Island Girl

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"Island Girl"
Single by Elton John
from the album Rock of the Westies
B-side "Sugar on the Floor"
Released September 29, 1975
Genre Rock, Disco
Length 3:42
Label MCA (US/Canada)
DJM Records
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Someone Saved My Life Tonight"
(1975)
"Island Girl"
(1975)
"Grow Some Funk of Your Own"/"I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)"
(1976)

"Island Girl" is a song performed by Elton John that went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US[1] and number 14 in the UK in 1975. In the U.S., it was certified Gold in 1975 and Platinum in 1995 by the RIAA.[2] It was the first single taken from the album Rock of the Westies.

Lyrics and culture of the time[edit]

The lyrics are about a prostitute in New York City and a man who wants to take a prostitute back to Jamaica. Arguably the "Island Girl" is a male prostitute, given that John sings, "She's a big girl/she's standin' six-foot-three/turning tricks for the dudes in the big city."

As chronicled in the documentary Gay Sex in the 70s, New York City at that time provided an unprecedented sexual freedom for gay men, with ample opportunities for anonymous sex. Gay men also may occasionally refer to a gay peer as "she" rather than "he".

At the time the song was released, Elton John had not yet publicly come out. The following year, in a Rolling Stone article, he said he was bisexual. In 1988, he confirmed he was gay and went public with his relationship with another man.

Music and single[edit]

The song is atmospheric, featuring gospel-ish piano behind the famous distorted slide-guitar intro. It also features a high-strung Caribbean guitar sound, marimbas, and a heavy bass guitar. Also notable is a shaky synthesizer solo played by James Newton Howard.

The single's B-Side was "Sugar on the Floor", which was written by Kiki Dee, who would go on to duet with John on a number of occasions, most notably on their chart-topping 1976 single, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 4
UK 14

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1975/1976) Position
U.S. Billboard [3] 65
U.S. Cash Box [4] 10
Canada [5] 143

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[6] 2× Gold 150,000^
United States (RIAA)[7] Gold 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

Preceded by
"Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
November 1, 1975 - November 15, 1975
Succeeded by
"That's the Way (I Like It)" by KC & The Sunshine Band