Crocodile Rock

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"Crocodile Rock"
Elton John Crocodile Rock (2).jpg
Single by Elton John
from the album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
B-side"Elderberry Wine"
ReleasedUK: 27 October 1972
US: 20 November 1972
RecordedJune 1972
Château d'Hérouville, France
Genre
Length3:56 (album version, US 45 version)
3:23 (single version)
LabelMCA (US)
DJM (UK)
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Honky Cat"
(1972)
"Crocodile Rock"
(1972)
"Daniel"
(1973)

"Crocodile Rock" is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and recorded in summer 1972 at the Château d'Hérouville studio in France (it was listed as "Strawberry Studios" in the album's credits), where John and his team had previously recorded the Honky Château album. It was released on 27 October 1972 in the UK and 20 November 1972 in the U.S., as a pre-release single from his forthcoming 1973 album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, and became his first U.S. number-one single, reaching the top spot on 3 February 1973, and staying there for three weeks. In the U.S., it was certified Gold on 5 February 1973 and Platinum on 13 September 1995 by the RIAA.[3]

In Canada, it topped the chart as well, remaining at No.1 on the RPM 100 national singles chart for four weeks from 17 February through 10 March. It was the first song released as a single on the MCA label (catalogue #40000) after MCA dissolved its Uni, Decca, Kapp and Coral labels. (John had previously been with the Uni label.)[4]

"Crocodile Rock" is dominated by a Farfisa organ, played by John. The lyrics take a nostalgic look at early rock 'n' roll, pop culture, dating and youthful independence of that era. John's band members, including Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, were also performers on the song. John, however, did all the vocals, including the falsetto backing vocals.

Inspiration[edit]

The song was inspired by John's discovery of leading Australian band Daddy Cool and their hit single "Eagle Rock", which was the most successful Australian single of the early 1970s (with 1,000,000 sold),[5] remaining at No.1 for a record of 10 weeks.[6][7] John heard the song and the group on his 1972 Australian tour and was greatly impressed by it.[5] A photo included in the album packaging features John's lyricist, Bernie Taupin, wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge. The song also includes a lyrical reference to the 1950s hit record "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and his Comets ("While the other kids were rocking around the clock...").

In a 1974 lawsuit filed in the US District Court of Los Angeles by attorney Donald Barnett on behalf of "Speedy Gonzales"' composer Buddy Kaye, it was alleged that defendants John and Taupin illegally incorporated chords from "Speedy Gonzales" which produced a falsetto tone into the "Crocodile" song co-written by defendants. The parties reached a settlement between them and the case was then dismissed.

Taupin also stated in an Esquire magazine interview [8] that "Crocodile Rock" was a funny song in that he did not mind creating it, but it would not be something he would listen to; it was simply something fun at the time. John has dismissed criticism of the song that it was "derivative", quoted in the booklet for the 1995 reissue of Don't Shoot Me ... as saying, "I wanted it to be a record about all the things I grew up with. Of course it's a rip-off, it's derivative in every sense of the word."

Billboard reviewed the single, stating that it "is a clever easy beat rocker with a sound and flavor of the 50's hits."[9]

Live performances[edit]

John has played the song numerous times live in concert from 1972 to 1984, and then from 1998 to present (excluding the ballad version of this song perfomed from 1993 to 1994, that he performed at the Greek Theater with Ray Cooper in September 1994).[10] Live versions released include an audio version from 1974 on the Here and There original LP and 1995 CD reissue, and a video concert version on the Elton 60 – Live at Madison Square Garden DVD release.

In 2021, John revealed that "Crocodile Rock" was "written as a kind of joke" and that he does not enjoy playing the song anymore. He has continued singing it in concert because fans enjoy it, but has vowed never to play it again once his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has ended.[11]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[23] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player - Elton John | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 August 2019. 'Daniel' is a moving ballad and 'Crocodile Rock' is a sly take on '50s rock & roll -- the album is slightly uneven.
  2. ^ a b Guarisco, Donald A. "Elton John Crocodile Rock". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  3. ^ Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 46. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
  4. ^ "Crocodile Rock". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
  5. ^ a b Creswell, Toby; Samantha Trenoweth (2006). "Ross Wilson". 1001 Australians You Should Know. North Melbourne, Victoria: Pluto Press. pp. 242–243. ISBN 978-1-86403-361-8.
  6. ^ "No. 1 Hits 1971". The Menzies Era. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  8. ^ "Bernie Taupin Quotes - Bernie Taupin What I've Learned Interview". Esquire. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Radio Action and Pick Singles" (PDF). Billboard. 2 December 1972. p. 68. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Crocodile Rock by Elton John Song Statistics | setlist.fm". www.setlist.fm. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  11. ^ Aubrey, Elizabeth (10 May 2021). "Elton John wants to "throw a party" when he never has to play 'Crocodile Rock' again". NME. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  12. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  13. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  14. ^ "Top 100 1973-02-10". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  15. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Forum - Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts, 1973". Swisscharts.com. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  18. ^ 1972 in British music#Best-selling singles
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1973/Top 100 Songs of 1973". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1973". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Crocodile Rock". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  23. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Crocodile Rock". Recording Industry Association of America.