Glam Rock Music
The song was written by Elton John and lyricist, poet and singer Bernie Taupin. It was first released on Elton John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It was also released as a single in 1974, backed with “Harmony.” It has become one of Elton John’s most popular songs. He did not think it would be a hit. However, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, began playing it. It then went to #1 in Detroit, and other radio stations picked it up. “Bennie and the Jets” went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, Cash Box Top 11, and #1 in Canada. It was #5 in Australia , #13 in New Zealand, and #18 in Ireland.
The song is somewhat of a satire on the state of the music industry in the 1970s — greedy, glitzy, outrageously outfitted, and machine-like. Elton John describes “Bennie” as a “sci-fi rock goddess.” Taupin says that it was to be futuristic, with Bennie and the Jets as a prototypical female rock ‘n’ roll band of automatons. Taupin says he was influenced by comic books, movies, and German photographer Helmut Newton. Elton chose to stutter “B-B-B-Bennie” to make her seem robotic. The falsetto vocal is Elton sounding a bit like Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons, of whom Elton was a fan.
Elton performed “Bennie and the Jets” on Soul Train. He explained on the program that he was a big fan, and that he and his band would watch the show when on tour.
On the track are Elton John (piano, Farfisa organ, vocals), Davey Johnstone (acoustic and electric guitars), Dee Murray (bass), and Nigel Olsson (drums).