Elton John - Honky Château

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Elton John - Honky Château
Elton John - Honky Château.jpg
Studio album by Elton John
Released 19 May 1972
Recorded January 1972
Studio Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France
Genre Rock
Length 45:15
Label Uni (US)
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Madman Across the Water
Honky Château
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
Singles from Honky Château
  1. "Rocket man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long Long Time)"
    Released: 17 April 1972
  2. "Honky Cat"
    Released: 31 July 1972
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Robert Christgau A−
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars


  "Honky Château", released in 1972, is the fifth studio album released by Elton John. It was titled after the 18th century French chateau where it was recorded, Château d' Hérouville. The album reached number one in the US, the first of seven consecutive US number one albums for Elton John.

In 2012, the album was ranked number 359 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was certified gold in July 1972 and platinum in October 1995 by the RIAA. This was the final Elton John album on the Uni label in the US and Canada before MCA consolidated all of its various labels under the MCA brand. This and John's earlier Uni albums were later reissued on MCA Records.

Two singles were released worldwide from Honky Chateau, "Rocket Man" and "Honky Cat". A third single, "Hercules," was prepared for release, but this never materialised.



This album marks the beginning of John's transition from a singer/songwriter to a more rock 'n' roll style.

It was also the first album to feature John's road band of Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums (along with new member Davey Johnstone on electric & acoustic guitars and other fretted instruments) as the core group of musicians. Previously, the record label insisted that John use them for only one track each on "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Madman Across the Water"; the rest of the songs on those two albums were performed by session players. Johnstone had played acoustic guitar, mandolin and sitar on "Madman Across the Water", but on "Honky Chateau", he would be invited to join permanently as a full-band member and he extended his contributions to electric guitar, banjo, slide guitar and backing cocals.

The opening track "Honky Cat" is a New Orleans funk track reminiscent of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint and features a four-piece horn section arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon. Also of note is the debut on record of the backing vocal combination of Johnstone, Murray and Olsson, who first added what would soon become their "trademark" sound to "Rocket Man". The trio's unique approach to arranging their backing vocal tracks would be a fixture on John's singles and albums for the next several years.



Critical appraisal and chart action

Critically, "Honky Château" is regarded as one of John's finest records. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone approved the original LP as "a rich, warm, satisfying album that stands head and shoulders above the morass of current releases". Other reviews were likewise mostly positive. In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic has written that "it plays as the most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote".

"Honky Château" became the first of a string of albums by Elton John to hit No. 1 in the Billboard Charts in the US. In Canada, the album peaked at No. 3 on the RPM 100 Top Albums Chart, reaching this position on 29 July 1972, dropping two places to No. 5, then returning to No. 3 for a further twelve consecutive weeks before falling to No. 9 on 4 November of the same year.

"Honky Chateau" was also released as a "Hybrid SACD" remixed in 5.1 and is still available as such.


Track listing

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Side one

  1. "Honky Cat" – 5:13
  2. "Mellow" – 5:32
  3. "I Think I'm Going to Kill Myself" – 3:35
  4. "Susie (Dramas)" – 3:25
  5. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long Long Time)" – 4:45

Side two

  1. "Salvation" – 3:58
  2. "Slave" – 4:22
  3. "Amy" – 4:03
  4. "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters" – 5:00
  5. "Hercules" – 5:20





  • Elton John – vocals, piano (tracks 2–6 and tracks 8–10), acoustic and electric pianos (track 1), organ (tracks 2, 4), harmonium (track 6)
  • Davey Johnstone – guitars (tracks 2–10), banjo (track 1, 7), steel guitar (track 7) mandolin (track 9), backing vocals (tracks 3, 5, 6, 8, 10)
  • Dee Murray – bass guitar, backing vocals (tracks 3, 5, 6, 8, 10)
  • Nigel Olsson – drums (tracks 1–8 and track 10), congas (track 7), tembourine, backing vocals (tracks 3, 5, 6, 8, 10)


Additional musicians

  • Jason Barnhart (fr.) – trumpet (track 1)
  • Jacques Bolognesi (fr.) – trombone (track 1)
  • Jean-Louis Chautemps, Alain Hatot – saxophones (track 1)
  • Jean-Luc Ponty – electric violin (tracks 2, 8)
  • "Legs"Larry Smith – tap dance (track 3)
  • David Hentschel – ARP synthesizer (tracks 5, 10) (credited as "David Henschel" on sleeve)
  • Ray Cooper – congas (track 8)
  • Gus Dudgeon – rhino whistle and backing vocals (track 10)
  • Madeline Bell, Liza Strike, Larry Steel, Tony Hazzard – additional backing vocals (track 6)



  • Producer: Gus Dudgeon
  • Engineer: Ken Scott
  • Remastering: Tony Cousins
  • Brass arrangement: Gus Dudgeon
  • Cover photo: Ed Caraeff
  • Liner notes: John Tobler
  • Editing: Gus Skinas
  • Digital transfers: Ricky Graham
  • Surround mix: Greg Penny



Chart (1972) Position
Italian Albums Chart 18
Australian Albums Chart 15
US Billboard Year-End 24
Chart (1973) Position
US Billboard Year-End 80




Elton John - Honky Château
UK DJM DJLPH 423 (1972).
Record produced by Gus Dudgeon.
The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.
Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.
Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.
Both record centre labels are free from tears, stains or stickers.
The albums laminated gatefold cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.
The album cover has a strong hinge and spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

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