Captain Moonlight: Gone to dish the dirt on the angels

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The Independent Online
THE DEATH last week of the American biographer Albert Goldman of a heart attack, on a flight from Miami to London, will have come as a considerable relief to the nearest and dearest of those dead pop-

culture icons whose personal peccadilloes he had yet to subject to the attention of his teams of researchers.

Goldman's best-selling biographies of Elvis Presley and John Lennon seethed with unconcealed scorn for their lowly origins, their fifth-rate intellects and their loathsome personal habits. He didn't think much of their music, either. Unsurprisingly, such a low opinion of his chosen subjects was perfectly counterbalanced by a high opinion of himself: 'With the counterculture,' he once said, 'I had found a great field that needed a great mind like mine to explore it.'

He wasn't a total fool. The opening sequence of Elvis, in which the author's eye tracked through the Graceland gates, up the drive, in the front door, up the staircase and into the bathroom before itemising the contents of the medicine cabinet, remains a Hitchcockian tour de force.

But he was certainly a nastier piece of work than any of those whose bad habits he so profitably catalogued. One day in the mid-Eighties, my colleague Richard Williams, who had spent a little time with John Lennon 10 years earlier, found himself being lunched by Goldman. Even before the soup arrived, the author had revealed his sole area of concern: what drugs had John (and Yoko) been taking during the period in question? By what means, exactly? In what quantities? How often? In what circumstances? With what effect? In other words, just how disgusting were they?

Rest in peace, old fruit]