The song was written during the latter part of the Cold War period when nuclear war between the two superpowers of the USSR and USA was still a very real concern, and the lyrics reflect a satirical view of politics and the threat of war with lines such as: "old men in stripey trousers, rule the world with plastic smiles", and: "forefinger on the button, is he blue or is he red?"
"I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" only reached number 47 in the UK charts when first released. However, the follow up single from the same album, "Wouldn't It Be Good", reached the top five and on the back of that success "I Won't ..." was re-released and soared to number two. It was also subsequently a major hit in several other countries and was responsible for bringing Nik Kershaw to greater public attention.
The song was released by Jonas Ekfeldt as Robin Cook under the name "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down" and later formed part of the album Land of Sunshine in 1997.
The amount of Ekfeldt's compensation was not made public, but was said to be of a significant amount and a lot more than if the channel had asked for permission first.