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"Island Girl" is a song performed by Elton John that went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and number 14 in the UK in 1975. In the U.S., it was certified Gold in 1975 and Platinum in 1995 by the RIAA. It was the first single taken from the album Rock of the Westies.
The lyrics are about a prostitute in New York City and a man who wants to take that prostitute back to Jamaica. Arguably the "Island Girl" is a male prostitute, given that John sings, "She's a big girl/she's standin' six-foot-three/turning tricks for the dudes in the big city."
As chronicled in the documentary Gay Sex in the 70s, New York City at that time provided an unprecedented sexual freedom for gay men, with ample opportunities for anonymous sex. Gay men also may occasionally refer to a gay peer as "she" rather than "he".
At the time the song was released, Elton John had not yet publicly come out. The following year, in a Rolling Stone article, he said he was bisexual. In 1988, he confirmed he was gay and went public with his relationship with another man.
The song is atmospheric, featuring gospel-ish piano behind the famous distorted slide-guitar intro. It also features a high-strung Caribbean guitar sound, marimbas, and a heavy bass guitar. Also notable is a shaky synthesizer solo played by James Newton Howard.
The single's B-Side was "Sugar on the Floor", which was written by Kiki Dee, who would go on to duet with John on a number of occasions, most notably on their chart-topping 1976 single, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".
- Ray Cooper – congas, tambourine, marimba
- Kiki Dee – backing vocals
- James Newton Howard – ARP synthesizer, Mellotron solo
- Davey Johnstone – Ovation guitar, slide electric guitars, banjo, backing vocals
- Elton John – piano, vocal, backing vocals (credited as "Ann Orson")
- Kenny Passarelli – bass, backing vocals
- Roger Pope – drums
- Caleb Quaye – acoustic guitar, backing vocals
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Gold||150,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|