Clapton: The Autobiography
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“I found a pattern in my behavior that had been repeating itself for years, decades even. Bad choices were my specialty, and if something honest and decent came along, I would shun it or run the other way.”
With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys.
Born illegitimate in 1945 and raised by his grandparents, Eric never knew his father and, until the age of nine, believed his actual mother to be his sister. In his early teens his solace was the guitar, and his incredible talent would make him a cult hero in the clubs of Britain and inspire devoted fans to scrawl “Clapton is God” on the walls of London’s Underground. With the formation of Cream, the world's first supergroup, he became a worldwide superstar, but conflicting personalities tore the band apart within two years. His stints in Blind Faith, in Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and in Derek and the Dominos were also short-lived but yielded some of the most enduring songs in history, including the classic “Layla.”
During the late sixties he played as a guest with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, as well as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and longtime friend George Harrison. It was while working with the latter that he fell for George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, a seemingly unrequited love that led him to the depths of despair, self-imposed seclusion, and drug addiction. By the early seventies he had overcome his addiction and released the bestselling album 461 Ocean Boulevard, with its massive hit “I Shot the Sheriff.” He followed that with the platinum album Slowhand, which included “Wonderful Tonight,” the touching love song to Pattie, whom he finally married at the end of 1979. A short time later, however, Eric had replaced heroin with alcohol as his preferred vice, following a pattern of behavior that not only was detrimental to his music but contributed to the eventual breakup of his marriage.
In the eighties he would battle and begin his recovery from alcoholism and become a father. But just as his life was coming together, he was struck by a terrible blow: His beloved four-year-old son, Conor, died in a freak accident. At an earlier time Eric might have coped with this tragedy by fleeing into a world of addiction. But now a much stronger man, he took refuge in music, responding with the achingly beautiful “Tears in Heaven.”
Clapton is the powerfully written story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time.
Flamingo Club on Wardour Street, a tiny basement club that was the most authentic soul music venue in London. Both edgy and cliquey, it catered to tough, mostly black audiences who were hard-core R&B, blues, and jazz followers. The Gunnells represented a lot of the bands who played the London nightlife circuit, people like Georgie Fame, Chris Farlowe, Albert Lee, and Geno Washington. Rick and Johnny were a couple of lovable rogues who represented the soft side of the London underworld at the
the band sounded a bit empty to me, as if we needed another player. I had someone in mind from day one, Steve Winwood, whom I had seen play at the Twisted Wheel and other clubs, and who had really impressed me with his singing and playing. Most of all, he seemed to know his way around the genre. I think he was only fifteen at the time, but when he sang “Georgia,” if you closed your eyes, you would swear it was Ray Charles. Musically, he was like an old man in a boy’s skin. Touching on the
would also push the boundaries of what the audience would approve. In the end, the solution was often just to jam. I never discussed our musical direction with the others because I didn’t then know how to verbalize these concerns. So most of these conversations/arguments took place between Jack and Ginger, who were both writing their own material, in particular Jack, who was working a lot with lyricist and poet Peter Brown. Peter’s band was called the Battered Ornaments, and he had a knack of
previous trip. We stayed at the Drake Hotel on Fifty-sixth Street, and Ahmet had two of his top people in the studio to record us: hot young producer Felix Pappalardi, and one of his most experienced engineers, Tom Dowd. We recorded the whole album in the space of a week. I was immediately impressed by the way Felix took what we had and polished it into something saleable. On the very first night, he took home with him the tape we had previously recorded of “Lawdy Mama,” which was a standard
still believe that she loves me and that I can net her with patience. I can never stop loving her…I have hope and persistence on my side and I will never give in.” Owing to the turmoil I was in, I had avoided further complicating things by involving myself with any other women since my return from America, but the day I flew to Sydney, I went to bed with a girl I had been seeing on and off named Valentina. It released all kinds of feelings. “Valentina…made lunch and we made love. It felt so good