Climb to Fame
Empty Sky Is Released In London
In February 1969, Elton and Bernie put together their first record, called Empty Sky. It was released soon after with full-blown advertising to fuel interest in the new artist Elton John. Splayed across the sides of buses in London was a sign that read “Elton John” with colored circles bordering its edges.
Who Did Elton John Listen to in 1971?
You might imagine that someone who plays music would listen to a lot of it. Elton John has confessed that he loves it all. When asked in 1971 what kind of music he listened to, he said, “Pretty much everything, aside from easy listening and traditional jazz … I like the stuff Miles [Davis] has put out, and Charles Lloyd and Chick Corea and some of the stuff Sun Ra does—and I like the Band and Neil Young, and Burt Bacharach is a genius.”
Perhaps Elton does not enjoy easy listening because for a while he was supporting himself by recording Muzak for supermarkets!
The record itself was full of whimsical, emotional songs. “Empty Sky” was about a prisoner unhappy with his lost freedom; “Western Gateway” celebrated the American frontier; “Gulliver” was about one of Bernie's old pets. All of the songs shared a heartfelt theme and one that not many people found subtle. In the end, the album sold only 4,000 copies in the United Kingdom—an amount not considered successful. Overall, the album was a commercial flop.
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