In 1975, Elton John was one of the biggest rock stars in the world. He was coming off of his first greatest hits collection, released in November 1974 and by far one of the biggest records of the year. It was so popular that it was named by Billboard as the #1 album of 1975.
When it came time for the artist to record a new studio effort, he and songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, decided it was time to look back at where they came from to get to where they were. Let's dig into five fun facts about Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, released on May 19, 1975.
1. The album only had one single: "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"
The concept album about John and Taupin's journey was a huge hit, and only needed one single to promote it. The track peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of August 16, 1975. The #1 song in America that week: the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'."
2. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first Elton John album to debut at #1
While Elton John was no stranger to having chart-topping LPs, this one was his first to grab the peak position on the Billboard 200 right out of the gate for the week of June 7, 1975. It held the spot for almost two months, finally falling to Paul McCartney and Wings' Venus and Mars on July 18, 1975.
3. It's Elton John's favorite album from his discography
“Before, I just used to write melodies to Bernie’s experiences and fantasies,” the artist said to Melody Maker at the time of release. “I identify with this album so much more than anything else I’ve done. For me it will always be my favorite album. But that’s from a purely selfish point of view. Whether it will stand the test of time, who knows? You can only tell in retrospect.”
4. The original LP release came loaded with inserts
Fans who picked up the album when it first came out were delighted to find all sorts of goodies packaged inside. There was a big full-color poster of the album's incredible cover art, created by Alan Aldridge. There were also two booklets: one with the album's lyrics, including an unfinished song, "Dogs in the Kitchen," that doesn't appear on the record. The other, titled "Scraps," is collection of photos, reviews, personal diary entries and other memorabilia from the years chronicled on the record.
5. Elton John played six shows in three nights at the Troubadour in L.A. to raise money for UCLA
The artist returned to the venue where he made his American debut with a charity residency. Introduced on opening night by Neil Diamond just like in 1970, Cher, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and Helen Reddy were just some of the stars who attended. Even drummer Nigel Olsson, who'd recently been dismissed from John's band, was in the house and full of praise: "Now I know he's the greatest," he told Robert Hilburn at the L.A. Times. "I've never been able to see him from here before. It's weird being out here rather than on stage, but he's just fantastic. Fantastic." The shows brought in $150,000 for the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.