Clapton: The Autobiography Review
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A life saturated with drugs and alcohol—along with the love for the blues—is the consistent thread that runs through Clapton: The Autobiography. In his autobiography, blues/rock guitarist and songwriter Eric Clapton, whose career has spanned over 40 years, reveals his pain and obsessions from childhood to the present, while providing his perspective of ‘60s rock music.

Clapton awards credit to bluesman Robert Johnson for providing his musical impetus. “At first the music almost repelled me, it was so intense, and this man made no attempt to sugarcoat what he was trying to say, or play. It was hard-core, more than anything I had ever heard. After a few listenings, I realized that, on some level, I had found the master, and that following this man’s example would be my life’s work.”

  
 
This book will be of particular interest to those fascinated by rock history. Clapton is candid about other rock artists of the 1960s—those he admired and those whose music he felt was “second rate.” I found this to be the most interesting part of the book.

Clapton sees himself as somewhat of an “anarchist,” going underground as a musician when the Mersey sound (The Beatles, being an example) became the craze in Britain. He distinguishes his style from other guitarists of the time, like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. He even admits to unknowingly stealing part of a Zeppelin song. The book also chronicles Clapton’s life on the road with the groups that he performed with—the Yardbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and Derek and the Dominos—as well as his career as a solo artist.

Throughout the book, Clapton discloses his relationships with women, his bouts with drugs and alcohol, as well as the death of his son, Conor. Referring to the lowest points of his life, he states “…the only reason that I didn’t commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink anymore if I was dead.” His friendship with George Harrison and especially his obsession with Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, weaves in and out of the book. However, he barely touches on Harrison’s death, which I personally found surprising. I also noticed that he doesn’t hand over a great deal of praise to many living musicians; most of those he holds in high regard are dead. However, in all fairness, he doesn’t thoroughly bash those musicians whom he criticizes.

Though Clapton appears to be quite vulnerable in this book, I’m not absolutely convinced that he’s learned his lessons or that he’s being totally honest with his readers or with himself. However, does that really matter? Self-discovery is never complete, and Clapton doesn’t make excuses for his past behavior.

Once I opened Clapton: The Autobiography, it was difficult to put down. As a fan of blues and rock, I thoroughly enjoyed his perspective on music history as well as his opinions of the artists of the time. Whether this autobiography is completely truthful for not, Eric Clapton fans will thoroughly enjoy this emotional and revealing book.

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