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Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton

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From the bestselling author of Shout!, comes the definitive biography of Eric Clapton, a Rock legend whose life story is as remarkable as his music, which transformed the sound of a generation. For half a century Eric Clapton has been acknowledged to be one of music's greatest virtuosos, the unrivalled master of an indispensable tool, the solid-body electric guitar. His car From the bestselling author of Shout!, comes the definitive biography of Eric Clapton, a Rock legend whose life story is as remarkable as his music, which transformed the sound of a generation. For half a century Eric Clapton has been acknowledged to be one of music's greatest virtuosos, the unrivalled master of an indispensable tool, the solid-body electric guitar. His career has spanned the history of rock, and often shaped it via the seminal bands with whom he's played: the Yardbirds, John Mavall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes. Winner of 17 Grammys, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's only three-time inductee, he is an enduring influence on every other star soloist who ever wielded a pick. Now, with Clapton's consent and access to family members and close friends, rock music's foremost biographer returns to the heroic age of British rock and follows Clapton through his distinctive and scandalous childhood, early life of reckless rock 'n' roll excess, and twisting & turning struggle with addiction in the 60s and 70s. Readers will learn about his relationship with Pattie Boyd, wife of Clapton's own best friend George Harrison, the tragic death of his son, which inspired one of his most famous songs, Tears in Heaven and even the backstories of his most famed, and named, guitars. Packed with new information and critical insights, Slowhand finally reveals the complex character behind a living legend.


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From the bestselling author of Shout!, comes the definitive biography of Eric Clapton, a Rock legend whose life story is as remarkable as his music, which transformed the sound of a generation. For half a century Eric Clapton has been acknowledged to be one of music's greatest virtuosos, the unrivalled master of an indispensable tool, the solid-body electric guitar. His car From the bestselling author of Shout!, comes the definitive biography of Eric Clapton, a Rock legend whose life story is as remarkable as his music, which transformed the sound of a generation. For half a century Eric Clapton has been acknowledged to be one of music's greatest virtuosos, the unrivalled master of an indispensable tool, the solid-body electric guitar. His career has spanned the history of rock, and often shaped it via the seminal bands with whom he's played: the Yardbirds, John Mavall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes. Winner of 17 Grammys, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's only three-time inductee, he is an enduring influence on every other star soloist who ever wielded a pick. Now, with Clapton's consent and access to family members and close friends, rock music's foremost biographer returns to the heroic age of British rock and follows Clapton through his distinctive and scandalous childhood, early life of reckless rock 'n' roll excess, and twisting & turning struggle with addiction in the 60s and 70s. Readers will learn about his relationship with Pattie Boyd, wife of Clapton's own best friend George Harrison, the tragic death of his son, which inspired one of his most famous songs, Tears in Heaven and even the backstories of his most famed, and named, guitars. Packed with new information and critical insights, Slowhand finally reveals the complex character behind a living legend.

30 review for Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton

  1. 4 out of 5

    BookGypsy

    Remarkable! I really liked this inside look into his life. I've always loved his music but never knew all these things about him. There are some really good photos in the book too. I enjoyed. It's bittersweet.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Starting out, in prologue, is a lunch with George Harrison and Clapton.. George is quite upset to detect beef broth in his mushroom soup and Eric is too broke to pay for his own. No one recognizes them, at first. George is first, most obvious, and his chameleon comrade is introduced as “the world’s greatest white guitarist...Bert Weedon.” It’s the end of the 60’s, the Beatles and Cream. It’s the start of his not-so-secret touring with Delaney & Bonnie. He’s already “God” and wanting to be ju Starting out, in prologue, is a lunch with George Harrison and Clapton.. George is quite upset to detect beef broth in his mushroom soup and Eric is too broke to pay for his own. No one recognizes them, at first. George is first, most obvious, and his chameleon comrade is introduced as “the world’s greatest white guitarist...Bert Weedon.” It’s the end of the 60’s, the Beatles and Cream. It’s the start of his not-so-secret touring with Delaney & Bonnie. He’s already “God” and wanting to be just an Apostle. He is content, playing guitar, playing rascal, and racing wind-up fruit backstage. And on it goes. The ever increasing talent, the stage and studio sets, the sexual and band promiscuity, the hijinx, drugs, and notoriety. The Blues Breakers with John Mayall,The Yardbirds, jamming with Hendrix and numerous other greats, then Cream. Essentially his break out band, yet even as their wealth grew, they still showed up for concerts, en masse, in a Ford Mercury station wagon driven by their tour manager. The backstory to their hits, the backstage meet-ups, the backstabbing life of rock ‘n roll, and the always back to grandma Rose. Charming and disarming. A young lad doing what he loves, sometimes with an attitude, but mostly with a zeal to just make the best music his guitar allows. And he did. America, in 1968, was in turmoil as they were back touring. Martin Luther King and Ted Kennedy had just both been assassinated, civil riots were rampant, and long hair garnered one a slew of derogatory names and potentially physical harassment. But nothing was as challenging as his heroin addiction. After the break up of Derek and the Dominoes and another rebuff from Pattie Boyd, he allowed the “dragon” to chase him off into its cave and control him. Along with him, he brought his old flame, Alice Ormsby-Gore, and they wallowed away at Hurtwood Edge. Many a friend tried to help, but a virtual moat was dug and no bridge over erected. Via Dr. Meg Patterson, a Scottish neurosurgeon who came up with Neuroelectric Therapy, an acupuncture procedure that recreates the pleasant calm of heroin, allowing withdrawal to evolve easier, he recoups his life. While recovering from recovering, he works on a farm, enjoys visits from friends (primarily, Pete Townshend) and hits local pubs, becoming the alcoholic that afflicts him longer than the heroin. As with his norm, a Jekyll and Hyde personality evolved as the drinking took further root. Sexual escapades almost as abundant as bottles lay littered in his wake. He and Patti held on to their thermostatic marriage, even when he fathered two children outside it. Granted, she was only aware of the one, but such was the life she was accustomed to, including with George, that she continued to take him back into her life when he was at his worst. But eventually, she would also rehab her addiction and leave him for good. Finally clean, he slowly gains back a life, but now one where he actually participates in it. Trying to be a responsible adult, a caring friend, and a father to his son, Connor. There came the loss of comrade-in-guitar, Stevie-Ray Vaugh after a concert together, another woman he professed to love to Mick Jagger, and a breaking straw with the accidental death of his angelic son, Connor. He stayed sober. A tribute to his son. Through his countless liaisons, guitar and band-mate riffs, epileptic seizures, ulcers, drinking and drugging, he managed to come out in the end a well-balanced family man who just happens to still be in the top guitar slayers of all time. Sharing the stage, or cozy room gathering, with nearly every living guitar legend, his many bands as vital now as their prime, he is, in his own realm, a God. Tho it jumps around history and repeats a bit too much, it still reads informative with a big dose of backstage gossip. Thank you Goodreads and the Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to peek into one of my (still) all-time favorite musicians.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natalie S

    To some people, Eric Clapton is god. But for author and journalist, Philip Norman, the Slowhand guitarist is unquestionably human. A talented star sure, but also a fallible guy. Slowhand: The Life & Music of Eric Clapton is a detailed biography covering Clapton’s extraordinary career. Clapton’s life has been chronicled before. The legendary artist has published his own memoirs (with the help of a ghost writer). He has also appeared in other biographies and in the fabulous documentary, Life in To some people, Eric Clapton is god. But for author and journalist, Philip Norman, the Slowhand guitarist is unquestionably human. A talented star sure, but also a fallible guy. Slowhand: The Life & Music of Eric Clapton is a detailed biography covering Clapton’s extraordinary career. Clapton’s life has been chronicled before. The legendary artist has published his own memoirs (with the help of a ghost writer). He has also appeared in other biographies and in the fabulous documentary, Life in 12 Bars. You could argue that the world doesn’t need another Clapton biography and in some respects you would be right. But, what Slowhand has going for it, is that it is a detailed and well-researched examination of this artist’s life. Norman interviews Clapton’s management and crew, fellow musicians and childhood friends. The biggest coup here was his speaking to Pattie Boyd, Clapton’s former wife and the former wife of Clapton’s’ best friend, George Harrison. Their love triangle was legendary. Boyd has published her own memoirs and there’s no denying how important she was to Clapton’s career. She was his muse, inspiring the hits, “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.” In this biography, Norman paints a portrait of the enigmatic Clapton. The guitarist was abandoned as a child after his teenage mother moved to Canada. Clapton was then raised by his grandmother and was lead to believe that she was his actual mum. The truth eventually came out with devastating consequences. The author attempts to explain some of Clapton’s more troublesome behaviour on this difficult childhood. Norman describes how Eric was spoilt and indulged as a kid. It was this atmosphere – along with the heartbreak of losing his Mum – that set him on a path of self-destruction into: promiscuity, infidelity, alcoholism and drug abuse. While this may seem like some plausible excuses, there are other people who have experienced similar upbringings who didn’t take this crossroad. However, some things about Clapton will remain unknowable and no matter how hard Norman tries, this was always going to be an incomplete portrait. Norman does find a balance between a straight retelling of Clapton’s life and the broader context of his music, including his work with the groups: The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos. There is also commentary about Clapton’s collaborations with other artists, which should appease those readers who are audiophiles. Clapton now leads a happy life as the father to three young daughters. His adulthood was filled with obsessive passions and bitter tragedies. The most shocking of these coming when his young son, Conor fell from the window of a high-rise apartment in New York. Conor’s premature death inspired Clapton’s classic song, “Tears in Heaven.” Eric Clapton is a complex and multi-faceted character. In many ways, Norman’s biography captures this finer detail with storytelling that straddles the line between objective truths and some rose-tinted sympathy. It may not answer every question, but you do gain some understanding of what shaped Eric Clapton and why he sings the blues.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Slowhand by Philip Norman review – Eric Clapton and the years of excess. The rock star secured fame by bringing US southern music to a new audience. Then the unrestrained hedonism began

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    If you know Clapton you won't find anything new here. Basically just another book telling the very tired story of Eric and Patty. Was hoping to hear more about the unbelievable band he had recently Trucks, Bramhall, Stainton, Weeks, Jordan etc. There was so much ground not even touched on. Other than Tears in Heaven nothing that has transpired in the last 30 years

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ace Boggess

    This is a fascinating history of a fascinating musician. I say 'fascinating' but I can't say 'compelling.' There are sections of this book that pass in litanies of facts, droning on like a monotone professor standing up front in the lecture hall. To be fair, this isn't, for the most part, the author's fault. There's simply too much going on to capture it all in the detail it deserves without the book ending up 2000 pages long. Sometimes those short summaries are necessary. Others, it feels like This is a fascinating history of a fascinating musician. I say 'fascinating' but I can't say 'compelling.' There are sections of this book that pass in litanies of facts, droning on like a monotone professor standing up front in the lecture hall. To be fair, this isn't, for the most part, the author's fault. There's simply too much going on to capture it all in the detail it deserves without the book ending up 2000 pages long. Sometimes those short summaries are necessary. Others, it feels like something's missing. The chapter on Cream, for example, seems painfully light. In contrast, when author Norman has time to really focus in on a scene, it reads in flowing passages filled with details as if this were a novel about a fictional rock star. The sections on addiction and the various treatments Clapton went through are outstanding. All in all, it's a good book, worth reading for music fans. As a complete history though, consider this the abridged version.

  7. 4 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    Bestselling author and rock star biographer, Philip Norman, has given us the latest retelling of the life of guitar “god” Eric Clapton in Slowhand. Norman, granted access to Clapton and various characters (some famous, some not) presents a retelling of Clapton’s life—the good and the bad. Clapton’s life of success and excess was set in motion very early in his childhood when a deception that would affect the rest of his life was carried out by his mother and grandmother. The resulting pampering a Bestselling author and rock star biographer, Philip Norman, has given us the latest retelling of the life of guitar “god” Eric Clapton in Slowhand. Norman, granted access to Clapton and various characters (some famous, some not) presents a retelling of Clapton’s life—the good and the bad. Clapton’s life of success and excess was set in motion very early in his childhood when a deception that would affect the rest of his life was carried out by his mother and grandmother. The resulting pampering and indulging of Clapton reinforced his addictive personality and his treatment of the women in his life. Norman has many snippets from witnesses to bolster the telling of Clapton’s life. There were times, however, that it seems examples are scattered within a chapter as filler rather than making it cohesive. Other chapters are well developed and tell the reader such a provocative story that the reader feels they are actually witnesses. All of Clapton’s story, from early childhood to membership/friendships with rock bands and legends to his deeply personal life, is revealed in this book. A lot of the Slowhand is dedicated to Clapton’s past drug use. This is understandable due to the number of years he was an addict. The story of Clapton’s beginning and overcoming of his addictions was what I really appreciated. Having always loved the rock star Eric Clapton since first hearing Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” in high school, this book is an eye opener into Clapton’s life. It’s amazing and wonderful that Clapton has survived his rock star life. All admirers of his talent look forward eagerly to what he will next share with us. I am glad I read Slowhand, but due to the uneven “editing” and also repeated phrases throughout the book, my rating is 3.5 stars. Thanks goes to Little, Brown and Company for the free copy of Slowhand in exchange for an unbiased review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Clapton’s story is well documented and there isn’t much new here. The latter part of his life is glossed over very quickly. I have always loved his music, but sadly there is a lot left to be desired as a man. Hell, even a just a human being. All too often that is the case with artistic genius. If you are a fan, definitely read this. Especially if you haven’t read the autobiography or any of the other tomes on ec that are available. I still believe a definitive look at the man’s music has yet to Clapton’s story is well documented and there isn’t much new here. The latter part of his life is glossed over very quickly. I have always loved his music, but sadly there is a lot left to be desired as a man. Hell, even a just a human being. All too often that is the case with artistic genius. If you are a fan, definitely read this. Especially if you haven’t read the autobiography or any of the other tomes on ec that are available. I still believe a definitive look at the man’s music has yet to be written. 3.5/5. Possibly a bit higher if this is your first read about Clapton.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Could have been better. I.e. Duane Allman not Gregg Allman died in a motorcycle crash in 1971!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Platt

    Highly recommend this book if you are a fan. It is very consistent with his very good autobiography but offers context and detail that the autobiography doesn't owing to the autobiography's brevity. Not only is it amazing that he is still alive after the life he's had, it is inspirational in the depth of redemption possible for all of us, famous or not. A really excellent read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    Well done bio by a writer who has written about many other musicians. As a Clapton fan, I enjoyed the overall book. But the details of his drug abuse that nearly destroyed Clapton (and certainly damaged people close to him) was bothersome. The section detailing the death of his son, Conor, was difficult to read. Fortunately, he put all this (including his obsession with Patty Boyd) into his music.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    It is often forgotten --- if thought of at all --- that a work of art in any medium is the very tip of the creative spear possessing quite a long shaft. This is especially true of a book or a sound recording. Think of the artist as a motorist stopped at the entrance to a roundabout that has six (or more) exits, with no idea of which one to take. The artist may take one, stop, retrace steps, and take another until he gets where he wants to go, or at least thinks he wants to go. It’s a bit of a ga It is often forgotten --- if thought of at all --- that a work of art in any medium is the very tip of the creative spear possessing quite a long shaft. This is especially true of a book or a sound recording. Think of the artist as a motorist stopped at the entrance to a roundabout that has six (or more) exits, with no idea of which one to take. The artist may take one, stop, retrace steps, and take another until he gets where he wants to go, or at least thinks he wants to go. It’s a bit of a gamble, timewise, which the artist must be willing to make in order to reach the illusionary goal of success, however that might be defined. Biographies of musicians, actors and authors are of particular interest because of the manner in which those practitioners are thrust, often suddenly, into the public limelight. British novelist and playwright Philip Norman is uniquely qualified to have written biographies of several major British rock stars, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Elton John. Norman is a contemporary of those personalities, having been a part (as a spectator and journalist) of the British scene in which they all developed in the late 1950s and early ’60s. His latest effort, SLOWHAND, focuses on the life of Eric Clapton. While others have plowed this ground before, Norman manages to coax some fertility out of it even at this late date as the result of his lifelong access to the man and his contemporaries. SLOWHAND is neither a slavish love letter nor a hatchet job. The subject matter is more complicated than one might expect and thus all the more interesting. Clapton’s conception was the result of an assignation between his mother and a Canadian serviceman stationed near the village of Ripley, England, in the months leading up to World War II. Clapton never knew his father, while his mother left both him and his half-brother in the care of their maternal grandmother, Rose, when he was just two years old. Grandparents are known to occasionally spoil their grandchildren, and Clapton raised that behavior to an art form. When he wanted a guitar before he even entered his teens, Rose made it so, and the instrument rarely left his hands. Clapton’s future was set when he was asked to join a fledgling but popular group, The Yardbirds, while still in his teens. This union was auspicious for two reasons: Clapton acquired the nickname --- initially a jibe --- of “Slowhand” during this period, and was aboard for the recording and release of the album Five Live Yardbirds, which is arguably the best (and most poorly recorded) live performance of a rock band ever made, so much so that it stands up superlatively 55 years later. Clapton’s acrimonious departure from the band came on the eve of its international success but was followed by turns in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (with bass guitar duties handled by a dour-faced youngster named John McVie), the short-lived Powerhouse, and a band called Cream. Clapton’s short tenure in each was a product of his artistic restlessness, which later sought release in the prodigious use of drugs and alcohol. This, coupled with his star status and appeal to women, resulted in a series of destructive actions that were noteworthy for the wide path they cut and the collateral damage carelessly inflicted upon those around him. Clapton’s substance-induced Pollyanna attitude --- and his conquest of it --- makes for fascinating reading in Norman’s hands, all the more so if the reader is of a certain age and has followed his musical career from afar. Clapton still performs, even after all these years. He resides for part of the year in a suburb less than 20 minutes from where I sit typing (his in-laws live nearby), and sightings abound, from picking up the goods at a local dry cleaner to generously making a surprise appearance at a local musicians’ benefit show. His quiet recovery did not come without great personal cost; as we should know by now, success does not make one immune to tragedy. All of it is told in SLOWHAND, and told well. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jan Lewis

    A real eye opener.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I was mildly disappointed in this book. It was not as well written as his earlier works, like the Beatles book “Shout”, and it provided little insight into Clapton’s music.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Monical

    Surprisingly good bio of Clapton. I appreciated that the book didn't do the usual "I am born" at the beginning, but integrated the young Clapton with the emerging "guitar god." The alcohol and drug use got repetitive (for everyone, I expect!) and Clapton does not emerge as the nicest guy in the universe but appears to have finally grown up by the end of the book. I certainly will re-visit the music and hope to track down a DVD of the concert in honor of George Harrison. I caught bits of that on Surprisingly good bio of Clapton. I appreciated that the book didn't do the usual "I am born" at the beginning, but integrated the young Clapton with the emerging "guitar god." The alcohol and drug use got repetitive (for everyone, I expect!) and Clapton does not emerge as the nicest guy in the universe but appears to have finally grown up by the end of the book. I certainly will re-visit the music and hope to track down a DVD of the concert in honor of George Harrison. I caught bits of that on PBS at some point and it was really interesting and well done.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Sullivan

    I had read Eric Clapton’s memoir and Patty Boyd’s so I was interested what a biographer would have to add. There were new anecdotes that added to my understanding of Eric’s life but it mirrored the Clapton memoir so it was all familiar territory. The life of sex, drugs and rock & roll takes it toll on the star and all the people who love and depend on him. It was interesting but his early years were so self indulgent and self destructive that his musical genius becomes somewhat tarnished in I had read Eric Clapton’s memoir and Patty Boyd’s so I was interested what a biographer would have to add. There were new anecdotes that added to my understanding of Eric’s life but it mirrored the Clapton memoir so it was all familiar territory. The life of sex, drugs and rock & roll takes it toll on the star and all the people who love and depend on him. It was interesting but his early years were so self indulgent and self destructive that his musical genius becomes somewhat tarnished in the telling. His later life is only sparsely covered so the sober years play little part in this book. But it is an amazing success story and all the rock & roll stars of the era are part of the story (and their wives.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    This was very good and there is a lot about Eric I didn't know.His Mom was only 16 when she had him and when he was 2 years old she left him with his Grandma to raise.He grew up thinking she was his Mom and she spoiled him.His Mom was in and out of his life but he never really had a relationship with her.He was good friends with George Harrison and his wife Pattie, who he fell in love with and married when George divorced her.Even after Eric and Pattie got a divorce he was still friends with Geo This was very good and there is a lot about Eric I didn't know.His Mom was only 16 when she had him and when he was 2 years old she left him with his Grandma to raise.He grew up thinking she was his Mom and she spoiled him.His Mom was in and out of his life but he never really had a relationship with her.He was good friends with George Harrison and his wife Pattie, who he fell in love with and married when George divorced her.Even after Eric and Pattie got a divorce he was still friends with George.Eric is very lucky to be alive after all the drug and alcohol use.He had a great career but also a lot of sadness to.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book went up and down as far as being interesting. There was a lot of rehashed stories for those who read Eric's autobiography but there were also things in it that I didn't know about. But the author seems to interject his opinion every once in a while with snarky little remarks that eventually got on my nerves.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Treya

    Well written, but not sure what I was hoping to find here different than in previous bios I’ve read. I’m afraid Eric is still the same (hugely talented but) troubled Eric no matter how you slice it. I do strongly agree with the author that it is a miracle (or the incredible Clapton luck) that poor Eric did not join the “27 club.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brad Zerkel

    Not a flattering picture of Clapton But pretty detailed and actually learned some new info about him in this one This does show a lot of the ugly side of Clapton but I think I personally needed to hear this as I modeled my playing after him and put him on a pedestal .

  21. 4 out of 5

    M.

    It was a good read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dave Capers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A man womanizes and abuses substances, manages to make some great music along the way and redeems himself late in life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason Dikes

    Kind of rushes the latter half of Clapton's life, but is serviceable

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keith Bell

    As a huge Clapton fan, I knew going into this I was going to like it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    This review is for the audio book. The narrator Peter Coates speaks very clearly and conveyed the author's meaning very well. As for the content, I took a flyer on this, not believing that Eric Clapton (aside from his music) was a particularly interesting topic. Norman's book showed me a side of Clapton that doesn't portray him in a favourable light. He's seen as a spoiled self-centred individual who always got what he wanted, and never had to worry about personal accountability. A lot of it had This review is for the audio book. The narrator Peter Coates speaks very clearly and conveyed the author's meaning very well. As for the content, I took a flyer on this, not believing that Eric Clapton (aside from his music) was a particularly interesting topic. Norman's book showed me a side of Clapton that doesn't portray him in a favourable light. He's seen as a spoiled self-centred individual who always got what he wanted, and never had to worry about personal accountability. A lot of it had to do with his rock star lifestyle, so self-centredness is not uncommon in that world. Too much money at too young an age. Yet Norman writes that this was his nature from childhood. Always obsessing over various things, then discarding them. Like the bands he played in. Yet he stuck to the guitar and the blues, for which we should be thankful. Dock a star for Norman's too-frequent mention of Eric's food fights, his very tepid "praise" for the legendary Cream farewell concert, and scant mention of J.J. Cale who was a massive influence on Eric in the 1970's and beyond. Norman's left wing political slant unnecessarily injects itself here and there (he must be having a fit over Brexit). One thing I didn't know; Eric's wayward father was a musician himself, and was Canadian. His mother seemed to be no great prize herself. (If Philip Norman's version of events is to be fully accepted as gospel). What can't be denied is Eric Clapton's great contribution to the blues, and music as a whole. Perhaps the greatest rock guitarist ever.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    So... hooray for redemption stories! There's a lot of 'hot mess' to get through first (no surprise). Gives new depth (in a bad way) and layers (also in a bad way) to the term 'enabler.' Not just for the addictions but for the treatment of spouses and others (not just Clapton's). Told in clear, well-organized, but somewhat ironically non-lyrical narrative, there's a lot of insider info that's less gossip-y than details lined up to show motivation (or lack there of) for Clapton's various stages an So... hooray for redemption stories! There's a lot of 'hot mess' to get through first (no surprise). Gives new depth (in a bad way) and layers (also in a bad way) to the term 'enabler.' Not just for the addictions but for the treatment of spouses and others (not just Clapton's). Told in clear, well-organized, but somewhat ironically non-lyrical narrative, there's a lot of insider info that's less gossip-y than details lined up to show motivation (or lack there of) for Clapton's various stages and rages. Esp. given the subject (sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll), this is a matter of fact (vs. salacious) telling. Really nice background/home town info (even the not-nice parts... his 'mom...' ugh). It also gave this long-time fan a much better grip on the chronology of Clapton's many groups - including interesting details on the many semi-anonymous (intentionally) collaborations he did. Yes, the George & Patti/Layla drama was even weirder/sadder than I ever knew. Nice confirmation of Clapton's utterly devoted blues roots and his acceptance as a true member of the tribe (in UK, USA, and beyond). Odd lack of emphasis on his blues masters tour, though. So much needless loss and pain; nice to see him finally use it to fuel full recovery and the Crossroads Center. (WOW - can he get a lot for his guitars in fundraising auctions). Rock on, Rick.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mikko Arevuo

    I’m a big fan of Eric Clapton’s music but I didn’t know much about his life. Being just a decade too young to remember the swinging 60s, the book is a wonderful chronicle of the British youth culture and the role of blues in particular narrated through the life of Clapton. Of course, the main focus of the book is on Clapton. There were moments that I had tears in my eyes as I felt his pain and the desperate struggle he had with the demons of his childhood. Although his pain almost killed him it I’m a big fan of Eric Clapton’s music but I didn’t know much about his life. Being just a decade too young to remember the swinging 60s, the book is a wonderful chronicle of the British youth culture and the role of blues in particular narrated through the life of Clapton. Of course, the main focus of the book is on Clapton. There were moments that I had tears in my eyes as I felt his pain and the desperate struggle he had with the demons of his childhood. Although his pain almost killed him it became expressed through his guitar and it made me understand his music better. I also liked how the author weaved Clapton’s music, love life, and his recordings to the narrative. In fact, I found some recordings in the book that I didn’t know that Clapton had a part in as a band member or a session guitarist. The only reason I didn’t give the book full five stars is merely for technical authoring reasons. In the middle of the book, the narrative tends to repeat and the development editors should have picked this up. Otherwise, a great story of a great man by a great rock biographer. Long may the Slowhand reign.

  28. 4 out of 5

    J.

    No reason not to enjoy this bio of rock legend Clapton. Although at times he comes across as eccentric and a bit childish in his younger days.We accept that as a path taken by many artists. I never thought of Clapton as a guitar god, but I have never known another guitarist, in my generation, that was not influenced by him. That includes at least Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes. This isn't really a book about his music though...it is about the man behind that music and in that it was informative No reason not to enjoy this bio of rock legend Clapton. Although at times he comes across as eccentric and a bit childish in his younger days.We accept that as a path taken by many artists. I never thought of Clapton as a guitar god, but I have never known another guitarist, in my generation, that was not influenced by him. That includes at least Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes. This isn't really a book about his music though...it is about the man behind that music and in that it was informative and did not come across as a sanitized version of his behavior. I couldn't help but feel great sympathy for every woman who fell in love with him, how he used them to satisfy what was lacking in his own life. How it took great tragedy for him to finally overcome the behavior disorders that limited his ability to be happy and make others happy. Philip Norman is probably the most significant biographer of Rock Stars of this era and I am glad he took on Clapton and made a record of this 1960s and 1970s icon of British invasion Rock.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ray Dexter

    Philip Norman is how I understand the 1960s music scene. My first adult book was his Beatles biography in 1981. When Norman produced a book on Clapton of course I was going to read it. The problem for me is that Clapton has always come across as selfish and I wanted someone to show me I’m wrong. Philip Norman tries very hard but the subtext of selfishness is still there. What is more frustrating is the Norman makes no attempt to explain why Clapton is considered God and why he was considered so Philip Norman is how I understand the 1960s music scene. My first adult book was his Beatles biography in 1981. When Norman produced a book on Clapton of course I was going to read it. The problem for me is that Clapton has always come across as selfish and I wanted someone to show me I’m wrong. Philip Norman tries very hard but the subtext of selfishness is still there. What is more frustrating is the Norman makes no attempt to explain why Clapton is considered God and why he was considered so great. There is no attempt to get into what makes a great blues guitarist. It is just assumed that he is. Norman is more interested in the personal stories and interviewed Pattie (Harrison) and gets a lot of detail of the rock star period from this. But this overwhelms, he is a unique troubadour but you get the feeling of why he is special. In his afterword Norman tells us how boring a book of lists and who played with Clapton would be boring, yet a book that makes no attempt to discuss the music is worse than boring - it’s pointless.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Lum

    I do so enjoy these rock star bios. This one contains a George Harrison quote that nicely sums up the monstrous self-centeredness that afflicted almost all of them as young men (or even middle aged men). Yelled at a flight attendant who had the hall to ask Harrison if he wanted a drink shortly after his celebrated trip to India: "Fuck off, can't you see I'm meditating?!" Monstrous is a word that came to mind many times during this book when I considered the way Clapton was treating his wife, girl I do so enjoy these rock star bios. This one contains a George Harrison quote that nicely sums up the monstrous self-centeredness that afflicted almost all of them as young men (or even middle aged men). Yelled at a flight attendant who had the hall to ask Harrison if he wanted a drink shortly after his celebrated trip to India: "Fuck off, can't you see I'm meditating?!" Monstrous is a word that came to mind many times during this book when I considered the way Clapton was treating his wife, girlfriend, or latest conquest. Many of these women were literally girls at the time Clapton got his mid-twenties hooks into them, including poor 16-year-old Alice who was not only abused by Clapton but also had to make risky heroin runs for him into London. Fascinating book, overall.

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