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Elvis Costello

By Tony Clayton-Lea

Born in London in 1958, the son of Ross McManus, a well-known dance band trumpet player and singer of Irish descent, Declan McManus grew up in Liverpool. The articulate, angry nerd persona of Elvis Costello first emerged in 1977 with his debut album My Aim Is True, to huge critical and public acclaim. In the years following Costello’s searing live performances with his band The Attractions and his insightful and eclectic songwriting, taking in love, hate, romance and social commentary, established him as the pre-eminent interpreter of the human condition in popular music. 1982’s poetic and poignant Shipbuilding remains one of the most cutting indictments of the Thatcher era ever written.

Never one to be bound by genre, Costello’s work in over 20 albums has encompassed rock, big ballads, country, traditional and classical, and he has collaborated with luminaries including Paul McCartney, Roy Orbison, Tom Waits, Tony Bennett and Burt Bacharach.

A complex musician and man, Elvis Costello is our least self-serving rock star but also the hardest to pin down. In ELvis Costello: a Biography award winning music writer Tony Clayton-Lea has unravelled Costello’s mind and story from son of a big band musician to world-weary chronicler of emotions living in starry exile in Ireland. It’s a cerebral rock journey, one that starts in Costello’s head and moves into music history.

An award winning freelance writer and broadcaster, Tony Clayton-Lea is Arts Critic/Travel Writer for The Irish Times and Cara magazine, and Rock/Film Critic for U Magazine. Previous books include Irish Rock – Where It’s Come From, Where It’s At, Where It’s Going. In 1996, he was awarded the ESB/National Media Award for ‘Outstanding Coverage of the Arts’. He lives with his wife and two children in Ireland.

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