In November 1977, John announced he was retiring from performing; Taupin began collaborating with others. Now producing only one album a year, John issued A Single Man in 1978 with a new lyricist, Gary Osborne; the album produced no singles that made the top 20 in the US, but the two singles from the album released in the UK, "Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy", both made the top 20 there, with the latter reaching the top 5. In 1979, accompanied by Ray Cooper, John became one of the first Western artists to tour the Soviet Union and Israel. John returned to the US top ten with "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (number 9), a song MCA rejected in 1977, recorded with Philadelphia soul producer Thom Bell. John said Bell was the first person to give him voice lessons and encouraged him to sing in a lower register. A disco-influenced album, Victim of Love, was poorly received. In 1979, John and Taupin reunited, though they did not collaborate on a full album until 1983's Too Low For Zero. 21 at 33, released the following year, was a significant career boost, aided by his biggest hit in four years, "Little Jeannie" (number 3 US), with the lyrics by Gary Osborne. In May 1979, John became the first Western rock act to play behind the Iron Curtain, playing eight concerts in the Soviet Union; four dates in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and four in Moscow. At the same time, Elton collaborated with the French couple France Gall and Michel Berger on the songs "Donner pour donner" and "Les Aveux", released together in 1980 as a single.
The pop album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player came out at the start of 1973 and reached number one in the UK, the US, and Australia, among other countries. The album produced the hits "Crocodile Rock", his first US Billboard Hot 100 number one, and "Daniel", which reached number two in the US and number four in the UK. The album and "Crocodile Rock" were respectively the first album and single on the consolidated MCA Records label in the US, replacing MCA's other labels, including Uni.More Info
In 1974, John collaborated with John Lennon on his cover of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", the B-side of which was Lennon's "One Day at a Time." In return, John was featured on "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" on Lennon's album Walls and Bridges. Later that year, in Lennon's last major live performance, the pair performed these two number-one hits, along with the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There", at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lennon made the rare stage appearance with John and his band to keep the promise he had made that he would appear on stage with him if "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" became a US number one single. Caribou was released in 1974, becoming John's third number one in the UK and topping the charts in the US, Canada and Australia. Reportedly recorded in two weeks between live appearances, it featured "The Bitch Is Back" and the orchestrated "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". "Step into Christmas" was released as a stand-alone single in November 1973, and appears in the album's 1995 remastered reissue.More Info
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, released in October 1973, gained instant critical acclaim and topped the chart on both sides of the Atlantic, remaining at number one for two months. It also temporarily established John as a glam rock star. It contained the US number 1 "Bennie and the Jets", along with the hits "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Candle in the Wind", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding". Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is included in the VH1 Classic Albums series, in which the making, recording, and popularity of the album are discussed, with concert and home video footage, including interviews.More Info
On the advice of music publisher Steve Brown, John and Taupin began writing more complex songs for John to record for DJM. The first was the single "I've Been Loving You" (1968), produced by Caleb Quaye, Bluesology's former guitarist. In 1969, with Quaye, drummer Roger Pope, and bassist Tony Murray, John recorded another single, "Lady Samantha", and an album, Empty Sky. For their follow-up album, Elton John, John and Taupin enlisted Gus Dudgeon as producer and Paul Buckmaster as musical arranger. Elton John was released in April 1970 on DJM Records/Pye Records in the UK and Uni Records in the US, and established the formula for subsequent albums: gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads. The album's first single, "Border Song", peaked at 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second, "Your Song", reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US, becoming John's first hit single as a singer. The album soon became his first hit album, reaching number four on the US Billboard 200 and number five on the UK Albums Chart.More Info
In 1967, John answered an advertisement in the British magazine New Musical Express, placed by Ray Williams, then the A&R manager for Liberty Records. At their first meeting, Williams gave John an unopened envelope of lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, who had answered the same ad. John wrote music for the lyrics and then sent it to Taupin, beginning a partnership that still continues. When the two first met in 1967, they recorded the first Elton John/Bernie Taupin song, "Scarecrow". Six months later, John began going by the name Elton John in homage to two members of Bluesology: saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry. He legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John on 7 January 1972.More Info
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