Elton John made his American concert debut in the summer of 1970, and in October he released his third album in less than two years, Tumbleweed Connection. By year's end, he was back in the States for more shows, one of which would be the setting for his first live LP, 17-11-70. On November 17, 1970 John gave a performance with drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray at A&R Recording Studios in New York City. The show was set up as a promotion for his new LP, and was broadcast live on WABC-FM.
John gave one of his most definitive early performances on 17-11-70. In addition to original material like "Take Me to the Pilot," "Burn Down the Mission" and "Sixty Years On," John and the band take on songs by the Rolling Stones ("Honky Tonk Women") and a medley that includes nods to both Elvis Presley and the Beatles. John cut his hand at some point during the performance, and by the end of the show, the piano keys were covered with blood. John has stated in several interviews that he believes that this recording is his best live performance.
According to John, a live album was never planned as a release. Recordings of the broadcast, however, were so popular among bootleggers it prompted the record label to release it as an album on April 9, 1971. John also had released 2 full studio albums (Elton John and Tumbleweed Connection) and a movie soundtrack (Friends) when the live LP was issued, making him the first musician or band since The Beatles to have 4 records simultaneously land in the Top 100.
We're honored to commemorate another golden anniversary for the iconic Elton John with these official screenprints by Ryan Richardson Pratt:
It was an exciting challenge illustrating this milestone in Elton's trajectory. I tried to focus on what made this night's performance special. The image is an echo of the stark original album cover, slightly expanded and illuminated with the "Bad Side of the Moon" looming above. It's Elton before the iconic costumes and stadiums of fans. Stripped down and intimate. A showcase of the hungry young rising star with his leg kicked up, fingers assailing the keys, while lighting up the airwaves and midtown manhattan skyline with his unique energy and attitude. -Ryan Richardson Pratt