Rocket Man: The Life of Elton John

Pegasus. Jan. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781643133133. $27.95. MUSIC
n 1969, Elton John released “Your Song,” which launched his career and, says celebrity biographer Bego, shaped the diminutive, piano-playing Reginald Kenneth Dwight into one of rock’s most iconic and flashiest musicians, Elton Hercules John. This memoir—and a worldwide farewell tour—celebrates John’s 50-year journey. Bego tells a gripping story of the musician’s escalating fame and fortune, including his excesses and addictions, his musical ups and downs, and the tipping point that turned him sober in the early Nineties. Bego follows John from his childhood near London and his early family life to his budding years as a musician and finally to his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin and breakthrough success in the early 1970s. Bego details John’s acceptance of his sexuality (he came out as bisexual in 1976 and as gay in 1992), his dedication to charity work, and his campy and often outrageous persona. Drawing from published sources and interviews with John and those in his life, the fast-paced narrative loses steam covering the last 25 years of John’s life; it devolves into a dry recitation of album releases, concert appearances, and newsworthy events.
VERDICT Whether readers have been listening to Elton John since Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or know him only from the film Rocketman, they’ll find this a comprehensive biography, infused with a satisfying dose of dishy gossip.

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