In this painstakingly detailed and sensitive biography, Norman ( Shout! ) maintains that singer and musician Elton John is as unlikely a superstar as can be found in rock 'n' roll. Ne Reginald Dwight, John is a pudgy, bespectacled and balding bisexual in a discipline that thrives on physical appearance and macho image. Regardless, he--with his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin--created some of the most popular and lasting songs of the late '60s and '70s. Ample time is spent on John's career and the frenetic tour atmosphere, but we also witness his individualism, generosity and concern through particulars of his friendship with adolescent AIDS patient Ryan White and subsequent involvement with AIDS education. He is portrayed as an avid soccer fan who is immensely proud to be life president of the Watford Football Club, and as a man who has tangled with the British news media on the subject of his open bisexuality and his marriage to Renate Blauel. Norman's thorough investigation of John's complex personality makes this a satisfying reading experience. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
While flimsier and glossier biographies of John have been issued (e.g., Greg Shaw's Elton John: Biography in Words and Pictures , LJ 12/15/76; Barry Toberman's Elton John: A Biography , Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988), Norman's unauthorized biography is the first substantial study of the British singer-songwriter. This well-researched work traces John's career from shy pianist to flamboyant entertainer to subdued middle-aged musician. Norman downplays the more sensational aspects of John's life (e.g., drug use, bisexuality, temper tantrums) and provides a balanced and entertaining view of the definitive pop star of the 1970s. This is a worthwhile addition to collections featuring popular music.-- Debora Richey, California State Univ.-Fullerton Lib.