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Honky Château
Studio album by Elton John
Released May 19, 1972
Recorded Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France, January 1972
Genre Rock
Length 45:15
Label Uni (US/Canada)
DJM Records
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Professional reviews
Elton John chronology
Madman Across the Water
Honky Château
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

Honky Château is the fifth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released in 1972. In 2003, the album was ranked number 357 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[1] This was the final Elton John album on the Uni label in the US and Canada before he was transferred to the MCA label. This and Elton's earlier Uni albums were reissued on the MCA label.



This is the first album since John's debut (Empty Sky) not to feature strings on any songs, except for violinist Jean-Luc Ponty on "Mellow" and "Amy". It also marks the beginning of his transition from a singer/songwriter in the mould of James Taylor, Leon Russell, or Carole King to a rock style that would become more evident on such albums as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Rock of the Westies.

It was also the first album to feature Elton's road band of Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums (along with new member Davey Johnstone on guitars and other fretted instruments) as the sole core group of musicians. Previously, per his record label's insistence, Elton was limited using his road band for only one track each on "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Madman Across the Water." The rest of the songs on those two albums were done by various groupings of studio session players.

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 Gus Dudgeon.

Critical appraisal

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".[2] Other reviews were likewise mostly positive. More recently, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic confirms that the album has stood the test of time by proclaiming that "it plays as the most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote".[3]

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)" – 4:41

Side two

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

Bonus track (1995 Mercury and 1996 Rocket/Island reissue)

  1. "Slave" [Alternate take] – 2:53


"Honky cat"

  • Elton:aucoustic and electric pianos;
  • Davey:banjo;
  • Dee:bass;
  • Nigel:drums;
  • Jacques Bolognesei: trombone;
  • Ivan Jullien: trumpet;
  • Jean-Louis Chautemps & Alain Hatot: saxophones.


  • Elton:piano and organ;
  • Davey:electric guitar;
  • Dee:bass;
  • Nigel: drums and tambourine;
  • Jean Luc-Ponty:fiddle.

"I think i´m gonna kill myself"

  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:aucostic guitar and backing vocals;
  • Dee:bass and backing vocals;
  • Nigel:drums and backing vocals;
  • "Legs" Larry Smith:tap dance.


  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:electric guitar;
  • Dee:bass;
  • Nigel:drums and tambourine.

"Rocket man"

  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:acoustic,slide guitars and backing vocals;
  • Dee:bass and backing vocals;
  • Nigel:drums and backing vocals;
  • David Hentschel:A.R.P. synthesizer.


  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:electric guitar and backing vocals;
  • Dee:bass and backing vocals;
  • Nigel:drums and backing vocals
  • David Hentschel:A.R.P. synthesizer;
  • Madeline Bell,Liza Strike,Larry Steel,Tonny Hazzard:backing vocals.


  • Elton:vocal;
  • Davey:steel,acoustic guitars and banjo;
  • Dee:bass
  • Nigel:congas and drums.


  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:electric guitar;
  • Dee:bass;
  • Nigel:drums;
  • Ray Cooper:congas;
  • Jean Luc-Ponty:fiddle.

"Mona lisas and mad hatters"

  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:mandolin;
  • Dee:bass.


  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:acoustic,steel guitars and backing vocals;
  • Dee:bass and backing vocals;
  • Nigel:drums and backing vocals;
  • David Hentschel:A.R.P. synthesizer;
  • Gus Dudgeon:rhino whistle and backing vocals
  • Tony Hazzard:backing vocals.


  • Elton:piano;
  • Davey:electric guitar;
  • Dee:bass;
  • Nigel:drums.


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



Year Chart Position
1972 UK Album Chart 2
1972 Billboard Pop Albums 1


Year Single Chart Position
1972 Honky Cat UK Singles Chart 31
1972 Honky Cat Billboard Adult Contemporary 6
1972 Honky Cat Billboard Pop Singles 8
1972 Rocket Man UK Singles Chart 2
1972 Rocket Man Billboard Pop Singles 6


Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold July 24, 1972
RIAA – USA Platinum October 11, 1995
Preceded by
Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones
Billboard 200 number-one album
July 15 - August 18, 1972
Succeeded by
Chicago V by Chicago


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