Monday, November 25, 1974

Nick Drake died: November 25, 1974

Originally posted November 25, 2012.

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Nick Drake was an English folk singer/songwriter born in Rangoon, Burma, on June 19, 1948. Only three albums were released during his lifetime and each sold less than 5000 copies upon initial release. However, after his death he emerged as a doomed romantic hero. In the mid-‘80s, musicians such as The Cure’s Robert Smith and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck cited him as an influence. The Dream Academy’s 1985 single “Life in a Northern Town” was about Drake.

Drake’s parents were musically inclined, even composing music. At an early age, Nick wrote songs and recorded them on reel-to-reel. He played piano in the school orchestra and learned clarinet and saxophone. In 1967, he won a scholarship to study English literature at Cambridge. He was a bright student who didn’t apply himself. He was more interested in playing and listening to music while smoking marijuana.

He discovered the folk scene via performers like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs and began performing in clubs and coffee houses around London. With the help of college friend Robert Kirby and American producer Joe Boyd, Drake recorded Five Leaves Left in 1968.

In the autumn of 1969, Drake moved to London to concentrate on music. 1970’s Bryter Layter sported a more upbeat and jazzier sound and featured John Cale and members of Fairport Convention. In October 1971, Drake recorded songs over two nights for what would become 1972’s Pink Moon. Thinking that the sound of Bryter Layter was too elaborate, Drake opted for a stark collection of bleak songs in which his singing was accompanied solely by his own guitar with one piano overdub on the title track.

He visited a psychiatrist in 1971 and was prescribed antidepressants. He also suffered from insomnia and his friend Kirby worried at one point that Drake was showing early signs of psychosis. In 1972, Drake had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for five weeks. He returned home to live with his parents. Musician John Martyn, who wrote the title song of his 1973 album Solid Air about Drake, described him as the most withdrawn person he’d ever met. Nick died at age 26 on November 25, 1974, of an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant. The death has largely been assumed to be a suicide although some have considered it an accidental overdose.

A Skin Too Few (documentary about Nick Drake)

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Saturday, November 16, 1974

Lynyrd Skynyrd chart with “Free Bird”

Updated 1/21/2019.

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Free Bird

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Writer(s): Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant (see lyrics here)

Released: Nov. 1974

First Charted: 11/16/1974

Peak: 19 US, 25 CB, 31 HR, 21 UK, 47 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, 2.11 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: 3.0

Video Airplay *: 38.0

Streaming *: --

* in millions


It “has become a rock and roll joke” to shout out “Free Bird!” at concerts, SF but it is also a tribute to “a towering rock anthem crowned with the mother of all guitar solos” BBC that “has entered hard rock folklore.” HL-104 The song “extend[ed] the influence of Southern rock...started by the Allman Brothers [and was] recorded as a tribute to Duane Allman, who was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971.” RS500

“‘Free Bird’ is the tale of a restless spirit attempting to explain to his sweetheart” HL-104 “why he can’t settle down and make a commitment.” SF Guitarist Allen Collins’ “steady girlfriend, who realized that the band would always come first, kept asking him questions like, ‘If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?’” KN

He worked on the song on and off for two years. SF When he “first brought it into rehearsals, volatile singer Ronnie Van Zandt was unenthusiastic, claiming it had too many chords.” BBC The band first recorded the song as a ballad BBC in 1972 that clocked in at 7 ½ minutes. SF Club audiences didn’t respond until “the climatic guitar duel” BBC was added to the end, stretching the song to 10 minutes.

The “record company…thought it was too long [for a single]. Even the band never thought this was going to be a hit.” SF After “Sweet Home Alabama” was a chart success, an edited “Free Bird” was released, but “the long version from the album has always been more popular.” SF

“When Skynyrd reformed in the late ‘80s it was performed as an instrumental, with an empty mic stand...adorned with Ronnie’s trademark cowboy hat” BBC as a memorial to him – he “was killed along with two other band members in a plane crash in 1977.” BBC

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Monday, November 4, 1974

Nov. 4, 1974: Elton John's first Greatest Hits released

Originally posted February 1, 2011. Last updated September 14, 2018.

Elton John Compilations

These are some of the most prominent Elton John collections released over the years.

  1. Greatest Hits (1970-74)
  2. Greatest Hits Volume II (1971-77)
  3. Greatest Hits Volume III (1979-87)
  4. Greatest Hits 1976-1986 (1976-86)
  5. The Very Best of (1970-90)
  6. Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (1970-2002)
  7. Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits (1970-2007)

You can also check out Elton John’s discography page for detailed chart figures on all the songs from these collections and their sales figures, airplay, and peaks on various charts.

Greatest Hits

Recorded: 1970-1974

Released: Nov. 4, 1974

Sales (in millions): US: 16.0, UK: 0.3, IFPI: --, World: 27.0

Peak: US: 110, UK: 111, Canada: 113, Australia: 15

Greatest Hits Volume II

Recorded: 1971-1976

Released: Oct. 8, 1977

Sales (in millions): US: 5.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 7.0

Peak: US: 21, UK: 6, Canada: 6, Australia: 46

Greatest Hits Volume III

Recorded: 1979-1986

Released: Oct. 3, 1987

Sales (in millions): US: 2.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 2.5

Peak: US: 84, UK: --, Canada: 33, Australia: --

Greatest Hits 1976-1986

Recorded: 1976-1986

Released: Nov. 3, 1992

Sales (in millions): US: 2.0, UK: --, IFPI: --, World: 2.0

Peak: US: --, UK: --, Canada: --, Australia: --

Very Best of

Recorded: 1970-1990

Released: Nov. 3, 1990

Sales (in millions): US: --, UK: 2.7, IFPI: 5.0, World: 18.0

Peak: US: --, UK: 12, Canada: --, Australia: --

Greatest Hits 1970-2003

Recorded: 1970-2002

Released: Nov. 12, 2002

Sales (in millions): US: 2.5, UK: 1.2, IFPI: 2.0, World: 5.7

Peak: US: 12, UK: 3, Canada: --, Australia: 19

Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits

Recorded: 1970-2006

Released: March 26, 2007

Sales (in millions): US: 3.0, UK: 0.3, IFPI: --, World: 3.3

Peak: US: 9, UK: 2, Canada: 10, Australia: 8

Quotable: --

Genre: pop/compilation

Album Tracks (1970-1974):

  1. Border Song (3/70, #92 US) G1, 02***
  2. Your Song (11/28/70, #8 US, #7 UK, #9 AC) G1, V, 02
  3. Levon (12/18/71, #24 US) G2, 02*
  4. Tiny Dancer (3/4/72, #41 US, #35 AC, gold single) G2, 02, R
  5. Rocket Man (4/22/72, #6 US, #3 UK, #39 AC) G1, V, 02, R
  6. Honky Cat (8/12/72, #8 US, #31 UK, #6 AC) G1, V, 02
  7. Crocodile Rock (11/4/72, #1 US, #5 UK, #11 AC, platinum single) G1, V, 02, R
  8. Daniel (1/20/73, #2 US, #4 UK, #1 AC, gold single) G1, V, 02, R
  9. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (7/7/73, #12 US, #7 UK) G1, V, 02, R
  10. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (9/29/73, #2 US, #6 UK, #7 AC, platinum single) G1, V, 02, R
  11. Bennie and the Jets (2/16/74, #1 US, #37 UK, #15 RB, platinum single) G1, V, 02, R
  12. Candle in the Wind (3/2/74, #6 US, #5 UK, #2 AC) G1, V, 02, R
  13. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (6/1/74, #2 US, #16 UK, #3 AC, gold single) G1, 02

Album Tracks (1974-1979):

  1. The Bitch Is Back (9/7/74, #4 US, #15 UK, gold single) G2, V, 02
  2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (11/23/74, #1 US, #10 UK, gold single) G2, V, 02***, R
  3. Philadelphia Freedom (3/7/75, #1 US, #12 UK, #32 RB, platinum single) G2, V, 02, R
  4. Someone Saved My Life Tonight (6/23/75, #4 US, #22 UK, #36 AC, gold single) G2, V, 02
  5. Island Girl (10/4/75, #1 US, #14 UK, #27 AC, platinum single) G2, 02, R
  6. Grow Some Funk of Your Own (1/24/76, #14 US) G2
  7. Pinball Wizard (3/20/76, #7 UK) G2, V, 02***, S
  8. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee) (7/3/76, #1 US, #1 UK, #1 AC, gold single) G4, V, 02, R
  9. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (11/13/76, #6 US, #11 UK, #1 AC, gold single) G2, G4, V, 02, R
  10. Part-Time Love (10/21/78, #22 US, #15 UK, #40 AC) V
  11. Song for Guy (12/16/78, #4 UK) V, 02**
  12. Mama Can’t Buy You Love (6/9/79, #9 US, #1 AC, #36 RB, gold single) G3, G4

Album Tracks (1980-1990):

  1. Little Jeannie (5/3/80, #3 US, #33 UK, #1 AC, gold single) G3, G4, 02*
  2. Empty Garden (3/20/82, #13 US, #51 UK, #18 AC) G3, G4
  3. Blue Eyes (3/27/82, #12 US, #8 UK, #1 AC) G3, G4, V, 02**
  4. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues (4/30/83, #4 US, #5 UK, #2 AC, #22 AR) G3, G4, V, 02
  5. I’m Still Standing (5/7/83, #12 US, #4 UK, #28 AC, #34 AR) G3, G4, V, 02
  6. Kiss the Bride (8/6/83, #25 US, #20 UK) G3, G4, V, 02**
  7. Too Low for Zero (1983) G3
  8. Sad Songs Say So Much (5/26/84, #5 US, #7 UK, #2 AC, #24 AR) G3, G4, V, 02
  9. Passengers (8/11/84, #5 UK) V
  10. Who Wears These Shoes? (9/8/84, #16 US, #50 UK, #11 AC, #18 AR) G4
  11. Nikita (10/12/85, #7 US, #3 UK, #3 AC) G3, G4, V, 02
  12. Wrap Her Up (10/26/85, #20 US, #12 UK) G3, G4
  13. Heartache All Over the World (10/4/86, #55 US, #45 UK) G3
  14. I Don’t Want to Go on with You Like That (6/4/88, #2 US, #30 UK, #1 AC, #13 AR) V, 02*
  15. Sacrifice (11/18/89, #18 US, #1 UK, #3 AC) V, 02, R
  16. You Gotta Love Someone (10/20/90, #43 US, #33 UK, #1 AC) V
  17. Easier to Walk Away (12/15/90, #63 UK) V

Album Tracks (1991-2002):

  1. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (live with George Michael, 11/30/91, #1 US, #1 UK, #1 AC, sales: 0.76 m) 02***, R
  2. The One (5/25/92, #9 US, #10 UK, #1 AC) 02
  3. True Love (with Kiki Dee, 11/20/93, #56 US, #2 UK, #21 AC) 02***
  4. Can You Feel the Love Tonight (5/20/94, #2 US, #14 UK, #1 AC, sales: 0.5 m) 02, R
  5. Circle of Life (8/27/94, #15 US, #11 UK, #2 AC, sales: 0.5 m) 02
  6. Believe (2/20/95, #13 US, #15 UK, #1 AC) 02
  7. Made in England (5/8/95, #52 US, #18 UK, #12 AC) 02**
  8. Blessed (10/21/95, #34 US, #2 AC) 02*
  9. Something About the Way You Look Tonight (9/6/97, #1 UK, #1 AC, sales: 5.4 m) 02
  10. Written in the Stars (with LeAnn Rimes, 1/16/99, #29 US, #10 UK, #2 AC, sales: 0.5 m) 02
  11. I Want Love (10/1/01, #9 US, #6 AC) 02
  12. This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore (1/1/02, #24 UK, #10 AC) 02
  13. Your Song (with Alessandro Safina, 7/1/02, #4 UK) 02***, R

G1 Greatest Hits
G2 Greatest Hits Volume II
G3 Greatest Hits Volume III
G4 Greatest Hits 1976-1986
V Very Best of
02 Greatest Hits 1970-2002
R Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.


The Very Best of Elton John was a double-CD anthology released in the U.K. that essentially consolidated three previous single disc compilations into one collection. Most represented is Greatest Hits. “Rarely has a greatest-hits collection been as effective,” E1Greatest Hits is a nearly flawless collection, offering a perfect introduction to Elton John and providing casual fans with almost all the hits they need.” E1

“Released at the end of 1974, after Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Caribou had effectively established him as a superstar, Greatest Hits is exactly what it says it is – it features every one of his Top Ten singles (Your Song, Rocket Man, Honky Cat, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie and the Jets, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me), plus the number 12 Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting and radio and concert favorites ‘Border Song’ and Candle in the Wind.” E1 Only “Border Song” is absent from The Very Best of.

That collection did skip over “a couple of lesser hits from this era, most notably Levon and Tiny Dancer,” E1 but added them to Elton’s next greatest hits collection, although those same two songs are notable omissions from The Very Best of.

Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 also “adds…The Bitch Is Back, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, ‘Island Girl’, [and] ‘Grow Some Funk of Your Own,’” E2 leaving the last two off The Very Best of.

The second hits collection also had “two non-LP hit singles (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Philadelphia Freedom) and John’s version of Pinball Wizard, taken from the soundtrack to Tommy. In short, it’s an excellent continuation of the first collection, and taken together, they function as an ideal singles retrospective of the most successful singles artist of the early ‘70s.” E2

Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 (1979-1987) is a 12-track overview that compiles the bulk of Elton John’s biggest hits from the ‘80s, including such classic tracks as Little Jeannie, I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, Empty Garden, Blue Eyes, I’m Still Standing, and Sad Songs (Say So Much). It also includes…‘Heartache All Over the World’…[and] ‘Too Low for Zero’, which never was a single.” E3

Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 went out of print after John left Geffen for MCA, who issued a replacement package, Greatest Hits 1976-1986, which eliminates those two songs [as does The Very Best of] and adds Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and ‘Who Wears These Shoes?’ to the remaining ten songs.” E3

Again, The Very Best of falls short of covering everything from this collection. In addition to the aforementioned omissions, ‘Mama Can’t Buy Me Love,’ ‘Little Jeannie,’ ‘Empty Garden,’ ‘Who Wears These Shoes?,’ and ‘Wrap Her Up’ are not included. All were top twenty U.S. hits but had minor impact, if any, on the UK charts, for whom this collection was created.

Another alternative to this collection is the 2-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002. Omitted are “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Song for Guy,” “Part-Time Love,” “Blue Eyes,” “Kiss the Bride,” “Passengers,” “Easier to Walk Away,” and “You Gotta Love Someone.”

That collection adds “Levon,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Island Girl,” and “Little Jeannie” from the 1970-1990 era. The next decade plus is represented by songs “The One,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Circle of Life,” “Believe,” “Blessed,” “Something about the Way You Look Tonight,” “I Want Love,” “Written in the Stars,” and “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.”

The collection was released in various reiterations. Songs marked with an * were not included on the 2-disc European version of this album, which substituted those marked with **. Songs marked with *** were included on a third bonus disc, as well as “Levon” and “I Don’t Want to Go on with You Like That,” which were on the original 2-disc American version.

Finally, the Rocket Man collection whittled Elton’s entire career down to one disc. There were many alternate versions of this collection released throughout the world. In the U.S., this was actually retitled Rocket Man: Number Ones, a definite misnomer since these were not all #1’s.

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Awards: G1

Awards: V

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