Elton's Heroes: No. 4 - Brandon Flowers

The unlikely idol with the killer tunes

Of all the stadium-filling rock stars to have emerged in the past decade, Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers and part-time solo artist, would seem the most unlikely. He is famously reserved in person, a family man who prizes his privacy and, as a practising Mormon, adheres to a religion that frowns on drinking, drugs, tobacco, tattoos and pre-marital sex. But listen to Flowers' music or watch him on stage, and an altogether different character comes across. He is a captivating showman and, in the glare of the spotlight, an intense, mascara-clad extrovert. Pop-rock anthems such as "Mr Brightside" and "Read My Mind", with their air of seductive tragedy, suggest that this long-term resident of Las Vegas, aka Sin City, has come face to face with life's dark underbelly. But whatever the details, he's not sharing them.

Flowers, 29, never planned to be a rock star. As a child he was obsessed with British pop music – his favourite bands were Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys – though it wasn't until he was 19, and about to take to the road as a Mormon missionary, that he heard David Bowie's "Changes" on the radio and at that moment decided to form a band. Since then he has sold more than 15 million albums, headlined Glastonbury, won two Brit Awards, performed alongside Bruce Springsteen and U2 and become a musical deity who is already emulated by the next generation. Stars who once adorned his bedroom wall now line up to pay tribute to him – Bowie, Morrissey and Neil Tennant among them.

With his all-American matinee-idol looks, Flowers has become a style icon too, championing cropped jackets with feathered epaulettes, waistcoats, bootlace ties, sequinned suits, cowboy boots and "guyliner". Three years ago, he achieved the impossible by making the moustache fashionable for the first time since Burt Reynolds' heyday. On the NME's 2007 "Cool List" Flowers' facial hair made it to No 18, with the man himself following at 44.

Critics have carped that he is too calculated and serious to be a convincing rock'n'roll star. Certainly, he has none of the bad habits that often afflict singers in his position and has described himself, without apology, as having a "businesslike" approach to his work. This, perhaps, is not the most alluring trait for those who like their pop stars to be of the hedonistic, hotel-trashing variety, but it goes some way towards explaining his success.

Not for Flowers the loud-mouthed, hard-drinking, womanising antics of his rock'n'roll peers (The Killers are well known for travelling in two tour buses: one for the married members, another for the single ones). Instead he has remained clear-headed and focused, showed a steely sense of discipline, and steadily guided The Killers from a low-key Anglophile quartet to monster-selling rock behemoths matched only by Muse and Coldplay in terms of scale and ambition.

Beyond his obvious ear for a winning chorus, it's Flowers' drive and restlessness, his avoidance of the typical rock clichés and his striving for perfection, that makes him such a compelling presence. Exactly what drives him remains a mystery. It's this that keeps us all guessing and which, in the age of the over-exposed celebrity, can be no bad thing.

The Killers announced yesterday the release of a Christmas single, "Boots", with all proceeds going via (RED) to fight Aids in Africa

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all