Second, and weaker, bio of Elton John this season. Crimp and Burstein (Family Holiday, 1982) have also written bios (not reviewed) of Jackie and Joan Collins and of Caroline and Stephanie Rainier. Crimp/Burstein come in second to Philip Norman's Elton John (p. 38), which is longer, far denser in detail, richer with interviews, and boasts a thorough discography. Norman also writes better—not great, but better—and his length soaks you so deeply in John that the entertainer, despite his flaws, draws you in with considerable warmth. Aside from a double handful of interviews (none with John, whom Norman failed to land as well), Crimp and Burstein rely largely upon info from secondary sources. John himself can carry any bio, as his ebullient stage persona overrides his deep shyness, baldness, and often puffy face and his battles with alcohol, bulimia and fat. (A recent TV interview with David Frost found him trim as a greyhound, enjoying an ongoing sobriety in A.A.) Crimp and Burstein note that John, the issue of a broken home, has spent his life attempting to assuage his natural father, an archly stiff RAF flight-lieutenant, while enjoying close ties with his mother (with whom he discussed his first homosexual affair when it happened). John and his younger lyricist, Bernie Taupin, met while John was working at Dick James Music (then the Beatles' publishers) and then roomed together for 18 months while John hid out from a financÇe he did not want to marry. Garishly outrageous costumes and madcap glasses camouflaged his shyness during stage appearances, while his pounding musicality and high visibility drove his record sales higher than all others in the British empire. A late marriage failed, and going public about his bisexuality brought unexpected pain. Thinly done, though John makes it all easy reading.
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