An unauthorized, captivating life of the pop star, by a British novelist (The Skater's Waltz, 1985) and biographer of the Beetles (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 Beetles 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 Roiling 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.