Bernie Taupin occupies a distinctive place in the pantheon of songwriting legends, renowned for his collaboration with Elton John, one of the 20th century’s iconic musicians. In his unconventional memoir, “Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me,” Taupin takes readers on a journey through his remarkable life and career, providing insights into his humble beginnings and the extraordinary partnership that reshaped the music industry.
An Unexpected Beginning
As a teenager, Taupin’s introduction to songwriting was far from conventional. Initially, he held the belief that the singers themselves crafted the lyrics. However, in the late 1960s, serendipity brought him together with Reg Dwight, a talented pianist and singer who would later become known as Elton John. This chance encounter marked the genesis of their songwriting collaboration, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Emergence of “Your Song”
Taupin’s breakthrough arrived in October 1969 when, at the tender age of 19, he composed the lyrics for “Your Song” in a mere ten minutes. Interestingly, this lyrical masterpiece was born after he enjoyed a delightful breakfast prepared by Reg’s mother in the London suburbs. The song served as the catalyst for one of the most triumphant songwriting partnerships in history, catapulting Elton John to global superstardom.
Unveiling the Backstage World
“Scattershot” offers a distinctive narrative, granting readers a glimpse into Taupin’s life during Elton John’s reign over the music world. It’s a narrative that melds travelogue, autobiography, and adventure. The book takes readers on a non-linear voyage through exotic destinations, late nights at decadent nightclubs, and encounters with an assorted array of celebrities.
From Humble Origins to Rock Royalty
Born in rural Lincolnshire, Taupin’s early life was steeped in literature. Nonetheless, he ventured to London as a teenager, where he and John fortuitously crossed paths by responding to a record label’s talent-searching advertisement in a music magazine. Their partnership, defined by Taupin’s lyrical mastery and Elton’s melodic genius, blossomed into a lifelong friendship.
The “Dynamic Duo”
Taupin and John’s friendship was exceptionally close, often referred to as a “dynamic duo.” Their platonic connection endured even after an awkward romantic advance by John, which Taupin humorously and empathetically describes. Their professional collaboration remains intact to this day, but fame reshaped their intimacy. As John’s stardom ascended, Taupin, who predominantly wrote independently and shied away from the studio and tours, found himself adrift.
A Glimpse into Hollywood’s Golden Era
One of the most enthralling aspects of “Scattershot” is its vivid portrayal of 1970s and ’80s Los Angeles, a city characterized by opulence and decay. Taupin’s accounts of mingling with celebrities transcend typical rock memoir anecdotes, offering a unique perspective on his interactions with Hollywood’s luminaries.
“Scattershot” may lack a central narrative thread, reading more like a compilation of entertaining stories. Nevertheless, Taupin’s anecdotes about encounters with celebrities stand out as captivating highlights of a fascinating life entwined with music history.