Thoughts on Elton John in the 70s

Some people tend to forget how big Elton was back in the early to mid-seventies. The songs just kept coming one after another. I’ve been watching some seventies sitcoms and shows recently and there was Valerie Bertinelli on “One Day at a Time” dressed like Elton John. He was everywhere back then. Some today remember him only by Candle in the Wind…the 1997 version for Lady Diana.

It seemed that everything he touched turned to gold. He covered Pinball Wizard and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and turned them into hits…some people like those versions better than the originals.

Elton John was pop/rock but he had some Liberace elements in showmanship. The sparkling pianos and even a Donald Duck suit. Elton is a very good piano player, songwriter and performer…but I think it’s his voice that sets him apart. It was a combination of all but he had a style all his own.

Bernie Taupin and Elton wrote those great singles that kept coming year after year. He has had 9 number 1 hits, 27 top ten hits, and 67 songs in the top 100. 1971 – 1975 was my favorite period… some of the singles were Your Song, Levon, Tiny Dancer, Honey Cat, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets, Philadelphia Freedom, The Bitch is Back and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me… this much success could fill up 5 different careers… hard to believe it happened in a four year period.

Bernie Taupin was just as important as Elton. They stopped writing together around 1977 and Elton’s output was not as successful. They started to work together again a little later and still had hits but that stretch in the early seventies would be impossible to match.

I did like some Elton John songs after the mid-seventies but in the eighties, many of his songs just didn’t have the quality of his earlier ones to me. One standout was a song about John Lennon called Empty Garden. It is one of my favorite songs about John Lennon.

I knew Elton by his singles but he released some huge albums. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Honky Château, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Caribou and the list goes on and on. This is a good piece on some of Elton’s top albums. 





Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Thoughts on Elton John in the 70s”

  1. I agree its kind of forgotten how big Elton was in the 70’s- he was a hit making machine. Maybe his reputation over the years has fell due to the lack of coolness factor. Bowie was cool. Elton one of the most unlikely looking rock stars since Bill Haley- pudgy, balding. I was always more into his singles than his albums. Also where- in comparing him to Bowie- Bowie was kind of a groundbreaking artist where Elton was more pop. One thing I noticed – in the past nearly dozen years- Uncut magazine out of the UK puts out full issues on artists- covering their albums and careers- it seems like they have put one out over the years on everyone. I was thinking a while back who do they have left that they haven’t had an issue on- they haven’t done Elton.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He wasn’t the typical rock star that is for sure. He tried to make up for it in flash. I’m the same with his singles also.
      To me especially in the 80s he was trying to write hits instead of songs. I just stopped listening mostly after 77 or so…there are some songs that I like but few.
      Yea Bowie was ever changing and challenging…Elton not so much.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Elton was another who i think in the 80’s went formula. There were some good ones but most sounded the same… I think he jumped the shark with the single Ego in 1977 and The Single Man album. Up until that time he was money.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Empty Garden I agree with you may have been the best of the John Lennon tribute songs. I see he is on a farewell tour -which has 300 dates and will go on for 2 or 3 years! LOL. I hope he makes it to the end

        Liked by 2 people

      3. That is a lot of shows…he must love doing it because he can’t need the money.
        I’ve never seen him live…lol lets hope.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I know he is coming to Pittsburgh in a few days- and will be back again next year… I think he may need the money I think he burns through it. I saw him maybe 25 years ago- it was a good show- he played the songs you wanted to hear. A showman.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I go by his place in Buckhead Atlanta when I go down there. It’s the entire top floor of a horseshoe shaped building…I was in Whole Foods to get something to take back to the hotel and the workers were talking…Elton was just here… late again lol

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Just missed him! Wouldn’t that have been something to run into someone like that out somewhere. I hear about it all the time but I’ve never ran into anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. The only person I saw out as an adult was this little bald man in an airport walking with a beautiful red head woman… it was too late to say anything but it was Peter Frampton…. he live in Nashville for a while

        Liked by 2 people

      8. I have always thought is something- Peter Frampton and all that hair in the 70’s–now… and remember Oscar Gamble and his afro? All gone later in life.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. My favorite artist as a young child and the one whom I spent my money on for the first LP I ever bought (“Greatest Hits”- I bought quite a few 45s in the year or two prior but that was the first big record I could save $6 to get!) “Philadelphia Freedom” remains in my top 3 or 4 songs of that whole decade… like you guys though, kind of lost interest in him when the 80s came around and especially when he started singing Disney ditties. But more power to him for keeping the career going! Thanks for the link, by the way

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for yours….
      His greatest hits is what I have…his first and second… He did good covers of Pinball Wizard and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds…but my go to are the originals…


  3. That was a really nice video for Tiny Dancer. I’d never seen it before. That is probably my #1 or #2 fave Elton John song, with my other faves being the early Candle in the Wind, Friends and Burn Down the Mission. He and Bernie truly were a phenomenal successful team. My impression was that their success with Elton as the singer of Bernie’s songs, was somewhat accidental. Enjoyed the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I should have wrote this but I read last night that a publisher handed Elton some lyrics by Bernie…so yes it was random.
      I saw it was an official video and that was the first time I saw it…
      I’ve always liked Tiny Dancer but when I saw the movie “Almost Famous” that did it. Great scene with that song.

      Liked by 1 person

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