Crocodile Rock is a song by Elton John from his album "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player."
The lyrics take a nostalgic look at early rock 'n' roll and dating & youthful independence of that era.
The song was inspired by Elton's discovery of leading Australian band Daddy Cool and their hit single "Eagle Rock" which was the most successful Australian single of the early 1970s (with 1,000,000 sold), remaining at number one for a record of 10 weeks.
Elton heard the song and the group on his 1972 Australian tour and was greatly impressed by it.
A photo included in the album packaging features John's lyricist, Bernie Taupin, wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge.
The song also appears to have been strongly influenced by songs from the late 50s-early 60s ("when Rock was young"), including Del Shannon's 1962 song "Cry Myself to Sleep" and "Little Darlin'" (which was recorded in 1957 by The Diamonds and The Gladiolas).
The chorus resembles Pat Boone's song "Speedy Gonzales." While there was no actual "Crocodile Rock," there was a dance called The Alligator.
Elton John band members including Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums were also performers on the song.
Elton did all the vocals (including the falsetto backing vocals).
In a 1974 lawsuit filed in the US District Court of Los Angeles by Attorney Donald Barnett on behalf of "Speedy Gonzales"' composer Buddy Kaye, it was alleged that defendants Elton John and Bernie Taupin illegally incorporated chords from "Speedy Gonzales" which produced a falsetto tone into the Crocodile song co-written by defendants.
The parties reached an amicable settlement between them and the case was then dismissed.
Bernie Taupin also stated in an interview with a magazine that "Crocodile Rock" was a funny song in that he didn't mind creating it, but it wouldn't be something he'd listen to; it was simply something fun at the time.
Elton John has dismissed criticism of the song that it was "derivative", quoted in the booklet for the 1995 reissue of "Don’t Shoot Me ..." as saying:
“I wanted it to be a record about all the things I grew up with. Of course it’s a rip-off, it’s derivative in every sense of the word.”
"Crocodile Rock" became Elton's first U.S. number-one single, reaching the top spot on 3 February 1973, and stayed there for three weeks.
In the United States, it was certified Gold on February 5, 1973 and Platinum on September 13, 1995 by the RIAA.
In Canada, it topped the chart as well, remaining at number one on the RPM 100 national singles chart for four weeks from February 17th to March 10th.
- Elton John – piano, Farfisa organ, vocals
- Davey Johnstone – electric guitar
- Dee Murray – bass
- Nigel Olsson – drums