February 1972: Elton John Releases "Tiny Dancer"

Singer Elton John performs on 'Sounds for Saturday' television show filmed at BBC Television Centre in London, England on December 08, 1971. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
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(David Redfern/Redferns)

When Elton John first released the song "Tiny Dancer" as a single on February 7, 1972, it pretty much flopped. Coming in at over six minutes long, the song would creep up the Hot 100 before stalling outside of the top 40 at #41 on April 8, 1972.

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The song was written after John and lyricist Bernie Taupin spent some time on the West Coast of America on tour. Their experiences would be captured on the album Madman Across the Water.

"We came to California in the fall of 1970, and sunshine radiated from the populace," Taupin told Rolling Stone (via American Songwriter). "I was trying to capture the spirit of that time, encapsulated by the women we met - especially at the clothes stores up and down the Strip in LA. They were free spirits, sexy in hip-huggers and lacy blouses, and very ethereal, the way they moved. So different from what I'd been used to in England. And they all wanted to sew patches on your jeans. They'd mother you and sleep with you - it was the perfect Oedipal complex."

"Tiny Dancer" would find new life on free-form album-oriented rock radio stations across America, and it would become one of his most beloved tunes. It was in the 2000, however, when the song's use in a pivotal scene during the movie Almost Famous that would permanently entrench the song in pop culture history.

"Jeffrey Katzenberg called me and said, 'There’s a scene in this film which is going to make ‘Tiny Dancer’ a hit all over again,'" John told Rolling Stone in 2011. "When I saw it, I said, 'Oh, my God!' I used to play 'Tiny Dancer' in England and it would go down like a lead zeppelin. (Director) Cam­eron (Crowe) resurrected that song."

Thanks in large part to Almost Famous, "Tiny Dancer" was given new life over the past two decades. It was certified gold in 2005. The track was certified at more than 3 million copies sold in 2018.

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