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Philip Norman

Philip Norman

Philip Norman has an international reputation as a chronicler of popular music and culture. During the 1970s, he was rock music critic of The Times and wrote profiles for the renowned Sunday Times Magazine on iconic figures as diverse as James Brown, Little Richard, B.B.King, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart and the Everly Brothers. In 1981, he published his critically-acclaimed biography Shout! The Beatles in their Generation, which has since sold more than a million copies worldwide and remained continuously in print. He has also written definitive biographies of the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly and Elton John. Autumn 2008 saw the publication of his most ambitious biography, John Lennon: the Life, which became an international bestseller.

Also an award-winning writer of fiction, Philip Norman was named one of the Top 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ for his autobiographical novel The Skaters’ Waltz. He wrote the book of the musical This Is Elvis: Viva Las Vegas, produced in 2006, and has written a second show, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, based on the life of Neil Sedaka, due to open in 2009.

List of articles in the library by artist

Chet Atkins, Ernest Tubb: The Cold, Cold Heart of Country Music

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1972

FOR ALL that Country and Western hopes nothing will change, its heroes die horribly fast. ...

Badfinger, Johnny Winter, Man: Johnny Winter: the New Victoria Theatre, London; Man and Badfinger: the Adelphi, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, October 1974

JOHNNY WINTER inspires one of Rock music's more curious secret societies. ...

The Beach Boys: Not All Fun, Fun, Fun

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1977

WHEREVER BRIAN Wilson goes, his cousin Steve is never far away. ...

The Beatles: Derek Taylor 1932-1997

Obituary by Philip Norman, Rolling Stone, October 1997

THE SIMPLE term "music publicist" does not begin to describe Derek Taylor, who died from cancer of the esophagus at his home, in Suffolk, England, ...

The Beatles: Magical Mysteries... The 'Fifth Beatle' Who Kept Their Innermost Secrets To The Very End

Obituary by Philip Norman, Daily Mail, March 2008

NEIL ASPINALL, the deservedly-named 'Fifth Beatle' who has died in New York aged 66, was not an easy man for a journalist to befriend. ...

The Beatles: Neil Aspinall: The Man Who Really Made The Beatles

Profile by Philip Norman, Daily Mail, April 2007

LOYALTY IS not a virtue associated with the pop music industry. Treachery, exploitation and kiss-and-tell are its far more familiar signature-tunes. ...

The Beatles, John Lennon: John Lennon: I Was Never Lovable – I Was Just Lennon

Obituary by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, December 1980

ONE OF THE more persistent myths surrounding John Lennon claims that he was brought up in poverty by working-class Liverpool parents. ...

Chuck Berry: Rainbow Theatre, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1976

IT IS MORE than 20 years since the world first laid startled eyes on a young man with a crouching gait and a skinny guitar ...

Blondie: Debbie Harry: Rhapsody in Blonde

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1980

IN A TALL, draughty brownstone house, off New York's Second Avenue, preparations are afoot to videotape a sequence for Blondie's new single record, 'Rapture'. The ...

Blur, Oasis, Pulp: Britpop: And The Beat Goes Off

Retrospective by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, February 2003

Britpop recalled the halcyon days of the Beatles and the Stones – but the party didn't last ...

James Brown: Mister Messiah

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1971

JAMES BROWN will die on the stage one night, on the moving staircase of his own feet in front of a thirty-piece band; and then ...

Johnny Cash: Jailhouse, Jesus and H.G. Wells

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1971

THE HEAVY carved front door into House of Cash, Johnny Cash's state mansion, in Madison, Tennessee, swung inward to reveal blinding sunshine and the awe-struck ...

Delaney & Bonnie, Eric Clapton, George Harrison: Eric Clapton: God is a Guitarist

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1970

GEORGE HARRISON sat with a painfully thin fellow in a motorway restaurant, a graveyard of the digestion outside London. ...

Fats Domino: Rockin' in Your Seat

Profile and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1976

FATS DOMINO is relaxing among his half-unpacked luggage, his glass-heeled shoes, his address-book, his diamonds and his Gideon Bible. ...

Champion Jack Dupree: Travelling North

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1971

AROUND 1920, Champion Jack Dupree left the Coloured Waifs Home for Boys, New Orleans, and started walking. He had nobody. His father and mother were ...

Bob Dylan: Earl's Court, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, June 1981

HE WOULD not be Bob Dylan if he did not make us constantly fear the worst. ...

Hammie Nixon, Sleepy John Estes: Sleepy John Estes: Sleepy, Getting Sleepier

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1972

THE ROAD stops at Sleepy John's house, at the top of a ploughed field, outside Brownsville, Tennessee, where the earth is thick and unyielding as ...

The Everly Brothers: Growing Apart

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1972

PHIL IS THE fastidious one. Don was happy to stay at another motel with a northern draught sweeping its gallery and cows grazing round the ...

The Faces, Rod Stewart: Rod Stewart: The Familiar Face

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1974

THROUGH THE colonnades they come, along freezing passage-ways. Girls look like ventriloquist-dolls, in black plush and rouge, puffing as dolls do on big cigarettes; boys ...

Marianne Faithfull: My Credit is Good

Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1983

WHEN MARIANNE Faithfull goes out nowadays, it is usually to the Chelsea Arts Club. The whitewashed house in Old Church Street, a cross between country ...

Bryan Ferry: Mask Behind A Mask

Profile by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, January 1977

BRYAN FERRY'S jeans are as outmoded in style as high fashion can contrive. He wears a blue shirt and black official tie, framed by a ...

B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder: Soul on Fire

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times Magazine, 1972

STEVIE WONDER crosses the hotel lobby, resting on the elbows of two other people. That he is blind, has been blind from birth, is nonetheless ...

Fleetwood Mac: Carrying the Albatross

Profile and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1978

FLEETWOOD MAC have returned to Britain, a decade after their song 'Albatross' set a new mood and mellow tone for the rock guitar. But that ...

Bill Haley: A Piece of Gold in my Pocket

Profile by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1976

CLOSE TO his 50th birthday, Bill Haley seems to be in excellent repair. ...

Frank Zappa, Hawkwind: The Foulk Brothers: Pop Promoting Blues

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1972

"RONNIE..." RONALD Foulk's secretary broke into the conference. "Will you accept a transfer call from America?" ...

Buddy Holly: Maria Elena Holly

Interview by Philip Norman, Daily Express, 1996

MARIA ELENA Holly was robbed of her shy, brilliant young husband by an Iowa snowstorm almost 42 years ago. But she believes he has never ...

Buddy Holly: Why Buddy Holly will never fade away

Retrospective by Philip Norman, Daily Telegraph, January 2009

ON A BASIS OF simply counting heads, rock music surpasses even film as the 20th century's most influential art form. By that reckoning, there is ...

Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger: The Old Man and The Sex

Profile by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1999

For years he's been renowned as a serial-philandering, penny-wise dinosaur of rock – still implicated in paternity suits for divorce settlements in his mid-50s. But ...

John Lennon, Yoko Ono: John Lennon: Give New York A Chance

Guide by Philip Norman, Daily Mail, December 2008

FEW EXILES have been so cherished by a city as John Lennon was by New York. Certainly, none has ever left such a legacy of ...

John Lennon, Yoko Ono: Yoko Ono: Life Without John

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, June 1981

IT IS FIVE months since the shots were fired. The Dakota Building shares in that relief which Spring fleetingly gives to New York. Beside the ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: Bob Marley & The Wailers: Lyceum Ballroom, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, July 1975

BOB MARLEY and the Wailers reached the Lyceum two nights ago, in some style. By early evening, long before they were due to appear, the ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: Bob Marley and Dennis Morris: Marley's Ghost

Profile and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 2001

ONE DAY in the troubled winter of 1973, a 16-year-old wannabe photographer named Dennis Morris played truant from school in Hackney, east London, and took ...

Dolly Parton: Dolly, Tammy and Carl: In The Wembley Wild West

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, April 1976

THE GUNFIGHTER walks alone, staying close to the side of the street. His clothes are black and faintly luminous. His hat is tied insolently under ...

Ann Peebles: The Biba Rainbow Room, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, October 1974

APPLAUSE IN this sybaritic cafeteria is always a little suspect, being related to how far the performer can corroborate the Biba audience's good opinion of ...

The Police: Sting and The Police: The Rhetoric of Stardom

Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1981

IT IS NOT Sting but his alter ego Gordon Sumner who opens the door of the smart Hampstead house, one hand restraining a large, black, ...

Elvis Presley: The King is Dead

Obituary by Philip Norman, Times, The, August 1977

ELVIS PRESLEY will be remembered as the first and the greatest exponent of Rock and Roll music, whose recordings of 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Hound Dog' ...

Elvis Presley: Rediscovering the joy in the sad story of Elvis

Retrospective by Philip Norman, Daily Telegraph, May 2006

NO POP ICON ever came to a sadder or less regal end than the once gorgeous, gaudy "King" of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley. When ...

Suzi Quatro: The Girl in the Gang

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1974

A SEPARATE dressing-room had been provided upstairs, but Suzi Quatro preferred to use the same one as her band. It was large, clean, grey and ...

Queen: The Rainbow, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, November 1974

THAT REAL music should issue from a band named Queen – featuring a singer named Freddy Mercury – is sufficiently intriguing. ...

Lou Reed: Hammersmith Odeon, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, March 1975

IN THE case of Lou Reed I must confess – why shouldn't I – a prejudice. ...

Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes: Motown: The Gold In Their Bodies

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1970

CONSIDERED TOGETHER at a party in New York, Nina Simone, the highly political folk singer, and Diana Ross, principal exhibit of the Motown Record Corporation, ...

The Rolling Stones in Exile

Retrospective by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 2001

THE TWO pre-eminent British bands of the gaudy 1960s marked the grey dawn of the 1970s in very different ways. ...

The Rolling Stones: What Makes the Stones Keep Rolling

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, Fall 1981

THE JOHN F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia, is a bleak circle of red-tinted stone, with colonnades and sub-Gothic arch-ways recalling some nineteenth century British colonial fort. ...

Neil Sedaka: New York's Rock'n'Roll Rhapsody

Overview by Philip Norman, Mail On Sunday, July 2008

NEW YORK HAS inspired so much of the greatest popular music ever written. London may have its chirpy Cockney ditties like 'Underneath the Arches', and ...

The Sex Pistols: Sex Pistols: History Is Punk

Retrospective and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 2001

More than 20 years after they committed high treason during the Queen's silver jubilee, the Sex Pistols are still the kings of rock rebellion. As ...

The Sex Pistols

Retrospective by Philip Norman, Daily Mail, 1999

ON DECEMBER 1, 1976, Londoners tuned in to Thames TV's Today show, expecting the usual bland mix of metropolitan news and views appropriate for a ...

Frank Sinatra: Palladium, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1974

THE EMERGENCE of Frank Sinatra from retirement has become as regular a ceremony as when Lloyd George or Churchill used to be wheeled out on ...

The Spice Girls: Spice Girls: Gone But Not Forgotten

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, June 1998

POOR GAZZA. Or should that be typical Gazza? Looking for a holiday destination as far from the World Cup as possible, he chooses the Ritz-Carlton ...

Bruce Springsteen

Profile by Philip Norman, Daily Mail, 1998

ROCK MUSIC in its 50-year history has inspired many degrees of love, adulation and awe. Yet among the ranks of legends and superstars, only two ...

Ringo Starr: A Starr is Bored

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1976

RINGO STARR was to be viewed ceremonially last week, in Paris. He and his courtiers were accommodated at the George V hotel, where Salade Belle ...

Cat Stevens: Top Cat: Cat Stevens

Profile and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times Magazine, March 1972

TO DISCUSS brilliance in pop music is difficult; for there you are a genius by proclaiming yourself one, and the greatest of them all, Elton ...

Rod Stewart: Rod Forsaken

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 2000

DECEMBER 1973. It's the time of the Middle East oil crisis; the miners' strike that they got away with; the national three-day working week; constant ...

Barry White: I'm in a Beautiful Mood

Report and Interview by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1977

BARRY WHITE is the singer who turned black Soul music into a product closer akin to soggy white blancmange. ...

Link Wray: The Lyceum, London

Live Review by Philip Norman, Times, The, June 1975

LINK WRAY was – I should say, is – an American guitarist who, somewhere around 1960, recorded an instrumental tune called 'Rumble'. ...

List of genre pieces

Radio KBIM: Radio Fun in Roswell

Report by Philip Norman, Sunday Times, 1972

CLOSE TO Albuquerque, New Mexico, as we hung motionless on the streaming white trans-America road, the voice on the radio-dial faded and returned in yet ...

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