The legendary piano master tells all, and delightfully.
Reginald Dwight (b. 1947) grew up with parents who “should never have got married in the first place.” Thankfully, he found deliverance in rock ’n’ roll, in which, his father commanded, “you are not to get involved.” Get involved he did, playing with a band called Bluesology that, he admitted, was pretty much like any other British white blues band, and perhaps a little less, save for a chance pairing with Long John Baldry, “maybe the greatest 12-string guitarist the UK has ever produced.” Another chance union was with a young songwriter named Bernie Taupin, who looked out on the moors and saw the Wild West. Changing his name to Elton Hercules John to shed his former skin, the astoundingly gifted pianist threw audiences into confusion; though “Britain’s least convincing flower child,” he played sort-of-hippie music, but in boas and platforms. “I started to think more about how I looked onstage,” he writes of the period around the era-defining “Your Song,” but he also realized that smashing up a piano, as opposed to Pete Townshend’s smashing a guitar, just didn’t work. He was famous from his first record on, and then rich, and then a study in addictive personality. A highlight, or perhaps lowlight, of the narrative is when, coked to the gills, he insists that Bob Dylan shed his hobo clothes for something in his glittery wardrobe only to have George Harrison caution him, “I really think you need to go steady on the old marching powder.” Now sober, a cancer survivor, and in his 70s, Sir Elton looks back at it all with grace and good humor. One might wish only that he spent as much time revealing how he came to such things as the astonishing structure of “Tiny Dancer” as he does recounting bad hair transplants and bad behavior. Even so, his memoir is a terrific read.
One of the best rock memoirs of recent years and a revelation for fans.