Review: Clapton, The Autobiography by Eric Clapton

My book club voted in something different this month, an autobiography written by Eric Clapton, the quintessential rockstar and guitar hero.  As I counted up the votes, I inwardly groaned when I saw the results.  Apart from “Cocaine” and “Tears in Heaven,” and the death of his young son, Conor, I knew very little about Eric Clapton, and wasn’t too sure I cared to know any more than I already did.

So even though I didn’t care, I was trying to have an open mind.  But it was with some trepidation that I started this book (purchased on the Nook, Mr. FTC nosey pants).  I purposely did not read any reviews ahead of time so that I could just take it all in.

But, I’m sorry.  Mr. Clapton should stick to music as his writing skills are severely lacking.  This book reads like a diary, i.e. Today we went to the store and bought a guitar.  Today George Harrison and I jammed.  Today I did some heroin.  Today I tried to get Patti to leave George.  Today my kid fell out the window.  Today I got drunk and smashed my Ferrari into a laundry van, but I was ok (no word on the fate of the other guy, however).

Clapton made some amazing music and knew tons of interesting people (hellooooo- Mick Jagger!  Bob Dylan!), yet the telling of it all sounds incredibly boring. Maybe he was just too wasted to remember many details but the stories are all oddly flat and dull. Even the re-telling of young Conor’s tragic death in a fall from the 53rd story of a New York City skyscraper is devoid of emotion.  Maybe because he was barely a parent to the boy he wasn’t sure how to feel or what to say, but he wrote more passionately about a new guitar, an obscure blues musician, or a smokin’ hot groupie than about losing Conor.

Clapton was a spoiled baby and a total narcissist who wanted what he wanted until he got it; then he didn’t want it anymore- success, women, friends, cars, homes, even his high-profile bands.  His lack of emotion and regard for other humans was sickening to read.  He had a hand in destroying numerous lives and relationships, but, ya know, he feels pretty good about it all now that he’s sober and mature.  Ugh.

Maybe for book club I’ll whip up some hashish brownies or some magic mushrooms and put on Slowhand because I have no idea what we’ll talk about.  I can’t relate with any wasted rock and roll stories of my own.

I can’t remember the last time I hated a book this much.  If you’re a diehard Clapton fan, maybe you’ll be into this.  If not, save your money.


26 Responses

  1. I read this a few years ago and I thought it was poorly written too. He had a fascinating life, yet the book was boring.

  2. It does not sound good at all. But I bet his fans like it regardless of the writing quality.

  3. You’d think if he can write lyrics he could manage to put a little more emotion into his book. Too bad it’s a loser.

  4. I have no desire to read this book. Clapton has always struck me as self-absorbed.

  5. Oh dear. Well, I had his poster on my ceiling in college and have about every piece of music he ever played, so perhaps I am a bit bias. I enjoyed this book. I recognized that the writing was not great, but I really wanted to understand his journey. He made horrible decisions in his life, and pulled alot of people down with him, but I think he was incredibly honest about it all. It couldn’t have been easy. OK, now you can all throw tomatoes at me!

    • No tomatoes from me, LOL. See, you kind of agree with me, that his writing was not great, that he made horrible decisions, and that he pulled a lot of people down with him. Yes he was honest in the telling of it. But it would have been nice to know how he felt about all that. Is he a little remorseful, maybe? Does he have any regrets? It doesn’t seem like it to me. If only there’d been a little introspection or analysis, that would have helped.

      I think I would have preferred to read a biography on him from a real writer rather than an autobiography.

  6. Oh my, this does indeed sound terrible! I have a very strong feeling that I would hate this book, and I am sorry that you had to suffer through it. I don’t particularly like Clapton all that much in the first place, but the way you describe the writing style really would irk me.

  7. dang….and i have this book in my tbr pile!

  8. Lisa, maybe he should stick with his “day job”.

  9. My book club had a similar experience with the autobiography by Sting. I absolutely hated that book and it sounds like I would hate this one too. I’d rather hear Clapton play his guitar!

  10. That was an odd pick for a book club! Although an autobiography by someone who knows how to tell a great story about their drunken glory days, like Peter O’Toole, might lead to plenty of great discussion. I’ve never much cared for Mr. Clapton or, for that matter, his music regardless of how great he is at playing the guitar. This only reinforces my opinion!

  11. i can’t remember if i read this one (or maybe it was the book by his ex-girlfriend patty boyd) but nonetheless, the book didn’t stay with me. i love your review–honest and funny–and wish you luck at your book discussion.

  12. Can’t wait to find out what the club discusses! He was great in concert…

  13. I would have thought this would be pretty good. I mean it holds not interest for me…but still thought there was something I didn’t know. Hummm… thanks for the an honest review though! Have a great week.

  14. I think the thing with autobiographies is that you have to have some kind of liking and interest for the person in the first place. I usually enjoy autobiographies, but like you I’m not interested in Eric Clapton, so I doubt this would be one for me either. Mind you, it sounds like even a Clapton fan might have difficulty enjoying this one anyway!

  15. Each of us has our gifts. Sometimes a person just wants to tell his/her own story.

  16. I read this after reading his ex wife (and George Harrions’s ex) Patty’s book. Hers was much better even though it wasn’t great writing. I thought he came across as totally arrogant and not at all remorseful for anything.

  17. Happy BBAW! I was just reminiscing abt the blogs that inspired me to book blog and I always think of YOU. *SWAK*

  18. I went to a concert with a friend. The introducer said Mr Clapton will start at 8 o’clock sharp please be in your seats. This struck me as odd. He’s their to entertain his paying guests. I occurred to me he was not at all a humble man. Today I searched google with Clapton and narcissist and found this review. It confirmed my suspicions.
    A straight up honest review.

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