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Clapton: The Autobiography Paperback – Illustrated, May 27, 2008
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Frequently bought together
“An absorbing tale of artistry, decadence, and redemption.”
—Los Angeles Times
“One of the very best rock autobiographies ever.”
“A glorious rock history.”
—New York Post
“This book does what many rock historians couldn’t: It debunks the legend... puts a lie to the glamour of what it means to be a rock star.”
—Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
“Strong stuff. Clapton reveals its author’s journey to self-acceptance and manhood. Anyone who cares about the man and his music will want to take the trip with him.”
—Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone
“Clapton is honest... even searing and often witty, with a hard-won survivor’s humor... an honorable badge of a book.”
—Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
“An even, unblinking sensibility defines the author’s voice.”
—New York Times
“An unsparing self-portrait.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Broadway Books; Illustrated edition (May 27, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 345 pages
- ISBN-10 : 076792536X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0767925365
- Item Weight : 11.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.14 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #75,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Perhaps the defining moment in Clapton’s life is his much-discussed romance with George Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd, the inspiration for the Layla album and other songs in Clapton’s body of work. That particular episode proves not to be quite as romantic as the music that was composed around it. Here Clapton admits that as soon as he won Boyd’s love he began cheating on her. In fact, Clapton treats a lot of women like dirt in this book, and delves pretty deeply into the psychological hows and whys of it all. To his credit, however, unlike Pete Townshend in his autobiography Who I Am, Clapton doesn’t ask you to forgive him, beg you to like him, or expect you to admire his exploits. He simply relates everything in a matter-of-fact way, as if to say these are some bad things I’ve done, and there’s nothing I can do about them now.
Clapton is equally candid about his substance abuse, and his story of recovery is inspiring. One can’t help but admire the way he eventually turned his life around. Yet the book is frustrating because for most of its length he is still very much an emotional child. He doesn’t really get his act together until his mid-50s, when he marries a woman 30 years his junior. At that point you’re happy for him, but the book also starts to get boring as Clapton becomes your grandpa, talking about “computer culture” (owning a laptop), shopping for shoes in Japan, and the necessity of taking a nap every afternoon.
As revealing and cathartic as all the talk about his drug use and alcoholism may be, the reader is left wishing Clapton had devoted more ink to his music. He covers Blind Faith, Cream, and Derek and the Dominos pretty well, but glosses over much of his solo career. He left the Yardbirds because their music was too poppy and not true to the blues, but he doesn’t feel the need to justify his later forays into easy listening, smooth jazz, and Luther Vandross-style R&B. Some of his greatest albums, like Slowhand, he dismisses as sloppy, drunken playing. His own personal favorite is Pilgrim, an album which critics frequently cite as one of his all-time worst.
A really good rock and roll biography will make me want to go back and dig out that artist’s old albums, thereby reliving some of his or her glory days. This book didn’t do that for me. As much as I love his guitar playing, I’d have to say my respect for the man diminished a bit after reading his life story. Not only were some of his moral choices off-putting, but he just doesn’t come across as intelligent as you might expect a virtuoso musician to be. I’m not here to criticize Clapton’s life, however, but rather to review his book. There’s no denying that Clapton the book is well written and covers a lot of what you’d want to know about the man. It isn’t always fun or exciting, but it’s consistently informative, surprisingly candid, and provides a great deal of insight into the man behind the music.
This book should be on a list for anyone who faces addiction or dependency. The people who love the user give up living for themselves and become the caregivers. Clapton was as honest as he could be about his emotional pain and downward spiral, giving others a path to sobriety.
Getting clean is easy but staying sober is a lifelong commitment and requires work.
Thank you Eric for keeping a journal and telling a story that is filled with the music of life. You are correct when you say spiritual belief and music will always be heard.
The first life is mired in drugs, alcohol, betrayal, and generally bad behavior which goes on and on and on. EC turned up depravity to "11". About a third of the way through the book, I was nearly addicted, myself, from the incessant mention of drugs. That said, Clapton produced a vast catalog of great music. I saw him three times and every show was memorable. I especially recall his 1984 performance at Royal Albert Hall when he closed with Beck, Page, Watts, Wyman, and Winwood, playing "Livin' On Tulsa Time". From the third row ... magic. He is a great performer and a supremely talented musician. LIsten to the rendition of "Don't Think Twice" he performed at Dylan's 30th Anniversary celebration at MSG. If you can watch it (YouTube has blocked it but it shows up every now and then) you'll see grizzled veterans like Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn in awe, applauding like star-struck kids when he finishes setting the garden on fire. There is no doubt that Clapton inspired two generations of guitarists - many more than Hendrix, because his playing was more accessible (and easier to emulate).
Clapton's second life is highly commendable as he has given back to the humanity he, by his own admission, abused so badly until he became sober. I admire any sinner that repents, and even more so, one that tangibly helps his fellow man to turn his life around. Clapton has done this with his time, talent, and money. He never tries to shift the blame for his failings. Good for him.
As a chronicle of his life, this book left me wanting. I wanted to read more stories about his interaction with his idols, peers, and especially protégées. Eric clearly was in a good mood most days when he wrote the book (I assume this book was NOT ghosted because there is no credit given). He devoted too much time to unknowns in his life that are of no interest to the reader. It is as though Clapton wanted to "put their name in the book" so he could point it out to the honoree. It's very strange that he did not have opinions about great players like Mick Taylor, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, and Johnny Winter. Further, if you read closely, it seems that every player he's performed with was excellent, despite the fact that he changed sidemen like guitar strings throughout his long career. I was particularly surprised by his lack of appreciation for John Mayall, a mentor he left in the lurch without even a goodbye. Although since he wrote the book they seem to have made up since Clapton was at his career celebration recently.
In summary, if you have an addiction problem, get this book. It will give you hope, and perhaps, an emotional pathway to sobriety. If you crave more insight into the rock music world buy the Eric Clapton Live in Hyde Park (1996) video crack a Stella Artois and enjoy.
If you want to immerse your whole being into the world that Clapton engaged and conquered - the British Rock scene of the sixties and seventies - watch the film, "Irish Tour" featuring Rory Gallagher, who, for my money, was the greatest because he was not only a great player but, the antithesis of Eric Clapton - a wonderful kind man who I've never heard or read a bad word about.
Top reviews from other countries
The text is sometimes a bit clunky but I feel its written from the heart .
EC seems to have had it all ; fame and money at a very early age is not always a good combination .
His descent into alcohol and drug abuse has been well documented but in this book, you feel like you are going down with him - its a no holds barred kind of feeling .
He writes from the heart about losing his son and meeting his wife Melia and his feelings on becoming a father to three girls .
Its an interesting book , not terribly "in depth" at times , but it does show that when ghost writers write autobiographies they tend to use a lot of "fill" to make the book longer maybe or to dramatise certain events - there's none of that in this book - its very "down to earth ".
I wish Eric well, , he's been part of my own life for a very long time and given a lot of pleasure through his music and guitar playing and I hope that although he's now 72 with very young daughters , he lives a long and happy life and sees them grow up without any of the problems he himself experienced .
Thanks for the insight Eric .
His later years seem to have been his happiest and I'm happy that he's found peace even though it is relatively late in his life. It can be a lesson that it's never too late to turn your life around as much of the book is a cautionary tale. Those looking for a book all about his guitars and equipment will be disappointed as it's very much a personal story.