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"The Bitch Is Back" is a rock song by Elton John, written with Bernie Taupin. It was the second single released from his 1974 album Caribou, and reached number 1 in Canada (his sixth in that country), number 4 in the United States and number 15 in the United Kingdom. The song has been identified as one of Elton John's best hard rock cuts. In the U.S., it was certified Gold on 13 September 1995 by the RIAA.
The idea to create the song was inspired not by John or Taupin directly, but rather by Bernie Taupin's wife of the time. Taupin then wrote the lyric. Musically, the song originally was written in A flat major, but is today performed live a half step lower in the key of G major. The saxophone solo in the middle is nowadays usually performed by synthesizers, while a guitar solo occasionally substitutes, as can be seen in the concert videos, One Night Only and Live in Australia, respectively. John Lennon played tambourine on the song.
This song was banned on several radio stations, in the United States and elsewhere, due to the use of the word "bitch". For example, in 1976, the program director of WPIX-FM in New York told Billboard, "We will play records that are borderline suggestive records such as 'Disco Lady' by Johnny [sic Taylor] but we will not play 'The Bitch Is Back' by Elton John. We won't play those types of records no matter how popular they get."
Producer Gus Dudgeon added a live version of it, recorded on Thanksgiving night 1974 at Madison Square Garden, at the close of the There disc on the reissued two-CD version of Here and There. It is a concert staple for John, who loves to play the song live to this day. A mixed media presentation of it, with a video cameo from Pamela Anderson, was created for part of John's very successful Red Piano show in Las Vegas.
The song was twice recorded by Tina Turner: once for her Rough album in 1978, and again for the John/Taupin tribute album Two Rooms in 1991. Turner also performed the song in her live show in the late 1970s, and with Elton John at the VH1 Fashion and Music Awards 1995 and VH1 Divas Live '99.
Dusty Springfield is one of the backing vocalists on the studio version of the song.
- Ray Cooper – tambourine
- Davey Johnstone – electric guitars
- Elton John – piano, vocals
- Clydie King – backing vocals
- Sherlie Matthews – backing vocals
- Dee Murray – bass, phased Pignose bass
- Nigel Olsson – drums
- Lenny Pickett – tenor sax solo
- Jessie Mae Smith – backing vocals
- Dusty Springfield – backing vocals