10 surprising Elton John covers by rock and metal bands

Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, Slash and Elton John
(Image credit: Josh Homme: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images | Dave Grohl: John Shearer/Getty Images | Slash: Getty | Elton John: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

As Elton John prepares to draw the curtain on his live career, it's worth considering the cultural impact he's had during his 54-year recording lifespan and the influence he's had on the bands outside his musical sphere. 

From the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age to Beastie Boys, here are 10 surprising covers of the the master showman and songwriter's greatest works. 

A divider for Metal Hammer

Flotsam and Jetsam – Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

The Phoenix, Arizona thrashers' second album No Place For Disgrace – their first full-length after the departure of bassist Jason Newsted to join Metallica – featured a cover of Elton John's raucous 1973 single. It was released as a single in its own right and had many young thrashers raiding their parent's record collections to seek out the original.  

Queens Of The Stone Age – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Queens of the Stone Age contributed this sublime cover of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road  to the 2018 compilation Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin, which also featured appearances by Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. The band's connection with the performer goes back to their 2013 album, ...Like Clockwork, after Elton guested on the song Fairweather Friends

“He called me on the phone and it took me a minute to work out if I was being punked or not," Homme told BBC 5 Live. "He came in and we tracked a rock song live together, which was a wonderful experience. That is what collaboration is all about, learning something from someone else and about someone else and maybe reminding them of something they enjoy too. To experience that with Elton was wonderful."

Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators – Rocket Man

The band recorded this sublime version of Elton John's 1972 single for the soundtrack to Stuntman, a documentary about Eddie Braun. Directed by Kurt Mattila, the film tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman who rounds out his fearless career by attempting to jump the Snake River Canyon. You can watch the documentary on Disney +.

Anal C**t – I’m Still Standing

From the emotionally-driven vocals of Myles Kennedy to the deliberately offensive grindcore band Anal C**t. For this short blast of contempt, the songwriting credits go, of course, to Elton John and Bernie Taupin, but this arrangement was carefully crafted by the Massachusetts band. Something to add to your summer playlist if you really must fill in a 10-second gap.

Dave Grohl – Tiny Dancer

On on February 16, 2001, the Foo Fighters frontman appeared on The Late Show with Craig Kilborn

"Tiny Dancer: two words which strike a chord in the heart of every sensitive 32-year-old man in the country," Grohl told the crowd before launching into the single from 1971's Madman Across the Water. "It's a song that I hadn't actually heard until I saw Almost Famous. Every night before I go to bed, I thank (director) Cameron Crowe for opening up a part of me I didn't think I ever knew until now."

It's an edited version of the original as Grohl "skips all the other crap" and heads straight for the climax of the song. 

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Veterans of the pop punk cover scene, this supergroup – then featuring NOFX's Fat Mike and Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett – unleashed Have Another Ball! in 2008. This version has far more pep than the original but loses absolutely none of the gravitas. 

Leatherface – Candle In The Wind

Sunderland punks Leatherface offered their own take on what Rolling Stone once deemed to be the 347th greatest song of all time in 2004. Their abrasive cover featured on their 1990 album Fill Your Boots and has all the grace of a stag party in Wearside.

Andy Rehfeldt's Variety Show – Your Song

If you're after faithful or even respectful covers of classic songs, Andy Rehfeldt is not the man for the job. You may have gasped at his death metal version of Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball or Rage Against The Machine's "less angry" version of Killing In The Name. Here's the Los Angeles-based YouTuber's excellent doom-laden version of Elton's 1970 tear-coaxing single. 

Dream Theater – Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding

This medley originally featured on the 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Funeral For A Friend (the song, not the band) is an instrumental, while Love Lies Bleeding is a breakup song. This Boston prog quintet recorded the two songs live in 1995 at  Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London and was featured on their A Change of Seasons EP, which was released later that year. Being Dream Theater, their EP has a running time of almost one hour. 

Beastie Boys ft. Biz Markie - Bennie And the Jets

The late rapper Biz Markie collaborated with the Beastie Boys on this, how can we put it kindly, loose cover of Elton's 1974 single. It emerged on the 1999 compilation Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science but was originally given away free as a flexi disc in the second issue of the hip hop trio's celebrated Grand Royal magazine. 

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.