Eric Clapton
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Buy *Clapton: The Autobiography* by Eric Clapton online

Clapton: The Autobiography
Eric Clapton
352 pages
October 2007
rated 2 of 5 possible stars

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There have been dozens of books written about legendary guitar master Eric Clapton, and there is little left that is unknown about his life. That's precisely why this self-written reveal has been so anticipated by fans and followers. But it fails to deliver. What comes across is an individual who has experienced unbelievable popularity as an artist, and someone who has been able to hide behind that facade. For all that he tells us - and that's now much - there is obviously so much more that he holds back. In fact, you can learn more about the man from the abovementioned books already out.

Clapton was an illegitimate child (common knowledge), and he does talk about that. Actually, he blames most of his later troubles like alcoholism and drug abuse and infidelity on this early wrinkle. He takes us through his childhood and being reared by grandparents and his gradual realization of music. That is interesting but not profound.

Then we're off on a chapter-by-chapter race of his life as a guitar player. That's exactly what it is: a race, a 100-yard dash to the finish line, in describing his different musical associations. He dismisses his work with John Mayall and Cream and Blind Faith in what amounts to little more than paragraphs. Nothing here goes nearly as deep as as the observations and information provided in other books. Why bother? If he wasn't going to take the time to truly analyze the "whys" of what he did, than why write the book at all?

What really develops is a portrait of a  pretty self-centered lothario who finds love a difficult ideal to deal with and consequently tramples it at every turn. When he is still in his teens, he impregnates a young girl and doesn't even think twice about it. Later, he bounces from one woman to another, stealing his friend George Harrison's wife, Patti, and then going on to treat her like garbage in an affair littered with drinking and carousing.

In order to further insulate himself from these true human feelings, he wraps himself in his own celebrity. He buys Ferraris, dresses in Armani, buys a 150-foot pleasure yacht, purchases multiple homes, and collects antique watches. There's nothing wrong in this - we'd all do it if we could - but even as Clapton is describing these events, he's hoping the reader will applaud his success when all it does is show what a truly selfish man he is.

Later. he develops the Crossroads rehab center in Antigua, and this is a good thing. But for all the world, the project takes on more of the aspect of a beacon shining down on his own outsized ego than as a simple home to cure the addicted.

To top it all off, there is a typo in here. Eric plays a Stratocaster, a Fender electric guitar, and it is many times referred to as a Strat. In one of the chapters, it is listed as a Start. The man is writing a book about his life as a guitar player - how do you let that one slip by?

Finally, Clapton is a pretty abominable writer. That's a forgivable sin, but why not enlist some co-writer to clean up the language and make it read in a more interesting fashion?

He has led an extraordinary life - hanging out with The Beatles, his status as a guitar god, the legions of women he has known. Save for a few truly insightful moments here, you'd never know that this book was about that man.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2007

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