As much a personal catharsis and unveiling of his own soul and struggles as a chronicle of one of the great guitar players of all time, Eric Clapton’s autobiography is full of sex and drugs and, of course, rock & roll. The only person ever to win three slots in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (as a solo artist, and as part of the Yardbirds and of Cream), Clapton was ranked fourth in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists ever, and also fourth in Gibson’s similar list of 50. In his autobiography, though, Clapton doesn’t focus on his musical career so much as he does his early life and his troubled relationship with his mother, his difficulties building a real relationship, and his struggles with drugs. He comes across with a certain modesty and ambivalence about his early success, with a particular note for the “Clapton is God” graffiti that appeared in London in the mid 1960s. (A story, which doesn’t appear in this autobiography although the feelings behind it do, is that after he met Jimi Hendrix and heard a typically amazing performance, Clapton remarked, “If I’m God, who’s he?”).
Clapton on Clapton: Serious soul-searching and catharsis
It’s a deeply personal book, filled with reflections on Clapton’s mistakes in life. For example, he goes into considerable length about his obsession with George Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd, who rejected Clapton’s attempt to have an affair with her and so inspired the hit song “Layla” as well as many of the other songs on Clapton’s album (with Derek and the Dominos) Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Clapton and Boyd were eventually married in 1979, but like most of his relationships (and hers) things didn’t work out well, damaged by Clapton’s alcoholism, drug abuse and infidelity. The names of musical greats that Clapton has worked with over the years dot the pages, but this book is less about Clapton’s music than it is about his personal struggles and, eventually, his spiritual quest for recovery and inner peace.