Eric Clapton Autobiography

I have just finished reading this very revealing book, written entirely by Eric. I have to say that he has every right to play the blues.

Eric wrote this book himself, after rejecting the one written by another author. He goes into detail about his upbringing as an illegitimate child, raised by his mother for a few years, and then given over to his grandparents. He was raised thinking that they were his parents, and once he finds out, feels a sense of abandonment that is still with him today.

What is amazing to me is that he started playing guitar in his teens, and in a few years, was in the Yardbirds.

After a short time with the Yardbirds, he became unhappy with the pop sound that the they were heading for, and left soon after "For Your Love" was released. He wanted to play pure blues, so he joined up with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, where he changed the sound of rock guitar by using a 1960 Les Paul Standard through a Marshall 40 watt combo amp. This is the sound that reverberated through the music world. The book tells about how he was bored with the photo session for the album, and was reading a Beano magazine to show his dissatisfaction with it.

Of course, the album, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, featuring Eric Clapton, is now known as the Beano album. It was about at this time that graffiti was put up around London, with the now-famous slogan, "Clapton is God."

This led him to form Cream, which had huge success in America, but was overshadowed by Jimi Hendrix in England.

Eric is forever unhappy with his music, and after hearing The Band's debut album, Music from Big Pink, decides to leave Cream to go after a more pure form of music. "The Band has said it all", he says in the book, and wanted to get away from the long, repetitive solos of Cream.

Moving forward a bit, he meets Duane Allman, who rescues the Layla album, which was being hampered by the severe heroin use by everyone in the band. He does not go into detail about Duane, and devotes only two pages to it. Duane was responsible for many of the great sounds on this album and clearly added a spark to it.

My only criticism of this book is that he does not go into detail about the recording of Layla and other events. He tends to start with a story, drops it and moves on to another.

Where Eric does shine is in his detailed description of his drug and alcohol addiction. He is very candid about the fact that he almost died a few times and made many bad decisions while on drugs.

Eric's life story is an amazing read. He has seen so many of his friends die, loses his only son in an accident, and agonizes over his relationship with Pattie Boyd-Harrison, who inspired Layla and many other songs. He goes from woman to woman, finally meeting his current wife, with whom he has three children with. He seems to be in a good place now, after going through so much addiction and depression. His work for his drug rehab center is admirable, as are the Crossroads concerts and his auctioning off his beloved trademark guitars to raise money for it.

I participate in a few guitar forums, and Eric is continually criticized for not innovating, playing the same things over and over, and that his guitar tone is not what it used to be. It seems silly to do that, as he has paid his dues, all while changing the sound of rock guitar at a time when it was all new, influencing countless musicians in the process and has lived through hell to tell his story.


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