Elton John has made Billboard Boxscore history. His Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.
As Eric Frankenberg reported on Monday: “According to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour has grossed $817.9 million across 278 shows so far — more than any tour in Boxscore history. Bypassing Ed Sheeran’s The Divide Tour ($776.4 million), it is the first tour in Billboard’s archives to cross the $800 million benchmark.”
Frankenberg adds that Elton owns another Billboard Boxscore record. “Dating back to reports for John’s Ice on Fire Tour (1986), and including his share of co-headline runs with Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Tina Turner and, many times over, Billy Joel, John has grossed $1.863 billion and sold 19.9 million tickets over 1,573 reported shows. That’s the highest career gross and attendance for a solo artist in Boxscore history, having passed Bruce Springsteen and Madonna while on this tour.”
These are remarkable achievements, but then most Billboard readers know that Elton John has been setting Billboard records for decades. He has amassed seven No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and nine No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 (counting his contribution to Dionne & Friends’ 1986 smash “That’s What Friends Are For”). He has topped or climbed high on many other charts as well. In 1974, his funky “Bennie and the Jets” reached No. 15 on Hot Soul Singles, the forerunner of today’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, a rarity for a white pop artist at that time.
Here are 10 times Elton made Billboard history:
First double album in the ’70s to top the Billboard 200 for eight weeks
Dec. 29, 1973: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road logged its eighth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It was the first double-disk album to log eight or more weeks at No. 1 since The Beatles’ eponymous album, better known as The White Album, which spent nine weeks on top in 1968-69. It was the first double-disk album by a solo artist to log eight or more weeks at No. 1 since Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall, which logged 13 weeks at No. 1 in 1961.
Longest run at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a greatest hits album
Feb. 1, 1975: Elton’s Greatest Hits logged its 10th week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, which was, and remains, the longest run for a greatest hits album in the chart’s history (which dates to March 1956). Tied for second place: Garth Brooks’ The Hits (1995) and The Beatles’ 1 (2000-01), both of which logged eight weeks on top.
First album to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1
June 7, 1975: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy became the first album in the history of the Billboard 200 to enter the chart at No. 1. Commonplace now, it was stunning then.
First act to log five No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 in the ’70s
Nov. 1, 1975: “Island Girl” became Elton’s fifth No. 1 hit of the ’70s. That was the most by any act in the ’70s to that point, surpassing the Jackson 5, Paul McCartney (and Wings), and John Denver, each of whom had had four at that point.
First and only act to amass seven No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 in the ‘70s
Nov. 8, 1975: Rock of the Westies, Elton’s follow-up to Captain Fantastic, became the second album to debut at No. 1. It was Elton’s seventh No. 1 album in the ‘70s, which was more than any other act tallied in that decade. Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney (and Wings) each tallied six No. 1 albums in the ‘70s. (Led Zep’s tally counts a 1969 leader that remained on top into 1970.)
First act to amass six No. 1 Hot 100 hits in the '70s
Aug. 7, 1976: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” an irresistible duet with Kiki Dee that sounds as fresh and fun today as it did when it brightened the radio during America’s Bicentennial year, became Elton’s sixth No. 1 hit on the Hot 100. No other act had amassed that many No. 1s in the ’70s to that point, though by decade’s end, Paul McCartney (and Wings) had tied Elton’s record and the Bee Gees had surpassed it, with nine No. 1 hits in the ‘70s.
First act to amass 16, 17 and 18 No. 1 hits on Adult Contemporary
Nov. 22, 1997: “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” became Elton’s 16th No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. That surpassed the Carpenters’ long-time record of 15 No. 1 AC hits (set in 1981). Elton has since expanded his roster of No. 1 AC hits to 18, which keeps him in the lead.
First song by a male solo artist to log 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100
Jan. 10, 1998: “Candle in the Wind 1997”/“Something About the Way You Look Tonight” logged its 14th week at No. 1 on the Hot 100, the longest hold on the top spot to that point for a single by a male solo artist, and also the longest hold to that point for a single by a U.K. artist. Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” with 15 weeks on top, currently holds both records.
First act to appear in the top 40 on the Hot 100 for 30 consecutive years
March 13, 1999: “Written in the Stars,” a collab with LeAnn Rimes, entered the Hot 100 at No. 37. This was the record-setting 30th consecutive year that Elton appeared in the top 40 with at least one single, dating back to the arrival of “Your Song” in the top 40 on the Hot 100 dated Dec. 19, 1970.
Longest span of top 10 hits on the Hot 100 not involving holiday titles
Sept. 10, 2022: “Hold Me Closer” by Elton and Britney Spears entered the Hot 100 at No. 6. As Billboard’s Gary Trust reported, that extended his span of top 10 hits to 51 years, seven months and three weeks, dating to his first frame in the top 10 with “Your Song” (Jan. 23, 1971) – the longest such span among all acts not involving holiday titles.