Highly respected author Philip Norman has an international reputation as a chronicler of pop music and culture. Shout!, his groundbreaking biography of the Beatles, first published in 1981, has remained continuously in print, selling more than one million copies, and was recently listed by Waterstones bookshops as one of the 100 best biographies in any genre. He has since written acclaimed books about the Rolling Stones. Elton John, Buddy Holly John Lennon, Mick Jagger and, most recently, Sir Paul McCartney. Philip’s speeches are highly informative and he entertains his audiences with both personal stories and tasty morsels of his experiences meeting and writing about these iconic world leaders, singers and bands.
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Philip Norman was brought up in Ryde, Isle of Wight, where his father was a (spectacularly unsuccessful) end-of-the-pier showman. In 2003, he recalled those years in an autobiography, Babycham Night: A Boyhood at the End of the Pier, which was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week and described by The Sunday Times as ‘a masterpiece ... like a John Lennon album with slot machines’.
He left school without going to university and became trainee reporter on the Hunts Post, ‘the county newspaper for Huntingdonshire’, coming top of the country in the National Council for the Training of Journalists examinations. At 22, he won a nationwide talent contest for young writers organised by the London Sunday Times and was given an unprecedented job as a feature writer on the prestigious and trendsetting Sunday Times Magazine.
Philip Norman travelled world as a star writer for the Magazine, interviewing (among others) King Hussein of Jordan, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, President Gaddafy of Libya (becoming the first British journalist to do so), President Ferdinand Marcos of Philippines and wife Imelda, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, P.G. Wodehouse, J.R.R Tolkein, Truman Capote, David Hockney, Philip Roth, Edward Kennedy, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Cliff Richard, Bill Haley, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers. He also became a celebrated ‘Atticus’ columnist for The Sunday Times; book critic for The Sunday Times and The Times and first rock critic of The Times.
His best-selling Beatles biography, Shout!, originally published in 1981 has been translated into languages all over the world and sold more than a million copies. He also wrote definitive biographies of the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Buddy Holly. His John Lennon: the Life (with Yoko Ono’s collaboration) published worldwide in 2008 to international acclaim, followed by Mick Jagger published in 16 countries in 2012 and Paul McCartney (with McCartney’s approval) in 2016.
He is the author of five novels, two collections of short stories and two plays transmitted by the BBC; and was chosen as one of first 20 Best of Young British Novelists in list including Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. His satire on Fleet Street in the Swinging Sixties, Everyone’s Gone to the Moon, praised by John Mortimer for ‘comic brilliance’ and ranked by Christopher Hitchens alongside Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop!
He has appeared many times on TV and radio in UK (‘Richard & Judy show’, ‘Start the Week’, ‘Loose Ends’ etc. etc.), in U.S. and across Europe and appeared as public speaker at Edinburgh Festival, Royal Geographical Society and both the Oxford and Cambridge Unions. He has written and presented three TV documentaries, two for BBC2, one for Channel 4. He has been a contributor to top newspapers and magazines including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday. New Statesman, Spectator, New York Times. Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller.
Has also written the books for two stage musicals This Is Elvis: Viva Las Vegas produced by Bill Kenwright made two successful UK tours in 2006. Laughter in the Rain: The Neil Sedaka Story, produced and directed by Kenwright, toured the UK in 2010. He is currently developing a musical about the 1960s’ legendary Biba boutique with songs by Ray Davies
Shout: the True Story of the Beatles: ‘Nothing less than thrilling … the definitive biography – New York Times.
Elton: ‘Scintillating’ – The Sunday Times.
‘He’s got me spot-on’ – Elton John.
John Lennon, the Life: ‘Mammoth, haunting, terrific’ – New York Times.
‘Lennon’s story has never been more truly told’ – Rolling Stone.
‘So rich and enveloping, it demands to be read’ – Entertainment Weekly.
Mick Jagger: ‘Barnstorming’ – The Observer.
‘The Historian of Cool - Sunday Times.
‘Extremely original and very funny’ – P.G.Wodehouse
My biographical subjects, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon,,
Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Buddy Holly, and other pop icons I have known, from David Bowie to James Brown.