Elton John, the flamboyant pop star, is set to publish a book focused on AIDS and his knowledge of the disease. "Love is the Cure: Ending the Global AIDS Epidemic" is scheduled to be published in July; it is Sir Elton's first book.
During the early part of John's career, he was known as a singer with outrageous fashion sense, crazy glasses, a rocking piano and a string of No. 1 records. He hit big with lively songs such as "Bennie and the Jets," "Crocodile Rock," and "Honky Cat" and appeared as the pinball wizard's nemesis in "Tommy." He also went to the top of the charts with the more subdued "Rocket Man" and the ballads "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Daniel." Since the '80s, John has had hits on the mellow side, with "Tiny Dancer," "Candle in the Wind" (two hit versions, one for Marilyn Monroe, later for Princess Diana) and film and theater successes.
The singer was an early supporter of efforts to fight AIDS, founding the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. He has held annual fundraising concerts, and the foundation has donated nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to fight AIDS worldwide.
That said, the book promises to be more personal than polemic. Publisher Little, Brown writes in a release:
"Love is the Cure" will be the very personal story of Sir Elton's life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friend after friend perish needlessly. Through his stories of close encounters with people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and many others, he will convey the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life -- and his infinite determination to stop its spread.
Sir Elton writes, "This is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion. Why are we not doing more? This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer -- and to help change -- by writing this book.
The audiobook edition will be read by John.
The release of "Love is the Cure" will coincide with the 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference, being held in Washington. Little, Brown said it will donate 10% of its profits from the book to help fight AIDS.
Since its discovery in 1991, AIDS has claimed 60 million lives, and 34 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Elton John with Elizabeth Taylor at his AIDS benefit concert in 2001. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times