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article imageClapton bio: Human being, in A major

By Paul Wallis     Oct 1, 2007 in Entertainment
Eric Clapton is one of the few guitar heroes who deserves his rep and does more than photo shoots with his guitar. He’s also lived an extraordinary life which fiction would probably never get published. It’s a bit complex.
Canadians will be interested to hear that he is in fact part Canadian. He’s a blues addict, and it certainly sounds like a soundtrack to his life in some ways. He started life in a strange enough situation. To quote from this maddeningly brief Sydney Morning Herald article:
Clapton was raised by his grandparents "in a house full of secrets", believing his mother, who gave birth to him at 16, was his sister. The book deals with his difficult acceptance of his parentage and how this affected his relationships with women.”
The book includes some rock folk lore about his affair with Patti Boyd, at one point Mrs. George Harrison, which is apparently news to SMH. Maybe it’s the only way they know how to sell rock bios.
It’s rather strange to see Clapton as part of a celebrity bio scene. He was the original blues purist.
To save time: He started with the seminal 60s band the Yardbirds, became a sort-of pop star for a few seconds, then decided he didn’t like the non-blues stuff. (He was replaced by Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page). He then joined English blues monument John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
He left and formed Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Arguably the greatest of the acid era bands, certainly the most articulate. For those who think the 60s were some sort of hairdressers’ strike with music and trivia, Cream might be a useful music lesson. It was during the Cream era that people started writing “Clapton is God” on walls. For a blues freak he fit it all in to one of the least definable rock bands ever.
Then came Blind Faith, followed by Derek and the Dominoes. His signature tune, “Layla”, came from the Dominoes era, and a few irritations from Blind Faith, the first “supergroup” which split after one album and a lot of ego clashes. He’s been solo since, and his love affair with the blues continues, with a recent album dedicated to Robert Johnson, delta blues master and wild man.
As a musician Clapton has his ups and downs, and can find himself overshadowed by his own old stuff. To do the guy justice you need to see a pretty wide selection of his work. Given the brevity of the SMH article I looked up some extra material.
The Unofficial website, Where’s Eric has a lot of stuff, including downloads.
This is the official online bio, much more informative, far less cutesy and much more gritty, with no “celeb” crap.
Just goes to show, however famous you are, modern history gets the jingle version.
Clapton has had some pretty horrific times in his life, and I have to say I think the star-marketing treatment is a bit of an insult. It’s a bit like Mozart being famous for his clothes. The guy’s always been about music, and he’s one of the few unanimously accepted guitar greats.
The book is the human being, the music is the rest of the story. If you haven't heard the music, you wouldn't understand the book.
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