Elton: The Biography by David Buckley, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Elton: The Biography

Elton: The Biography

by David Buckley

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One of music’s true global superstars and most admired figures, Elton John has sold an estimated 200 million albums worldwide to date, and continues to appear regularly in the singles charts, thanks largely to a series of high-profile collaborations with new faces.

            But he is loved as much


One of music’s true global superstars and most admired figures, Elton John has sold an estimated 200 million albums worldwide to date, and continues to appear regularly in the singles charts, thanks largely to a series of high-profile collaborations with new faces.

            But he is loved as much for his outrageous personality and witty outspokenness as for his music: recent memorable outbursts have included a public comment that “people who charge £75 and lip-sync should be shot” and calling some pushy photographers “rude, vile pigs.” He has even admitted that, in one of his more comedic cocaine-fueled moments, he phoned one of his management team “to tell him to do something about the wind outside my hotel room.” Such shamelessness and sheer silliness rivals anything uttered by punk rockers, yet it is so typically Elton: honest and wittily intemperate.

            Tragedy and heartbreak have played a large part in his life too. Behind the parties, the hedonism, the lavish stage costumes and silly glasses lies a more somber story. There have been disputes with managers, legal wranglings, splits with partners, and a divorce. Added to that there have been serious health problems, a very public battle with his expanding waistline and receding hairline, drug addictions, and spells when he wanted to quit the music business altogether.

            But now, at 60 years old, Elton enjoys a stable relationship with his husband David Furnish. His demons have been overcome. His commercial and critical stock is rising. With popular acts like the Scissor Sisters sounding more like Elton than Elton himself, Elton John is finally cool again.

            Drawing on many firsthand interviews with his associates and musical collaborators, this page-turning story of high drama and prodigious talent traces Elton’s astonishing journey through life as the colossus of camp, while also offering a critical history of his work and analyzing afresh his contribution to popular music.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The pop-music icon revealed as never before."  —Kirkus Reviews

"Buckley scores high marks . . . fascinating . . . juicy."  —Phoenix New Times

"A well-written look at an international superstar."  —Nashville City Paper

"Elton enthusiasts . . . will savor David Buckley's attention to detail and willingness to examine every facet of the entertainer's complex, often contradictory, personality, and the extraordinary life he's led."  —Dallas Voice

"A critical retrospective of Elton John's body of work . . . examining cultural development as a whole from the late 1960s onward . . . supremely readable."  —Pittsburgh City Paper

Publishers Weekly

Elton John, once known for his over-the-top attire and wild glasses, has sold over 250 million records and garnered more than 50 Top 40 Hits. In this comprehensive portrait, music journalist Buckley plumbs the highs, lows and multiple rebounds Elton has weathered during his astounding 40-year career. Buckley (Strange Fascination: David Bowie-The Definitive Story) compiled numerous interviews from friends and business associates, interlacing their comments with extensive research. He utilized books, articles, radio and television broadcasts, the Internet and podcasts to uncover the complex family and professional life of Reginald Dwight aka Elton John. The book's strong point, recounting the smallest details of Elton's life and music, could turn to tedium for the less than avid fan. Buckley admits he once dismissed Elton's music as belonging to the softer side of the music business. So researching the story of the musically precocious six-year-old (born in 1947), who announced he was going to be a concert pianist when he grew up, was a revelation: "Elton John has been a blues singer, a singer-songwriter, a glam rock icon, a drug addict, a married man, a moaner and whiner, a tireless fundraiser and humanitarian, a married man (again), a controversialist, and, ultimately, a living legend." With the extensive bibliography, discography and photos, this entertaining biography will definitely appeal to devoted Elton John fans and aficionados of music history and popular culture. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Sympathetic biography focusing on how musical prodigy Reg Dwight surmounted social and personal obstacles to become one of the most formidable singer-songwriters of the post-Beatles era. Buckley (The Thrill of It All: The Story of Brian Ferry and Roxy Music, 2005, etc.) smartly avoids hagiography, revealing that despite achieving unimaginable wealth and fame, Elton John has only recently slain the demons of his youth. Using previously published and new interviews, the author argues that to understand Elton Hercules John (his legal name since 1972), you must consider how emotionally and psychologically tormented Reg was. This, among other things, helps to explain John's penchant, early on, for outsized glam-rock outfits and outrageous stage antics. Working chronologically, Buckley traces John's conquest of the pop charts, providing background on many of his collaborations with lyricist Bernie Taupin-including "Your Song," "Rocket Man," "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind" and "Daniel"-between 1970 and 1976. Then as now, John's working methods could be savage; he'd freely discard Taupin's lyrics or else rewrite them to fit melodies seemingly crafted on the fly. He was capable of equal harshness on a personal level, discarding friends and lovers with alacrity. Buckley largely attributes his tempestuousness to a 20-year battle with alcohol and drugs. The author generously quotes the artist himself, as he candidly discusses his work, his failed 1980s marriage and denial for many years of his homosexuality. His public friendships with Princess Diana, Gianni Versace and other celebrities are also touched on, as are his workaholic tendencies, charitable work and many lucrative businessventures. Partner David Furnish is credited with curbing many of John's worst excesses, giving the 60-year-old artist a shot at spiritual and artistic rebirth. Buckley, however, could have more thoroughly considered John's successes (The Lion King) and failures (Lestat) writing stage and film musicals. The pop-music icon revealed as never before. Agent: Ros Edwards/Edwards Fuglewicz Literary Agency

Product Details

Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
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5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

David Buckley is the author of several books, including R.E.M. Fiction: An Alternative Biography; Strange Fascination: David Bowie—The Definitive Story; The Stranglers: No Mercy—The Authorized and Uncensored Biography; and The Thrill of It All: The Story of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music.

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