His gift was his song: Elton John’s breakthrough album released 50 years ago today

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the album that made Elton John a star: His 1970 self-titled collection.

Released on April 10, 1970, Elton John was Elton’s second album, though many U.S. fans assumed it was his first. That’s because his actual first album, Empty Sky, wasn’t officially released in America until 1975.

The first of many Elton albums to be produced by Gus Dudgeon, the release included pop-rock legend’s Elton’s breakthrough hit, “Your Song,” as well as now-classic tunes like “Take Me to the Pilot,” “Sixty Years On” and the gospel-influenced “Border Song,” which was technically Elton’s first track to chart in the U.S., reaching #92.  Aretha Franklin later covered it, and made it a top 40 hit.

As for “Your Song,” it was originally released as the B-side of “Take Me to the Pilot,” but disc jockeys preferred it, so “Your Song” became the A-side.  It eventually reached number eight on the Billboard chart — the first of nearly 30 top 10s that would follow for Elton.

The album itself — recorded in just four days — peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, went gold, and was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. In 2012, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for its “qualitative or historical significance.”

In his autobiography, Me, Elton describes the sessions for Elton John as “weirdly magical,” noting, “We knew we’d made something good, something that would push us on to the next level. We were right.”

You can read more details about the making of the album at EltonJohn.com.

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