It’s 2020, and Elton John is still essential. He returned to Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart for the first time in 27 years by contributing to the new Ozzy Osbourne track, “Ordinary Man,” and he took home his second Academy Award for his Rocketman song “(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again.”
Elton boasts a lot of big years on his resume, but none bigger than the ones that fell between 1971 and 1976. In that timeframe, John scored seven #1 albums in a row on the Billboard 200, including a greatest hits collection. Here’s a look back at the six studio albums of that era and the songs that made them great.
1 HONKY CHATEAU
A singer-songwriter begins crossing over into rock with the release of his fifth studio album in 1972. The title was inspired by the 18th century French chateau where it was record. Honky Chateau spent a total of 61 weeks on the chart and included “Rocket Man,” “Honky Cat” and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.”
2 DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER
Elton returned to the Chateau d'Herouville to record an album that contained his first #1 hit in the U.S.: “Crocodile Rock.” The title came from a conversation he had with friend Groucho Marx. Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player was the first of two LPs Elton released in 1973 and also featured “Daniel.”
3 GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
As if two LPs in the same year weren’t enough, Elton’s second effort of 1973 was a double album. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was also recorded at the chateau despite much of the material being written in Jamaica. The album spent a whopping 111 total weeks on the chart and is considered by some to be Elton’s best work. The LP includes “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”
Elton was on such a role that an album that was panned by some critics and the producer himself still went to #1 and was nominated for a GRAMMY on the strength of “The Bitch is Back” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Caribou was partly recorded on a Colorado ranch of the same name.
5 CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY
Following the release of Elton John’s Greatest Hits in 1974, the Rocket Man returned in 1975 with a concept album. Elton’s longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, says the songs were written in chronological order and casts John as Captain Fantastic and Taupin as the Brown Dirt Cowboy. The LP featured just one “greatest hit” in “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”
6 ROCK OF THE WESTIES
Another two-album year for Elton concluded with another album recorded in Colorado. It spent a total of 26 weeks on the chart and was his last #1 album. Rock of the Westies was a play on the phrase West of the Rockies and featured “Island Girl,” “Grow Some Funk of Your Own” and “I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford).”