the band's fifth consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. [11]

1976's Chicago X features Cetera's ballad "If You Leave Me Now", which held the top spot in the U.S. charts for two weeks [47] and the UK charts for three weeks. [48] It was the group's first No. 1 single, [42] and won Chicago their only Grammy Award to date, [49] the 1976 Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus, at the 19th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 19, 1977. [50] The single was certified gold by the RIAA the same year of its release. [51] The song almost did not make the cut for the album. [42] "If You Leave Me Now" was recorded at the last minute. The success of the song, according to William James Ruhlmann, foreshadowed a later reliance on ballads. [42] The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, [11] was certified both gold and platinum by the RIAA the same year of its release and two times multi-platinum since, [52] and was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. [14] 1976 was the first year that albums were certified platinum by the RIAA. [53] In honor of the group's platinum album achievement, Columbia Records awarded the group a 25-pound bar of pure platinum, made by Cartier. [54] (Billboard magazine reported it as a 30-pound bar.) [55] [Note 1] At the 4th Annual American Music Awards, a fan-voted awards show, [60] held January 31, 1977, Chicago won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group, the group's first of two American Music Awards they have received. [61]

The group's 1977 release, Chicago XI, includes Cetera's ballad "Baby, What a Big Surprise", a No. 4 U.S. hit which became the group's last top 10 hit of the decade. [12] Chicago XI performed well commercially, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, [11] and reaching platinum status during the year of its release. [46] On October 17, 1977, during the intermission of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer concert, Madison Square Garden announced its new Gold Ticket Award, to be given to performers who had brought the venue over 100,000 in unit ticket sales. [62] [63] Because the arena has a seating capacity of about 20,000, [64] this would require a minimum of five sold-out shows there. Chicago was one of at least eleven other acts that were eligible for the award, [62] and weeks later, at its October 28, 1977 Madison Square Garden concert, [65] Chicago was one of the first acts to receive the award for drawing over 180,000 people to the venue in nine sold-out appearances there over the years. [66] [67] Cashbox reviewer Ken Terry said of the 1977 Madison Square Garden concert, "Chicago ultimately presents itself in the best light with AM-oriented, good-time music. Its fans are not looking for complicated, introverted songs they want music to drive to, dance to and work to." [68]

Besides recording and touring, during the busy 1970s Chicago also made time for a movie appearance and several television appearances of note. In 1972, Guercio produced and directed Electra Glide in Blue, a film about an Arizona motorcycle policeman. Released in 1973, the film stars Robert Blake and features Cetera, Kath, Loughnane, and Parazaider in supporting roles. [69] The group also appears prominently on the film's soundtrack. Chicago made its "television variety debut" in February 1973 when they were the only rock musicians invited to appear on a television special honoring Duke Ellington, Duke Ellington. We Love You Madly, which aired on CBS. They performed the Ellington composition, "Jump for Joy". [70] [71] [72] In July 1973, the group starred in a half-hour television special produced by Dick Clark, Chicago in the Rockies, which aired in prime time on ABC. The show was filmed on location at Caribou Ranch, the 3,000 acre ranch-turned-recording studio located outside of Boulder, Colorado, owned by Chicago's producer, James William Guercio. The only musical guest on the show was Al Green, who was rated the number-one male vocalist of 1972, and whom Rolling Stone magazine named "Rock and Roll Star of the Year". [73] That special was followed by a second hour-long special the next year, Chicago . Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, which aired in prime time on ABC in August 1974. Chicago . Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch was again shot on location at Caribou Ranch and was again produced by Dick Clark. Singer Anne Murray and country music star Charlie Rich were guests on the show. [74] Clark produced a third television special starring Chicago, Chicago's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1975, which aired on ABC on December 31, 1974. Musical guests on the 1 + 1 ⁄ 2 -hour-long show included the Beach Boys, the Doobie Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, and Herbie Hancock. It was the third Rockin' Eve Clark had produced, and it competed with Guy Lombardo's traditional New Year's Eve television show which aired on a different network and was in its 45th consecutive year of broadcast. Clark hoped the Rockin' Eve format would become an "annual TV custom". [75]

Death of Terry Kath and transition Edit

The year 1978 began with a split with Guercio. [42] Chicago had recorded its last five studio albums Chicago VI, VII, VIII, X, and XI, [76] and had made two television specials at Guercio's Caribou Ranch. In later years, band members would cite Guercio's purchase of Caribou Ranch, more particularly their realization that Guercio had enough money to purchase Caribou Ranch, as a contributing factor to their disillusionment with him as a producer. They felt he had taken advantage of them financially. [21] : 131 [77] Then on January 23 of that same year, Kath died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound from a gun he thought was unloaded. [78] [79] Doc Severinsen, who was the bandleader for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at the time and a friend of the group, visited them after Kath's funeral and encouraged them to continue. According to writer Jim Jerome, the visit "snapped them back" and helped them make the decision to carry on. [80]

After auditioning over 30 potential replacements for Kath, Chicago decided upon guitarist and singer-songwriter Donnie Dacus. [80] [78] While filming for the musical Hair, he joined the band in April 1978 just in time for the Hot Streets album. [80] Its energetic lead-off single, "Alive Again", brought Chicago back to the Top 15 [12] Pankow wrote it "originally as a love song but ultimately as recognition of Kath's guiding spirit shining down from above". [81]

The 1978 album Hot Streets was produced by Phil Ramone. [80] [78] It was Chicago's first album with a title rather than a number and was the band's first LP to have a picture of the band (shot by photographer Norman Seeff) [82] featured prominently on the cover (with the ubiquitous logo downsized). [80] [78] These two moves were seen by many as indications that the band had changed following Kath's death. [80] To a degree, the band returned to the old naming scheme on its subsequent releases, although most titles would now bear Arabic numerals rather than Roman numerals. Hot Streets, the band's 12th album, peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard charts [11] it was Chicago's first release since their debut to fail to make the Top 10. The release also marked a move somewhat away from the jazz-rock direction favored by Kath and towards more pop songs and ballads. Dacus stayed with the band through the 1979 album Chicago 13, [78] and is also featured in a promotional video on the DVD included in the Rhino Records Chicago box set from 2003. Again produced by Ramone, it was the group's first studio album not to contain a Top 40 hit. Dacus departed from the band following the conclusion of the concert tour in support of Chicago 13, in 1980. [83]

1980s: changing sound Edit

Chicago XIV (1980), produced by Tom Dowd, relegated the horn section to the background on a number of tracks, and the album's two singles failed to make the Top 40. Chris Pinnick joined the band to play guitar and remained through 1985, [78] and the band were also augmented by saxophone player Marty Grebb on the subsequent tour. [84] Marty Grebb had formerly been with the Buckinghams, and before that had been Cetera's bandmate in a local Chicago area cover band called the Exceptions. [85] The album peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard 200, [11] and failed to reach gold certification by the RIAA. [46] Believing the band to no longer be commercially viable, Columbia Records dropped them from its roster in 1981 and released a second greatest hits volume (counted as Chicago XV in the album chronology) later that year to fulfill its contractual obligation. [78]

In late 1981, the band had a new producer (David Foster), [78] a new label (Warner Bros. Records), [78] and the addition of keyboardist, guitarist, and singer Bill Champlin (Sons of Champlin). [86] Percussionist Laudir de Oliveira and Marty Grebb departed from the band. During Foster's stewardship, less of an emphasis was placed on the band's horn-based sound, being replaced by lush power ballads, which became Chicago's style during the 1980s. The new sound brought more singles success to the band.

For the 1982 album Chicago 16, the band worked with composers from outside the group for the first time, and Foster brought in studio musicians for some tracks (including the core members of Toto), [86] and used new technology (such as synthesizers) to "update" and streamline the sound, further pushing back the horn section, and in some cases not even using them at all. The band did return to the charts with the Cetera-sung ballad "Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away", which is featured in the soundtrack of the Daryl Hannah film Summer Lovers. [87] Co-written by Cetera and David Foster, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" was the group's second single to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart [12] and gave them a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. [14] Chicago 16 reached both gold and platinum status during the year of its release, [46] and went to No. 9 on the Billboard 200 album chart. [11]

1984's Chicago 17 became the biggest selling album in the band's history, certified by the RIAA in 1997 as six times multi-platinum. [88] The album produced two more Top Ten (both No. 3) singles, [89] "You're the Inspiration", written by Cetera and David Foster, and "Hard Habit to Break", written by Steve Kipner and John Lewis Parker. The single, "Hard Habit to Break", brought two more Grammy Award nominations for the band, for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. [14] The album included two other singles: "Stay the Night" (No. 16), [12] another composition by Cetera and Foster and "Along Comes a Woman" (No. 14), [12] written by Cetera and Mark Goldenberg. Peter's brother, Kenny Cetera, who had provided background vocals on the Chicago 17 album, [90] was brought into the group for the 17 tour to add percussion and high harmony vocals. [91] [92]

By 1985, the band was embracing the newest medium, the music video channel MTV, by releasing music videos for four songs. They featured a track titled "Good for Nothing" on the 1985 global activist album, We Are the World. [93] As contributors to the album, along with all other artists who were on the album, the band received its last nomination for a Grammy Award, for Album of the Year. [14]

At the 13th Annual American Music Awards, held January 27, 1986, Chicago won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group for the second time. [61] It is the last American Music Award the band has received.

Peter Cetera departure and continued success Edit

Concurrently with Chicago's existing career, vocalist Peter Cetera had begun a solo career. He proposed an arrangement with the band where they would take hiatuses after tours to let him focus on solo work (mirroring that of Phil Collins and Genesis), but the band declined. Cetera ultimately left Chicago in the summer of 1985. He soon topped the charts with "Glory of Love" (the theme song of the film The Karate Kid Part II), and with "The Next Time I Fall" (a duet with Amy Grant). Two more songs reached the Top Ten: a 1988 solo hit called "One Good Woman" (No. 4 U.S.), and a 1989 duet with Cher called "After All" (No. 6 U.S.). In 1992, Cetera released his fourth studio album, World Falling Down, which earned him three hits on the Adult Contemporary charts, including the single "Restless Heart". Cetera's former position was filled by bassist and singer-songwriter Jason Scheff, son of Elvis Presley's bassist Jerry Scheff. [94] Guitarist Chris Pinnick also left the group prior to the recording of the band's next album.

For the final Foster-produced album, Chicago 18, the band filled Pinnick's spot with several session guitarists, none of whom became band members. The album was released on September 29, 1986, [95] and included the No. 3 single "Will You Still Love Me?", and Top 20 Pop song "If She Would Have Been Faithful. ", in addition to an updated version of "25 or 6 to 4" with a video that got airplay on MTV. Soon after the album was recorded, the band hired guitarist Dawayne Bailey, [96] [97] formerly of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band. [98] Bailey and Scheff had previously played in bands together, so Scheff introduced Bailey to the band in time for the Chicago 18 tour.

For the 1988 release Chicago 19, the band had replaced producer Foster with co-producers Ron Nevison, who had recently produced two albums for Heart, and Chas Sanford, who had worked with Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks. [99] They topped the charts again with the Diane Warren-composed single "Look Away". It was the third and last Chicago single to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. [12] The song ultimately was named as the "Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 Song of the Year" for 1989. [100] The album also yielded two more Top 10 hits, "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" and "You're Not Alone", [12] both with Champlin singing lead vocals, and the Scheff-sung No. 55 single, "We Can Last Forever", in addition to including the original version of a Top 5 single titled "What Kind of Man Would I Be?". The latter, also sung by Scheff, was remixed for inclusion on the band's forthcoming greatest hits record (and 20th album), Greatest Hits 1982–1989, and it was this version that became a hit.

1990s: more changes and Stone of Sisyphus Edit

The beginning of the 1990s brought yet another departure. Original drummer Danny Seraphine was dismissed from the band in May 1990. [101] Seraphine was succeeded by Tris Imboden, [101] a longtime drummer with Kenny Loggins [102] and former session drummer with Peter Cetera. [103] Imboden made his first appearance on the 1991 album Twenty 1 with a fragment of band's logo, which yielded an eleven-week stretch on the Billboard 200, a peak at No. 66, [104] and the song "Chasin' the Wind" which peaked at No. 39. Twenty 1 would be their last released album of original music for fifteen years.

The band was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 23, 1992. [105]

In 1993, Chicago wrote and recorded their 22nd album Stone of Sisyphus. [106] This album was to have marked their return to their traditional composition of the 1970s, emphasizing major horn accompaniment. [107] However, following a reorganization of the record company, the new executives at Reprise Records (now part of the newly formed Warner Music Group) rejected the completed album. It remained unpublished for fifteen years, aside from bootleg tapes and Internet files. [106] This contributed to the parting of the band from the record label. The band was dismayed by the failure of the label. Upset with the shelving of the album, Dawayne Bailey voiced his objections and his annual contract was not renewed by the band in late 1994. And in the years that followed there were many debates and conjecture about the events surrounding the recordings. It was also suggested some years later that the band's management was negotiating with the label regarding a licensing of the extensive Chicago back catalog, and when those talks stalled, the label apparently retaliated by scrapping the project. [107] The album eventually saw an expanded release on Rhino Records in June 2008 to favorable reviews from both fans and critics and made it to No. 122 on the album charts. [11]

After finishing their 1994 tour, and after signing with the Warner Bros. Records imprint label Giant Records, they released their 1995 album Night & Day: Big Band, [108] consisting of covers of songs originally recorded by Sarah Vaughan, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington. Guitarist Bruce Gaitsch stepped in and joined the band to handle the album's guitar work. [109] [110] [111] The album featured guest appearances by Paul Shaffer of Late Show with David Letterman fame, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and The Gipsy Kings. [112] Parazaider cited the group's participation in the 1973 television special honoring Duke Ellington, Duke Ellington. We Love You Madly, as key in their decision to record this album. [113] In early 1995, Keith Howland, who had been a studio musician and stage hand based in Los Angeles, was recruited as Chicago's new permanent guitarist. [114]

In 1998, Chicago released Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album and a live album in 1999, Chicago XXVI.

2000s Edit

In 2000, the band licensed their entire recorded output to Rhino Records, after having recorded it at Columbia Records and Warner Bros. Records. In 2002, Rhino released a two-disc compilation, The Very Best of Chicago: Only The Beginning, which spanned the band's career. The compilation made the Top 40 and sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. Rhino also began releasing remastered versions of all of the band's Columbia-era albums. In October 2003, Rhino reissued Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album, along with six new recordings, as What's It Gonna Be, Santa?.

The American cable music channel VH1 featured the band in an episode of its Behind the Music series, "Chicago: Behind the Music," season 1, episode 133. The episode first aired on October 15, 2000. [115]

In 2004, 2005, and 2009, Chicago toured with Earth, Wind & Fire. [116]

On March 21, 2006, their first all-new studio album since Twenty 1 arrived with Chicago XXX. It was produced by Jay DeMarcus, bassist/vocalist with the country trio Rascal Flatts, [117] who was a long-time fan of Chicago and had cited the group as an influence on him as a musician in a previous fan letter to Jason Scheff. [118] It also marked the first time the band's music was available as a digital download. The album peaked at No. 41 in the U.S., [11] spawning two minor adult contemporary hits: "Feel" and "Love Will Come Back". Two songs from this album, "Feel" and "Caroline", were performed live during Chicago's fall 2005 tour.

Chicago made multi-week appearances at the MGM Grand Las Vegas in March, May and October 2006. [117] [119] In July 2006, the band made a series of U.S. appearances with Huey Lewis and the News. [120]

On October 2, 2007, Rhino Records released the two-disc The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition (Chicago XXXI), a new greatest hits compilation spanning their entire forty years, similar to The Very Best of: Only the Beginning, released four years earlier.

In 2008, Stone of Sisyphus – once known as the aborted Chicago XXII, now listed officially as Chicago XXXII – was released with an expanded format. [106] [107]

Drew Hester, who was the percussionist and drummer for the Foo Fighters, joined the band in January 2009 to temporarily fill in for an ill Imboden, [121] and continued with the band as a percussionist upon Imboden's return later in the year. [122] In August 2009, Champlin was fired from the band. [123] He was replaced by Grammy-nominated keyboardist Lou Pardini, who had worked with Stevie Wonder and Santana. [124]

2010–present Edit

In 2010 (just as they had already done in 1999 and 2008), Chicago toured with the Doobie Brothers (and would do so again in 2017). [125] A 2011 performance in Chicago became a video for the HDNet cable channel that featured the Doobie Brothers joining Chicago for three encore tunes. [126] The band also appeared on the season nine finale of American Idol. [127] On July 24, 2011, the band performed at Red Rocks in Colorado, accompanied by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. [128]

With Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three, the band re-teamed with producer Ramone (he had previously released the new tracks for the expanded Christmas re-release What's It Gonna Be, Santa?) to record a new Christmas album. [129] Dolly Parton was a guest artist on the album, [129] which was released in October 2011. In the meantime, Rhino released Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75, a two-disc set containing two hours of previously unreleased performances recorded June 24–26, 1975 at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland, featuring the original members of Chicago performing some of their greatest hits up to that point. In 2012, Chicago and the Doobie Brothers held another joint tour. [130] That same year, Hester left the group shortly before the tour, [122] and was succeeded at first by percussionist Daniel de los Reyes, [131] [132] then by Daniel's brother and former long-term Santana member, Walfredo Reyes Jr. [131] [133] [134]

In 2013, Lamm, Loughnane, Pankow, and Parazaider appeared in the HBO film Clear History as the band Chicago. [135] In late 2013, the band began releasing singles for a new album, starting with "Somethin' Comin', I Know" in August, "America" in September, "Crazy Happy" in December 2013, and "Naked in the Garden of Allah" in January 2014. The album, titled Chicago XXXVI: Now, was released on July 4, 2014. [136] On January 25, 2014 and January 28, 2014, Chicago performed two concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [137] In February 2015, Chicago released a two-disc live album, Chicago at Symphony Hall, of their performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [138] [139]

Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire embarked on another tour together in 2015 and 2016. [140] In 2015, Chicago was listed among the nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [141] The original lineup was inducted at the 31st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 8, 2016, along with N.W.A., Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and Cheap Trick. [142] In February 2016, it was announced that original drummer Danny Seraphine would join the current lineup of Chicago for the first time in over 25 years for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. [143] Peter Cetera chose not to attend. [144] Terry Kath's daughter Michelle accepted her father's award. [144] In July 2016, Chicago performed on ABC's Greatest Hits. [145] [146]

On September 23, 2016, a documentary called The Terry Kath Experience was released. The documentary featured most of the member of Chicago talking about Kath's life (most notably Kath's second wife Camelia Kath and original Chicago bassist Peter Cetera).

After taking a temporary leave in May 2016, citing "family health reasons", [147] [148] it was announced on October 25, 2016 that Jason Scheff had left Chicago after 31 years. [147] [149] Bassist/vocalist Jeff Coffey, who had been filling in for Scheff during his absence, was promoted to a full-time member. [150] Saxophonist Ray Herrmann, who had previously filled in for Parazaider on various tour dates since 2005, also became an official member at this time after Parazaider retired permanently from the road. [151] Although Parazaider retired from regular touring, he remained a band member. [152] [151]

In January 2017, CNN Films aired a two-hour biographical documentary film on the group titled Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago. [153] The film was directed and edited by Peter Pardini, nephew of band member Lou Pardini, and produced by the band. [154] The film's premiere was the highest-rated program in the 25–54 demographic and has a 7.1 rating on IMDb. [155] The film won the 2016 "Best of the Fest" Audience Choice Award at the Sedona International Film Festival. [156] At the 10th Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival in 2016, it won the "People's Choice" award and Peter Pardini won the "Rising Star Award" as director and filmmaker. [157]

On February 22, 2017, it was announced that Cetera, Lamm, and Pankow were among the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees for their songwriting efforts as members of Chicago. [17] [18] The induction event was held Thursday, June 15 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. [17] Chicago's website stated that in 2017, the band was working on a new album, Chicago XXXVII. [158]

On September 17, 2017, former percussionist Laudir de Oliveira died of a heart attack while performing onstage in his native Rio de Janeiro. [159] [160]

Chicago began their 2018 touring schedule on Saturday, January 13 by performing the grand opening concert at the new Xcite Center at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. [161]

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, drummer Tris Imboden announced he was leaving the band after 27 years to spend more time with his family. [162] On Friday, January 19, 2018, bassist and vocalist Jeff Coffey announced on his Facebook page that he was also departing from the band due to its heavy touring schedule. [162] Chicago announced that percussionist Walfredo Reyes, Jr. was moving over to drums, replacing Imboden. [163] Vocalist Neil Donell, of Chicago tribute band Brass Transit, was chosen as the band's new lead singer and session musician Brett Simons also joined the band as their new bassist. [164] [165] Daniel de los Reyes' return to the percussion position was announced, filling the vacancy left by his brother's move to the drumset. [166] [167]

On April 6, 2018, Chicago released Chicago: VI Decades Live (This is What We Do), a box set chronicling the band's live performances throughout their history. [168]

In May 2018, it was revealed that percussionist Daniel de los Reyes was departing Chicago to go back to his other group, the Zac Brown Band. [169] On Thursday, May 17, 2018, Chicago announced on their official Facebook page and on their Twitter account that "Ray" Ramon Yslas had joined the band on percussion.

On June 29, 2018, Chicago released the album Chicago II: Live on Soundstage, a live performance from November 2017 of the then current band lineup performing the entire second album. [170] [171]

In July 2018 the band updated its official web site, and no longer listed Parazaider as a member of the band. [172] Instead he is included on the band's "Tribute to Founding Members". [173] Parazaider had retired from touring previously. [151] [174] [175]

On October 26, 2018, Chicago released the album Chicago: Greatest Hits Live, a live performance from 2017 for the PBS series Soundstage. [176] [177]

On August 16, 2019, the band announced on their website that they would be releasing their fourth Christmas album, titled Chicago XXXVII: Chicago Christmas, on October 4, 2019. [178] [179] The album has a greater emphasis on original Christmas songs written by the group than their previous holiday albums. [178]

On April 19, 2021, Walter Parazaider released a statement that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. [180]

Chicago's music has been used in the soundtracks of movies, television programs and commercials. Cetera's composition from the 1976 album Chicago X, "If You Leave Me Now," has appeared in the movies, Three Kings (1999), [181] Shaun of the Dead (2004), [182] A Lot like Love (2005), [183] Happy Feet (2006), [184] and Daddy's Home 2 (2017) the television series Sex and the City [185] and South Park [186] and a television commercial that aired during the 2000 Super Bowl. [187] Robert Lamm's song from the 1970 album Chicago II, "25 or 6 to 4", was used in the 2017 film I, Tonya, [188] [189] and on the animated TV series King of the Hill. [190] [191] "You're the Inspiration" was used for the soundtracks of the movies, A Hologram for the King (2016), [192] and Deadpool (2016) [193] a 2017 Super Bowl commercial [194] and the television series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia [195] and Criminal Minds. [196] The song "Hearts In Trouble" was on the soundtrack to the 1990 film Days of Thunder. [197]

Other recording artists have covered Chicago's music. According to the website, SecondHandSongs, "If You Leave Me Now" has been covered by over 90 recording artists from around the world, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by over 30, "Colour My World" by over 24, and "You're the Inspiration" by over 18. [198]

Chicago's music has long been a staple of marching bands in the U.S. "25 or 6 to 4" was named as the number one marching band song by Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald, [199] and as performed by the Jackson State University marching band, ranked number seven of the "Top 20 Cover Songs of 2018 by HBCU Bands". [200] The band performed "Saturday in the Park" and "25 or 6 to 4" with the Notre Dame Marching Band on the football field during halftime on October 21, 2017. [201] [202] They performed again at a game against Bowling Green State University on October 5, 2019. [203]

Upon being renamed from Chicago Transit Authority to Chicago, the band sported a new logo. Its inspiration was found in the design of the Coca-Cola logo, [204] [205] [206] in the attitude of the city of Chicago itself, [207] and in the desire to visually transcend the individual identities of the band's members. [204] It was designed [207] by the Art Director of Columbia/CBS Records, John Berg, [204] [205] [206] with each album's graphic art work being done by Nick Fasciano. [208] [209] Berg said, "The Chicago logo. was fashioned for me by Nick Fasciano from my sketch." [204]

The logo would serve as the band's chief visual icon from Chicago II, onward. In various artistic forms and visual similes, it has been the subject of every subsequent album cover, except the fifteenth album, Greatest Hits, Volume II. For example, it appeared as an American flag on III, a piece of wood on V, a U.S. dollar bill on VI, a leather relief on VII, an embroidered patch on VIII, a chocolate bar on X, a map on XI, a building on 13, a fingerprint on XIV, a computer silicon chip on 16, a parcel on 17, a mosaic on 18, and an aquarelle on 19. Chicago IX's incarnation was a caricature of the band itself, in the shape of the logo.

The album cover series has endured as a cataloged work of art in its own right, described by Paul Nini of the American Institute of Graphic Arts as a "real landmark in record cover design". [204] In 2013, the iconic status of Chicago's album art was featured in a New York art museum exhibit, which centered upon ninety-five album covers completely selected from John Berg's career portfolio of hundreds. Having overseen the design of approximately fourteen Chicago album covers across more than twenty years, Berg stated that this artistic success resulted from the combination of Chicago's "unique situation" and his position in "the best possible job at the best possible time to have that job, at the center of the graphic universe". [205] Berg won the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Album Package for Chicago X, one of four Grammy Awards he won in his lifetime. [210]

The book titled Type and Image: The Language of Graphic Design described the logo as "a warm vernacular form, executed in thick script letters with Victorian swashes in the tradition of sports teams and orange crate labels". The book mentions the cultural and material background of the city of Chicago as inspiration for the logo for example, describing the leather embossing of Chicago VII as representative of the great fire and the stockades. The author connects the album art to the atmosphere of the band's namesake city, quoting the band's original manager, James William Guercio: "The printed word can never aspire to document a truly musical experience, so if you must call them something, speak of the city where all save one were born where all of them were schooled and bred, and where all of this incredible music went down barely noticed call them CHICAGO." [207]

As of July 2018, the three remaining active original members of Chicago are Lamm, Loughnane, and Pankow. [172] Parazaider has retired from regular touring but is still considered a band member, and may play special events. [151] [152]

History Of ‍ Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. It's difficult to prove the origins of this day as over two dozen towns and cities lay claim to be the birthplace. In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson stepped in and officially declared Waterloo N.Y. the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Regardless of the location of origins or the exact date, one thing is crystal clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War (which ended in 1865) and a desire to honor our dead. On the 5th of May in 1868, General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the republic, officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11.

Part of the history of Memorial Day will show that in the Order, the General proclaimed, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Because the day wasn't the anniversary of any particular battle, the General called it, The date of Decoration Day.

On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery while General James Garfield made a historic speech.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. It was recognized by all northern states by 1890. Differently, the South refused to acknowledge the day and honored their dead on separate days. This went on until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

With the Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363), it is now observed on the last Monday in May by almost every state.

This helped ensure a three day weekend (Memorial Day Weekend) for Federal holidays. In addition, several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi May 10th in South Carolina and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee .

History of Memorial Day: Red Poppies

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. See more on the significance of the Red Poppy.

Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Pre-Modern Period

The Pre-Modern Period (c.1500–1757 CE)

Marble elephants at Jagdish Temple in Udaipur, Rajasthan (1651 CE). Photo: Christopher Walker ©

Alongside the development of Hindu traditions, most widespread in the South, was the rise of Islam in the North as a religious and political force in India. The new religion of Islam reached Indian shores around the 8th century, via traders plying the Arabian Sea and the Muslim armies which conquered the northwest provinces.

Muslim political power began with the Turkish Sultanate around 1200 CE and culminated in the Mughul Empire (from 1526). Akbar (1542–1605) was a liberal emperor and allowed Hindus to practice freely. However, his great grandson, Aurangzeb (1618–1707), destroyed many temples and restricted Hindu practice.

During this period we have further developments in devotional religion (bhakti). The Sant tradition in the North, mainly in Maharashtra and the Panjab, expressed devotion in poetry to both a god without qualities (nirguna) and to a god with qualities (saguna) such as parental love of his devotees.

The Sant tradition combines elements of bhakti, meditation or yoga, and Islamic mysticism. Even today the poetry of the princess Mirabai, and other saints such as Tukaram, Surdas and Dadu are popular.

Northern Ireland Women make history by beating Ukraine to reach Euro 2022

Marissa Callaghan and Nadene Caldwell confirmed Northern Ireland Women’s qualification for the Euro 2022 finals as they secured a 2-0 play-off second leg victory over a Ukraine side who were down to 10 players by the time of the second goal.

Callaghan’s 55th-minute strike gave her side the lead at Seaview in Belfast before the substitute Caldwell added a second deep into stoppage time to make it 4-1 on aggregate and ensure the nation’s first ever participation at a finals tournament.

Kenny Shiels’ side, who won 2-1 in Kovalivka on Friday, started brightly and threatened from a series of early set pieces which repeatedly put the goalkeeper Kateryna Samson under pressure.

However, as Ukraine’s wide midfielders Olha Boychenko and Olha Ovdiychuk started to make an impression, they were served with a reminder that their job was far from done.

Nadene Caldwell scores Northern Ireland second goal, deep in added time against Ukraine. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Everton striker Simone Magill, who scored Northern Ireland’s winner in the first leg, tested Samson from a tight angle 12 minutes before the break, but Jackie Burns in the home goal was relieved to see Daryna Apanaschenko drag her shot wide in first-half added time.

In an untidy start to the second half, the home side dominated without creating genuine chances and when they finally did take the lead on the night it was a result of persistence rather than quality. Callaghan climbed to help on Julie Nelson’s deep free-kick and as the defender Darya Kravets hesitated, the home captain chased down the loose ball and stabbed it past Samson.

The visitors unravelled as time ran down as the midfielder Natiya Pantsulaya was sent off for a cynical foul on Sarah McFadden, before Caldwell made sure in the sixth minute of added time.

Elsewhere, Jess Fishlock fired a second-half equaliser as Wales Women claimed an encouraging 1-1 draw against Denmark in a friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Fishlock volleyed home from Natasha Harding’s cross on the hour mark to cancel out Pernille Harder’s 24th-minute opener which saw her match Denmark’s scoring record.

It was a performance that will give some encouragement to Wales boss Gemma Grainger in only her second game in charge.

The Farthest Visible Reaches of Space

Current observations suggest that the Universe is about 13.7 billion years old. We know that light takes time to travel, so that if we observe an object that is 13 billion light years away, then that light has been traveling towards us for 13 billion years. Essentially, we are seeing that object as it appeared 13 billion years ago.

With every year that passes, our newest technology enables us to see further and further back.

The image used for this stop on our journey is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UDF). The UDF is one of the deepest views of the visible universe to date certainly it was the deepest when it was originally created in in 2003-2004. There are approximately 10,000 galaxies in this view, which is a sort of "core sample" of a very narrow patch of sky near the constellation Fornax. The smallest, reddest galaxies in the image, of which there are about 100, are among the most distant known objects!

The UDF looks back approximately 13 billion years (approximately between 400 and 800 million years after the Big Bang). Galaxies that existed in that time period would be very young and very different in structure and appearance than the grand spirals we see nearby today.

What is the Farthest Known Object From Earth?

Update 02/03/16: Here are the newest candidates (as of September and May 2015 respectively) for farthest galaxy yet detected. EGS8p7 at more than 13.2 billion light years away, and EGS-zs8-1 at 13.1 billion light years away.

In December of 2012, astronomers announced a Hubble Space Telescope discovery of seven primitive galaxies located over 13 billion light years away from us. The results are from survey of the same patch of sky known as the Ultra Deep Field (UDF). This survey, called UDF12, used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to peer deeper into space in near-infrared light than any previous Hubble observation.

Why infrared? Because the Universe is expanding therefore the farther back we look, the faster objects are moving away from us, which shifts their light towards the red. Redshift means that light that is emitted as ultraviolet or visible light is shifted more and more to redder wavelengths.

The extreme distance of these newly discovered galaxies means their light has been traveling to us for more than 13 billion years, from a time when the Universe was less than 4% of its current age.

Their discovery, which you can read more about in the NASA feature is exciting because it might give us an idea of how abundant galaxies were close to the era when astronomers think galaxies first started forming. (Phil Plait has a good column about this discovery too.)

As of this writing it seems that one of the galaxies in this recent Hubble discovery may be a distance record breaker - it was observed 380 million years after the Big Bang, with a redshift of 11.9. This means the light from this galaxy (pictured below) left 13.3+ billion light years ago.

Just under a month ago, the current candidate was this object: a young galaxy called MACS0647-JD. It's only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way - and was observed at 420 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years. To spot this galaxy, astronomers used the powerful gravity from the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015 to magnify the light from the distant galaxy this effect is called gravitational lensing.

Earlier in 2012, with the combined power of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, as well as the use of gravitational lensing, a team of astronomers spotted what might then have been the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from this young galaxy, MACS1149-JD, was emitted when our 13.7-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old.

In 2010, a candidate for most distant galaxy was found in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. UDFy-38135539 is thought to be 13.1 billion light years away. There is more information in this article on Phil Plait's blog. I've used his labeled images:

The objects in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field may well be the farthest known objects, but there are other contenders.

They include a galaxy called Abell 1835 IR1916, which was discovered in 2004, by astronomers from the European Southern Observatory using a near-infrared instrument on the Very Large Telescope. The object is visible to us because of gravitational lensing by the galaxy cluster Abell 1835, which is between this object and us. This galaxy is thought to be about 13.2 billion light years away, which means it would date to about 500 million years after the Big Bang. Note though, that this find has not been verified by other instruments - the Spitzer Space Telescope tried in 2006 without success.

Also in 2004, a team using both the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory discovered a galaxy that is believed to be about 13 billion years away from us. It was found when observing the galaxy cluster Abell 2218. The light from the distant galaxy was visible because of gravitational lensing. The very distant object is the one circled. For more information, check out this press release.

Then there's the infrared James Webb Space Telescope. If you recall, Hubble has near infrared capability, but not mid-infrared, and for objects with very high redshifts, to see these most distant of objects would require a powerful telescope with mid-infrared capability. JWST will be able to see back to the first luminous objects to be born after the Big Bang.

In fact, one of JWST objectives is to look even further back, to just 200 million years after the Big Bang. One model of galaxy evolution has the first galaxies forming then and we need JWST to test this theoretical prediction!

(Note: JWST will be able to see these first galaxies without the aid of gravitational lensing gravitational lensing might allow us to see them better, but would not necessarily let us see further back in time.)

Distance Information

Some of the most newly detected objects may be over 13 billion light years away, as derived from a standard model of the Universe. However, a powerful new generation of telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope, will be needed to confirm the suspected distances of these objects.

When 13 billion light years is translated into kilometers, there are a staggering number of zeros - it comes out to approximately 123,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km.

As time progresses, so will our ability to see futher and further away - giving us insight on the very beginnings of the Universe's existence!

How do We Calculate Distances of This Magnitude?

At these distances, objects' redshifts are used, with and extension of Hubble's Law to the distant Universe. Here, we have to know the history of how rapidly the universe was expanding at each moment in time. This can be calculated from the amount of normal and dark matter and of dark energy. Try Prof. Wright's Javascript cosmology calculator at:

For more information on Hubble's Law, please read the section on finding distances to the Nearest Superclusters.

Why Are These Distances Important To Astronomers?

Scientists have estimated the age of the Universe to be 13.73 billion years old (with an uncertainty of about 120 million years). When we observe an object that is 13 billion light years away, we are essentially observing it as it was 13 billion years ago, when the Universe was young. Being able to see and thus hopefully understand the early Universe is important to understanding how it was formed. If we see back far enough, perhaps we will catch a glimpse of the first galaxies as they were just forming. Perhaps we will someday be able to see the first starts forming. Could we see even further back than that? Only time (and technology) will tell!

Travel Time

At the rate of 17.3 km/sec (the rate Voyager is traveling away from the Sun), it would take around 225,000,000,000,000 years to reach this distance. At the speed of light, it would take 13 billion years!

“Elton John’s Decade” The 1970s (w/Bernie)

Sheet music cover for Elton John’s “Your Song,” one of his first Top Ten hits in the U.S., England, and Canada. Click for digital version.

“Your Song” was a kickoff of sorts, the breakthrough song that sent Elton John and Bernie Taupin on their way to the big time. As The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll would say of the prolific output of John and Taupin in the 1970s:

“…For most of the `70s Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were a virtual hit factory with 26 Top 40 hit singles, 16 Top 10, and six No.1 hits. Fifteen of the 19 albums released in the United States during this time went gold [500K] or platinum [1 million]. In the `80s their fortunes declined only slightly. To date [as of 2001] they have achieved more than four dozen top 40 hits and become one of the most successful songwriting teams in pop history…”

What follows later below is an Elton John chronology listing most of the major albums and singles turned out by the John/Taupin team in the 1970s – a decade significantly marked, if not dominated, by their music. As the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has noted: “…John and Taupin identified and shaped the mood of the Seventies from its inception. Given to roughly equal numbers of ballads and rockers, John’s output was as critical to this decade as the Beatles were to the Sixties and Presley to the Fifties.” Before getting to the chronology, however, some background on John, Taupin, and the times.

1950. Young Reggie at piano.

Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in a London suburb in March 1947. “Reggie,” as he was called growing up, learned to play piano at an early age, and was somewhat gifted with an ear for melody and could play classical pieces from memory.

John’s parents were fairly strict, with his father encouraging him to pursue a more conventional career. However, both parents were musically inclined and record collectors, among which were Bill Haley and Elvis Presley recordings that young Reggie liked most.

At the age of 11, Reggie won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where he attended Saturday morning sessions for several years. At school on occasion – presaging his later stage antics – Reggie would imitate the raucous piano style of rocker Jerry Lee Lewis. By age 15, he was playing piano in a local pub. In 1962 he formed a band named Bluesology, and two years later, dropped out of school to pursue music full time.

Bernie Taupin

By June 1967 John met his life-long songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin after both had separately answered the same magazine ad in the New Musical Express — an ad seeking songwriters. Taupin was born in 1950 at a farmhouse in eastern England, where he grew up, a somewhat rural area that would color his later lyrical life. Not a keen student, but having a flair for writing, Taupin at age 15 worked briefly in the print room of the local newspaper, The Lincolnshire Standard, with thoughts of possibly becoming a journalist. When that did not work out, he drifted through various part-time jobs until answering the New Musical Express ad for songwriters. He and John would prove to be an exceptionally productive pair, as Taupin could sometimes turn out lyrics in less than an hour, while John was equally efficient and would fit Taupin’s words to music without changing the lyrics. When the two first met in 1967, they recorded what would become the first Elton John/Bernie Taupin song: “Scarecrow”. Not long after, “Reggie” would begin using a new name – “Elton John” – which he would formally adopt later.

1970. Young collaborators, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, on the cusp of becoming one of the music industry’s most successful hit-producing teams.

Initially, John and Taupin wrote songs for Dick James Music for other artists, and John also worked as a session musician for groups such as the Hollies. John and Taupin, however, were advised to write for themselves, which they began doing in 1968, producing an early album titled Empty Sky. The album was recorded during the winter of 1968 and spring of 1969. It was released in the U.K. in early June 1969. However, neither it nor other early John-Taupin tunes were making much headway in the U.K. And that’s about when Dick James got the idea of sending Elton to America, which Elton initially resisted.

The Troubadour

Young Elton John at piano, circa 1970, age 23.

Still, the album had been sent to a number of U.S. venues hoping to receive some U.S. exposure for the new British singer and piano player. Doug Weston, owner of the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, Los Angeles was one of those receiving the album – along with a request for John to perform at his club. Weston, upon hearing the album, booked John for some late August shows.

The Troubadour by then was already well known for being a center for 1960s folk music and would help launch the careers of a long list of singer-songwriters and rock musicians. But Dick James’ sending Elton John to America in this case was actually something of a last attempt to get John’s music across to the public.

Meanwhile, a single from the Elton John album, “Border Song,” had made a modest entrance on the Billboard Hot 100 by the time of Elton’s first Troubadour show in late August 1970. Local FM radio had also been playing his songs leading up to the show. So there was a rising interest among musicians, music industry reps, and music critics leading up to his appearance on August 25, 1970.

Robert Hilburn's review of Elton John’s opening show at the Troubadour, as it appeared, Los Angeles Times, Aug 27, 1970.

Also in the audience that night were Quincy Jones, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, David Crosby, Gordon Lightfoot, Leon Russell, Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night, Linda Ronstadt, and other notables.

John performed a nine-song set that night, leading off with “Your Song” followed by “Bad Side of the Moon,” “Sixty Years On,” “I Need You To Turn To,” “Border Song,” “Country Comfort,” “Take Me To the Pilot,” “Honky Tonk Woman” (a Rolling Stones cover), and “Burn Down the Mission.” Five of the songs were from the Elton John album, and two others from a later planned album.

John did not disappoint with his performance that night, as he received a rousing response from the audience (some years later, in 1990, Rolling Stone magazine declared these shows to be among the 20 most important concerts in the history of rock ‘n’ roll).

“Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He’s going to be one of Rock’s biggest and most important stars.”
– Robert Hilburn, L.A. Times In the next day’s Los Angeles Times, rock critic, Robert Hilburn, gave the show a rave review, opening with: “Rejoice. Rock music…has a new star. His name is Elton John, a 23-year old Englishman whose United States debut at the Troubadour… was, in almost every way, magnificent.” Hilburn reported that the crowd – including the largest local gathering of rock writers in months – “roared its approval, bringing John back for an encore.” Hilburn added that by the end of the evening: “there was no question about John’s talent and potential. Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He’s going to be one of Rock’s biggest and most important stars.”

Thereafter, it was “Katie bar the doors!” First, there was a brief U.S. tour following the Troubadour shows that ran from October 29th through December 4th. One of these shows at the A&R Studios in New York City was recorded for a later live album. Then, for the rest of the decade, the Elton John/Bernie Taupin mind-meld kicked in at full speed, turning out a continuing stream of hit albums and hit singles. (Click on any of the album or singles covers displayed below to visit respective Amazon.com pages).

A Decade of Hits

During 1971 alone, there were four new albums, each of which reached Billboard’s album chart – the western-themed Tumbleweed Connection the soundtrack to an obscure film, Friends the live album 11-17-70, recorded on that date at a New York radio station and Madman Across the Water, which contained the hit singles “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” and the title track. Honky Chateau, which appeared in 1972, included hit singles “Honky Cat” and “Rocket Man.”

In fact, from 1972 to 1975, there would be seven consecutive albums that topped the charts: Honky Chateau (1972, No.1 for five weeks), Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player (1973, No.1 for two weeks), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973, No.1 for eight weeks), Caribou (1974, No.1 for four weeks), Elton John – Greatest Hits (1974, No. 1 for ten weeks), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirty Cowboy (1975, No.1 for seven weeks) and Rock of the Westies (1975, No. 1 for three weeks).

These seven albums topped the album chart for a combined total of 39 weeks, meaning that during the mid-1970s, Elton John had a No.1 album about every fourth week.

(See below: “An Elton John Chronology” for listing of album covers and more detail).

As for hit singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, during the three-year period 1973-1976, John amassed 15 hit singles in the U.S., including six that went to No.1 – “Crocodile Rock,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Island Girl,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. Three others were No. 2 hits – “Daniel,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”.

Those 15 singles logged a combined 156 weeks from 1973-1976, which is to say that, on average, an Elton John single could be found in the Top 40 every week for three years.

What follows below is a general 1970s chronology of Elton John’s hit singles, albums, and a selection of a few other career highlights from that decade. To be sure, there is much more to John’s career beyond the 1970s, which stretches another 40 years through the 2010s to the present day. And some of the story for those years is covered below the chronology, where the narrative continues.

An Elton John Chronology
1970s Music & Other Events
(not a complete list)

Elton John’s first studio album, “Empty Sky” was produced in the U.K. and released there in 1969, but not in the U.S. until 1975. Click for copy.

Rolling Stone, June 10, 1971, cover story, “Elton John: One Year On,” meaning one year from his breakout at the Troubadour.

July 10, 1973. Bernie Taupin and Elton John enjoying their early success at a private Universal Studios party, Universal City, California.

1 Oct 1978. “A Single Man” album is released, Elton’s 12th studio album - minus Bernie Taupin. Click for CD.

Elton John’s first studio album, Empty Sky, is produced in the U.K. and released there in 1969, but not in the U.S. until 1975.

10 April 1970
Elton John’s second studio album – titled Elton John – is released in the U.K., peaking at No. 5 and spending 22 weeks on that chart. In the U.S., it is John’s debut album, released there on July 22nd, peaking on Billboard at No. 4. It is also nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy. Some years later it would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

24 April 1970
Release of “Border Song” single from Elton John album flopped in the UK, but later peaked in Canada at No. 34, John’s first chart appearance in any country. “Border Song” would also hit No. 92 on U.S. Billboard chart by Oct 1970.

25 August 1970
U.S. breakout after performance at Trouba-dour club in Los Angeles, CA gets rave review in L.A Times.

30 October 1970
Tumbleweed Connection, 3rd studio album released in the U.K. on this date U.S., January 1971 peaks at No. 2 in the U.K., No.5 on Billboard. On this album, John and Taupin were influenced by American country rockers, The Band and 1968’s Music From Big Pink, as well as western TV shows they grew up watching. No U.S. singles issued from this album, but “Come Down in Time,” sampled below, with its strings, harp, oboe, and horn, offers a quiet love song.

31 December 1970
During 1970, Elton John had performed at 71 concert venues or made other appearances.

23 January 1971
“Your Song” single – from Elton John album – reaches No.8 by this date. Began as the B-side to “Take Me to the Pilot” before radio DJs discovered its gold. Later added to the Grammy HOF (1998) and also ranked No. 137 on Rolling Stone 500.

5 March 1971
Friends film soundtrack album released – a pre-U.S. breakout John/Taupin project that nonetheless went Gold by April 1971. Also received 1972 Grammy nomination for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture

10 April 1971
“Friends” single from the Friends soundtrack hits No. 34 on Billboard at this date.

10 May 1971
First live album released – titled 17-11-70 – recorded at the A&R Studios in New York City, Nov 1970, during post-Troubadour U.S. tour. Also scored Top 40 rank on album charts.

5 November 1971
Madman Across the Water, 4th studio album released. While only reaching No. 41 on the UK charts, Madman did better in the U.S., peaking at No. 8 on Billboard and No. 10 on 1972 year-end list. It achieved Gold standing in Feb 1972, and $1 million in U.S. sales. By 1998, it was multi-Platinum in the U.S., with sales of more that 2 million units.

11 November 1971
John & band perform most of Madman album before a small studio audience at BBC-Television Centre in London for broadcast on April 29, 1972 edition of “Sounds For Saturday” show on BBC2.

31 December 1971
During 1971, Elton John had performed at 129 concerts or made other appearances.

5 February 1972
“Levon” single (from Madman) – a song about a yearning young boy seemingly stuck in a boring place but bound by family business or local convention – hits No. 24 on the U.S. Billboard chart and No. 6 on Canadian chart.

7 February 1972
“Tiny Dancer” single (from Madman) is released – believed to be about Bernie Taupin’s wife at the time, Maxine Feibelman, who loved ballet and also did a bit of sewing for Elton. But there are also elements about the free-spirited California girls Taupin met on his 1970 visit there. While a Top 40 hit in several countries, the song got a second wind after being featured in the 2000 film, Almost Famous. Certified 3x Platinum in the U.S., April 2018, and Gold in the UK, August 2018, though not released there as a single.

3 March 1972
“Rocket Man” single released, from Honky Château album, rises to No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 6 in the U.S. Spends more than three months on both charts. The song uses space travel as a metaphor for spiritual isolation. Later certified 3x Platinum, U.S. and No. 245 on RS500. Taupin says he took inspiration from Ray Bradbury’s 1951 short story, The Rocket Man, which also features a lonely astronaut missing his family

19 May 1972
Honky Chateau album released would rise to No. 1 on Billboard 200 and be ranked at No. 359 on RS 500.

23 September 1972
“Honky Cat” single from Honky Château album hits No. 8.

31 December 1972
During 1972, Elton John had performed at 92 concerts or made other appearances.

Elton John and partners launch Rocket Records label, used mostly for other artists.

22 January 1973
Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player album is released second straight No. 1 album in U.S. Eventually goes 3× Platinum.

3 February 1973
“Crocodile Rock” single (from Don’t Shoot Me) became John’s first U.S. No. 1 single on this date, staying there for 3 weeks. Also No.1 in Canada (4 weeks), No 5 in UK. U.S. Gold by Feb 1973, Platinum, Sept 1995.

2 June 1973
“Daniel” single hits No. 2 on Billboard by this date. Taupin wrote “Daniel” after reading a newsmagazine article about Vietnam War veteran who had been wounded and wanted to get away from the attention he was receiving when he went back home. “I wanted to write something that was sympathetic to the people that came home,” Taupin would later say

16 July 1973
“Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” single released (from Yellow Brick Road ) hits No. 7 on UK charts, No. 12 on Billboard. Also featured in Grand Theft Auto V video game (2013-14) and film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017).

5 October 1973
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road double album released, reaches No.1, and remains on the album charts for two years. Using Wizard of Oz film imagery, the album is regarded as John’s best. It has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. In 2000, Q magazine listed it at No.84 on its 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and in 2003, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and also ranked No. 91 on RS 500.

8 December 1973
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” single hits No. 1 Canada, No. 2 in U.S., No. 6 in UK. Song is widely praised by critics some calling it John’s best song. Yellow brick road imagery from 1939 Wizard of Oz film used by Taupin to “get back to [his] roots.” Certified Platinum in 1995 (song sampled later, near end).

31 December 1973
During 1973, Elton John had performed at 91 concerts or made other appearances.

4 February 1974
“Candle in the Wind” (from Yellow Brick Road) – John/Taupin ode to departed Hollywood starlet, Marilyn Monroe – is released in U.K., reaches No. 11 there but is not released as a single in the U.S. (Click for separate story).

13 April 1974
“Bennie and the Jets”(from Yellow Brick Road) – a song about a fictional band and satire on the greed and glitz of the early 1970s music scene – hits No. 1 in U.S. after heavy play on CKLW radio in Windsor, Ontario, sending song to No. 1 in Detroit, as other markets followed. “Bennie” also found some acceptance on Top 40 R&B radio, especially after John appeared on the Soul Train TV dance show in May 1975 performing the song.

28 June 1974
John’s 8th studio album, Caribou, is his fourth No.1 album in the U.S. and third in the U.K. nominated for Album-of-the-Year Grammy (1974) and certified 2x Platinum by 1993. The Caribou album is named for the Caribou Ranch studio, where it was recorded, in the Rocky Mountains near Nederland, Colorado, built in 1972. John also recorded the single, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” there, along with its b-side, John Lennon’s “One Day (At A Time).” His next two albums were recorded there as well – Captain Fantastic… and Rock of the Westies, along with part of the single, “Philadelphia Freedom.”

27 July 1974
By this date, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” single (from Caribou) has hit No. 2 song also features Beach Boys Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston on backing vocals.

3 November 1974
“The Bitch is Back” single (also from Caribou) hits No.1 in Canada, 4 U.S., 15 U.K. RIAA Gold by Sept 1995. Reportedly, title was inspired by Taupin’s wife at the time, Maxine Feibelman, who would say, “the bitch is back,” when John was in a foul mood. Taupin lyrics also parody John’s celebrity lifestyle. Some radio stations in the U.S. refused to play the song because of the word “bitch,” to which John remarked: “some radio stations in America are more puritanical than others.”

8 November 1974
Elton John’s Greatest Hits album is released, his first “best of” compilation. It became a No 1 album in both the U.S. (10 wks) and the U.K. (11 wks). In 1975, it was the best-selling album in the U.S., and to date is one of John’s best-selling albums and among best-selling albums of all time, with 24 million copies sold worldwide.

28 November 1974
Thanksgiving Day John coaxes former Beatle John Lennon onstage for three songs during a Madison Square Garden concert that turned out to be Lennon’s final live public performance.

Elton John signs $8 million deal with MCA – company then reportedly took out a $25 million life insurance policy on John.

31 December 1974
During 1974, Elton John had performed at 69 concerts or made other appearances.

4 January 1975
Elton John cover of Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” hits No. 1 (w/John Lennon on guitar).

12 April 1975
“Philadelphia Freedom,” a non-album single, hits No.1 The song was inspired by John’s friendship with tennis superstar Billie Jean King, whose pro team at the time was the Philadelphia Freedoms.

19 May 1975
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album released, described as an autobiographical account of the early musical careers of Elton John (Captain Fantastic) and Bernie Taupin (Brown Dirt Cowboy). It debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, believed to be the first album to do so. It sold 1.4 million copies in its first 4 days of release, and stayed at No. 1 for seven weeks

9 August 1975
Elton John named outstanding rock personality of the year at first Rock Music Awards in Santa Monica, California.

16 August 1975
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” hits No. 4 on Billboard chart – the only single released from Captain Fantastic album. The song is a semi-autobiographical story of John’s ill-fated engagement to Linda Woodrow and his related suicide attempt, as the saving “someone” in the song – Bluesology bandmate and friend, Long John Baldry – convinced him to break off the engagement rather than ruin his music career for an unhappy marriage. John’s performance and piano are perfect in the story-telling, supported with a fine use of backing vocals throughout.

September 1975
“Amoreena,” a song about a young man’s love interest, from John’s 1970 Tumbleweed Connection album, is used over the opening credits of the Al Pacino film, Dog Day Afternoon. The song features John’s powerful piano playing and has a country-rock style from the 1970 Tumbleweed album.

11 October 1975
Neil Sedaka’s “Bad Blood” (on Rocket Records) hits No.1 and features John on harmony vocals.

24 October 1975
Rock of the Westies album enters Billboard chart at No.1 (second in a row to do that in the same year, then unprecedented), and is John’s seventh consecutive No. 1 album. The title is a play on the phrase “West of the Rockies,” as it was recorded at Caribou Ranch studio in the Colorado Rockies. RIAA-certified gold in October 1975 and platinum in March 1993.

25-26 October 1975
Elton John performs two sold-out shows at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (55,000 each night). It was part of his “West of the Rockies” tour that included 17 shows across the U.S. and Canada.

October 1975
Elton John becomes the 1,662nd person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1 November 1975
“Island Girl,” from Rock of the Westies album hits No.1.

31 December 1975
During 1975, Elton John had performed at 28 concerts or made other appearances.

John, a long-time English soccer/football fan, becomes investor in, and director of, the professional Watford Football Club.

30 April 1976
Here and There live album released title refers to two concerts: “Here,” a concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall, summer of 1974 and “There,” a concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, November 28 1974.

7 August 1976
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, tops the U.S. charts for the first of four weeks. Released in June, it also rose to the top of the U.K. charts after three weeks. It was John’s sixth No. 1 hit in 3 years – and his last one in the U.S. for 21 years.

22 October 1976
Blue Moves album released second double album and first on his own label, Rocket Records. Peaks at No. 3 in U.K. and U.S. Although album suffered some negative reviews – one finding it “impossibly weepy” and another charging “fatigue” – it was still RIAA-certified Gold (Oct 1976) and Platinum (Dec 1976). Includes Edith Piaf tribute song, “Cage the Songbird.”

25 December 1976
“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” single (from Blue Moves album), a ballad about a dying relationship, went to No. 3 in Canada., No. 6 U.S., and No. 11 U.K. – and No. 1 on the U.S. Easy Listening chart. The song was also used in 1977 film Slap Shot starring Paul Newman.

31 December 1976
During 1976, Elton John had performed at 64 concerts or made other appearances.

13 September 1977
Greatest Hits Volume II album is released. Would reach No. 6 in U.K., No. 21 on Billboard, and was certified Gold in September 1977, Platinum in November 1977. There have been several versions of the album.

3 November 1977
Elton John announces at a London concert that he is retiring from live performances, which he does – for 15 months.

31 December 1977
During 1977, Elton John had performed at 13 concerts or made other appearances.

1 October 1978
A Single Man album is released, reaching No. 8 in the U.K. and No. 15 on Billboard. It is Elton John’s 12th studio album and the first with Gary Osborne replacing Bernie Taupin as lyricist. It is the only Elton John album not have any tracks co-written by Bernie Taupin on the original cut. Still, in the U.S., even with mixed reviews, A Single Man was certified Gold in October 1978 and Platinum the following month.

31 December 1978
During 1978, Elton John had performed at 126 concerts or made other appearances.

3 February 1979
Elton John resumes touring after a 15-month hiatus.

21-28 May 1979
Elton John plays eight concerts in the former Soviet Union (USSR). The two-city tour – Leningrad and Moscow – was a significant event amid Cold War tensions of that era and one of the first rock concerts permitted there by a western artist. As a result of John’s visit, in June 1979, the Soviet authorities permitted the state-owned Melodiya record company to issue John’s 1978 album A Single Man, making it the first Western pop album to be officially released in the USSR

June 1979
An EP recording with three songs – The Thom Bell Sessions – is released. It was recorded by Elton John in 1977 in a project with R&B songwriter and producer, Thom Bell, known at the time for his Philadelphia soul music. One of the songs – “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” – became an Elton John Top Ten U.S. single, August 1979. Ten years later, The Complete Thom Bell Sessions was released by MCA, with the original six songs recorded by John and Bell.

13 October 1979
Victim of Love album released: hits No 35 on
Billboard, No. 41 in the U.K.

2017 book, “Captain Fantastic: Elton John’s Stellar Trip Through the ’70s,” by Tom Doyle (no relation). Click for copy.

Part of the Elton John success machine of the 1970s evolved from his on-stage concert showmanship and flamboyant costuming.

At the piano, John was an energetic performer, often conducting Jerry Lew Lewis- type acrobatics, beginning with kicking the piano stool out of the way, playing the piano from various contorted positions, to doing flying handstands and horizontal extensions from the piano keyboard – revving up the audience as he did.

In terms of costumes, he used a range of glittery and feathered ensembles, platform shoes, eyeglasses, and more to adorn various fictional and on-stage musical personas. He not only entertained as a talented musician but also broke ground as a kind of “glam rock” fashionista, typically surprising his audience with some new outfit at every show.

As The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll has noted:

“In the mid-1970s, John’s concerts filled arenas and stadiums worldwide. He was the hottest act in rock & roll. And his extravagance, including a $40,000 collection of custom-designed and determinedly ridiculous eyeglasses and an array of equally outrageous stagewear, seemed positively charming.”

1977. Elton John amid colorful feathers on The Muppet Show.

At concerts he would appear in elaborate costume as the Statue of Liberty, Donald Duck, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and other figures. He also appeared with an exaggerated Mohawk hair piece, in a bumble bee costume, as a cowboy, or in various feathered and floral arrangements.

In an appearance on The Muppet Show in June 1977, he wore a large Mummers-parade styled multi-colored floral and feathered ensemble with jeweled white skull cap and matching white-rimed and tinted sunglasses.

He would also dress up for special occasions, as in October 1975, when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, then wearing a special custom-made pale green and white suit with miniature, gold “Elton John sidewalk stars” sewn throughout the jacket, along with matching star-shaped eyeglasses. In 1997, at his 50th birthday party – for 500 friends – he costumed as Louis XIV of France.

Some of his concerts had an air of spectacle to them – as at the Hollywood Bowl in September 1975 where, as introduction, a succession of dressed impersonators of the Queen of England, Elvis Presley, Frankenstein, the Pope, the Beatles, Batman and Robin, Groucho Marx and Mae West all made their entrance down the staircase. Then, a set of concert pianos arrayed there each raised their covers to display a giant series of letters spelling out E-L-T-O-N, and as they did, flocks of doves were released.

Elton John in concert during the 1970s, doing one of his flying handstands, extending out from the piano keyboard, typically revving up the audience with his energetic performances.

But there were also concerts where the music was what the fans remembered. In October 1975 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles– in a white and blue Dodger-like baseball outfit, adorned with silver studs along with a pair of rhinestone-encrusted glasses – he performed 3-hour plus shows before 100,000 raving fans over two nights. It was one of his more successful outings. Elton John was then a pop culture phenom, as photographer Terry O’Neill has observed:

…You have to remember – in October 1975, no one was bigger than Elton John. He was like Elvis at the height of his career. It is impossible to try to explain to people today what it was like – numerous number one albums, touring non-stop, recording non-stop, media, press, television… he was everywhere. Elton still is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met and he gave his all at those concerts.

August 1973: Elton John featured on the cover of Rolling Stone with some of his decorative eyewear.

Over more than 50 years, Elton John would play some 3,000 concerts in more than 75 countries around the world – and he’s not done yet, as his farewell tour with 300 more dates is slated to close in 2020.

Among other memorable Elton John imagery from the mid-1970s was his appearance as the pinball wizard of the famous Who song and rock opera album, Tommy – in the 1975 rock opera film of that name. John appeared as a very tall “Pinball Wizard” rigged on stilted giant boots.

John’s version of the song was recorded and used for the movie release in 1975 and a single of the song was later released as well, charting at No. 7 in England. John’s version of that song is the only cover of a Who song to reach the Top 10.

The Bally Company, meanwhile, later released a “Captain Fantastic”-themed pinball machine featuring an illustration of Elton John on the machine’s main glass facing.

Living Large

Through the 1970s and 1980s Elton John soared to the top of the rock world. He played the most famous venues, became a media darling, and made millions of dollars. He also began living large as the good times flowed – “sex, drugs, and rock & roll,” as they say. But behind the success and flamboyance there were some real-life consequences that caught up with John by mid-career.

“Success was fantastic and then I couldn’t cope with it,” John explained in one interview about the film and his life, including his personal struggles, which he said he didn’t want covered up or glossed over in the film. “[Y]ou can’t leave out the bad,” he said, of those parts which are included in the film.

“Everyone knows I had quite a lot of [sex and drugs] during the ’70s and ’80s,” he explained during a May 2019 interview in The Guardian. “So there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company.”

Still, those scenes are painful for John. “…It’s difficult to watch [them in the film] because I thought, ‘God, I don’t want to go back there. Thank God I came out of it.”

In earlier interviews, John has spoken about his past excesses and his struggles with alcohol, drugs and food:

“I would have an epileptic seizure and turn blue, and people would find me on the floor and put me to bed. Then 40 minutes later I’d be snorting another line [of cocaine]…This is how bleak it was, I’d stay up, I’d smoke joints, I’d drink a bottle of Johnnie Walker and then I’d stay up for three days….I’d binge and have three bacon sandwiches, a pot of ice cream and then I’d throw it up because I became bulimic. And then go and do the whole thing all over again. That is how tragic my life was.”

“This is Elton John circa the late 1980s,” adds Time magazine, also reviewing Rocketman. “He may be one of the world’s richest and most successful rock stars, but he’s also an alcoholic, a cocaine addict and a bulimic. He’s addicted to sex and he has an anger-management problem. He loves prescription painkillers and he can’t stop shopping. He’s alternately agitated and demonically animated as he rattles off his list of flaws and vexations.” By the 1990s, John got treatment, pulled through it all, and got his head on straight.

Poster for 2019 film, "Rocketman," about the life and career of British rock star, Elton John, here recreating a scene from a famous October 1975 concert before tens of thousands at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Click for "Rocketman" film DVD.

John also struggled with his sexuality for much of his career – married once, announced he was bisexual, then homosexual. Openly gay since 1988, he met David Furnish in 1993, a former advertising executive from Toronto, and the two began a relationship. They entered into a civil partnership in December 2005, and after same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales, they married in December 2014. Today they have two young children born with the help of a surrogate mother.

Woodside, the residence of Elton John in England since 1975.

Condo-converted to art gallery in Atlanta as part of Elton John residence there. Photo, Architectural Digest.

Elton John with some of his car collection, circa 2001.

Wealth & Generosity

With his rapidly rising success in the 1970s, wealth came quickly to Elton John – and continued to come to him over the next four decades with touring, more hit songs, film and stage productions, Las Vegas performing, and legacy publishing fees and royalties.

In recent years, his personal wealth has been estimated in the $250-$400 million range. A few higher estimates have been closer to $500 million. Bernie Taupin, meanwhile, is believed to have amassed an estimated $70 million fortune through his partnership with John.

In any case, Elton John’s fortune will likely get a bump up following his final concert tour. In September 2018, John began his three-year, 300-date “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” that is expected to gross something north of $400 million.

According to one touring analyst, Pollstar, John grosses about $1.4 million per tour stop. Given 300 arena shows planned on his final tour through 2020, that could translate to $420 million in ticket sales for the entire tour – leaving out tour merchandise.

Meanwhile, in terms of real estate, in addition to his main home in Berkshire, England, John also owns residences in Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, Nice and Venice.

In 1991, he bought a condo in the Buckhead area of Atanta, Georgia in the Peachtree Heights West neighborhood, starting out with a 5,000 square foot unit, then expanding into several neighboring units, making a two-story art gallery in one.

Elton John is also an art collector, and is believed to have one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

In November 2016 through May 2017, an exhibit of some of his photos ran at the Tate Museum in London under the title, “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection.” It appears that he and partner David Furnish have agreed to donate some of these works to the nation.

Also a car collector until recent years, when in June 2001 he sold a 20-car collection of Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Jaguars through Christies that brought in nearly £2 million.

Able to burn through money with the best of them, especially as he churned up the ladder of fame, Elton John was, and continues to be, quite generous with his wealth and celebrity, using both to bring attention to various social causes and raising money for a range of charities.

In July 1985, along with others including Paul McCartney, Queen, David Bowie and U2, he performed at the Live Aid benefit concert for famine relief at Wembley Stadium in London. In 1986, he joined with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder to record the single “That’s What Friends Are For,” with all profits donated to the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Hardback edition of Elton John’s 2012 book, Love is The Cure: On Life, Loss, and The end of Aids,” which became a best seller. Click for copy.

Since its founding, the EJAF has raised something north of $350 million for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and has become one of the largest HIV/AIDS grant-makers in the world. In addition to his AIDS work, John also supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation as well as scholarship funding for students at the Royal Academy of Music, Wright State University, and the Juilliard School. He also has established the Elton John Charitable Fund, which has directly supported nearly 100 organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In 1993, he began hosting his annual Academy Award Party in Hollywood, which has become one of the highest-profile Oscar parties and has raised over $200 million.

Back in England, John annually hosts a “celebrity-must” White Tie & Tiara Ball at his Berkshire home where a typical menu might include a truffle soufflé, surf and turf, and Knickerbocker glory ice cream, followed by benefit auctions of famous artwork, rare antique automobiles, and entertainment by the likes of a Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and others. Tens of millions have been raised by these balls for the Elton John Aids Foundation. He has also hosted or participated in a number of AIDS benefit concerts. In 2012 he published the book, Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and The End of Aids, which became a best seller.

“Candle in the Wind 1997," Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana at her passing, helped raise tens of millions for her foundation. Click for digital, CD, or vinyl.

In 2001, one month after the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, John appeared at the Concert for New York City, where he performed a memorable version of “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters”. Through the 2000s and 2010s, John has continued to lend his celebrity in support of various social causes around the world.

October 4, 1997. Billboard magazine cover and tribute story, “Elton John: 30 Years of Music With Bernie Taupin.”

Meanwhile, Elton John and Bernie Taupin have given the world an enormous musical legacy that will be enjoyed for many years into the future. After their frenetic success in the 1970s, Elton and Bernie took a two-year hiatus from each other (1979-1980), during which time they worked with other writers and artists. But not long thereafter, they resumed their partnership, co-writing several songs on the 1981 album, 21 at 33, and were back in full partnership by 1983’s Too Low for Zero album. Through the 1980s, 1990s and beyond they continued to pen many more songs.

Their work over the years has not only been musically appealing, but also bears a message or two here and there, defines personal feelings that have universal appeal, or offers a commentary on the times or the human condition. Millions of listeners who love the songs of Elton John have their own personal favorites, and listener polls, music magazine rankings, and sales data have identified a number of Elton John tunes regarded as most popular, most loved, most moving, etc..

Some of these have been the top hits, such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “Rocket Man,” “Daniel,” and others. But also buried in the Elton John / Bernie Taupin oeuvre are songs that have not necessarily been pop hits, or even released as singles, but are nonetheless popular with listeners. Among these, might be, for example, “The Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” “Come Down in Time” (sampled earlier above), “Take Me to the Pilot”, “Razor Face” “My Father’s Gun”, “Border Song”, “Amoreena” (also sampled above), “Grey Seal”, “Funeral For a Friend”, and any number of others.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John / Bernie Taupin

When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can’t hold me forever
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing the blues

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

What do you think you’ll do then
I bet that’ll shoot down your plane
It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

Maybe you’ll get a replacement
There’s plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Yet, of all the songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin have penned together, perhaps few are more poignant than “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” sampled below. Among his platinum-level hits, and popular globally, this song was not as big a hit as “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” “Levon,” or “Your Song.” Still, it is among those John/Taupin songs that many fans and music critics single out.

The song and the album of the same name, use the phrase and iconic imagery from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. There, and in other historic uses dating to the 1900s and the books of Frank Baum, upon which the film is loosely based, “the road of yellow bricks” has the implied meaning of a pathway upon which one might find some kind of reward, happiness, inner peace, and/or personal redemption. At least that is the seeming promise. It is also sometimes referred to as a metaphor for “the road that leads to life’s answers” or “the road that leads to life’s fantasies”.

In the film, of course, in the Land of Oz, it is the pathway to see the Wizard in the Emerald City. The Wizard is sought for his powers by Dorothy and her friends. But to make a long story short, the wizard doesn’t really have any special powers and he isn’t really a wizard.

The Wizard of Oz was reportedly the first film that Bernie Taupin had ever seen, and he used the imagery in the lyrics to relate to his own life. At the time he wrote “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” he wanted to live a more tranquil existence after experiencing the frenetic 1970s success he and John were having during the height of Elton John mania – a desire to get back to his roots back, perhaps, to a more real world setting. No more “promised land” for him, say the lyrics he prefers hearing the owls and ploughing the land over penthouse living and vodka and tonics.

Bernie Taupin’s lyrics in this song have the visceral power of nostalgia, of looking back, of longing for a past that is colored by the thought that, “yes, it was a better time back then.” And for many, that is a universal kind of sentiment. In addition, “the yellow brick road” imagery and concept, known to millions, is the perfect vehicle for innocent hope or nostalgic longing. And in this song’s delivery, Elton’s voice and the melody drive those kind of notions deep into the listener’s emotional core. Together, the song’s moving orchestral arrangement, along with Elton’s powerful vocals, elevate the lyrics to make this song a classic. Stewart Mason’s review of the song at AllMusic.com notes: “…Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is a small masterpiece of 󈨊s soft rock, and a strong contender for the coveted title of John’s finest song ever.”

Elton John and Bernie Taupin have been among most successful teams in popular music. They have collaborated on more than 30 albums. A total of more than 300 million Elton John records have been sold worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. To date, he has had more than fifty Top 40 hits, as well as seven consecutive No. 1 albums in the U.S., along with 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 in the Top Ten, four at No.2, and nine at No.1. In his U.K. homeland he has scored 69 Top 40 singles, including 32 Top Tens and seven at No.1.

Philip Norman’s 2001 book, “Sir Elton: The Definitive Biography,” 592 pp, Carroll & Graf, publisher. Click for copy.

In fact, in the entertainment world, Elton John is distinguished as one of that rare group who have won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Tony.

Over his career, he has been nominated for 34 Grammy Awards, winning six including, one honorary Grammy.

In film, he has been nominated for three Academy Awards, winning once for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King (1994). And in the theater, he has been nominated for four Tony Awards, winning once for Best Original Score in 2000 for Aida.

In addition to these, he has also five Brit Awards – two for Outstanding Contribution to Music and the first Brits Icon award in 2013 for his “lasting impact on British culture”. He has also won a Golden Globe Award, a Disney Legends award, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2004.

Elton John – make that “Sir Elton” – has also been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to music and charitable services.” In music, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Ten years later, Rolling Stone ranked him at No. 49 on its 2004 list of 100 influential musicians of the rock and roll era. In 2018, Billboard placed him among the very top of successful solo artists on the Billboard Hot 100 – 3rd on the list of Top Artists of All Time, behind only the Beatles and Madonna and ahead of Elvis Presley. And there are still other awards, honors, collaborations, new Elton John ventures, and more. For further detail on these, see “Sources” below or visit his website at EltonJohn.com.

John’s 3-year farewell tour, begun in 2018, is slated to end in England in December 2020 after some 300 shows. But there will likely be a new Elton John song or two yet to come.

In any case, the music of Elton John – and especially those indelible John /Taupin creations of the 1970s – will live on well into the future.

See also at this website, “Candle in the Wind, 1973-1997,” about the Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana songs that John and Taupin wrote, or check out the “Annals of Music” category page for additional stories that profile artists, song histories, and the music industry.

Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research, writing and continued publication of this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted: 31 May 2019
Last Update: 17 April 2020
Comments to: [email protected]

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Elton John’s Decade: 1970s (w/Bernie),”
PopHistoryDig.com, May 31, 2019.

Sources, Links & Additional Information

“Elton John: Fifty Years On. The Complete Guide to the Musical Genius of Elton John and Bernie Taupin,” 320pp, Post Hill Press, October 2019. Click to order.

Elton John’s partner, film maker David Furnish, made this film during Elton’s career in 1995. Click for DVD.

Companion book to “Rocketman” film. “Inside the world of the movie” with foreword by Elton John. May 2019, 160pp. Click for copy.

“Elton John,” in Holly George-Warren and Patricia Romanowski (eds), The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rolling Stone Press, New York, 3rd Edition, 2001, pp. 500-502.

Robert Christgau, “The Little Hooker That Could,” The Village Voice, November 24, 1975.

Robert Christgau, “Elton John,” in Anthony De Curtis and James Henke (eds), The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, Random House, New York, 1992, pp. 528-531.

“Biography, Elton John,” 1994 Induction, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“Elton John, Chart History,” Billboard.com.

Ben Fong-Torres, “Elton John: The Four-Eyed Bitch Is Back Elton Is Hard to Talk to When Anybody’s Around. By Himself, He’ll Talk,” Rolling Stone, November 21, 1974.

David Rensin,”Performance: Elton at the Hollywood Bowl, 9/7/73,” Rolling Stone, October 11, 1973.

“Elton John: Rock’s Captain Fantastic,” Time (cover story), July 7, 1975.

Matt Ballinger, “Times Critic Was Early Champion of Elton John,” L.A. Times Past/Tumbler.com, October 3, 2013.

Paul Sexton, “The Troubadour Nights That Changed Elton John’s Life Why 25 August 1970 Was Such a Monumental Occasion in the Career of a Young English Singer-Songwriter,” uDiscoverMusic.com, August 25, 2018.

Elton John Interview, “A More Reflective Leap On Elton John’s ‘Diving Board’,” Fresh Air/ NPR.org, September 23, 2013.

Stephanie Zacharek, “A Glitter-Fueled Rocket-man Blasts Off, Time, June 3-10, 2019, pp. 93-95.

“Elton John: 20 Essential Songs,” The Tele-graph, October 20, 2015.

“Readers’ Poll: The Best Elton John Songs of All Time Your Picks Include ‘Levon,’ ‘Your Song’ and ‘Rocket Man’,” Rolling Stone, November 28, 2012.

“Elton’s First Shows in the U.S. – A Look Back,” EltonJohn.com, August 25, 2017.

“Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” Wikipedia.org.

“Madman Across The Water – BBC Sounds for Saturday, London, UK: 1971,” EltonJohn.com.

“Elton John Tour Statistics,” SetList.fm.

Cal Fussman, “Bernie Taupin: What I’ve Learned,” Esquire, January 2, 2012.

“Levon by Elton John,” SongFacts.com.

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