Elton John made history when 'Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy' went gold before it hit shelves

Elton John's "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" Tour
Elton John's "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" Tour / Simone Joyner/GettyImages

On May 19, 1975, Elton John made history when 'Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy' was certified gold before its release.

Elton John fans and music lovers were so keen to get hold of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. The number of pre-orders was amazingly high and therefore warranted immediate gold status without a copy on the shelves.

The wait to get hold of the disc was well worth it. For this autobiographical and emotional ninth album, Elton and his lyricist Bernie Taupin laid bare the struggles both faced in their early careers in the late 1960s.

The album made history again when it soared straight to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, making it the first album to do so and be certified gold before its release. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy remained on top for seven weeks. The pre-orders became sales and hit 1.4 million in the first four days. 

In another unusual approach, Elton launched the album at a live concert on June 21, 1975, at Wembley Stadium, London, playing a few hits and then the entire album.

The record breaking album

Many people will remember the album for the track "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," released as a single. The album has 10 great tracks overall. Elton John and Taupin wrote the songs chronologically. 

Side A 

  • Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
  • Tower of Babel
  • Bitter Fingers
  • Tell Me When the Whistle Blows
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

Side B 

  • (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket
  • Better Off Dead
  • Writing
  • We All Fall in Love Sometimes
  • Curtains.

In 1975, Melody Maker quoted Elton as saying this was his best album yet. In their original review, Rolling Stone agreed. Perhaps recognizing Elton's troubled but talented nature, Rolling Stone gave a final summary to their review, looking ahead to his future.

"As long as Elton John can bring forth one performance per album on the order of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” the chance remains that he will become something more than the great entertainer he already is and go on to make a lasting contribution to rock.

Jon Landau, Rolling Stone

Elton's surely knocked that out of the park as he continues his extensive worldwide "Farewell Yellow Brick Road, The Final Tour." The tour and Elton have a spectacular date on the Pyramid stage on June 25, closing the 2023 Glastonbury Festival, playing an amazing array of hits, including "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," to huge adoring crowds. 

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