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. His new biography of Paul McCartney was published by Orion in May 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.
PAUL MCCARTNEY – Buy it here
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
EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOON — Buy it here
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
ELTON — Buy it here
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 – Buy it here
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.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1996
THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER: PORTRAITS FROM A JOURNEY THROUGH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC — Buy it here
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: November 1982
TILT THE HOURGLASS AND BEGIN AGAIN
PUBLISHER: Elm Tree
PUBLICATION DATE: 27 August 1985
PLUMRIDGE – Buy it here
Everyone has met Plumridge. He is the pert, bald youth who insulted you at a cocktail party five minutes after being introduced. He is in the sports car that screams the most. But fate has unkindly misplaced him: he works, not smoothly in London, but on the East Anglia Fens as a paper salesman. This is the story of his efforts to move into more pink-shirted surroundings. In Plumridge Philip Norman has fulfilled the high promise of his first novel Slip on a Fat Lady – described by P.G.Wodehouse as “extremely original and very funny”.
PUBLISHER: William Heinemann
PUBLICATION DATE: 1st May 1971
SLIP ON A FAT LADY – Buy it here.
PUBLISHER: William Heinemann
PUBLICATION DATE: 18th May 1970
MICK JAGGER – Buy it here
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.
PUBLICATION DATE: 11th October 2012
JOHN LENNON: THE LIFE: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY – Buy it here
The final word on music’s greatest legend, in which Philip Norman reveals a John Lennon the world has never seen. With ground-breaking insight into the pain, beauty and frustration that shaped the genius of modern music, John Lennon: The Definitive Biography redefines a legend.
John Lennon – the iconic songwriter, composer and one quarter of The Beatles – was a giant of the twentieth century. As the founding member of the world’s most successful group ever, he changed lives. The popularity and significance of The Beatles is beyond comparison in our age – in the UK alone, they released more than 40 number one singles and albums.
But their impact extended well beyond their music. Their clothes, hairstyles, statements, and even their choice of instruments made them trend-setters from the 1960s to this day, while their growing social awareness – reflected in the development of their music – saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
Following the painful collapse of The Beatles, John came out a wiser but angrier person. Together with his wife Yoko Ono, he attempted to transform the world through non-musical means. Their bed-in in Amsterdam and Montreal, their black bag appearances on stage, their innocent flirting with political activists and radicals, all received massive media attention. These events were in search of world peace.
John Lennon was shot dead by a mentally disturbed fan outside his New York apartment building on December 8, 1980.
Featuring previously unseen photographs, this truly is the definitive John Lennon.
“Reading this book brings the John Lennon I knew vividly back to life.’ Bill Harry, founder of Mersey Beat
“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.
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’
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th May 2009
SHOUT!: THE TRUE STORY OF THE BEATLES – Buy it here.
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: 5th September 2003
BABYCHAM NIGHT: A BOYHOOD AT THE END OF THE PIER — Buy it here.
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
Buy it here.
In 2012 the Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary. Their story – the band’s meteoric rise to fame, the Marianne Faithfull, Brian Jones and Altamont scandals, the groundbreaking hits – is the stuff of twentieth century legend, and core to popular culture.
But it is Norman’s skills as a researcher and biographer which bring a whole new dimension to such a story. Written with the personal knowledge, trust and co-operation of the participants, this fully updated version is indisputably the best book on The Stones ever written.
Norman spares no detail, covering the Jerry Hall/Mick Jagger split and the Stones’ lives as tax exiles, the recording of Exile on Main St. as well as the iconic stage performances, Mick’s control of the band’s affairs and his contractual disputes with managers and promoters.
This a story of fame, money, drugs, booze, sex, hedonism and the greatest rock band of all time.