Friday, January 18, 2008

Clapton—The Autobiography

Eric Clapton, guitar god, has written his autobiography, aptly titled Clapton, The Autobiography. It covers his entire life, from his poor upbringing, to the present day as happy family man. He addresses every phase of his personal and professional life, which is amazing in the fact that the book clocks in at only 328 pages. Maybe this is why, as honest as Clapton is, it left me wanting a bit more. For instance, during his drunk periods he admits to being "chauvinistic" to his then-wife Patti, and starting fights with various people, but he never actually gives the details. (Maybe I have to read Patti Boyd's autobiography if I want more.)

The overall read this memoir gives on Clapton's personality is one of obsession. From his love of the blues, to his infatuations with many women, to his desire to work with different musicians, to his abuse of drugs and alcohol. Everything is done full bore, damn the consequences. It took age and years of recovery for Clapton to mature enough to start a family with his current wife, Melia, and settle into a less destructive lifestyle.

I give Clapton credit for being so forthcoming in his text, and admitting to faults and mistakes that most people would choose to keep hidden. Possibly being such a public figure for so long didn't really give him an option here; other people have and will write books, and some of the stories are already legend. But, still, I was almost embarrassed reading some of his adventures. Especially one in particular, that involved a strange woman who preyed on his vulnerability by claiming she could help him win back Patti with different spells. The situation gets way out of hand.

Maybe it was just a case of fighting a tight deadline, but I feel this book could have benefited with a stronger editor to guide the text. The writing was good (Clapton wrote it himself), but someone really needed to just step in a few places and ask for more here, and here, and here. John Lennon's murder wasn't even mentioned. Surely this must have affected Clapton in some way, even if it was just to concern himself with his own safety. Not to mention Clapton's friendship with George Harrison. Didn't he discuss this with Harrison, or call and console him about the death of his Beatle brother?

Despite my few problems with the book, I really found it to be a quick read and a real page turner. It allowed me, the reader, to get an intimate glimpse into the life and mind of one of the most successful artists of the last 40 years. And the glimpse isn't always a pretty picture.


Maryanne Stahl said...

I've always been fascinated with both Clapton and Harrison. And I did read Patti Boyd's bio (while recuperating from surgery just after Christmas). She was fairly kind.

Then again, I suppose if I'd had Layla and Something written for me, I'd be kind.

Don Capone said...

Hi Maryanne,

I lucked out and was able to get Clapton's then Pattie's book out of the library, so I read them back-to-back. I don't know how kind Pattie was toward Eric--she pretty much spelled out all his cheating and alcoholism. Seems she is still trying to make excuses for him, though.

He was obsessed with her until he had her. When he lost her, he became obsessed again. And she kept falling into the trap and going back.

Pattie's Beatles stuff was interesting, to see it from her POV, but there was nothing new there.

Isorski said...

Great review. I also felt it was well-paced. He sure had a lot to get through and I actually appreciated the brevity. If you have read Paul McCartney's biography, you see what happens when someone tries to include EVERYTHING.

I'd also recommend Ronnie Wood's bio, Ronnie, if you are into this kind of bio.

I wrote a review of "Clapton" at my blog at Check it out!