Philip Norman was born in London and brought up on the Isle of Wight. He joined the Sunday Times at the age of twenty-two, soon gaining a reputation as Atticus columnist and for his profiles of figures as diverse as Elizabeth Taylor, P. G. Wodehouse, Little Richard and Colonel Gaddafi. In 1981 he published SHOUT! A ground-breaking biography of the Beatles that was a bestseller in both Britain and the US. He has also written the definitive lives of Sir Elton John, Buddy Holly, John Lennon and Mick Jagger. He is now writing a biography of Paul McCartney to be published by Orion in 2016.
Although he resists classification as a “rock biographer”, a musical theme pervades almost all of Philip Norman’s work. In 1983 he was named one of the twenty Best of Young British Novelists for his autobiographical novel THE SKATER’S WALTZ. His shorter fiction includes SPRING SONATA, a novella set in an Edwardian music hall, and WORDS OF LOVE, about Buddy Holly’s last hours, which later became a successful television play. His journalism has been published in three collections, THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER, TILT THE HOURGLASS AND BEGIN AGAIN, and THE AGE OF PARODY. He has also written BABYCHAM NIGHT, a memoir of his childhood on the Isle of Wight.
Philip Norman is one of our greatest biographers and Paul McCartney is one of the greatest of modern subjects: co-founder of the world’s most celebrated band and composer of unforgettable songs. This is the story of a man who was public property by the age of 21, the trajectory of the Beatles from beginning to break-up, and of Swinging London in the 1960s.
Philip Norman’s masterly biography reveals the complex character beneath the cheeky-chappie façade, and sheds new light on his childhood, blighted by the death of his mother but redeemed by the extraordinary father who first turned him on to music. The book gives a definitive account of his often troubled creative partnership with John Lennon, reveals the huge trauma he suffered with the break-up of the Beatles, and his struggle to get back to the top with Wings, an endeavour that nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him a nine-day confinement in a Tokyo jail. Paul McCartney: The Biography provides the first inside story of his marriage to Linda and their much-criticised musical partnership, and a moving account of her death.
Perhaps most rewarding of all are the stories behind the music forged by the Lennon & McCartney partnership, which would fashion the songs that will be sung for all time. Yet there is life after the Beatles, and some of the greatest McCartney songs were written and performed with Wings. Packed with the new information and keen critical insights that are the hallmark of Philip Norman’s work, this biography is a magnificent chronicle of the life of a modern immortal.
“Paul McCartney is loaded with wonderful passages, fascinating stories and cracking humor. In all, it is a largely masterful account, the kind of biography fitting McCartney’s continued prowess and genius. Or, as McCartney said at the end of one Beatles take, “Keep that one. Mark it ‘FAB.'” Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 5th May 2016
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EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOON
A panoramic comedy set in and around the trendiest Sunday newspaper in the London of the Swinging Sixties. Under its new editor, Jack Shildrick, the news section becomes famous for its campaigning journalism, but one thing Jack cannot control is the paper’s extravagant, pacesetting colour magazine.
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 1995
Charts the career of Elton John – from suburban pub entertainer to international keyboard king. This is a portrait of a dynamic rock legend, but also of a complex, multifaceted man, whose triumphs and traumas have earned him the name Captain Fantastic.
PUBLICATION DATE: 16 September 1991
RAVE ON: THE BIOGRAPHY OF BUDDY HOLLY
Buddy Holly is the best-known yet most elusive and enigmatic of all Rock ‘n’ Roll legends. Now Philip Norman, who has won international praise for his biographies of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elton John, has written the definitive story of a short but extraordinary life. Buddy’s records are played, and his memory is cherished, the world over. Yet the full story of his meteoric rise and tragic fall has never been told. Philip Norman uses his unique skills to give a revealing, sometimes shocking but always warmly affectionate portrait of America’s mythical Rock ‘n’ Roll era and its brightest and most enduring star.
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PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1996
THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER: PORTRAITS FROM A JOURNEY THROUGH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: November 1982
SYMPHONY FOR THE DEVIL: THE ROLLING STONES STORY
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1984
TILT THE HOURGLASS AND BEGIN AGAIN
PUBLISHER: Elm Tree
PUBLICATION DATE: 27 August 1985
PUBLISHER: William Heinemann
PUBLICATION DATE: May 1971
SLIP ON A FAT LADY
PUBLISHER: William Heinemann
PUBLICATION DATE: 18 May 1970
JAGGER: SATAN FROM SUBURBIA
A miracle of still-plentiful hair, raw sex-appeal, and strutting talent . The frontman of one of the most influential and controversial groups of all time. A musical genius with a career spanning over four decades. He is a testament to British glamour, the ultimate architect and demi-god of rock.
Bestselling biographer Philip Norman offers an unparalleled account of the life of a living legend, Mick Jagger. From Home Counties schoolboy, to rebel without a cause to Sixties rock sensation and global idol, Norman unravels with astonishing intimacy the myth of the inimitable frontman of The Rolling Stones. MICK JAGGER charts his extraordinary journey through scandal-ridden conspiracy, infamous prison spell, hordes of female admirers and a knighthood while stripping away the colossal fame, wealth and idolatry to reveal a story of talent and promise unfulfilled.
Understated yet ostentatious; the ultimate incarnation of modern man’s favourite fantasy: ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, yet blessed with taste and intelligence; a social chameleon who couldn’t blend in if he tried; always moving with the Jagger swagger yet modest enough to be self-deprecating, Mick was a paradoxical energy that reconfigured the musical landscape.
This revelatory tour de force is ample tribute to a flawed genius, a Casanova, an Antichrist and a god who, with characteristic nonchalance realised the dreams of thousands of current contenders and rocker pretenders, longevity, while coasting on a sea of fur rugs.
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PUBLICATION DATE: 11 October 2012
JOHN LENNON: THE LIFE: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY
‘Reading this book brings the John Lennon I knew vividly back to life.’ Bill Harry, founder of Mersey Beat Praise for Philip Norman: Shout!: ‘This stands as the first (and still the best) collision of Beatles history and literary depth! just about everything is rendered with beautiful prose and laser-like insight’ Q ‘As beautiful and unsettling as any late Beatles record’ Daily Express ‘Conscientiously researched! his command of his material is faultless’ George Melly, Observer ‘This impressive and highly readable book’ Sunday Times. Music book of the year, Sunday Times.
Comprehensive biography of the Beatles’ most outspoken and controversial member, whose murder by a demented fan in 1980 only added to his legacy.Norman wrote one of the first and still one of the best Beatles histories (Shout!, 1981), and though he claims to have corrected many “inaccuracies and misjudgments” from that earlier work, there just isn’t much new to say about the group’s historic, hysterical popularity or John Lennon’s role in it. The author, who is also a veteran novelist (Everyone’s Gone to the Moon, 1996, etc.), tries to compensate by giving an in-depth account of Lennon’s early years, stressing the lifelong rage and fear of abandonment instilled by familial instability. He was raised by his Aunt Mimi after his father left, while his mother Julia lived nearby with her lover. Lennon was traumatized by Julia’s death in 1958, when he was 17. Norman takes a long time to get to the formation of the Beatles; the extraordinary songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney (who gets kinder assessment here than in Shout!); the group’s seasoning in the tawdry clubs of Hamburg; their first taste of the mania they inspired in female fans when they played Liverpool’s Cavern club in 1961; their breakthrough into national stardom thanks to manager Brian Epstein’s and record producer George Martin’s nurturing of their talent; the paradigm-shattering American tour of 1964; and the rest of the familiar tale, retold here with care but little passion. The author is frank enough about Lennon’s insecurities and capacity for cruelty to have alienated his widow, Yoko Ono, who initially cooperated with Norman but withdrew her endorsement after reading the manuscript, concluding it was “mean to John.” It isn’t. Norman’s fully three-dimensional portrait has no evident axe to grind, but it’s also hard to tell why he bothered. He’s particularly perfunctory with the post-Beatle years, evincing respect but no real affinity for Lennon’s political radicalism and avant-garde adventures with Ono.
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2008
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
RIGHTS SOLD: Chinese (simplified), Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish, Swedish
SHOUT!: THE TRUE STORY OF THE BEATLES
The first and best Beatles biography, fully updated and reissued to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Beatlemania. When it was first published Philip Norman’s SHOUT! was hailed as the definitive work on the Fab Four. He had a close personal relationship with each of the protagonists, having interviewed them many times since 1965 and observed at first hand the events that led to the split during 1969-70. The resulting book contained unique insights into the rise of the Beatles, their final years, the chaos of Apple and the collapse of hippy idealism. Now fully updated, and written with all of Norman’s trademark verve and skill, this is an essential book for anyone with an interest in pop music, the Sixties and the pleasures and perils of God-like fame.
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2003
BABYCHAM NIGHT: A BOYHOOD AT THE END OF THE PIER
Philip Norman’s family considered themselves genteel yet somehow became involved in the opportunistic world of seaside trade on the Isle of Wight. Norman recreates his upbringing among this gallery of social misfits – his handsome but unstable father Clive, once a dashing RAF officer, now a reluctant showman at the end of Ryde Pier, his pub-owning Uncle Phil, who dresses as a woman every New Year’s Eve, and his irresistible Grandma Norman who presides over her rock kiosk and rules the troubled family like a Mafia don. The year is 1953. The coronation creates a mood of national optimism and euphoria, reflected in the bubbly new drink called Babycham. But while Britain celebrates, ten-year-old Philip watches disaster approach in his father’s growing obsession with Joan, the Bronze Medal roller skating champion. Finally, he concocts a stratagem to win his parent’s attention which explodes spectacularly in his face.
PUBLICATION DATE: May 2003
STONES: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY
This work provides a personal insight into the career of the Rolling Stones, now celebrating their 40th anniversary. It charts the band’s rise, the Marianne Faithfull, Brian Jones and Altamont scandals, their groundbreaking hits and their implications for popular culture.
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PUBLICATION DATE: September 2001