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Reviews for Scattershot

by Bernie Taupin

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Award-winning Taupin, the lyricist behind Elton John's stardom, impressionistically recounts people, places, and events in his action-packed life. Growing up in rural Northern England, his early interest was in American country music. A chance meeting with John led to a lifelong collaboration; John wrote the melodies after Taupin penned the words. Taupin vividly details his wide-eyed recollections of swinging '60s London, the 1970s music scene in Los Angeles and New York City, wild adventures in Paris and Mexico, and his skirmishes with giant frogs, tarantulas, and cockroaches in Montserrat. He describes meetings with his literary idol Graham Greene, rock poet Leonard Cohen, and the irrepressible Cher and having dinner with quirky artist Salvador DalÍ. The book notes the author's idiosyncratic and mostly hapless girlfriends and wives and his alcohol- and cocaine-fueled times with Alice Cooper, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon. Taupin also includes stories about his own bands and his obsessions with book collecting, good food, and cowboy culture. VERDICT Written in a highly entertaining, articulate style with a wickedly acidic sense of humor, this book sets a new standard for rock biographies; most readers will enjoy.—Dr. Dave Szatmary

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Elton John fans know Bernie Taupin as the lyrical genius of the duo's prodigious output, and while John was the more famous, here, Taupin gets to tell his own story while John takes a backseat. The story of both their lives is full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and there's name-dropping by the score, but readers will discover Taupin as the boy not particularly adept at school who became a man with wide-ranging literary and musical tastes. He doesn't delve deeply into individual songs' creation or meaning, which may disappoint some readers, and chronology is, at times, difficult to pinpoint. Instead, surprises await in the form of Taupin's love of horses and years of owning a ranch. He tried acting for a bit; he loves America, particularly its mythical West; and his band, Farm Dogs, never quite reached fame as he would have wished. Fans of the two artists (who may have already read John's autobiography, Me, 2019) should check this out. For the less-initiated, Taupin has a lot to say, and it shouldn't be missed.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Lyricist Taupin, best known for his long-standing collaboration with Elton John, bounces jauntily from anecdote to anecdote in his whirlwind debut memoir. Taupin was born in Lincolnshire, England, where he “learned nothing in school. My education came through my mother, her father, and in the grooves of vinyl albums.” At 17, he met Reg Dwight (who would soon change his name to Elton John) and shared the “fanciful” and “whimsical” songs he’d written. When John asked if he had more, the now-famous partnership was born. Taupin provides intimate glimpses into the genesis of some of his and John’s most well-known hits: he wrote “Your Song” in 10 minutes as John’s mother cooked breakfast, while “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” was inspired by his first night in New York City. Taupin wends his way through his artistic influences, several marriages, and drug use, but the clear highlights are the reflections about his craft—he sometimes wonders if he’s “just a messenger, delivering whimsical propositions,” adding that “what I became was, and always has been, an enigma to me.” Despite a tendency to ramble, Taupin’s candor and imagistic writing (“a cubicle the color of sick”) hold the reader’s attention. It’s an appealing complement to Elton John’s 2019 memoir Me. (Sept.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Elton John’s longtime songwriting partner tells his life story. Taupin (b. 1950) spent his early years in rural Lincolnshire, England, where his father was a farm manager. Early on, he imprinted on American country music and rockabilly performers and Western movies. After hearing Marty Robbins’ “El Paso,” Taupin realized that he “wanted to write stories.” Dropping out of school at age 15, he worked at odd jobs, first at a printing plant, then a poultry farm, while absorbing more American roots music from Yanks stationed at a nearby Royal Air Force base. At age 17, Taupin answered an ad in a music magazine for a songwriter, and he traveled to London and met a piano player named Reg Dwight, later to become famous as Elton John. The two hit it off immediately, although it took a good bit of time for their collaboration to spark an eventual string of hits. Taupin interestingly chronicles their first years working together; when the fame finally arrives, the book turns into a string of encounters with celebrities, interspersed with tales of rock-star excess around the world. While some of the bits are insightful or revealing, there are dozens of variations of these escapades available elsewhere. Only in the last couple of chapters, when Taupin writes about settling down on a California ranch to raise cutting horses and live out his childhood cowboy dreams in rodeo competition, does the book recover some sense of the author as an individual. A late-life venture into visual art adds another dimension to the self-portrait. The author’s main insight about songwriting is that his material comes from observing what goes on around him. “My penchant for observation was a constant,” he writes. “I loved writing, I loved chronicling life, and every moment whether I was cogent, sober, or blitzed, I was forever feeding off my surroundings.” A feast for fans of celebrity gossip; less interesting for those curious about where the music comes from. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.