Top of the Charts
In early 1972, Elton arranged with the Rolling Stones to use their elaborate and very chic recording studio. Located in the French Riviera, the studio was top-notch. However, only a few days before Elton and his crew were scheduled to depart for the studio, word came that it was no longer available. The Rolling Stones were known for being unreliable, and a new place had to be found quickly. Staying with the inviting idea of recording in France, a new studio named Strawberry was found. The studio was located in the Chateau d'Herouville.
Established in the seventeenth century, Chateau d'Herouville was set in the countryside of France, only thirty miles outside of Paris. It was a place already known to great bands; Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead had recorded there only a few months earlier. Elton flew over right away to have a look at the place, and he fell in love with it instantly. He loved that he could record in a room with three chandeliers. Each room also had huge windows that looked out over miles of rolling vineyards.
On December 8, 1971, Elton John became legal. No, he did not turn twenty-one. Rather, he legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John. The name “Elton” was borrowed from his friend, Elton Dean. “John” was taken from his old boss, Long John Baldry. And “Hercules” came from a character on Elton's favorite television show; Steptoe and Son. From that day forward, Reginald Kenneth Dwight was no more.
When the band arrived, a charged energy filled the air. Perhaps it was the beautiful surroundings and the lavish studio. Or maybe it was simply a good time for all of them. Whatever the reason, the songs recorded over the next few weeks would make an enormous impact on Elton's career.