In 1968, now partners, Elton and Bernie joined DJM Records as
staff songwriters and over the next two years wrote songs for
pop singers like Roger Cook and Lulu as well as recording their
own songs. The way they produced their music/lyric creations was
a bit odd. Bernie would write a set of lyrics (sometimes in under
an hour) and give them to Elton. Elton would then spend the next
half hour producing the music to go with Bernie's lyrics (Unless
of course if he didn't like the lyrics. If he didn't and he couldn't
come up with something fast - he trashed them).
'Empty Sky' (which would be Elton's first album for DJM) was released
in 1969, which failed to impress those buying the records despite
the good reviews it received. In the spring of 1970, Elton released
his second album (now on an MCA label) entitled 'Elton
John' and it began it's climb up the charts. 'Your Song', the first
single from the album made the US Top Ten with the album reaching
the same heights. Elton's first American concert was in August
of that year at, Troubadour in Los Angeles California, receiving
praise from Quincy Jones, which just happened to be attending.
In October, 'Tumbleweed Connection' was released and reached the
Top Ten on the Billboard 200, receiving heavy airplay on album-oriented
radio stations in the US. It is probably that this behaviour helped
in its success. Not long after the release of 'Tumbleweed', the
live album '11-17-70' (featuring astonishing interaction between
Elton, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson) was released.
The album showcased Elton's talent as rock pianist and earned him
the nickname of the 'father of piano rock'. Some extended versions
of his early pieces illustrated the gospel and boogie-woogie influences
of Elton's piano playing as the lead instrument in a somewhat unusual
new form of rock trio format. Following the live album would be
the soundtrack to the little known film 'Friends' and another release,
'Madman Across The Water'. 'Madman Across The Water' reached to
Top Ten and was responsible for the top ten hit single, 'Levon'
- From the soundtrack album came the hit, 'Friends'.