Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player is the sixth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released by DJM Records.

This was John's second straight No. 1 album in the US and yielded his first No. 1 single in both the US and Canada: "Crocodile Rock".[4] "Daniel" was also a major hit from the album, giving him his second Canadian No. 1 single on the RPM Top Singles Chart[5] and just missing the top slot south of the border, stalling at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reaching No. 4 in the UK, one place higher than achieved by "Crocodile Rock". According to writer Philip Norman in his early 1990s authorised biography, Elton, during a party in Los Angeles, John's friend Groucho Marx jokingly pointed his index fingers at the singer, as if holding a pair of six-shooters. John is reported to have put up his hands and said, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player", so naming the album.[citation needed] (The album's cover photograph, which shows a young couple going to see a fictional movie, "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player, starring Elton John", also includes a movie poster of the Marx Brothers' "Go West", though whether this was an intentional subtle tribute to Groucho is uncertain).

Once again, the team returned to France to record at the Château d'Hérouville, also known at the time as "Strawberry Studios," which was how the studio was credited in the album's sleeve. The album featured horns arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon on "Elderberry Wine" (the B-side to "Crocodile Rock"), "Midnight Creeper" and "I'm Gonna Be a Teenage Idol", the latter of which was inspired by John's friend, T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan. The horn players were the same ones, in fact, who were used on Honky ChâteauPaul Buckmaster returned to add strings on "Blues for My Baby and Me" and "Have Mercy on the Criminal". During his Australian concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1986, John lauded Buckmaster's work on songs such as "Have Mercy on the Criminal", calling the string arrangements "revolutionary".

The album was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK and US album charts. It is one of only two albums to feature just the core band of John on pianos and keyboards, Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, without percussionist Ray Cooper. The other album isBreaking Hearts in 1984.

An outtake of note was a re-recording of "Skyline Pigeon", which became the B-side to the single of "Daniel".

Critics at the time called some of the performances, especially "Crocodile Rock", derivative, which John freely acknowledged years later. In His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by author Elizabeth Rosenthal, John said "Crocodile Rock" was written as an overt homage to '50s records, and his vocal intentionally mimicked singer Bobby Vee. "High Flying Bird" was designed to sound like a Van Morrison record, and "Midnight Creeper" was a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones.

John toured Australia during 1972 and was so inspired by Daddy Cool's hit single "Eagle Rock" that, with Taupin, he wrote "Crocodile Rock". The cover of this album has a photo of lyricist Taupin wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge.

"Don't Shoot Me..." was also, according to John, the first album during which he felt comfortable experimenting with his vocal performances and style.


 [hide*1 Track listing

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Side one[edit]Edit

  1. "Daniel" – 3:54
  2. "Teacher I Need You" – 4:10
  3. "Elderberry Wine" – 3:33
  4. "Blues for My Baby and Me" – 5:42
  5. "Midnight Creeper" – 3:55

Side two[edit]Edit

  1. "Have Mercy on the Criminal" – 5:57
  2. "I'm Going to Be a Teenage Idol" – 3:55
  3. "Texan Love Song" – 3:33
  4. "Crocodile Rock" – 3:58
  5. "High Flying Bird" – 4:12

Bonus tracks (1995 Mercury and 1996 Rocket reissue)[edit]Edit

  1. "Screw You (Young Man's Blues)" – 4:43
  2. "Jack Rabbit" – 1:49
  3. "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" – 2:51
  4. "Skyline Pigeon" (Piano version) – 3:56


Song Format
"Skyline Pigeon" (Piano Version) Daniel 7" (US/UK)


Additional musicians[edit]Edit


Peak positions[edit]Edit

Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[6] 1
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[7] 1
Dutch Mega Albums Chart[8] 2
Finnish Albums Chart[9] 2
Italian Albums Chart[10] 1
Japanese Oricon LPs Chart[11] 4
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[12] 1
Spanish Albums Chart[13] 1
UK Albums Chart[14] 1
US Billboard 200[15] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[16] 16

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1973) Position
Australian Albums Chart[6] 4
Dutch Albums Chart[17] 17
Italian Albums Chart[10] 4
UK Albums Chart[18] 1
U.S. Billboard Pop Albums[19] 8
Chart (1974) Position
U.S. Billboard Pop Albums [20] 67


Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[21] 3× Platinum

Chart precession and succession[edit]Edit

Preceded by

20 Dynamic Hits by Various Artists

UK Year-End Album


Succeeded by

The Singles: 1969–1973 by The Carpenters

Preceded by

The World Is a Ghetto by War

US Billboard 200 number-one album

3–16 March 1973

Succeeded by

Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg

Preceded by

Slayed? by Slade

UK number-one albums

10 March – 17 April 1973

Succeeded by

Billion Dollar Babies by Alice Cooper

Preceded by

The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd

Italian albums chart number-one album

10 March – 24 April 1973

Succeeded by

Dettagli by Ornella Vanoni

Preceded by

No Secrets by Carly Simon

Canadian RPM 100 number-one album

17–31 March 1973

Succeeded by

Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg/Various Artists

Preceded by

No Secrets by Carly Simon

Australian Kent Music Report number-one album

30 April – 20 May 1973

Succeeded by

Hot August Night by Neil Diamond

Preceded by

Back to Front by Gilbert O'Sullivan Norsk på topp by Various artists

Norwegian VG-lista number-one album

10 – 11 / 1973 14 / 1973

Succeeded by

Who Do We Think We Are by Deep Purple Norsk på topp by Various artists

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