Elton John’s “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” is the most remembered tribute song to the late John Lennon. Elton John was devastated after the murder of his close friend. It took him a year and half to come out with this tribute song.
Off of the album JUMP UP!, “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)”, entered the Top 40 on April 17, 1982 and stayed on the charts for ten weeks. It reached # 10. Elton John performed this song on his first ever appearance on Saturday Night Live on April 17, 1982 that featured Johnny Cash as the host.
Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, the most accomplished studio drummer of his generation, played drums on this track.
It was the most solid collaboration between Elton John and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin since they ended their exclusive writing partnership in 1977. The duo had written together infrequently since 1977.
The accomplished songwriting record of Elton John/Bernie Taupin needs no explanation. Apart from Elton John, Taupin wrote two number one hits: “We Built This City” by Starship (1985) and “These Dreams” by Heart (1986). Ironically, the most successful song of the John/Taupin partnership was “Candle in the Wind: 1997”, the tribute to Princess Diana which became the most successful pop song in world history, holding the record for topping the charts for the most weeks in both the UK and the U.S., and a multitude of other countries. When Elton John decided to revamp the original 1973 “Candle in the Wind” from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as a tribute to play at Princess Diana’s funeral, he phoned Taupin to request new lyrics. Forty-five minutes later Taupin faxed his old songwriting partner the new lyrics.
Believe or not, George Martin produced the single “Candle in the Wind: 1997”, which ironically was far bigger than any number one hit he did for the Beatles. It is the most successful single in pop music history in terms of both sales and topping the charts in countless countries. The three other number one hits George Martin did in the post-Beatles years were not exactly stellar. They were “Sister Golden Hair” by America (1975), “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder (1982), and the terrible “Say Say Say” by McCartney and Michael Jackson (1983). Too bad that Martin’s best hit after the Beatles break-up, “Live and Let Die” by Wings, stayed and number two for a couple of weeks in 1973 but could not make the jump to the top slot.