Rocket Man by Mark Bego is for serious Elton John fans: ones who have already seen the movie, who have at least two dozen of his LPs balanced on a shelf over an honest-to-God turntable, who saw Billy Elliott twice and went to see The Lion King by themselves. This book, from Pegasus Books, is a tome and a round of applause — not only for Elton John but for all the musicians, producers, back-up singers, friends, lovers, family, neighbors and fans who were part of the mess that produced the man who became Sir Elton John.

It’s also a wonderful place to start learning about Elton John. Born in England to a cold, stern father and an overprotective mother, he spent a lot of time alone, but he soon discovered that music understood him. He was playing the piano by ear by the time he was four. He listened to George Shearing and Frank Sinatra records, but his mother introduced him to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. We have her to thank for pretty much everything.

He was an awkward, pudgy teenager who hid behind raw talent, but, slowly, he began to create a persona that sent a very different message. That persona got bigger and bigger until he’s dressed for a gala in a powdered wig so big that he and his partner David Furnish had to be driven to the event in an open truck. In between, however, John fought with his demons of addiction, insecurity and sexuality. 

Readers claw right along with him, through his heartbreaks, losses and mistakes, his tantrums and his Herculean efforts to steady himself. Even his vast wealth fails to console him in dark times. Shining through it all, however, even during periods of estrangement, is the solid partnership of Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. 

His extraordinary talent and flamboyant exuberance attracted toadies, lonely hearts and wannabes, as well as high-powered producers, world-famous singers and musicians, movie stars and royalty. He traveled in rarified air, but suffered bouts of depression and loneliness from which he barely recovered. His love life was incendiary, complicated and emotionally damaging. Drugs and alcohol abuse nearly killed him, yet Bego tells his story with compassion and understanding. Rocket Man is a shattering tale of success gained at great cost.

Alongside the trajectory of Elton John’s life, Bego tells the story of rock n’ roll’s evolution on both sides of the Atlantic. He comes to this project heavily armed.  The author of over 65 books about rock n’ roll, Bego is a bestselling pop music historian and biographer, and Rocket Man is not just a biography; it goes far beyond that.

Rabid Elton John fans will eat up all the details about which record companies backed him, who fought over him, and who was responsible for his successes; which stars sang impromptu duets with him, who played the congas, tenor saxophone, or the harmonica on which track on which album.

Stats about sales and chart ratings are all there, title tracks that were unexpected winners, and cover art that rocked the music industry and shocked the world. Bego quotes celebrities and journalists, lovers and family members; there are 20 pages of quote sources and a 10-page bibliography.

All in all, Rocket Man is a formidable work that satisfies. A reader that doesn’t fall a little bit in love with Elton John after reading Rocket Man is hard-hearted indeed.

Rocket Man is available for purchase.

About Mark Bego:

Mark Bego is the author of 62 books on rock n roll and show business. With over 12 million books in print, he is acknowledged as the best-selling biographer in the rock and pop music field. His biographies have included the life stories of some of the biggest stars of rock (Elton John, Billy Joel, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night), soul (Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston), pop (Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Sade, Barry Manilow), and country (Glen Campbell, George Strait, Patsy Cline, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill). He has also written about film and television stars as well (Rock Hudson, Julia Roberts, Linda Gray, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Matt Damon, The Marx Brothers).