Rock of the Westies is the tenth studio album by British singer-songwriter Elton John, released on 24 October 1975. Its title is a comedic play on words (aSpoonerism) devised by John. He turned the phrase "West of the Rockies" into Rock of the Westies. ("Westie" is also a nickname for the West Highland White Terrier).

Like Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt CowboyRock of the Westies also debuted on the US Billboard 200 chart at No. 1, the only two albums at that time to have done so. It was less successful in the artist's home territory of the UK, where it reached No. 5 on the UK Albums ChartRobert Christgau listed it as No. 7 on his list of the best albums of 1975.[4]


 [hide*1 History


Rock of the Westies contained the US No. 1 (#14 UK) single, "Island Girl", which was released prior to the album. John noted at the time in a radio interview[which?] that he had wanted to release "Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)" as the album's first single instead of "Island Girl", because he thought it had more commercial potential. He was however, over-ruled, and "Dan Dare" was never released as a single, whilst "Island Girl" became a hit.

The make-up of John's band was different on Rock of the Westies, being without his long-time drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray, both of whom John fired during April 1975. Added in their place were drummer Roger Pope, an old friend of John's who had played on Empty SkyTumbleweed Connectionand Madman Across the Water, and American bassist Kenny Passarelli, who had previously played with Stephen Stills and was an original member in Joe Walsh's band Barnstorm. Pope had also played in Kiki Dee's touring band. James Newton-Howard, a keyboardist, was also brought in. Also included was Caleb Quaye, another old friend of John's from his early DJM session days. Like Pope, Quaye had also played on Empty Sky & Tumbleweed Connection & also John's intervening eponymous release. Retained from the previous line-up were Davey Johnstone and Ray Cooper.

The song "Hard Luck Story" had already been recorded by Kiki Dee, and released as a single one year prior to its recording for Rock of the Westies. Along with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", it is credited to Ann Orson/Carte Blanche (An horse and cart, Blanche) a moniker John devised when composing a song (music and lyrics) on his own. The name Ann Orson is also used as the name of a backing vocalist.Labelle performed backing vocals on the opening track, "Medley: Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly".

In the US, it was certified gold in October 1975 and platinum in March 1993[5] by the RIAA.

Outside the US and Canada, this was the last original studio release from John on DJM Records, before his own label, The Rocket Record Company.

The song "Street Kids" was featured in the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, except where noted.

LP and CD[edit]Edit

Side one[edit]Edit

  1. "Medley (Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly)" – 6:13
  2. "Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)" – 3:30
  3. "Island Girl" – 3:42
  4. "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" (John, Davey Johnstone, Taupin) – 4:43
  5. "I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)" – 5:28

Side two[edit]Edit

  1. "Street Kids" – 6:23
  2. "Hard Luck Story" (Ann Orson/Carte Blanche) – 5:10
  3. "Feed Me" – 4:00
  4. "Billy Bones and the White Bird" – 4:24


Side one[edit]Edit

  1. "Medley (Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly)" – 6:13
  2. "Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)" – 3:30
  3. "Island Girl" – 3:42
  4. "Feed Me" – 4:00
  5. "Billy Bones and the White Bird" – 4:24

Side two[edit]Edit

  1. "Street Kids" – 6:23
  2. "Hard Luck Story" (Ann Orson/Carte Blanche) – 5:10
  3. "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" (John, Johnstone, Taupin) – 4:43
  4. "I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)" – 5:28

Additional tracks[edit]Edit

Bonus track (1995 Mercury reissue)[edit]Edit

  1. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (with Kiki Dee) (Ann Orson/Carte Blanche) – 4:28

Bonus track (1996 Rocket reissue)[edit]Edit

  1. "Planes" – 4:31
  2. "Sugar on the Floor" (Kiki Dee) – 4:31


Song Format
"Sugar on the Floor" "Island Girl" (US/UK)




Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[6] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[7] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[8] Platinum 1,000,000^

  • sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone


Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1975) Peak position
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[9] 4
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[10] 1
Finnish Albums Chart[11] 25
French SNEP Albums Chart[12] 5
Italian Albums Chart[13] 16
Japanese Oricon LP Chart[14] 47
New Zealand Albums Chart[15] 4
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[16] 6
Spanish Albums Chart[17] 8
Swedish Albums Chart[18] 6
UK Albums Chart[19] 5
US Billboard 200[20] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[21] 33

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1975) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 37
Canadian Albums Chart[22] 11
French Albums Chart[23] 81
Italian Albums Chart[13] 58
Chart (1976) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 52
Canadian Albums Chart[24] 31
US Billboard Year-End[25] 37

Chart procession and succession[edit]Edit

Preceded by

Windsong by John Denver

US Billboard 200 number-one album

8–28 November 1975

Succeeded by

Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon

Preceded by

Windsong by John Denver

Canadian RPM number-one album

25 December 1975

Succeeded by

Chicago IX by Chicago

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