Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Clapton: The Autobiography" by Eric Clapton

After finishing "Miss O'Dell" I felt an overwhelming need to learn more about Eric Clapton.  Chris O'Dell painted the guitar legend as an abusive, chauvinistic asshole (sorry - there is no better word) and I wanted to hear his side of the story.  And who better to hear from than the man himself?

Summary:  Eric Clapton, guitar legend and drug addled playboy, penned his autobiography at the close of his 2007 world tour.  Spanning decades of fashion, music and copious substance abuse, Clapton holds very little back, although at times glossing over the people his addictions hurt most.

Starting from his days as a boy growing up in the working class neighborhood of Ripley, Clapton goes into great detail of his childhood - focusing on the root of his sexual fear of women and how he self-taught himself to play guitar by emulating the greats.  Clapton also spends considerable time on his early career and the start of his many addictions - some of the stories he tells are completely outrageous.  Clapton then skims over the retelling of his lost years (I assume because to him they really are lost).  The subsequent chapters speak to Clapton's rock bottom, his redemption through fatherhood, terrible losses and finally finding his place in the world.

My Thoughts:  I'm honestly a little confused regarding my feelings towards this book.  Like contemplating making a flowchart or spreadsheet confused.

I started off curious:  can the man who wrote Layla and Bell Bottom Blues really be such a self absorbed asshole to the ladies?  It's claimed her did massive amounts of heroine and booze...how was he even capable of basic adulting much less writing his own music?

Once I got into the story, I felt pity:  well shoot, he really had an uncle/brother, no wonder he's confused about his relationship with women!  His family was so poor they had an outhouse, no wonder he squandered 8K a week on drugs!

Followed closely by shock and disgust:  wait, you mean he squandered 8k/week on drugs?!    He actively pursued one of his closest friends' wives....after dating her sister?  Not one but TWO love children?  For the love of God, stop name dropping!

Then more pity:  his son died in a horrible and tragic accident and my heart aches for you.  He's lost just about everything, including his self respect, wife and a shit ton of money.  He fakes rehab....think of all this squandered potential.

And ending with bemusement:  well you old hooligan, you did it.  Got sober and ended up marrying a woman 25 years younger than you.  Now you're a bit of a homebody who goes on tour to pay the bills.  And to top it off you're still kicking even though you've taken enough drugs to fell an ox.

Rating:  While this book lacked humor and warmth (or was maybe just British), it's a fascinating read that I recommend to any music fan.

Also Read By:  N/A - but his discography is pretty stellar.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Note:  For those interested, Clapton notes Chris O'Dell once...as being one of Pattie Boyd's wedding attendants.  So now I'm off to read Pattie Boyd's tell all.

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