Released in 1972, Honky Chateau is the fifth studio album by Elton John. On July 15th, 1972, the album became No. 1 in the United States. This ranking started a streak of 7 consecutive No. 1 albums for Elton John, certifying him as one of the all-time greats.
Considered one of the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone, the album’s title was inspired by an 18th-century French chateau where the recording took place. The chateau was located in Hérouville, 25 miles north of Paris. At the time of the recording, Elton John already had a well-established band, giving the recording session a sense of calmness, culminating in its chart-topping run on July 15th, 1972.
Critically regarded as one of John’s finest records, Rolling Stone described the record as “rich, warm, and satisfying,” adding that it stood “head and shoulders above… current releases.”
This was the first album since Elton John’s debut, Empty Sky, to not feature any strings (except a small part by violinist Jean-Luc Ponty on “Amy” and “Mellow”). With his switch in mood and tone, this marked a transition period for John, veering more to a global rock-star that became more vibrant as the decades went on.
During its US run on the charts, the album had massive hits that became part of music culture for centuries to come, including: “Rocket Man”, “Honky Cat” and “Hercules” (although the latter was prepared, yet never materialized into a release).
The album maintained top 10 status for months and became a career-defining moment for Elton John, as he became one of the biggest celebrity musicians in the world.