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4.1 out of 5 stars
Eric Clapton: The Autobiography
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2007
I have been listening to Cream - the live and long improvisations nearly every day for the better part of 40 years, saw them in 2005 at RAH and think Clapton is the best guitarist I have ever enjoyed listening to by a distance. I couldnt wait to read this. Alas, it was disappointing - both the book and, I am afraid, the man.
The characterisation of people in his life was very thin - he rarely describes in any detail the personalities of the people who have been or are important to him, says very little about his guitar playing genius - a huge omission in my view - how can someone be so brilliant at something and not discuss how he developed that talent to all us musically talentless people who have worshipped his playing for years?
On the man, all the drug and alcohol stuff - which granted is very frank - is reasonably interesting although hardly what distinguishes him from everyone else but reveals a seemingly rather weak and generally bemused personality who is incapable of confronting anything. Sadly, also, he never acknowledges his huge army of fans whose lives he has musically enriched so much and who have been so supportive for so many years. Niether does he ever discuss the huge wealth that his success has generated. This lot tends to leave the impression of a man who really has never lived in or experienced the real world. Perhaps he really is the reluctant flawed genius but you cannot have it all ways.
I will continue to enjoy his brilliance every day and despite the disappointment of this book, he would still be my top dinner companion - there is so much more he could have given us in this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I read Pattie Boyds book first and was keen to see things from Eric's perspective but was not really any wiser about his experience of their relationship after reading this. Eric comes across as a real music bore I am afraid. The technical details of the guitars and the music he made dominate the book and I could hear this nerdy voice in my head from time to time ! I found the South Bank Show that was on a few months ago more revealing, I guess you can hold alot more back when you are putting stuff in print. Even the accounts of his early years do not seem to get to the core of the man. Altogether disappointing, but I have to admire him for his restraint
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2010
I didn't know any details about Eric Clapton's private life, other than the most famous ones, but, as always happens, to hear everything by the man's very voice, tastes totally different.
Actually, reading this book, I haven't changed my opinion about Clapton from good to better and, to be totally honest, I have found it really boring at certain times, probably because the author's final aim isn't the readers' amusement (and this can be understood), it rather is to tell his sensations through a long career with really good and really bad times. So, while I found Clapton's experience of getting sober a honest and probably helpful story to people with the same problems, I also suffered reading about his personal family situation nowadays... really, no need to tell us everything about his latest happy family: it was fair enough to tell he was happy and save us a heavy final part of this book that doesn't add a thing to the musician's autobiography.
Sometimes also, is very easy to feel Clapton's detachment from our mortal beings' world: how he's happy with his Ferraris collection, his new mega-yacht and the countless houses owned here, there and everywhere really is not relevant to other people, fans included.
This is a personal opinion, but I'm much more pleased to read other rockstars' biographies, as this one really contains lots of useless pages.
That said, now I'm sure I don't envy Mr. Clapton at all.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
Large parts of this book are already well known to anyone who is a fan, or even just reads the newspapers regularly. I was hoping for more of the kind of things that the papers don't talk about, like the music perhaps & how it was written & made etc. Whilst technical info may have been boring to a non musician it would have been a great read for those that are interested. And, it would have certainly been no more boring than the parts that were included such as Eric's love of fashion clothes,cars,bird shooting,designer watches,& houses etc. The wealthy entertaining types often have their indulgences but that is not (usually) how/why they became wealthy.
Don't get me wrong, I did find the read enjoyable but I expected more.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2008
It is an honest book, no doubt about it. But I can't help to think that Clapton's brain must look like a gruyere cheese, which explains all the holes in the story, and why page after page we are remainded about how much he used to drink or snort..

I felt dissapointed about the stories, as he seems to have completely forgotten the details of remarkable events in his career, e.g. the Rainbow Concert; the 1974 tour; the encores with Santana, Joe Cocker and Keith Moon in the 75 Tour; his role in the Stones' TOTA 75; the Last Waltz concert with The Band (76); playing with Freddie King; the success of Slowhand; the 1979-1980 tours in Japan; touring with Roger Waters; etc, etc.

My sad reading of this lack of info is that he vaguely remembers events and faces as he spent most of the 70s, 80s and early 90s completely drunk or stoned. So it seems to me that the comments he makes from that time are merely "stolen" from other books or simply by commenting on snapshots that appear on the cover of his albums.

Other readers have mentioned the lack of comments about his technique and his music and I adhere to those.

But I don't want to be harsh as he has a gift and have made happy millions around the world, something that not too many can put on their cv. In any case, the two stars are for his book, not for his contribution to music, which clearly exceeds any limited scope a rating can provide.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2012
Fascinating candid account by the man himself. Too many autobiographies tell how wonderful the writer is (Yes, I'm talking about you Keith Richards). Not this one. Eric is not afraid to talk about his heroin and alcohol addictions, and the, quite frankly, dreadful way he treated others, especially women. Parts of this book, such as the time spent in rehab and the death of his son Connor, are truly distressing but are necessary to explain the person. Ultimately however he overcomes his problems to become a much more generous and caring person.

If you're a guitarist (as I am) you won't learn a great deal about his music and technique (there are plenty of other books that cover that ground). What you get is about the man rather than the music and though that is a whole different journey, it is still a very worthwhile and rewarding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2012
Yes, my eyebrows did indeed get a good workout as I read this book. Why? Well, there are many contentious statements, and other statements that are quite startling to read.
I'll deal with the latter type first: it was quite shocking to read that Clapton's Uncle Adrian was so enamoured of vinegar that he would dowse every dish he ate with it - I quote, "including custard". Reading on, we discover that Uncle Adrian was so determined to enjoy this personal treat, from which he was banned by his mother, that he devised a vinegar dispenser which was a Fairy Liquid bottle full of vinegar (of course) that he operated from up his shirt sleeve! What is it they say about necessity?

Now on to the areas of contention. They are as follows:
1) Stevie Ray Vaughan was not a left-handed guitarist as any photograph or film footage will prove.
2) John McVie was not a 'founder member' of Fleetwood Mac - Bob Brunning was the original bassist, even though his time wasn't long as you might say.
3) Eric did leave his Marshall amp behind in Greece when he fled from the potentially violent gentlemen who wanted him to stay following The Glands episode, but it was news to me that he left his Gibson guitar behind. As a good friend of mine says, I have read about this so many times that it's like I was there, and Eric has never mentioned losing a guitar...
4) Eric describes his life with Alice Ormsby-Gore as 'borderline squalid', with rotting furniture and curtains and dog 'mess' (inverted commas mine) everywhere, because the couple were too damn stoned to walk the dogs or even open the door to let them out. No, Eric, that would be just squalid.

Eyebrow exercise notwithstanding it is harrowing to see the photo of Conor Clapton and to read of his tragic death and I applaud Clapton for finding the strength to carry on after that dreadful time.
And I applaud his achievements in music. This book sent me back to my music collection to find and play the best of his Cream and Derek & the Dominoes material and my favourites from the Pilgrim and From The Cradle CDs. I have never stopped listening to his Bluesbreaker's period, a highlight of my life both 'live' and on record. Which brings me to my last eyebrow-raiser: why is there no mention, not even in passing, of the extraordinary, classic (and yet poor-selling) single that he recorded with The Bluesbreakers for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label before the Decca 'Beano' album: 'I'm Your Witchdoctor/Telephone Blues? What a record that is, absolutely stunning, to this day.
Amongst his other achievements are his good works for charity in the shape of the ongoing and excellent Crossroads Guitar Festival, his long (since the early 1960s) promotion of the work of Robert Johnson, and his role as a family man, which seems to be something he particularly cherishes - and why not?

In conclusion, I certainly agree with some of my fellow 'three-star reviewers' and therefore I cannot give this book more than three stars - but I enjoyed some of it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2009
I'm not going to write a long and in depth review - too much has already been written here for me to be able to add much to it. I will say, however, that Eric clearly has his own agenda. Although he self-flagellates effectively, we only get half the story. What about Eric and Jimi? The afro-perm, the clothes, the guitar, the solo on 'Hey Now Princess' and the rejection of Gibson in favour of Fender (don't forget that early on Eric tells he buys guitars because of who plays them).

And there are inconsistencies. Eric tells us that on the night Jimi died he took his present for him (a left-handed Strat) to a gig he thought he would be at, but Jimi never showed. In the 'Cream Story' DVD he clearly says that he and Jimi were in separate boxes at that gig, but that he never got to meet up with him.

And, for me, the most glaring issue of all is his reference to The Fool and their paint job on his guitar. What is it Eric writes? Oh yes, I gave them a 'Gibson Les Paul'.... While I am well aware that the SG was originally designed as a 'new' Les Paul, the one that Eric owned and that he had painted the The Fool was a Gibson SG. And nobody refers to any SG as a Les Paul, especially not a man who made some of his defining recordings using one. So what is Eric trying to tell us? Take it all with a pinch of salt? Only he knows, but it's a shocker.

This book promises much, and the opening chapter is genuinely engaging, but it soon becomes an exercise in self-castigation and a plea for universal forgiveness in the face of his new life with his new family. Interesting and ultimately disappointing at the same time. It doesn't seem to have occurred to Eric that he wasn't the only guilty party in most cases. Alice had a choice, all those girls who waited for him to tour the provinces, even Pattie. He's not the worst villain the world's ever seen. And for six years or so he was the world's greatest guitarist.

Good thing I didn't go for the long review!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2012
I very much enjoyed this book. It was refreshing to read Eric Clapton's assessment of himself, and throughout you get the impression that he is a little embarrassed to tell us some of the things he does, written as it is from the perspective an older, sober and settled man, happy with his life. But he doesn't pretend that he is misunderstood or that others are to be blamed for his excesses - he takes it on the chin. There is no attempt to gloss over the bad bits, and the story tells us that what a person becomes depends on the whole of life, warts and all. It is something that age teaches most of us. The book is very moving in part: the passages leading up to his full realisation that he needed help and those concerning the death of his son stand out in particular. Eric seems to have been a true Journeyman, bringing his passion for the little known dimensions of blues music into the mainstream. His hero Robert Johnson would be well pleased with this story. It could be a blues song. An honest and open life-assessment, and in case Eric reads this - thanks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2009
First and foremost this audiobook is not read by the man himself,but fear not Bill Nighy does a fabulous job clearly on a subject he enjoys (I'm sure we're all familiar with Bill's love of blues and it's related music).
Because he's such a fine actor and reader this set of Cd's really works so well.I personally love audiobooks in the car on those journeys to and from the office where your just sat in heavy traffic.I've played through this one a few times now,and yes I'm a huge EC fan,and sure there's things not here we maybe would like to have seen.In one book you can't get everything in,and he's certainly honest about his failures (drink and drugs) as well as his career which is wide ranging as he's played with the very best for a few decades now,he's even honest of the way he's treated people at times.Above all else is the personal story of a brilliant musician,songwriter and singer,but it wasn't always that way,and reading or hearing this book I'm sure we all get to know and understand Eric just that little bit better.Well worth getting hold of.
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