Clapton by Eric Clapton
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It seems as if Eric Clapton wrote this tell-all autobiography in an attempt to debunk the oft-heard graffiti-fied slogan “Clapton is God”. If so, mission accomplished.
Although I’ve loved his music since I can remember, I always thought he was probably kind of a dick. This book proves it. Oh sure, he’s got his reasons: illegitimacy, abandonment and a bevy of the usual childhood dramas. But hey, there’s a lot of people who’ve had it rough and they didn’t turn out to be cocks. Even so, I've give him credit for owning up to his dickedness.
Clapton will always hold a place in my heart for the work he did in the '60s with such legendary bands as the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.
I would've been oh-so happy to read an entire book dedicated to his work during those years, but this is not it. And that's understandable. This is after all an autobiography about his entire life thus far and it's always best if those don't bog down in any one era of a person's life.
But considering the work he did in the '60s and how huge a rockstar Clapton is now, can you even imagine the level he’d be on if he didn’t waste the following decades of his life drinking and doing drugs? I mean, this guy had serious addiction problems and once the book moves on to discuss his life during the '70s it turns almost entirely into a broken record, revolving around and around, detailing year after year how fucked up he was on coke and heroine. Then, once he finally kicked drugs, it became all about the booze. How he managed to live through the '70s and '80s, never mind actually put out albums and perform, is beyond me. Seriously, by all rights the man should be dead after all the shit he’s ingested.
I was fairly sure going in that I wasn’t going to enjoy the book after he was done discussing his career in the '60s, but I read on and I don’t regret it. It’s a decently written book laid out with a linear timeline, so it’s generally easy to follow. I did have one issue. Clapton is a name dropper…no, not the kind of name dropper that tries to make themselves seem more important by mentioning the names of all the famous people they know (even though Clapton does know quite a few), but rather he seems to name just about every person whomever ever came into his life. Hell, his local pub landlord even gets a mention! I don’t have a problem with giving shout-outs and props to people who mean something to you, but the problem is that it’s difficult to keep track of all the names of the many people who apparently have meant something to him. More than once I had to ask myself, “Who’s that now?”
Clapton bravely tackles an embarrassing aspect of his life, his unfortunate, ignorant racist comments. He also touches upon the death of his child and his efforts to sober up, so for those who need to see a dose of humble repentance and redemption, you get a measure of it. Is it enough to redeem him in my eyes? Not really. Does that matter? No. The point is, this is a decent book for those looking to learn more about its author. Just be prepared to learn a little more than you might care to.
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