Rocket Man – Elton John

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………..on May 6th of 1972 Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is released. It will reach #6 in the US and #2 in the UK. In 2004, it was ranked #242 on the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. With the music written by Elton the inspiration for Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, however, was the short story The Rocket Man, written by Ray Bradbury. The sci-fi author’s tale is told from the perspective of a child, whose astronaut father has mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job. It was published as part of the anthology The Illustrated Man in 1951. This was produced by Gus Dudgeon, who worked with David Bowie on his 1969 song “Space Oddity.” Both songs have similar subject matter, and lots of people accused Elton of ripping off Bowie, something both Elton and Bernie Taupin deny. The opening lyrics came to Bernie Taupin while he was driving near his parents’ house in Lincolnshire, England. Taupin has said that he has to write his ideas down as soon as they show up in his head, or they could disappear, so he drove though some back roads as fast as he could to get to the house where he could write down his thought: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour, 9 a.m., and I’m gonna be high as a kite by then.” From there he came up with the song about a man who is sent to live in space as part of a scientific experiment. Elton John named his record company Rocket Records after this song. He started the company in 1973; it was the label that released Neil Sedaka’s comeback songs. There was another song called “Rocket Man” that Bernie and Elton knew about when they wrote this. It was released by a group called Pearls Before Swine and came out in 1970.