Bernie Taupin Publishes Memoir, ‘Scattershot’

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The cover of the U.S. edition

Four years after Elton John published his memoir, Me, his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, has done the same. The legendary lyricist of most of John’s hits, has published his own book, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me. The title arrived via Hachette Books on Sept. 12, 2023, in the U.S.; Sept. 7 in the U.K. [On May 3, Taupin was selected for inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023, in the Musical Excellence category.]

The book is described by the publisher as “an evocative, clear-eyed, and revealing memoir.” Order it in the U.S. here.

The English-born Taupin has worked in partnership with legendary singer, composer, pianist, and worldwide icon Elton John since 1967 and has written the lyrics for such classic rock favorites as “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Crocodile Rock”, “Your Song,” “I’m Still Standing,” and dozens of others. One of the most successful and long-running musical collaborations in music history, John and Taupin received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and more. In 2022, Taupin was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music.

“I loved writing,” he says. “I loved chronicling life and every moment I was cogent, sober, or blitzed, I was forever feeding off my surroundings, making copious notes as ammunition for future compositions. . . . The thing is good, bad, or indifferent I never stopped writing, it was as addictive as any drug.”

The U.K. edition’s cover

Taupin and John’s extraordinary, half-century-and-counting creative relationship has been chronicled in the 2019 biopic Rocketman and in John’s own autobiography, Me. But Taupin, a famously private person, has kept his own account of their adventures close to his chest, until now.

More from the publisher’s announcement: Written with honesty and candor, Scattershot allows the reader to witness events unfolding from Taupin’s singular perspective, sometimes front and center, sometimes from the edge, yet always described vibrantly, with an infectious energy that only a vivid songwriter’s prose could offer. From his childhood in the East Midlands of England whose imagination was sparked and forever informed by the distinctly American mythopoetics of country music and cowboy culture, to the glittering, star-studded fishbowl of ’70s and ’80s Beverly Hills, Scattershot is simultaneously a Tom Jones­-like picaresque journey across a landscape of unforgettable characters, as well as a striking, first-hand account of a creative era like no other and one man’s experience at the core of it.

Taupin and John honed their skill to such a degree that Taupin could present John with a lyric and he could compose to it within the hour. In the period between 1970-76, with producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm, John and Taupin made an astonishing 14 albums including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Madman Across the Water

This photo appeared in the February 24, 1973, issue of Record World

We visit Los Angeles with him and Elton on the cusp of global fame. We spend time with him in Australia almost in residency at an infamous rock ‘n’ roll hotel in an endless blizzard of drugs. And we spend late night hours with John Lennon, with Bob Marley, and hanging with Frank Sinatra. And beyond the world of popular music, we witness memorable encounters with writers like Graham Greene, painters like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, and scores of notable misfits, miscreants, eccentrics, and geniuses, known and unknown. Even if they’re not famous in their own right, they are stars on the page, and we discover how they inspired the indelible lyrics to songs such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and The Jets,” and many more.

Taupin was born May 22, 1950, in Lincolnshire, England. He became a U.S. citizen in 1990 and lives in Southern California.

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 4 May, 2023, 00:51

    I loved Bernie’s wry take on his work habits: “I work two weeks a year . . . ”

    The only person that might go toe-to-toe with Bernie in terms of lyric density might by Shawn Phillips.

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