Captain Fantastic: Elton John’s Stellar Trip Through the ’70s

Tom Doyle. Ballantine, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-101-88418-8
In the 1970s, Elton John was the “Rocket Man,” flying high over the rock world with one hit after another that brought him international fame. In this adoring and candid set of fan’s notes, music journalist Doyle (Man on the Run) draws on interviews with John and his colleagues, especially his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, to capture the meteoric rise and fall of the man who released at least one album every year of the 1970s. Doyle traces the arc of John’s journey from his childhood days as Reg Dwight, when he hung around the local record store so he could grab the newest albums by the bands he adored as soon as they arrived, to his early days in the Corvettes and Bluesology, his band that eventually backed the great British rocker Long John Baldry. John’s subsequent rise to stardom began with his first album of the 1970s, Elton John. Doyle follows John’s musical evolution chronologically, devoting each chapter to one year in the decade, and offering canny takes on John’s musical output. 1972’s Honky Chateau, for example, “exhibited Elton’s knack for musical genre hopping,” but the following year’s Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player was a “creative muddle,” though a resounding commercial success. Doyle points out that by the end of the decade, John was extraordinarily famous but also not sure “who he was or where he was going.” This energetic book unintentionally makes a convincing case that John reached his peak and made his best music in the ’70s. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 03/21/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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