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Elton John’s fourth studio, ‘Madman Across the Water,’ celebrates its 50th anniversary today

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Mercury Records/The Rocket Record Company

Elton John‘s memorable fourth studio album, Madman Across the Water, was released 50 years ago today, on November 5, 1971.

The album, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200, yielded two singles — “Levon” and “Tiny Dancer.” Levon was the bigger chart hit, reaching #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, while “Tiny Dancer” just missed the top 40, stalling at #41 n the tally.

However, “Tiny Dancer” has gone on to become one of Elton’s most popular and recognized songs. John’s songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, wrote the lyrics about his first wife, Maxine Feibelman, who was working as a seamstress for Elton’s band around the time he met her.

In 2000, the prominent appearance of “Tiny Dancer” in a scene in the 2000 Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous gave the tune a big boost in popularity. In 2011, it was certified triple platinum for notching 3 million sales equivalent units in the U.S.

As with most of Elton’s earlier albums, Madman Across the Water featured majestic orchestral arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. Other standout tunes include the enigmatic title track, the breezy, mandolin-driven “Holiday Inn” and the dramatic “Indian Sunset.”

Interestingly, Madman Across the Water was the third album Elton released in 1971, following the soundtrack to the film Friends and the live album 11-17-70.

Madman has gone on to sell over 2 million copies in the U.S.

Heart‘s Ann Wilson has been a fan of Elton since his first album, and her band went on to collaborate on multiple projects with Buckmaster, who passed away in 2017.

“Madman, with the strings by Paul Buckmaster and everything, [is] Elton at…maybe his most creative,” Ann tells ABC Audio. “Pushing the envelope. He and Bernie just at their peak. Great record.”

Here’s Madman Across the Water’s full track list:

“Tiny Dancer”
“Levon”
“Razor Face”
“Madman Across the Water”
“Indian Sunset”
“Holiday Inn”
“Rotten Peaches”
“All the Nasties”
“Goodbye”

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