How Elton John Wrote “Rocketman”

How Elton John Wrote “Rocketman” | Society Of Rock Videos

via Elton John / Youtube

Exploration of the Moon

The exploration of space was a prevailing theme in 1972, and it coincided with the release of “Rocketman” during the Apollo 16 mission, marking the fifth time humans set foot on the moon.

Bernie Taupin drew inspiration for the lyrics from a short story penned by sci-fi maestro Ray Bradbury titled “The Rocket Man.” Bradbury’s narrative, part of the anthology “The Illustrated Man” published in 1951, conveyed the poignant tale of a rocket man through the eyes of a child. The astronaut, torn between familial bonds and the duty of space exploration, grapples with mixed emotions.

Inspiration of The Song

Produced by Gus Dudgeon, who previously collaborated with David Bowie on the 1969 hit “Space Oddity,” the song shared a similar theme. Accusations of Elton John borrowing from Bowie arose, contentions vehemently denied by both Elton and Taupin.

The genesis of the song’s opening lyrics occurred while Taupin was driving near his parents’ residence in Lincolnshire, England. Acting swiftly to capture his ideas, Taupin raced through back roads to reach his parents’ home, where he penned the initial thoughts:

“She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hours, 9 a.m., and I’m gonna be high as a kite by then.”

This single line birthed the narrative of “Rocket Man,” unraveling the story of an astronaut thrust into space as part of a scientific experiment.

A milestone in Elton’s career, “Rocket Man” surpassed his previous Top-10 entry, “Your Song.” The song’s monumental success bolstered Elton’s confidence, affirming his ability to sustain a lasting career in the music industry.

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