Books by Philip Norman

SLOWHAND by Philip Norman
Released: Oct. 30, 2018

"Extremely knowledgeable about the rock music scene, Norman tells Clapton's story with verve and insight."
The renowned guitar superhero emerges as "supersurvivor" in this authoritative biography. Read full book review >
PAUL MCCARTNEY by Philip Norman
Released: May 3, 2016

"A worthy biography that doesn't approach the greatness of its subject."
A biography of the multitalented musician, written with his "tacit approval." Read full book review >
MICK JAGGER by Philip Norman
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"Not the definitive Jagger life, but an enjoyable, entertaining biography."
The second, livelier and all-around better of two major unauthorized Jagger biographies (after Christopher Andersen's Mick) out in time for the Rolling Stones' 50th year. Read full book review >
JOHN LENNON by Philip Norman
Released: Oct. 7, 2008

"Intelligent and sympathetic, but overlong and unfocused."
Comprehensive biography of the Beatles' most outspoken and controversial member, whose murder by a demented fan in 1980 only added to his legacy. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1996

Novel number six from Beatles biographer Norman (The Skaters' Waltz, 1985; Elton John, 1995, etc.), a scathingly delivered and encyclopedically detailed satire of a young journalist caught up in the whirlwind of Mod London in the swinging '60s. Plucked from the British sticks after unexpectedly winning an essay contest, 22-year-old Louis Brennan is transplanted to the decadent offices of the Dispatch's Sunday color supplement and reunited with his old boss from the North, Jack Shildrick, who has ascended to the editorship of the dowdy daily. Shildrick favors stories on crusty yachtsman plodding around the globe with rescued pigeons and exposÇs that batter the excesses of moneyed society, while the supplement's editor, Toby Godwin (``God'' to his staff), between colossal meals and multiple magnums of Dom, sponsors flashy pieces on cultural trends from Twiggy to the Beatles. Louis gropes for attention, but while God and his minions sniff and chortle at the kid's ideas, Shildrick cleaves to him, calling him ``Poet'' and repeatedly offering him the coveted ``Cicero'' column. Matters get dicey, though, when Louis and Shildrick take up with the same chippie, a talentless but terribly manipulative ingÇnue named Fran Dyson, and dicier still when Louis blows the lid off the married Shildrick's affair. The author's detailed re-creation of the era is impressive, from the vanished fashion temples to the nocturnal hotspots to the theatrical foppishness of mod menswear. But, at bottom, the story is a retread of the corruption-of-the-innocent riff, clueful readers will see the collapse of all careers (and great expectations) a mile off. Still, with cameos from John and George and Mick and Keith and Brian and Marianne, and of course all those zany threads, the novel's awesome length is nicely paced- -thanks, too, to Norman's unsparing humor. Given the recent obsession with all things Mod, this delightful upbraiding of the period should offer an ideal tonic for misplaced nostalgia. It's funny, too. Read full book review >
ELTON JOHN by Philip Norman
Released: March 1, 1992

An unauthorized, captivating life of the pop star, by a British novelist (The Skater's Waltz, 1985) and biographer of the Beatles (Shout!—not reviewed) and the Rolling Stones (Symphony for the Devil, 1984). Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947 in the London suburb of Pinner, John was a child prodigy of the piano. But nothing about him satisfied his stern RAF-officer father—a failing for which John apparently has felt punished all his life. As his dad rose in rank, the man gave signs that his wife was beneath his station; John says that the couple stayed together much too long for their son's sake. The boy took lessons in classical music, but when his mother brought home an Elvis single, John was lost to pop ever after. Starting with a small group, he landed a minor slot with Beatles publisher Dick James and then met Bernie Taupin, the 17- year-old lyricist who (with one parting) ended up co-writing nearly all of John's songs for 25 years (``Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,'' ``Candle in the Wind,'' etc.). John's fame—which grew more quickly in the US than at home—peaked in 1976 when, disastrously, he told Rolling Stone that he was bisexual. For the next 15 years, the hits remained but the man became an outrageously flamboyant, depressed, pudgy zombie, staying home with his art, record, and car collections, and divorcing after a brief marriage. But today he's still Britain's top-grossing musical act—and, as Norman reveals, has joined A.A. in 1990 and went to a clinic for his bulimia and lifelong weight problems, a move resulting in part, according to the author, from a dramatic spiritual change wrought by time spent at the bedside of child AIDS-victim Ryan White. Slow start, but John's troubled odyssey grows on you and generates rich feelings for the man. (Forty b&w photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >