Empty Sky is the debut studio album by British singer-songwriter Elton John, released on 6 June 1969. It would not be released in the United States until January 1975, with a different cover photograph, well after John's fame had been established internationally.
Recorded during the winter of 1968 and spring of 1969 in a DJM 8-track studio, Empty Sky is the only album in the early part of his career not produced by Gus Dudgeon, instead helmed by friend and DJM staffer Steve Brown. The album was released in the UK in both stereo and mono with the latter now being a rare collector's item.
John plays harpsichord on several tracks, including "Skyline Pigeon", which John has described as being "the first song Bernie and I ever got excited about that we ever wrote."
John used musicians that were either his or Brown's friends. Guitarist Caleb Quaye and drummer Roger Pope, both members of the band Hookfoot at the time, played on many of the tracks. (Quaye and Pope would rejoin John a few years later as part of his studio and touring band behind Rock of the Westies in 1975 and Blue Moves in 1976.) Tony Murray from The Troggs played bass. Empty Sky is the first appearance with John of then Plastic Penny and Spencer Davis Group member Nigel Olsson, who played drums on "Lady What's Tomorrow?" (Olsson and fellow Spencer Davis bandmate, bassist Dee Murray, would soon join John as his early '70s touring band.) Also listed in the production credits is Clive Franks, who would later produce John's live sound in concert for a tremendous amount of his touring career, as well as occasionally co-produce with John on albums such as A Single Man and 21 at 33. The original sleeve design was done by David Larkham (billed as "Dave"), who would go on to create designs for John and other artists.
"Skyline Pigeon" is the most popular and best known song on the album, and is the only one which John, albeit infrequently, performs as part of his live shows. The more definitive version of "Skyline Pigeon" featuring an orchestra and piano backing in place of harspichord was recorded for 1973's Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, and initially appeared as the B-side of "Daniel" in 1973. Another appearance of the song was in 1974, and a version recorded in London was later featured as the opening track on the Here and There live LP and CD reissue. A version of the title track, "Empty Sky," was also included at various stops on John's 1975 tour.
Although John has since called the album naive, he does have fond memories of making the record. These include walking home from recording at 4 a.m. and lodging at the Salvation Army HQ in Oxford Street, which was run by Steve Brown's father. "I remember when we finished work on the title track - it just floored me. I thought it was the best thing I'd ever heard in my life," John recalled.
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight; 25 March 1947) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. He has worked with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.
In his four-decade career John has sold more than 250 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. His single "Candle in the Wind 1997" has sold over 37 million copies, becoming the best selling single of all time. He has more than 50 Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10, four No. 2 hits, and nine No. 1 hits. He has won five Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him Number 49 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s, and was knighted in 1998. He entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish on 21 December 2005 and continues to be a champion for LGBT social movements. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him as the most successful male solo artist on "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists" (third overall, behind only The Beatles and Madonna).
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