Travel the world and no matter where you are, every generation knows Elton John.
They know his music from the tender pull of “Your Song” to the bouncy anthem “Bennie and the Jets.” They know the scores from “The Lion King” and “Aida.” He’s the Pinball Wizard! He is “Rocket Man.” Imprinted on hearts around the globe is the mega hit “Candle in the Wind,” performed as an elegy by Sir Elton on the globally televised funeral for Princess Diana. They know of his estimable charity work raising millions through his eponymous AIDS foundation.
A prodigious tunesmith who, along with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, has created a canon of songs that have brought smiles and tears for decades. But who is Sir Elton John, really? Who is the bespectacled, lonely boy from Pinner who became a superstar; a flamboyant showman with a stage act that stunned audiences as they’d never been stunned before; a flesh and blood man with secrets and demons, hopes and loves of his own beyond the stage?
In ME ELTON JOHN, his first and only official autobiography, Elton reveals the truth about his extraordinary life. Written with music critic Alexis Petridis, it is a no holds barred account from the highest highs of cultivating his musical genius, making it big and discovering his true sexuality, to his lowest lows being trapped by cross addictions to drugs and alcohol and an endless compulsion for sex and shopping, and being let down by those he needed most to love and respect him whether they were his parents, industry suits or strangers for a short time.
Born March 25, 1947, and christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Elton was a shy boy with Buddy Holly- style glasses who grew up in a working class London suburb. He dreamed of becoming a pop star like his idol Elvis Presley. He was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music where he attended on scholarship. After unfulfilling pub stints in his teens, he was paired by happenstance with the equally gifted young lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Unexpectedly, one of their early B-side tunes, “Our Song,” blossomed onto the charts and by age 23, self-re-christened as Elton Hercules John, he electrified an astonished America audience with his singing prowess, hitting the stage at the Troubadour in L.A. Elton John had arrived and both his life and the music world would never be the same.
ME ELTON JOHN gives the details and scope of a life that has been full of drama, from the early rejections of his work to spinning out of control as the songs climbed the charts and small venues turned into arenas. Elton recalls his world as only he can tell it. The friendships with close pals John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart and George Michael (and their pet female names for each other), his relationships with the Royals, especially Lady Diana; his epic outbursts and demands made on himself and others as the pressure of fame and touring built up; his viewpoint from the stage and the energy he derives from audiences worldwide; and his early failure and later success coping with drugs and alcohol, an addiction that would grip him for over a decade.
In ME Elton writes powerfully about his quest for sobriety, something he felt compelled to do after the death of the ostracized American teenager Ryan White, who died from AIDS following a transfusion in 1990. Once in rehab, Elton learned the critical step of unfailingly honesty — to himself and with others — and to forgive and move on from the pain of his childhood, public lawsuits, and personal heartaches and from all the manifestations of his actions that frequently hurt others.
In ME Elton John writes with great humor about the excesses of the glam life as only a superstar can afford. He talks about the over the top outfits, the eyeglasses (there are hundreds in his collection), the homes in London, Nice, L.A. and Atlanta stocked full of antiques and the warehouses needed to hold the collections (pared down, slightly, now).
To his public, Elton John’s life probably looked like a fairytale, when it was far from it. But in the end he got the quintessential Hollywood ending. ME ends with Elton’s life today. He entered into a Partnership in 2005, then was legally married in 2014, to his true love David Furnish, a Canadian-born business executive. He describes the greatest thrill of his life — becoming a father to sons Zachary, now age eight, and Elijah, now age six. (This, spoken by a man who has been knighted by the Queen and performed in front of thousands at Wembley and Dodger Stadiums!)
There are performers, and there is Elton John. There are rock memoirs, and there is ME, ELTON JOHN.