224 of 260 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2007
I read this book and Pattie Boyd's memoir side-by-side. When I first read Clapton's dazzling love letters to Boyd (printed in her book), I thought wouldn't it be great if Derek and Layla got back together? I soon realized perhaps not.
"Cruel and vicious" is how Clapton describes himself upon throwing Boyd out of their house for refusing to sleep with him after she learned his mistress was pregnant. "Cruel and vicious" pretty much sums up this book and the man behind it.
Every attractive woman who gets near Clapton goes from inamorata to enemy in a heartbeat. He threatens to become a heroin addict when Boyd refuses to leave her husband, but once he wins her, he berates her. When a supermodel romances Clapton for the express purpose of meeting fellow reprobate Mick Jagger, and the inevitable happens, Clapton is reduced to plotting murder.
Every predictable action is met with Clapton's predictably insane reaction. Clapton is attracted mostly to women as ruthless or vapid as he is, guaranteeing disappointment. The prime exception is Boyd, the indisputable love of Clapton's life. Boyd was a compassionate but insecure woman, and she was also married to close friend George Harrison, which is why Clapton wanted her.
Clapton resents Boyd for resisting his pleas to run off with him. When she does, he resents her even more because he realizes he's not good enough for her. He demands Boyd join him on his drinking binges and then resents her for that. He resents her for pushing him into rehab. He resents her for being infertile. He resents her most of all when she divorces him and slips out of his control forever.
The book's, and Clapton's, nadir, is when he and his equally selfish mistress decide to get pregnant with no regard for what this will do to Boyd's already decimated ego. After the child's tragic death, Clapton resents the mother because she needs comforting and he's touring and is too busy for her.
Why am I writing about Clapton's mistreatment of women ad nauseam? Because he does. The woman Clapton thought was his sister was actually his mother (she was only 15 when she got pregnant), therefore, Clapton is determined to punish all females. It's page after page of loathsome confessions from a man who revels in his misdeeds but lacks compassion for the people he's wounded.
37 years after threatening to take heroin if Boyd didn't yield to his demands, Clapton finally admits he was already addicted when he made that ultimatum. He shows no remorse for letting Boyd carry that burden for four long decades.
When his ex-fiancee, the fragile Alice Ormsby-Gore, dies from an overdose, Clapton just says it made him realize how lucky he was. He'd gotten Alice hooked on smack when she was 16, but he doesn't lament his role in her fate.
Now in his sunset years, Clapton proves his newfound "maturity" by comparison shopping (yes, yet another round of love triangle) for his next bride. Clapton doesn't realize young women wouldn't compete for him in his grizzled middle age if he weren't a wealthy rock star. He may be sober now, but he doesn't act it.
It isn't all about women who done him wrong. He also takes cheap shots at his friends, including an unflattering, score-settling story about Harrison that sounds very dubious. Clapton is willing to spend millions on a rehab center to help total strangers, but he can't demonstrate simple decency to the friends and the ex-wife who showed him love and loyalty at his worst moments.
Clapton: The Autobiography is confession without contrition. I was going to give this two stars as some parts of the book are actually quite compelling, but this is a memoir, so it's character that counts and Clapton doesn't have any.
218 of 253 people found the following review helpful
I love biographies, especially of celebrities, having read them all my life. As I have gotten older, though, my attention span wanes, and I read less and less. This book, Clapton:The Autobiography, is an exceptional one, and as a pseudo musician (I can play several instruments, but I certainly wouldn't say I play any well), the prospect of reading about Eric Clapton, from the source, so-to-speak, was a prospect that excited me. I feel blessed that one can pre-order a book and have it on ones doorstep the day it hits the streets, as was the case with this book and the accompanying CD.
First of all, this is an exceptional book, but unlike some biographies, and fewer autobiographies, it is not one that would be a "page turner" for everyone because it is not full of cute anecdotes that make for sharing stories around the water cooler the next day.
A case in point is the time when Eric first met Jimi Hendrix. Chas Chandler of the Animals was trying to develop a career as a promoter and came across Hendrix in New York. Promising him a chance to meet Eric Clapton, he took Jimi to London. After meeting several musicians (Eric Burton, Andy Summers, et. al.), Chas took Jimi to hear Cream play. Backstage, Chas introduced Jimi, and they asked if Jimi could sit in with them for a few numbers, which seemed kind of ballsey. In CLAPTON, Eric writes that Jimi played Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" in true Hendrix fashion playing "the guitar with his teeth, behind his head, lying on the floor, doing the splits, the whole business. It was amazing.....They (the crowd) loved it, and I loved it, too, but I remember thinking that here was a force to be reckoned with. It scared me, because he was clearly going to be a huge star, and just as we were finding our own speed, here was the real thing." In other accounts I have read and heard about from others, Eric after seeing and hearing Jimi perform, goes over and sits down, looking rejected. Another musician comes over to ask him, "What's wrong?" In some accounts it's Jack Bruce, in other accounts it's Peter Townsend. Eric replies, "I'm (expletive-deleted). If I'm "God," who's he?" Which to me would have been a funny anecdote.
It is still an exceptional book because it is so personal.... Filled with the flaws and mistakes of an exceptionally talented man who carried around for most of his life the baggage of being a "bastard" to some in his own family, for his mother had had an affair with a soldier during WWII and left him as a child to be raised by his grandparents. While learning that his "parents" were actually his grandparents, he writes at length of the insecurities of not having his mom there, and, the heartbreak of finally meeting her, and asking her if he could call her "Mummy now?" Only to be told, ""I think it's best, after all they've done for you, that you go on calling your grandparent Mum and Dad." Of that moment, he wrote, "In that moment I felt total rejection."
Growing-up wasn't all that bad, though. Eric showed some talent in art, and music was something that his Grandmother Rose loved. He wasn't a diligent student, but in art, and later in the guitar, he worked long and hard at learning and later creating.
This is a very thorough book, almost a true musician's book because it leaves out nothing of the ups-and-downs that seem to be the norm for all musicians. In the book, he talks of why some tunes were written a certain way, how he evolved in his musical craft, and what he was wanting to achieve in each group he played with. He mentions names on individuals in even the earliest of groups he played in, what they did together, and is very thorough in providing the reader his a written history of their achievements.
One wonders, though, where all this would have led had Eric not had so much alcohol and drugs in his early life, of if in some way, this was the catalyst to help him overcome those insecurities of his youth (Actually, he states this in a roundabout way that it was, but one still wonders just how much of what we have now would there have been with less alcohol and drugs.)
I can't think of any aspect of Eric's life that he doesn't discuss in ERIC: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY: His love life, particularly his infatuation with Patti Boyd, George Harrison's wife; His relationships with other musicians and what he respected them for; His heartbreaks such as the loss of his son Conor.
I've given this book four stars, not because it is not exceptional, but because it isn't one that will be readable and enjoyable to all. However, if you are a lover of rock and blues music, or one who really wonders just what has gone through the head of someone as influential as Eric Clapton, I would recommend it to you.
503 of 616 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2007
I am a guitarist and long-time admirer of Eric Clapton. I've followed his career and life for four decades. I was really looking forward to this autobiography. Sadly, the book has many flaws in its writing and production, but beyond that, I fear that it reveals a terribly shallow and self-centered man.
The opening chapters are interesting, although very little new information is provided for any one who has read at all about the music scene of the 60's and 70's. As the book progresses, it moves into a second stage which is, frankly, rather boring. Like much of Clapton's music from this era, it lacks focus and tends to ramble.
However, it's the last third of the book that I find most disturbing. I'm not only very familiar with the guitar, but also addiction and recovery. To those familiar with 12-step programs, Clapton's almost complete disregard of his commitment to anonymity, and lack of true humility, is shocking and a red flag to anyone who knows about recovery. This guy may not be drinking or drugging anymore, but is clearly selective as to which parts of the program he cares to follow. An argument can be made that he needed to tell the story of his recovery, but this could have been done in a much more careful way -as many before him have done. Reading this book, I for the first time now truly understand why the rule of anonymity is so important in recovery. If the program that made Clapton "sober" produced the kind of man that is revealed in the last chapters of this book, then many people may decide to not try that route for themselves.
Clapton lacks generosity toward many of the musicians that he played with (he gives selective praise to a few), takes inordinate credit for many of his successful partnerships, and pointedly shows little compassion for the death of his "friend" George Harrison. John Lennon who gave him several high profile gigs, is barely mentioned, and his murder not at all. Cream is mentioned, but a shameful low swipe is made at Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce in some of the final pages - alluding to their aging bodies and stating that he (Clapton) at least helped them get some pocket money by allowing a brief reunion. Not very humble. Not very honorable. Shame on you Eric.
I'm no angel myself, but I find his treatment and attitude toward women shocking. He makes excuses for his beastly behavior toward the many women he is involved with as they role past one by one (or sometimes two by two as when he hooks up with two young women half his age and "dates" them alternately in one of the last chapters). We all had periods of craziness during these days, but his attitude toward the women he was involved with, and his lack of true remorse at his own behavior is very depressing. I hope that he has finally found a loving relationship that he sticks with - both for his sake and that of the young woman he is now with.
Clapton's tone in the final pages is very disturbing. Self congratulatory, filled with references to wealth and power, and describes a rather pathetic picture of an older English man from the lower classes trying now to cast himself as a "Lord of the Manor", pheasant hunting and fly fishing with tweed-jacketed, pipe-smoking upper-crust types. He doesn't seem to have learned that all of that money is not going to bring him happiness.
The guy has played some brilliant guitar, but I can't help but feel that his acknowledgment and thanks to the black blues players of America is more a calculated way of saying "see what good taste I have" rather than a true showing of humble gratitude. Little or no time is spent talking about the other great musicians he played with. Rip out a hundred pages of talk about your house renovations, cars and hundreds of guitars you own and instead talk about what it was like to play music with some of the many great musicians you were lucky enough to have associated with.
Lastly, the book is very poorly written and produced. The few pictures provided are oft-seen and out-of-focus shots at the beginning of each chapter. Couldn't you have given us a picture section? Poor printing, miss-spellings and typos in the book just ad to the feeling that I had been fleeced in purchasing this book.
To Clapton, I wish him peace and happiness in his remaining days. Perhaps he needs to go to India and really reflect upon his life for a few months.
To readers considering purchasing this product, get Pattie Boyd's book instead. At least it's a fun read and much more professionally produced.
An update for those who care....
I can't believe I have spent so much time writing and responding to the comments here. I have never done anything like this before on Amazon (or anywhere else for that matter). Hopefully. we all have better things to do. So for my own sanity, I will post this last comment and then retire from this back and forth.
If I was too harsh in my comments and offended anyone, I do apologize. I've thought about my comments after seeing the several passionate responses to my original post and have mixed feelings about what I originally had to say. But - my comments were true and from the heart. No mean spirited intentions. I can't count the hours that Eric's playing have given me ecstatic pleasure.
Perhaps I am holding Mr Clapton to too high a standard. When I was just 15 years old I was lucky enough to be at Atlantic studios in New York as an unseen kid in the corner and watch Cream work on an album. Friends were recording their own album with the same producer (Adrian Barber - an unsung genius of the time). After that, I then literally wore out my Cream records learning every guitar line that Eric played and pursued a career in music for myself - I claim no status as an "important" musician or "producer" - music is simply one of the things that makes life good for me.
Clapton's playing surpassed everything I had ever heard. I'm from the south and was familiar with the blues from my dad who knew many of the original heroes of Clapton. I followed Clapton's career in the years that went by. Some of his later music was great and some modest, but always followed by me. I had my own hurdles and was inspired by his struggle with sobriety. I have great admiration for him as a musician and man. So maybe I had too high a goal set for the man...I expect a lot from him.
I do, however, stick to my guns when it comes to the quality and content of this book. Maybe he didn't even do most (or any) of the writing. The writing is poor, the production shameful. In any case, as a sober, grown man I'm sure that he would agree that I am entitled to my personal opinion of his autobiography.
Writing one's autobiography, especially when such a prominent figure is no insignificant project. I wrote what I felt in my heart after reading his book. I was saddened and depressed by his comments about money, women and status. I had expected far more from him. My number one example is his exit from the Yardbirds on the principal of the ART of music versus the commercial, crass alternative. Everything in this book seems to fly in the face of that noble ideal...I had looked forward to a totally different experience after reading this book. In case you read this Eric - you still have a long way to go in this life and have a great gift. I'm rooting for you and hope that as Jack Bruce said at Covent Garden "these are the good times" - not those days gone. Let's see your best now, I know you can fly much higher...
48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2007
I have been a fan of ECs since his days with Cream and have always respected his work. This autobiography however lacks depth and insight. Some very interesting omissions and glossing over some great history of the sixties and seventies rock and roll. It sounds like the rambling of a confused and conflicted man, on one page he is telling what great fun he is having and the next he is complaining about how everything in his life is wrong. It is difficult for most of us to empathize with rock stars who live a life we can only dream about and yet whine about being victims of their own lifestyle. Eric Clapton was privvy to some of R&Rs greatest collabortations and yet offers little or no insight, the result is pretty much "yeah, I played guitar with George Harrison" etc. etc.. Come on Eric you can do better, this may have been a way to exorcize your demons but it left those of us who put out the bucks to read it in a lurch. A chronicle of self destructive behavior with little insight into the music that made you famous and completely void of humor. There was so much more to tell!! Collaborating with The Beatles, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray, Bonnie Raitt, you merely dropped their names and let it go at that. Sadly vaccuuos.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
I think Eric Clapton would have been better off not to have written this book at all. Of course I'm sure he wrote it for the money, but the portrait it paints is neither sympathetic nor admirable even though he lobbies hard for both. As others have pointed out, his self-pitying stance gets old quickly and his lack of remorse is shocking. Clapton's sociopathic behavior toward women and his associates makes him look like a one man destruction derby.
Case in point, his description of his affair with Lory Del Santo is very disconcerting. I had to read it several times to comprehend that convoluted mess. First, he actively pursues an Italian woman to "date" while still married to Pattie Boyd, whom he had pleaded with to move back in with him after a trial separation. He mentions that Del Santo was the girlfriend of arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, as if that's something to brag about. Incomprehensibly, within a few days they decide they'd make attractive children together so she agrees to get pregnant. Shortly thereafter he decides she isn't somebody he'll ever commit to but still goes ahead with their baby-making plan. Clearly, Clapton's only interest in her is as a baby-recepticle to carry his child. But then when she tells him she's pregnant guess what happens? He runs back to Pattie Boyd! Did you follow all that? Predictably, things don't turn out very well, especially for their son Conor who pays the ultimate price for shoddy parenting. When Clapton discusses his deceased son he does so with a disturbing detachment that sounds like he's talking about somebody else's child and not his own flesh and blood. All of it just leaves a sour taste.
Another odd piece to this puzzle is Clapton's discussion of his current wife, Melia. Obviously, she has had an enormous impact on his life but you never get any sense at all of who she is except that she has given him 3 children, that she mostly looks after, has acquired his hobbies, shares his interests, prepares his meals, and follows in his footsteps. She sounds like his "Mini-Me" who has taken up where Patti Boyd left off. It's a peculiar irony that for all of his misogynistic behavior he now has 4 daughters.
The inventory of faux pas, debauchery and self-indulgent behavior go on and on. Even his charitable endeavors leave the impression that ultimately he is doing them for himself, and that sobriety itself has become another self-indulgent addiction.
The bottom line here is to skip the sordid tale and just enjoy his music.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2008
I can't overstate how disappointed I am with this book. As someone who has been a huge fan of Clapton for years, I was obviousy expecting too much.
It's admirable that he didn't want to use a ghost writer, but couldn't he at least hire an editor or proof reader? Errors abound. On one page, he tells us that Derek & the Dominoes would never get together again. Two pages later, they're going on tour.
He talks about how during his Cream days he usually played a Gibson Les Paul. Except all concert footage for that time has him playing a Gibson ES 335 or SG.
He teases the reader with anecdotes yet he provides no supporting detail. He writes about disliking anything asociated with Paul Samwell-Smith, yet doesn't tell us why. He writes that he was disappointed in himself when he realized that he stole the chord pattern from "Stairway to Heaven" in "Let it Grow", because he had been so hard on Led Zeppelin, but he never gave us an example of when or why he was so hard on them.
He'll talk about someone he hasn't spoke of in pages, and refer to them simply by first name. The reader has to guess: so is the "John" he's referring to this time, Lennon or Mayall?
If you're dieing to find out how badly he treated women, and what a miserable friend he was (Carl Radle & Jim Gordon were a better rhythm section than Jack Bruce & Ginger Baker?)this book is for you. If you're looking for photos that you haven't seen countless times before, or for anecdotes on his playing, you'll be bored too. Yes, Mr. Clapton, we've heard the story about Albert King inspiring your solos on Disraeli Gears, but what inspired your playing on "I Ain't Got You"? How did you convert a simple acoustic blues song ("Crossroads") into a blistering electric guitar romp? What was it like to work with the Beatles?
Reading this book is like listening to him sing "Love is lovely, let it grow". We all know he can do so much better.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2008
The band Cream always kind of intrigued me. They seemed so ragtag, yet really quite good. Then, shortly after I graduated from college, I had a housemate who was an accomplished blues guitarist--in contrast to my cheap attempt, you know, hoping for the fame without putting any energy into it. He informed me that Clapton got all his style from black guitarists. I took his word for it.
Well, Clapton confirmed that. He was just a kid, bought himself a really cheap guitar, and spent hours mimicking styles of Muddy Waters, etc. Then he moved into the Yardbirds, and the rest is history.
Would that it were so smooth.
Actually, I listened to the recorded version as I really don't have the time to read a showbiz autobiography. I find such texts to be so laughably self-indulgent. And I hoped for more from Eric. He is, after all, quite talented, that's obvious. Yet for most of his life, all he did is over-indulge. He got strung out on junk, then used some accupuncture means of overcoming his addiction--I challenge that such a practice would work, but for the time being, I'll take his word for it as well.
Then he switched substances and drunk until he dropped. He attached himself to George Harrison's ex-wife over whom he'd had a fantasy for some time. In the meantime, he spent more time with more women than most of us will be able to fantasize.
To make a long story short, after his son died, he decided to dry up. Then he met a woman half his age and since they've had four kids and he's pleased as punch while still attending his 12 step meetings and, oh, life is so wonderful.
I'm sorry but I get really tired of showbiz autobiographies. Most of us who are music fans I think anticipated that Cream were skilled musicians with great tours. What was important was the talent and music, not their personality clashes and constant indulgence in more drugs than you could find in any city on any day.
Such an autobiography makes its writer look like an ordinary guy. But, no, Eric, you had more money than most of us will see in a lifetime. You bought a new home at the drop of a hat, travelled more in a year than the rest of us will be able to in a lifetime. So, no, you're not just one of the guys.
As I indicate in the title, I think as rock stars are getting riper--Clapton is now 63--the PR stunt, that which gets more of us to buy their albums is to write an autobiography so we don't forget them either. And the "one of the guys" is a shrewd means of getting us to identify with them. But it's not particularly honest, whether the author thinks it is or not.
Anyway, it was written pretty well, I guess, but finishing off with "I'm all recovered now" is just another dimension of the cliche of the showbiz autobiography.
I hoped I'd respect Eric Clapton more when I finished the book. Now I find I'm getting more cynical in general for the celebrity crowd.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2007
I just finished reading Clapton's book and I must say, it is one of the most boring bios I have ever read. I am a recovering alcoholic and because of that, I was interested in his journey to sobriety. And I am sorry that his son Conor died so tragically. But so much of doesn't make any sense. When did his divorce from Pattie happen? No mention of that. Clapton just droned on and on, boring me to death, about his tours, all the homes he owns all over the world, his yacht. To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no sympathy for him. I wish I had saved my money.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2007
Eric Clapton does not have much to say. He lived a shallow life on the road in a haze of
booze and drugs. He was abusive to women including Pattie. This book is a dud. He was
not much of a friend to anyone including George Harrison. Eric is too self-absorbed to be
a true friend.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2007
I have been a fan of EC for years. I am sorry I read this bio because I really dislike him now. He is arrogant and it is apparent throughout the entire book and that really turned me off. His writing style is very dry and I found that surprising because he is so great at making music with feeling. He describes the death of his son in the same tone as one would describe what they had for breakfast.
I find the fact that he called George Harrison his friend and yet pursued his wife a sick joke. Eric, you don't know what being a friend is! Friends don't f*ck their friends wives.
I'm glad you are sober now Eric, but please do something about your arrogance and self-centeredness and your need to impress people with what you have. You know nothing of humility. Your book is rubbish.