Elton John's first crack at "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a month beginning this week in 1976, could've been dubbed "Don't Go Hogging the Mike."
At first, the Rocket Man didn't leave much wiggle room in the Motown-inspired duet for his singing partner, Kiki Dee, a last-minute substitute for the ailing Dusty Springfield.
"He actually sang about three quarters of the song and gave Kiki about four lines," producer Gus Dudgeon later recalled. "I said, 'Hang on a minute, is this supposed to be a duet or a guest appearance?'"
Realizing the error of his ways, John reworked his vocals in a Toronto studio and sang Dee's parts in a high-pitched voice so she would know which lines to claim when she went to work in London.
The playful duet—written by Ann Orson and Carte Blanche, aka John and longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin—was the first collaboration between the two 29-year-old British pop stars, born 19 days apart in March 1947. They were originally going to cover the Four Tops' 1966 song "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever."
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was John's sixth No. 1 single in the U.S., but his first in his native England. Though recorded while working on his "Blue Moves" album, it wasn't included on the double LP released that fall. The hit duet did, however, end up on 1977's "Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume II" and 1992's "Greatest Hits 1976–1986."
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images