• Writers: Elton John and Bernie Taupin
  • Producer: Gus Dudgeon
  • Recorded: June and July 1974 in Los Angeles
  • Released: February 1975
  • Players:
    Elton John — vocals, piano, string synthesizer
    Davey Johnstone — guitar
    Dee Murray — bass
    Nigel Olsson — drums
    Ray Cooper — percussion, backing vocals
    Gene Page — orchestra arrangement
  • Album: Greatest Hits, Volume II (MCA, 1977)
  • Also On:
    To Be Continued… (MCA, 1990)
    One Night Only — The Greatest Hits (Universal, 2000)
    Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (Island, 2002)
  • “Philadelphia Freedom” was recorded just as a single and not for any specific album.
  • “Philadelphia Freedom” was Number One on the charts for two weeks. It was Elton’s fifth Number One single in less than three years.
  • The song was inspired by the U.S. World Team Tennis (WTT) League and particularly by women’s champion Billie Jean King and her team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. The team had made a custom warm-up suit for John, who is a tennis devotee, and he promised to write a song in return.
  • King recalled that she first heard the song during the 1974 WTT playoffs, when the Freedoms were playing in Denver and John and his band were recording at nearby Caribou Ranch: “He came back to the dressing room — I had a real important match to play — and was all excited, saying ‘You’ve got to listen to this tape. This is it, the song I wrote for you. Do you like it?’ So he played me a rough mix of ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ and of course it was great. And when he got to the chorus he said ‘Listen to this part… Hear the beat? That’s you when you get made on the court.'”
  • The B-side of the “Philadelphia Freedom” single was a live recording of “I Saw Her Standing There,” with John Lennon as a special guest. It was recorded at Lennon’s final live concert appearance, at Madison Square Garden in November of 1974.
  • “Philadelphia Freedom” finally appeared on an album in 1977, as part of John’s Greatest Hits, Volume II.

FAST FORWARD:

  • Despite periodic and highly publicized “retirements,” John has continued to record and perform.
  • Dee Murray, who played bass on “Philadelphia Freedom,” died January 14th, 1992, of a stroke.
  • John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 19th, 1994.
  • Since publicly coming out as gay, John has become increasingly active in promoting AIDS research and relief for AIDS sufferers, including an annual post-Oscar party to raise money for his own foundation.
  • He’s branched out into film and theater work, including soundtracks and scores for successes including The Lion King, The Road To El Dorado, and Aida, as well as Lestat, which closed after dismal reviews. In fact, John and lyricist Tim Rice won an Oscar in 1995 for Best Original Song for The Lion King‘s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”
  • John received the Grammy Legend Award at the 2000 ceremony and courted controversy at the 2001 ceremony by performing with rapper Eminem.
  • John has taken the British government to task for its record in AIDS prevention and awareness. He told the Sky News service that he’s “disgusted with the way the health service in England is operating. We (in Britain) had a great record on AIDS when we started, but that record is now not as good as it was under the (conservative Margaret) Thatcher government. You should be ashamed of yourselves — you’re socialists, or supposed to be. For God’s sake, we live in the 21st century — the trains don’t work, the health service doesn’t work, people are dying from AIDS, what are you doing? Get your act together, it’s a disgrace.”
  • In 2004, John launched a long-running show called The Red Piano in Las Vegas.