Always eager for adventure, Elton John decided to invest in the Château d’Hérouville in order to record his fifth album and to work for the first time in the studio with his live band and not with session musicians. This is also the first time the artist can afford to record abroad. The pianist has just gone through the civil registry to legally adopt the name of Elton John, instead of Reginald Kenneth Dwight, and nothing seems to be able to stop him. It was a new man that Michel Magne, the owner of the imposing house, saw arrive with his musicians and his friend, the lyricist Bernie Taupin. ” I loved the idea of working in a castle, despite the reputation that surrounded this one, which was said to be haunted,” says the musician in his autobiography. “The building, an 18th century mansion, was no less beautiful. We even ended up mentioning it in the title of the album and I found it stimulating to write songs there. (…) Bernie brought his typewriter to the castle and we also put some instruments in the dining room. Bernie would write his text and he would put it on the piano (…). The first morning, I had tied up three of them before the group came down to eat: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Army and Rocket Man.”
It is amusing that Elton John mentions the reputation of a supposedly haunted place. What he does not specify in his book, however, is that one night, Michel Magne and his friends set out to scare the rock star, making strange noises. Although terrified, the artist did not lose his inspiration. To this day, Honky Chateau remains one of the most important works ever recorded in Herouville, in this beautiful building with its tumultuous history. Shortly afterwards, the British musician returned to Michel Magne to record the monumental Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. And this time, the ghosts remained silent.
It is undeniable that Elton John has played a big role in the popularity of the Château d’Hérouville. At the time, on his way to the top of the charts, he lit up the place with his talent, using the inspiring setting to compose some of his most famous hits. However, the building does not appear on the cover ofHonky Château,
where simply appears a photo of the singer, the glance a little in the vague. The record is inscribed in the pantheon of rock and roll and its author has visited Herouville several times, bringing in his wake other luminaries of the international rock scene.
Honky Chateau is the first album of Elton John to reach the top of the charts in the United States.
LE CHÂTEAU D'HÉROUVILLE
The Château d’Hérouville, a residence unlike any other, holds a special place in the history of music.
It is in 1740 that the castle of Herouville is built. During the 19th century, it was used as a post office between Versailles and Beauvais. In 1962, the famous film music composer Michel Magne bought the estate. Wishing to turn the place into a recording studio, he fitted out the castle so that it could also accommodate artists. The place hosts such luminaries as David Bowie, T-Rex, Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens. Left abandoned for many years following various events, the castle and the studios were reborn from their ashes in 2015.
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Cult! music: 100 mythical music places [French Edition]
Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists!
Head to Melbourne, Australia for a stroll along AC/DC Lane before crossing the iconic Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in the company of The Beatles. Visit Janis Joplin‘s home in San Francisco and find out how Johnny Cash ended up playing his greatest hits to a crowd of prisoners in San Quentin. Travel the winding roads of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and stop in Japan to catch up with Deep Purple, Phil Collins and Daft Punk. Drive down the Tina Turner Highway before entering some of the most legendary studios in music history. Go back to the troubled origins of Billie Holiday and make a pact with Robert Johnson at the famous crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists! Relive the Jimi Hendrix concert on the Isle of Wight before paying tribute to Bob Marley in Jamaica.
Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! musictells the secrets of the places that made the history of music.
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By Gilles Rolland
Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.