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Clapton: The Autobiography - Fan Reviews

Jon O’Rourke - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Published 12 October 2007

You know how it is when Eric Clapton is your idol, musically. The new song, the new album, the new interview. You just have to have it. You want to know more. How he ticks, what he is doing. What his life is like and how it affects his playing.

I bought the book on a Wednesday afternoon and I had it finished on Thursday night. Compelled? Hooked? Oh yes. You better believe it.

As a lifelong fan of EC, I am magnetically attracted to anything new that he does.As a guitar player I am at times astounded by his guitar playing. So his autobiography was a must. I simply had to learn more about this great man that made me cry when he played.

But what you get in this is so much more. You not only get to read his amazing experiences with Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos, but you get to know a man who has faced the most crushing demons and stands tall today as arguably the greatest guitar player that walked on the earth.

Fore those of you who want to pick up the book for salacious gossip only, well just go and buy a tabloid to get your fix. This autobiography describes the truth of drug and alcohol addiction as much as it describes the lifestyle of a rich and famous. There are expensive guitars, expensive women and expensive cars, but you also get to read the story of the lost soul who struggled to find an identity in a world where lies were second nature, who became the worlds most renowned, successful and happy statesman of the blues, counting on respect from guitar greats like Muddy Waters and BB King. This is not a book about how many tvs got thrown from windows, how many Rolls Royces wre driven into swimming pools. This is a book about a man who had such a deep desire to fulfill his destiny, that he took himself to hell, shook hands with the devil, said “No thanks”, and decided instead to share a God given talent with the entire world. Yes, he gives you the bare truth about what an ass he was when he was a drug and alcohol addict, but if you want to read about how one of the world’s most talented and gifted individuals survived an emotional hell, to give his fans, and the most unfortunate, his gift of affetion, music, and above all, total love, pick up this book.

Jim Antonicello - Summerfield, North Carolina USA
Published 13 October 2007

I have always loved Eric Clapton's music, sense of style and humble perspective of himself. You can never really now a person from afar or what you see in an interview or periodic concert interaction. Eric Clapton has accomplished his mission in writing his autobiography, as I now feel I know him better as a person and musician. He seems like a very decent man caught up in all the trappings of being a rock star. Those temptations may have been too much for most normal human beings.

I came away after reading the book having mixed emotions about his life. I am glad that he finally found happiness but sad that certain people in his life seemed so hurt by their relationship with him. At least he was man enough to own up to misdeeds and you get the feeling he is truly sorry for his actions. You also realize that none of us are perfect.

As I read each chapter, it brought back memories of me buying the records, going to the shows or reading about the events in Rolling Stone or Crawdaddy magazine. The book also provides insights as to why he did certain things professionally - leaving groups at the height of their popularity. You cannot argue with his career decisions, as he is a bigger star today than any point in his career and his legacy is much greater than just another guitar god.

There were times in the book when you wanted to shake him for his self-destructive behavior, aloofness or mean spirited behavior towards women and sometimes friends. But as you continue to read the book you come to realize he is just another human being going through all the trials and tribulations just like the rest of us, except he is doing it driving around in Ferraris, traveling the world and living in mansions. LOL! You also get the sense that fame, money and power are not his objectives and cannot make him truly happy. His real love in life is music.

I was a little surprised at the lack of mention about his relationship with Sheryl Crow. The book is also light on his experiences with other musicians, I thought he was friendlier with such as Keith Richards and Marc Knopfler. I also thought there would be more details around Cream and Derek and the Dominoes. I found it interesting that Eric called Jim Gordon the best rock and roll drummer he ever played with. I wonder what Ginger thought of that.

Eric was very candid throughout the book and I could not help thinking that certain people came across like jerks i.e.: Mick Jagger, John Lennon and to a lesser extent Bob Dylan. The book is a very easy read and Eric did a good
job keeping you interested.

I am happy he has found peace in his life, as he deserves it. He seems to truly treasure Melia and his four girls. He has produced more joy for people through his music than he realizes. When you see him in concert you feel
the love the audience has for him. In the end his Derek and Dominos song came true. It had to get better in a little while!

Jon P - Uxbridge, Massachusetts USA
Published 18 October 2007

A must read for any Clapton fan. Brutually honest and full of material even so-called die hards like myself didn’t know. And while Eric honestly tackles his demons, he doesn’t preach in a way which says his road to recovery and self worth are the only way to go. It is also nice to see that one can find true happinessand fulfillment no matter what the age. Eric’s life on the road isn’t over, it’s just a different highway. Let’s hope we can continue to hear a few fresh tunes from him as we cruise along our own paths.

Bill Walton - Downingtown, Pennsylvania USA
Published 18 October 2007

Personally Eric Clapton has always been among the musicians I enjoy the most. From Cream through his solo career Eric Clapton’s songs have been a very pleasant part of my life. I honestly think his musical legacy will outlive us all and that generations from now people will still be enjoying his work. I have seen Eric Clapton on tour a number of times individually and was luck to attend the Cream reunion in New York. His live performances combine levels of emotion and technique few other reach.

I became more interested in Eric personally after viewing his Robert Johnson DVD. Hearing Clapton discuss his interest in Robert Johnson and his almost life long attempts to emulate Johnson’s near impossible blues riffs fascinate me. The DVD also showed Clapton’s trip to Dallas to record in the same studio as Johnson, years before. This was more than good background to add interest in the DVD but a genuine quest by Clapton to retrace the steps of the almost ghostlike Johnson.

I purchased the book a few days after it came out and enjoyed reading it. Eric Clapton chronicles his life from childhood to age 62, leading readers though his personal journey to the top of rock stardom while struggling with his personal life and addictions. Clapton's candor revisits the old adage "watch out for what you wish for" as many of his quests lead him to personal unhappiness and loss. However, through all this, Eric has triumphed and gained the inner piece he always sought.

This book is much more than a run of the mill pop biography. It takes an incredibly secure person to reach into the depths of their emotion to expose their inner most feelings. Eric does this without becoming preachy or judgmental. In my opinion, Eric Clapton the author, is very much like Clapton the musician, truth with an edge to it, honest and straightforward. His has been an incredible journey. we are lucky he wrote this book to share it with us. Read the book, you won’t be sorry you did.

P. Larkin - Marlton, New Jersey USA
Published 18 October 2007

Having just finished reading Eric's autobiography, I am left with the impression of a man who has come full circle in his life and after many tumultuous years, has finally found peace and happiness. One thing that always impressed me about Clapton, besides his musicianship, is his willingness to openly express himself in his music while remaining quite reserved about his life, rarely giving interviews and the like. It was also a very heartfelt and emotional story, and I'm glad he wrote this book himself because I don't think it would have had the same impact had it been in someone else's words.

I have dealt with addiction and depression in my own life, and am very close to people who are in recovery. This book offers an amazing insight into the world of addiction & recovery, and will be invaluable for anyone who has either battled these demons themselves or is supporting someone else trying to achieve sobriety. It is clear that Clapton fully understands the ongoing lifelong commitment required to become and stay sober, and has devoted much of his time, energy & resources to help others reach the same goal. I found it interesting and encouraging that, for a man who seemingly has everything, including a loving and supportive family, that he still puts his ongoing recovery at the very top of his list of life priorities.

While I found the book overall to be a very easy and entertaining read, nearly impossible to put down, I was particularly enthralled by the last four or five chapters, which covered the last twenty-odd years of his life. One of the things in life I always found difficult to understand and accept is how someone who has everything could feel compelled to destroy themselves. This book goes a long way towards helping someone understand the underlying pain, frustration & emotion (fueled by alcohol and/or drugs) that is often the catalyst for such destructive behavior. Although I have been a fan of his for a number of years, like many people I was blissfully unaware of how troubled he was and how close we had come to losing him on more than one occasion. Whether one believes in Divine intervention or in the strength of the individual human spirit, or a combination of the two, I for one am quite relieved that Eric successfully completed his journey thus far.

I'm also a sucker for a happy ending, which is probably my favorite part of this book. It is quite obvious that Eric has never been happier, and that writing this book was very cathartic for him. I hope that he continues to enjoy good health and his family for many years to come, and if we’re lucky he will continue to bless us with his amazing talent as well.

Donna Subotnik - Waukesha, Wisconsin USA
Published 18 October 2007

Not only did Eric Clapton’s autobiography detail his long career, with many details I did not know about. It also gave readers a look into his private life with the ups and downs, some we all can identify with. It was unfortunate he made so many bad choices and took so long to mature and take responsiblity for his actions. Good things have come from his sobriety and his generosity. I am glad he is in a better place now with his life and I hope he truly enjoys the little things that his family and the world has to offer.

Brian Reece - Essex, England
Published 19 October 2007

I started reading it with the feeling that it was going to be very difficult for EC to add to what has already been written many times : the progression from pre-Yardbirds via Cream etc, the drugs and the booze, and Pattie. I finished it feeling that a huge amount had been added to my knowledge and understanding of a bloke who has delivered to my ears an enormous amount of pleasure over more than 40 years.

EC lets you into his heart. He has the courage and honesty to accept that much of his recorded music has been disappointing, that drink destroyed so much of his potential - (imagine if the peak writing of the first solo album and Layla could have been maintained and developed, would albums like Backless and Money and Cigarette ever have surfaced) - , even if he, perhaps understandably, sugar-coats some of the worst aspects of the drinking years and reaches a little too enthusiastically for the ‘Its a disease’ excuse.

Some things didn’t make sense to me. When, for instance did SRV play left-handed? Why, in relation to the 1984 work with Roger Waters does Pattie in her book say EC had never met Roger before while EC says they were friends for ever?

I couldn’t help feeling that the final phase was written to a deadline, as there is a noticeable acceleration through time, and a lot less depth in the analysis of recent history. In spite of that, the joy of a loving family, experienced sober, that EC now has and deserves is a wonderful thing for him to share with us and he brings us into his home enough for us to feel that joy with him.

The life EC has led could fill four volumes of Robert Caro in the manner of his work on the subject of LBJ so it would be unrealistic to expect the whole story. I had however hoped to read of EC’s reaction to the murder of John Lennon, and I would love to know why the period in 1992 when he was knocking about with John McEnroe doesn’t feature in this book (or indeed in John’s).

As rockstar biographies go, this is up there with the best of them, not as scary as the ones by David Crosby and Brian Wilson, and not as wierd as the ones about Peter Green and Keith Richards, but those were other peoples’ lives.

I just hope that someone in the music business can put together a CD containing all the best tracks where EC has contributed solos - things like Stephen Stills Fishes and Scorpions, Cher’s Love can Build a Bridge, Phil Collins -I wish it would Rain, Richie Sambora Blues Man - so many more. This would sit beautifully alongside the recent career retro to illustrate the other very important side of a magnificent life’s work. Highly recommended

Marsha Smitherman - Kansas City, Missouri USA
Published 20 October 2007

If you can imagine sitting down with Eric and somehow getting him to tell you about his life, this is how it would sound. It’s honest, it’s direct, it’s a fast read. I was so interested I woke up at 5:00 one morning (NOT my usual time) wanting to read more. The things you’ve grown accustomed to in Eric’s public statements remain. He’s not willing to trash other people; he’s not into political commentary; and he’s willing to take responsibility for his own mistakes. One of the most important messages of Eric’s life comes through loud and clear: talent survives drug addiction, alcoholism, the occasional bout of pure stupidity, and recovery from all that. As always, he is more critical of his own music than most of us would be. For those who wonder about the relationship between substance abuse and creativity, this book is a must. If you were looking for gossip, some of the things you hoped for may not be there. In an early chapter, Eric says that growing up in Ripley you learn to be polite, so people won’t gossip about your business. He’s still polite - for, one would guess, about the same reasons - and there are some things he doesn’t talk about. There is, however, some wonderful reconnoitering through the rolls of rock and blues music - you find out who he’s played with (musically and otherwise), how and why some of your favorite songs and albums were composed and recorded, and with whom. There’s a wonderful picture of his son. And, much to my chagrin, you find out just how annoying the construction in Kansas City REALLY is to a visitor.

John Scott - Glasgow, Scotland
Published 20 October 2007

I thought the book was very endearing, he is totally open and it shines through with honesty.

I felt that he did not write about a few people such as Sheryl Crow because it's not about that. I reckon his counseling background of late made some topics confidential that otherwise may have been broached - I reckon its stronger for this, to only talk of ones own feelings is far fairer than rambling about presumptions of others. Relationships come and go but the book is essentially about him and I think it was noble to keep it that way. The only disappointing name to be left out was Lee Dickson, as his guitar tech of nearly 30 years I thought he would get a mention, but I'm sure there is reason for the omission.

Overall the book just made me love him even more. A very humble account of an often destructive life, that has thank god turned out to be full and happy. But - and importantly - this has taken him huge amounts of effort and his never give up attitude is an inspiration.

We are all responsible for ourselves, ultimately, EC proves this and his life is now all the better for it.

P. Alpin - Hampshire, UK
Published 23 October 2007

It was with some trepidation that I set about this book. These fears where however soon laid to rest barely moments into the first chapter. I have always thought that Eric's playing hides little in emotion and this autobiography is the same in that it appears he's been able to harness the same energy to talk about his life as he does when he's playing, and it's safe to say it's paid off to great ends.

Before reading this book it had always struck me that Eric Clapton had been looking for something and wasn't sure quite what. I think if you read this book you will understand more about the fabric of the man and that sometimes a gift can seem like a burden and vice versa.

This book is a journey through one man's difficult beginnings in post WW2 Britain through to his eventual happiness, along with all the ups and downs along the way. In all a great read that gives me the impression that after a long and hugely varied life Eric is now happy both musically and personally, long may it continue.

Sam Saunders - Chicago, Illinois USA
Published 24 October 2007

On October 9th Eric Clapton’s heavily anticipated autobiography was finally published. Since then the book has received a steady stream of rave reviews and I figured it’s ‘bout time I threw my own hat in the ring. As a devoted Clapton fan I was of course looking forward to the book’s publication and expected it to be a good read, but having read the lion’s share of the major interviews he’s done over the last forty years I figured there probably wouldn’t be a whole lot in there I hadn’t already stumbled upon one way or another. I really couldn’t have been more wrong. Clapton has been quite forthcoming in the vast majority of the post-recovery interviews he’s granted in recent years, but never has he delved into his past demons with such unadorned honesty and cathartic detail as he does here. He’s truly putting himself out there “warts and all” and the end result is a very compelling read.

According to Clapton the first draft was written with the assistance of Christopher Symon Sykes, but he felt there was too much “finger pointing” going on and he needed to take more responsibility for his years of drug and drink fueled excess, so he set about re-writing the manuscript on his own during downtime on last year’s world tour. It’s that absolutely personal touch that makes “Clapton- The Autobiography” so compelling. His many musical accomplishments from his time with The Yardbirds and John Mayall on through Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and The Dominos are all touched upon (as are his relationships with other rock icons such as The Beatles, The Stones and Dylan). But the real meat of the book is this man’s personal journey, often complicated and sometimes tragic. It’s all there. The confusing early childhood in which his grandparents were thought to be his parents and his real mother his sister. The initial rise to success which found a young Clapton still struggling to find his identity. The budding friendship with George Harrison that eventually resulted in rock’s most infamous love triangle. The tempestuous relationship with Pattie Boyd that followed. The drinking, the drugs, the womanizing and of course the horrific death of his young son Conor. It’s all dealt with in soul searching honesty, and more often then not, the kind of outright bluntness you hope for when such a revered figure sits down to pen his memoirs.

The main narrative of the book is Clapton’s infamous struggles with drugs and alcohol addiction, which reached it’s peak in the seventies and lasted well into the eighties. Some of the stories are downright shocking (such as when a despondent Clapton sat alone in his room with a bottle of vodka, a gram of coke and a shotgun contemplating suicide) but never sensationalized. He also spends a lot of time discussing his failed relationships and life long problems with the opposite sex that surely had their roots in his complicated relationship with his mother. Clapton did eventually get clean after a second trip to rehab in 1987 and was only three years sober when young Conor fell to his death in 1990, but he never relapsed. Instead it only strengthened his resolve never to drink again and since then he’s devoted much time and money to helping others achieve sobriety.

Clapton makes it abundantly clear that music, particularly the blues based music that serves as his foundation, has always been and always will be his personal salvation. And despite the darkness that plagued much of his thirties and forties, he did eventually achieve the inner peace he always sought when he met his young wife Melia, who’s since birthed him three daughters. It becomes readily apparent when reading the last chapter just how much this young family means to the man. Yet, despite that happy ending, you still get a sense of the old restlessness that remains deep down in his soul. And that’s ok. For that restlessness is probably a big part of what makes Eric Clapton “Eric Clapton”- rock icon, loving father, survivor.

Patricia Coressel-Jones - Abingdon, Maryland USA
Published 27 October 2007

I finished reading EC' autobiography yesterday. I love the way it was written. It drew me in quickly and I found myself emotionally riding the peaks and valleys of Eric's life. I could identify with the artistic kid with shyness issues, disinterested in traditional schooling.

Not being a musician by ear or sight, I found the musical terminology difficult, so I just imagined Eric playing and left the details to him. Around a third of the way through, I found myself loosing respect for this man whose music I've respected and enjoyed. By the second third of the book, my respect was fully restored and in fact is much greater. I was impressed with his candor about having such chauvinistic attitudes during a time when the women's movement was on. I appreciated how he owned up to his life in every aspect and I found I've learned from him.

For all of Eric's confidence in his ability to play, he continuously sighted others as mentors and never hesitated to say it was because of trying to emulate other great players and with a lot of practice, jamming, and more practice, he was able to reach such heights in playing. I found that humble confidence very appealing.

What I personally appreciated about the book was how Eric talked about his alcoholism. How it emotionally changed him from an emotionally shy man into someone who freely chased women and lived for self. How he had to relearn to "live" in every aspect of his life including writing and playing when sober. What impressed me most was he never shifted responsibility to anyone but himself. He so helped me to understand a man I loved who equally shared the same level of the disease of alcoholism. For those that have someone important in their lives who is an alcoholic, this book is a blessing.

All in all I found the book to say Thank You for all the blessings in this mans life from whom I got the distinct impression wasn't so certain he deserved such treasure. It is truly a story of humble gratitude. I personally would like to say a thank you to Eric for writing it.

Russ Lorenzini - Monroe, WA USA
Published 30 October 2007

I know I heard Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, I just didn’t know it at the time. The first time I heard him play, knowing who he was, was when a friend played me the Beano album (John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton). I was hooked. After all, Eric Clapton nearly invented the fat, stinging guitar sound which is still part of our music. I have been a fan all these years.

As an amateur guitarist and a person who has worked in the music industry for years, I was disappointed in the book. I wanted to read about the songs, the recording sessions, the concerts, his interaction with those with whom he played. There is precious little of this in Clapton, the Autobiography. I wanted to read about the tumultuous sessions that resulted in the best album of the ’70s, and maybe all time, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. I wanted to read more about the momentous reunion with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in 2005 for the Cream concerts in London and New York. All I got was that they were great in England, and not so great in the U.S.

But on another level, this book was very satisfying. I, like Clapton, am a recovering alcoholic, with about a year less sobriety than he. It was encouraging and refreshing to read that someone whom I have revered all these years for his musicianship went through all the same horror of addiction, and has come out the other side. For this reason, the book was a worthwhile read.

It appears, from what I can gather, that Clapton wrote the book himself, without the oft-used celebrity crutch of ghost writer. It shows. While I appreciate the honesty of the writing, there were many times as I was reading that a person would pop up and then just disappear. I wanted to know what happened next!

I would recommend the book to anyone who has been a fan of the music over the years, but not necessarily to someone not familiar with Clapton’s work or the history of rock. Nonetheless, I thank him for an honest book.

B. Burke - Tulsa, OK USA
Published 4 November 2007

I must say that I have to differ with some of those who have reviewed this book with the comment about only rock fans would enjoy it. I purchased the book out of curiousity, not being a rock fan. I am 53 and have a recollection of Eric’s bands, but the only songs I am familiar with are “Layla”, “You Look Wonderful Tonight”, and “Tears In Heaven”. It took a few days for me to really get interested in the book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I have to say I’m sad that I finished it, because I found it very interesting. Eric Clapton has truly grown as an individual. I had no idea what his life was like. I truly enjoyed this book and have to compliment Eric on his writing style. It was very easy to visualize his home, his surroundings, etc. I will truly miss my daily read.

Sylvia Davidson - Atlanta, GA USA
Published 9 November 2007

I finished the book last week and loved reading about various musicians with whom Eric had social, musical, and business relationships. Loved the evolution, career-wise, of this talented man. However, the heart of the book, to me, is his evolution as a person who finally trusted himself to make good decisions, both personally and musically. The honesty with which he faces his personal demons is full of depth and substance. He’s refreshingly self-effacing and real. As a family person, I really liked the way he acknowledged his early family situations, his grandmother’s efforts to help him get his first guitar, and his work with his grandfather. I ached for him as he seemed to suffer with poor self-image and insecurities with how he looked or behaved.

Also, one of the elements of the book that stayed with me throughout is his constant acknowledgement of so many people that he cares about. He talks about this one or that one who was “kind” to him or whose work he respects. These people run the gamut from a half-brother to a Ripley friend to an industry giant. Rather than use this autobiography to blame or criticize, Eric delights in telling of all the people who mean something to him and thanks them for their kindnesses to him as he learned to develop mature, grounded relationships.

Eddie R. Santos - Phillipines
Published 9 November 2007

I just finished Eric Clapton’s Autobiography. The book was such a great read from start to finish. It is most interesting especially since I know his bands, band members, music and history since EC started with the Yardbirds all the way to the present. The details surrounding his life got me riveted to the book. You get to find out with who, what, where and how EC lived his life. The struggles with the drugs, booze and his family life.

I would just want to express my sincerest congratulations to EC and his contributing writers for bringing out such a wonderful book and to share his inner most desires and secrets with the world. It is truly an inspiration to everyone, that with love, determination and spirituality, anything can work out.