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Bedtime Biography: Me

The Autobiography

By Elton John
6-minute read
Audio available
Bedtime Biography: Me by Elton John

Narrated by Marston York
Music by Federico Coderoni

Me (2019) is Elton John’s autobiography. It takes a deeper look into the singer’s troubled childhood, his struggles with addiction, and the roles they played in shaping who he is. They also explore his path to stardom, and the celebrity drama he’s encountered along the way.

  • Music buffs looking for fresh insights
  • Fans of inspiring true stories
  • Lovers of autobiographies

Sir Elton John, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is an English singer, songwriter, and composer. He’s one of the world’s best-selling music artists, and has sold over 300 million records. John has also received five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, and an Academy Award.

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Bedtime Biography: Me

The Autobiography

By Elton John
  • Read in 6 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 4 key ideas
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Bedtime Biography: Me by Elton John
Synopsis

Narrated by Marston York
Music by Federico Coderoni

Me (2019) is Elton John’s autobiography. It takes a deeper look into the singer’s troubled childhood, his struggles with addiction, and the roles they played in shaping who he is. They also explore his path to stardom, and the celebrity drama he’s encountered along the way.

Key idea 1 of 4

Chapter 1

Bedtime Biographies are best when listened to.  Check out the audio version to get the full experience!

 

Elton John is an icon. He’s been topping the charts and selling out stadiums, right across the world for decades. Just how did this ordinary working-class boy become such a star?

Elton has led a life packed with stories and secrets. It’s quite the journey. So, let’s relax, get comfy, and discover the hidden life of the rocketman.

 

In 1947, Elton John was born in a working-class suburb of north London. His father, Stanley, was in the Royal Air Force, and he was often away from home. So as a small boy, Elton spent most of his time with his mother, Sheila, and his grandmother.

It wasn’t a happy childhood. Sheila had a dreadful temper; she’d fly off the handle with no warning, and always seemed to be looking for a fight. Elton was regularly the victim of her and anger, and so he was terrified of her and her moods.

His father, when he was around, was no better. He punished Elton for everything. From the way he took off his school blazer to the way he ate celery, Elton could never get anything right.

Sheila and Stanley also fought each other too. They’d argue – constantly. Eventually, they divorced, when Elton was eleven.

 

Elton’s childhood was full of sadness, but it was filled with music, too.

When Elton was nine, music shook his world. Standing in the local barbershop, he saw a picture in a magazine. It was a photo of Elvis Presley. Who was that? He looked like an alien from outer space! No one dressed or posed like that in suburban London. When his mom came home with Elvis’s new record, “Heartbreak Hotel,” Elton thought he sounded like an alien too. But in a good way.

From that moment on, he was in love with rock and roll.

 

It was clear from a very early age that Elton John had musical talent. A lot of talent. His family remembers that he could pick out a song’s melody, just by hearing it, and then play it on the piano. You might not think that’s too remarkable. Lots of people can play the piano. Well, maybe. But Elton could do it when he was just three years old.

His musical abilities saw him enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music. The Academy was a prestigious institution, and the eleven-year-old Elton had passed a tough exam in order to study there. Every Saturday, he’d spend his morning at the Academy practicing and developing his skills. There was only one problem, the Academy only taught classical music. If it wasn’t classical, it wasn’t allowed in the Academy.

But Elton wanted to play rock and roll, he didn’t want to be a classical musician. So, the lessons at the Academy – as prestigious as they were – started to drag. And Elton started to neglect them. Sometimes, instead of going to his classes, he’d ride the London Underground all morning. On the tube, he read magazines and daydreamed of playing rock and roll instead of Mozart and Beethoven.

 

Elton was 15 when he got his first paid music work.

His stepfather got him regular gigs at the Northwood Hills Hotel – a rough local pub. He got to play a bit of rock and roll, but mostly play old English drinking songs – that’s what the pub’s clientele really wanted. Sometimes – actually most of the time – the audience would go a little too far. Filled up on booze, fights would break out: glasses would go flying and tables would be upended. To get away from the melee, Elton would sometimes have to jump out of the nearest window. He’d only return to his piano once the fighting had calmed down.

The work was tough, but the pay was pretty good for a 15-year-old. He’d get a pound a night, but with tips, he could end up earning £15 a week. And it was a great lesson in how to play to a raucous and unappreciative audience.

 

When he was 17, Elton left school and joined a band called Bluesology. The band spent most of their time on the road, playing venues up and down the UK. They had little success. They did release two singles written by Elton, “Come Back Baby” and “Mr Frantic,” but neither of them made a real splash.

 

Elton made little money with Bluesology. So to earn enough to live, he started working as a session musician on the side. Being a session musician involved going into a studio and recording terrible covers of current pop songs. The work was often hilarious. Elton was once asked to record a version of “Young, Gifted and Black,” a song that doesn’t quite work when sung by a white kid from suburban London. Another time, he had to impersonate the high-pitched voice of Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees. The only way Elton could reach the pitch was by half-strangling himself while he sang.

But it was steady work, and Elton enjoyed the atmosphere in the studios with the other musicians.

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