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August 8, 2017

Elton’s Collaborations…the Other Side of His Catalogue

Elton collaborated with Gary Barlow on the track Face To Face in 2013.
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Elton collaborated with Gary Barlow on the track Face To Face in 2013.

Collecting Elton recordings does not end with buying all of his own releases. For example, did you know he plays the piano on Wham!’s 1986 hit The Edge Of Heaven? Or that he has sung with artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Luciano Pavarotti?

All in all, there are over 175 collaborations out there for the completist to discover. These include songs that Elton has appeared on which have been released by other artists, as well as Elton’s own songs that feature a duet, either in the studio or on stage.

This list begins in 1968, when, still Reg Dwight, Elton contributed background vocals to Tom Jones’ hit Delilah and piano on The Barron Knights’ UK novelty single An Olympic Record.

Even as he was releasing his first three albums, Elton continued to work as a session musician in London, performing piano on three songs for The Hollies, most notably their #1 hit He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. He also can be heard on songs by Argosy (Roger Hodgson’s band before Supertramp), My Dear Watson, The Scaffold, Tom Jones (this time on his #1 single Daughter Of Darkness in 1970), and others.

Once his own career began to take hold, Elton continued to fill his free time (between writing and recording two albums a year and constantly touring the US, UK and Europe) with side projects for T. Rex, Long John Baldry, Jackson Browne, and a variety of acts from the 1970s to present day.

Elton John - Don't Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee).

A number of Elton’s collaborations have achieved great success in the UK and US. In 1976, Elton and Kiki Dee topped the charts with Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, a song that Elton would revisit 17 years later with RuPaul. He has also reached #1 with Wham!, Neil Sedaka (an uncredited duet vocal on 1975’s Bad Blood), John Lennon (Whatever Gets You Thru The Night), George Michael (Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me), Dionne Warwick and Friends (That’s What Friends Are For), and Blue (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word).

Elton continues to collaborate with other artists whenever possible. Within the past five years alone he has released a UK #1 album with Pnau, Good Morning To The Night, and appeared on recordings with:

★  Kate Bush – Snowed In At Wheeler Street
★  Gary Barlow – Face To Face
★  Queens Of The Stone Age – Fairweather Friends
★  2CELLOS – Oh, Well
★  Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll
★  Hurts – Help
★  BBC Music – God Only Knows
★  Bright Light Bright Light – four songs across two albums
★  Engelbert Humperdinck – Something About The Way You Look Tonight
★  Red Hot Chili Peppers – Sick Love
★  Frankie Miller – Where Do The Guilty Go
★  A Tribe Called Quest – Solid Wall Of Sound
★  Jack White – 2 Fingers Of Whiskey

And that is just in the studio. During the same period of time, Elton has performed on stage with over 20 artists, including Sting, Rod Stewart, Mary J. Blige, Parker Millsap, Christine and the Queens, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Ed Sheeran, and Lady Gaga.

Explore the playlist for a selection of Elton’s collaborations, including some of the tracks mentioned above as well as live performances with Leon Russell, Sara Bareilles, and Queen.

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