Clapton, the Autobiography (Review)

Eric Clapton (Broadway)

In his autobiography, Rock guitar hero Eric Clapton proves himself a frank and direct writer who doesn't hide his feelings about his personal failures, of which he believes he has many. He's especially hard on himself concerning his love life. In his long-term and ultimately failed relationship with Pattie Boyd, whom he started wooing while she still was married to George Harrison, he often was a desperate, heroin-addicted mess. And his account is harrowing about how his teenage lover Alice Ormsby Gore, as a substance-abusing adult, confronted him about her failed life shortly before she died.

Clapton took it, trying to help her. By then he'd been through a lot — his young son, Conor, by Italian actress Lori del Santo, had run through an open window in her New York condominium and fell 49 floors to his death.

But in the end, this book is most interesting for what it reveals about his music rather than his love life. From the mid-1960s through the early '70s, he revolutionized rock with the Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominos and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. He often felt discomfort with his stardom, which is why he changed bands so often.

He pinpoints what he kept running from. "I was trying so hard to escape the pseudo-virtuoso image I had helped create for myself," he says.

Today Clapton is happily married and, at age 62, has three young daughters with a younger wife. (He also has an older daughter.) He makes successful new albums, although they look back amiably at his blues roots rather than forward to revolutionizing pop and rock. He is still a guitar god and seems to have found peace with that. But it hasn't been easy for him, as his book reveals.

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