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We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. Sting, born Gordon Sumner, is an English singer, songwriter and philanthropist best known as the frontman of The Police.

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Eric Clapton's single "Tears in Heaven" became a top five hit.

Elvis Costello on David Letterman - Every appearance over 33 years

The song was a heartfelt tribute about the death of his son. Grammy Award-winning singer George Michael was one of the leading pop stars of the s and '90s. His album 'Faith' won a Grammy for best album of the year. George Harrison was lead guitarist of the Beatles as well as a singer-songwriter on many of their most memorable tracks.

Famed singer-songwriter John Lennon founded the Beatles, a band that impacted the popular music scene like no other.

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Rod Stewart is best known as a U. Since then it has become a hit for four different artists. Biography Newsletter. And yet, there Costello's book sits at number 13 on The New York Times Bestseller List, showing that a substantial number of readers are interested enough in the story of Costello's life and music to purchase a substantial tome devoted to the details.

That's especially surprising because of the long-term downward trajectory of Costello's career. Quite apart from changes in the music business over the past few decades, Costello has transformed himself since the early s from a critics' darling with a modest but loyal following into the epitome of a "difficult" artist whose new releases barely register on the pop charts.

First there was the collaboration with a string quartet that was closer to Shostakovich than "Eleanor Rigby. And another consisting entirely of unselfconsciously syrupy torch songs inspired by the experience of falling in love with jazz musician Diana Krall. And another on which he collaborated with Swedish opera singer Anne Sophie von Otter. And another with jazz pianist Allan Toussaint. And another with hip hop band The Roots.

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Interspersed with this jumble of projects were a series of more traditional rock records, though they, too, have been increasingly difficult to like. Not only has Costello's once inexhaustible capacity to craft intricate but instantly winsome pop melodies faded over the past 15 years, but for longer than that he has perversely insisted on recording and mixing his records in such a way that his greatest weakness as a performer is consistently accentuated. I'm talking, of course, about his singing. As anyone who has heard it is aware, Elvis Costello's voice is not beautiful.

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A thick, nasal baritone with a wide vibrato, intermittently uncertain pitch, and a tendency to curdle into an aural sneer, it is a classic, unforgettable rock voice — making a virtue of its imperfections to convey emotional authenticity and provoke a cathartic bond with ordinary men and women in the audience. At least that's how it was on his early albums, which made sure not to draw undue attention to Costello's voice in the studio or at the mixing board.

Costello's hectoring, adenoidal singing drew quite enough attention to itself, and it was most effective when it functioned as the lead weapon in the formidable musical arsenal wielded by The Attractions, Costello's terrific backing band on his best early records. But with King of America , the first album since his debut to be recorded without The Attractions, Costello began to place his voice front and center.

First it was highlighted in the mix. Then recorded completely "dry," with no reverb to soften its rough edges. Then highly compressed , which had the effect of highlighting and foregrounding imperfections, and rendering its natural loudness even more obtrusive.

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During this same period, Costello's experiments with non-rock genres led him to begin writing convoluted melodies that regularly leap complicated intervals and push him to the very top of his range. But more often they were just off-putting. Readers will find very little in Costello's memoir about these self-subverting artistic choices. What they will find instead is voluminous detail about Costello's youth, growing up in London and Liverpool as the son of jazz musician and dance-band vocalist Ross MacManus, and about the years just before and after his career took off.

At the level of the sentence and paragraph, this may be the most literate, thoughtful, generous, civilized rock autobiography ever written, with countless lovely passages devoted to recounting the thrill of discovering for the first time the genius of The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and other artists, along with numerous extended vignettes that do a wonderful job of encapsulating the blurred, numbing experience of life on the road as he and The Attractions crisscrossed Europe and North America nearly non-stop from through