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"Island Girl"
Elton John
MCA 40461
November 1975
Billboard: #1    Lyrics Icon Videos Icon

Elton Johnn November 1, 1975, Neil Sedaka relinquished the number one position to his boss, Rocket Records owner Elton John. In effect, Elton was succeeding himself, as he not only owned the label Sedaka recorded for but sang backing vocals on his chart-topping "Bad Blood." It was typical of Elton's luck in 1975, the year everything he touched turned to gold.

'Rock of the Westies' - Elton John
First charting on Oct. 18, 1975, "Island Girl" was the 16th American Top 40 hit and fifth No. 1 record (for three weeks) for Elton John. It was the first of two single releases (including the double-sided hit "Grow Some Funk of Your Own"/"I Feel Like a Bullet") from John's 13th U.S. album release, Rock of the Westies. That LP, which first charted on Nov. 8, 1975, soared to No. 1 for three weeks, and remained on the chart for 26 weeks. It was certified gold by the R.I.A.A. on Oct. 21, 1975.
"Island Girl" was his third number one single of 1975 and his fifth overall. Earlier in the year, he made recording history when his autobiographical LP, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, became the first album to enter Billboard's chart at number one. Just five months later he repeated the feat with Rock of the Westies, the album that introduced his new band: Roger Pope (drums), James Newton Howard (keyboards), Kenny Passarelli (bass), Caleb Quayle (guitars), Ray Cooper (percussion) and Davey Johnstone (guitars). Johnstone participated in co-writing one Rock of the Westies cut while Cooper would assume more importance in Elton's career.

Originally titled Bottled and Brained, the disc was supposed to gently break in the rookies with an "uptempo" group of selections. Unfortunately, the brilliant introspection of its predecessor overshadowed the happy tone, allowing critics to hack it to pieces. Even the creator later reflected in Rolling Stone that it "probably doesn't have much depth to it, but I kinda like it."

Second string as the songs may have been, Elton himself was more popular than ever, a phenomenon that began to manifest itself in his daily life. "I'm getting really cheesed off," he complained to Rolling Stone. "A couple of years ago I would deal with three or four fans outside the hotel and walk off down Lexington Avenue. Now it's impossible. I can't cope. I don't want to end up my life like Elvis. I want to be somebody who's active and involved with people and that means going outside. I even tried one of those disguises but that just doesn't work. I went to an amusement park on the tour and 13 people surrounded me for protection. I felt like the Pope."

One place Elton didn't mind crowds was in concert. He wound up 1975 with a two-day spectacular at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the first that venue had allowed since outlawing rock shows after the Beatles played there in 1966. The performances capped a 15-date tour that had attracted over 250,000 people and grossed more than $2.2 million. At the same time, Los Angeles declared Elton John Day, with the man from Pinner, Middlesex getting his own star on Hollywood Boulevard. "I'm telling you, this is more nerve-wracking than a concert," he said as he accepted the honor. Following the memorable outdoor stand before 110,000 people at Dodger Stadium, the entertainer was ordered to bed by his doctors who deemed him about to drop from exhaustion. Gladly, he spent the next four months in Barbados.

- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.

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