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Bennie and the Jets

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"Bennie and the Jets"
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Released4 February 1974
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Step into Christmas"
"Bennie and the Jets"
"Candle in the Wind"
Official Music Video
Bennie and the Jets on YouTube

"Bennie and the Jets" (also titled "Benny & the Jets") is a song written by English musician Elton John and songwriter Bernie Taupin, and performed by John.[3] The song first appeared on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in 1973. "Bennie and the Jets" has been one of John's most popular songs and was performed during his appearance at Live Aid.

The track was a massive hit in the United States and Canada, released in 1974 as an A-side using the spelling "Bennie". In most territories the track was released as the B-side to "Candle in the Wind", using the spelling "Benny". Album artwork (back-cover track listing and center-panel design) consistently lists the song as "Bennie" while either "Bennie" or "Benny" appears on the vinyl album depending on territory. The track was released as an A-side in the UK in 1976, as "Benny and the Jets".

It is ranked number 371 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4]

Song composition[edit]

The song tells of "Bennie and the Jets", a fictional band of whom the song's narrator is a fan. In a 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Taupin said "I saw Bennie and the Jets as a sort of proto-sci-fi punk band, fronted by an androgynous woman, who looks like something out of a Helmut Newton photograph."[5]

Produced by Gus Dudgeon, the song was recorded during the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sessions in France at Château d'Hérouville's Strawberry Studios,[6] where John and Taupin had recorded their previous two albums Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.

John rarely plays the studio arrangement of the song, and often makes subtle or even drastic changes, sometimes including phrases from Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and closing with the five-note combination from John Williams' score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[7][better source needed] During his live performances, the piano solo has been played in all sorts of variations, from very close to the original to wildly improvised and extended versions, such as the elaborate version during his Central Park concert in 1980, the version from his 30 June 1984, Wembley Stadium performance and another take on it during the "Elton and his band" part of the show recorded in Sydney, Australia, on December 14, 1986, his last show before his throat surgery in January 1987.[8]


Despite sounding as though recorded live, the song was actually recorded in studio, with live sound effects added in later. Producer Gus Dudgeon explained:[9]

For some weird reason, Elton happened to have hit the opening piano chord of the song exactly one bar before the song actually started. So I was doing the mix and this chord kept coming on which you normally wouldn't expect to hear. I turned to engineer [David Hentschel] and I said, 'What does that remind you of? … It's the sort of thing that people do on stage just before they're going to start a song.' Just to kind of get everybody, 'Okay, here we go, ready?' For some reason that chord being there made me think, 'Maybe we should fake-live this.'

Dudgeon mixed in sounds from a 1972 performance of John in Royal Festival Hall and a 1970 Jimi Hendrix concert at the Isle of Wight.[10] He included a series of whistles from a live concert in Vancouver, and added hand claps and various shouts.[11]

North American single release[edit]

The song was the closing track on side one of the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and John was set against releasing it as a single, believing it would fail. CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, began heavy airplay of the song and it became the No. 1 song in the Detroit market.[12] This attention caused other American and Canadian Top 40 stations to add it to their playlists as well. As a result, the song peaked at No. 1 on the US singles chart in 1974. In the US, it was certified Gold on 8 April 1974 and Platinum on 13 September 1995 by the RIAA,[13] and had sold 2.8 million copies by August 1976.[14]

Cash Box said that "the song is a strong one and worth every second of its 5:10."[15] Record World said that "With Elton showcasing his remarkable voice range, it can't miss grabbing the top spot."[16]

"Bennie and the Jets" was John's first Top 40 hit on what at the time was called the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart, where it peaked at No. 15, the highest position out of the three of his singles which reached that chart.[17] The acceptance of "Bennie" on R&B radio helped land John, a huge soul music fan, a guest appearance on 17 May 1975 edition of Soul Train, where he played "Bennie and the Jets" and "Philadelphia Freedom". In Canada, it held the No. 1 spot on the RPM national singles chart for two weeks (13–20 April), becoming his first No. 1 single of 1974 and his fourth overall.[18][19]


Music video[edit]

In May 2017, the music video for "Bennie and the Jets" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as a winner of Elton John: The Cut, a competition organised in partnership with AKQA, Pulse Films, and YouTube in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of his songwriting relationship with Bernie Taupin. The competition called upon independent filmmakers to submit treatments for music videos for one of three Elton John songs from the 1970s, with each song falling within a specific concept category. "Bennie and the Jets" was designated for the choreography category, and was directed by Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill. The video was influenced by early cinema and the work of Busby Berkeley, portraying characters as participants on a talent show auditioning for Bennie.[20][21]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Covers and interpolations[edit]

  • The Beastie Boys released a cover of this song on their The Sounds of Science album in 1999.[36] The song, titled "Benny and the Jets", was sung by frequent Beastie Boys collaborator Biz Markie, who often mumbles the words while singing. This recording was first released in 1995 as a flexi disc inside of issue two of the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal magazine.[37]
  • Mary J. Blige used many elements from the piano chorus from "Benny and the Jets" on her single "Deep Inside" (from her 1999 album Mary).[39] Because of the extensive use of the piano parts, both Elton John and Bernie Taupin are credited as co-writers of "Deep Inside". An alternative version of the music video for the track features Elton John playing the piano on stage.[citation needed]
  • Miguel and rapper Wale recorded a cover of the song for the 2014 reissue of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Elton John praised their interpretation of "Bennie and the Jets", telling Rolling Stone magazine, "Miguel's done a fantastic job. It really makes the best of what the song is all about."[40][41]
  • In Season 21 of American Idol, 25-year-old mother of 3 Sara Beth Liebe performed a cover of "Bennie and The Jets" that put her through to Hollywood. The audition was controversial due to comments made by Katy Perry that were called "Mom Shaming". Liebe eventually left the show. On 6 May 2023, Liebe released a fully produced cover version of "Bennie and The Jets" with producer Fernando Perdomo providing all instrumentation.[citation needed]
  • Jacob Lusk from "Gabriels" performs "Bennie And The Jets" as gospel at the 2024 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song concert honoring Elton John and Bernie Taupin at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Mondegreens in the song[edit]

The song contains the line "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit", which is often misheard as "She's got electric boobs, and mohair shoes".[42] A scene in the film 27 Dresses shows that this is but one of many mondegreens that listeners have invented for this song.[43]


  1. ^ "Elton John: Bennie and the Jets". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  2. ^ Molanphy, Chris (30 June 2017). "The Imperial Elton and George Edition". Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia (Podcast). Slate. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  3. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Bennie & the Jets – Elton John | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Bennie and the Jets ranked #371 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List". Rolling Stone. 15 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  5. ^ Greene, Andy (14 March 2014). "Elton John & Bernie Taupin on 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'". Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at". Entertainment Weekly. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Elton John – Bennie and the Jets (Live at Hammersmith Odeon in 1982)". YouTube.
  8. ^ "Pop music star Elton John does not have throat".
  9. ^ "The Cut: The Making of 'Bennie And The Jets'". Elton John. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Elton John – Bennie And The Jets (1974)". New Music United. 29 January 2016.
  11. ^ "ShieldSquare Captcha". songfacts.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  12. ^ Bliss, Karen (21 January 2016). "The Legacy of Rosalie Trombley, Radio Pioneer Immortalized in Bob Seger's 'Rosalie' and Breaker of 'Bennie and the Jets' | Billboard". Readability.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  13. ^ "American single certifications – John, Elton – Bennie _ the Jets". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  14. ^ Jahr, Cliff (2 February 2011). "Elton John, Lonely at the Top: Rolling Stone's 1976 Cover Story". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  15. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 16 February 1974. p. 30. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  16. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. 16 February 1974. p. 1. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  17. ^ "Elton John: Charts and Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  20. ^ "WATCH: Elton John and Bernie Taupin's 'Tiny Dancer,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Bennie and the Jets' Just Got New Music Videos". People. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Elton John Premieres Three Music Videos for His '70s Classics". Out Magazine. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  22. ^ a b "National Top 100 Singles for 1974". Kent Music Report. 30 December 1974. Retrieved 15 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  23. ^ "Elton John – Bennie and the Jets" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  24. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Bennie and the Jets". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  25. ^ "flavour of new zealand – search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  26. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  28. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Cash Box. 13 April 1974.
  29. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  30. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1974". Cashbox. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  33. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  34. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Bennie and the Jets". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  35. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Bennie & the Jets". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  36. ^ "The Sounds of Science at Beastie Boys store". Sammerch.com. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  37. ^ Dearmore, Kelly (28 May 1998). "He got game – Page 1 – Music – Dallas". Dallas Observer. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  38. ^ "Miguel feat. Wale cover of Elton John's 'Bennie and the Jets' | WhoSampled". WhoSampled.
  39. ^ "Mary J. Blige – Deep Inside". 16 June 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via YouTube.
  40. ^ Weber, Lindsey (21 March 2014). "Hear Miguel's 'Bennie and the Jets' Cover". Vulture. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  41. ^ Newman, Jason (21 March 2014). "Elton John Talks Miguel and Wale's 'Bennie and the Jets' Cover". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  42. ^ DiStasi, Lawrence (29 July 2011). "DiStasiblog: Mondegreens". Distasiblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  43. ^ "Celebrating 10 Years of 27 Dresses' Insane, Iconic 'Bennie and the Jets' Scene". Vulture. 12 January 2018. It's the perfect 'drunken rom-com scene' song, because it's okay to sing the wrong words to this song; who even knows what the right words are?

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