Guitar Hero Settles Down


Clapton, The Autobiography, by Eric Clapton

This book wasn’t on my stack until Christmas Eve, when Bill Mattocks, blues harmonica player extraordinaire tossed it to me. End result? Having just read Keith Richards’ LIFE, reading this one was sort of like viewing seminal British blues rock through a stereoscope – certain things up front, others nudged into the background. So. To Eric:

The passage from childhood to guitar player to guitar god to family man to elder statesman of rock for Eric Clapton is eerily similar to that of Keith Richards (see last week’s post). This juxtaposition isn’t as odd as it might seem, though. Both grew up in lower middle class England, post-WWII, and their interest in guitar was, truly oddly, driven by abiding interests in the American blues. Clapton, as with Richards, found fame early, Clapton with  The Yardbirds. Clapton seems to have been swayed by fame more than his Rolling Stones counterpart, with Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominos all poised for R’n’R glory.


Clapton, too, trifled with hard drugs, heroin taking his money and much of his creative energy until he switched to alcohol, which seemed to have had a stronger pull on him than heroin. Finally, after a couple of misfires, Clapton got sober, and has remained so. The following twenty years of his career have been spent largely in retrospective play, including a couple of solid blues albums and a pair of collaborations with J.J. Cale. Clapton now finds himself integrating family life with some four kids into his musical travels, and he seems happy in his sixties.

The writing here is rather prim, always measuring his words, choosing them cautiously, even in depicting the lowest points of his life. This makes a lot of it a rather boring read, leaving this reader feeling that he’s overly wary in unearthing his life away from the stage – or perhaps he’s avoiding some areas he doesn’t want in the light of day. It’s the sort of book you wouldn’t want to finish, once begun, if you aren’t interested in this key player in rock ’n’ roll history

My rating: 15 of 20 stars

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