ERIC CLAPTON: A Biography by John Pidgeon


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More a musicography with biographical underpinnings than a biography proper, this nonetheless perceptive study of the artistic evolution of rock's top guitarist updates the 1976 English edition. Pidgeon shows little interest in the nonmusical aspects of his subject's life. His study begins with Clapton already 18 years old; in place of a rundown of the guitarist's childhood, Pidgeon substitutes a quick and thorough history of English rhythm and blues. With this particular musician, however, such an approach seems justified: quiet, unassuming Clapton--at least as presented by Pidgeon--exists only for, and in, his music (except for his well-publicized bout with drugs in the early 70's, which Pidgeon gives short shrift, finding it neither particularly significant nor interesting}. So what unveils here is really the story of British rhythm and blues, 1963 to 1975, with Clapton as prototype; the early black influence, especially of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddly; the breakout of r&b into the big time, spearheaded by Clapton's guitar work with the Yardbirds and then with John Mayall's Blues-breakers; the advent of the ""supergroup"" in Cream, and then Blind Faith; the troubled search for new forms in the 70's, with Clapton turning to drugs and shuffling around like a musical hobo from group to group. Finally, in this edition's new material, Pidgeon traces Clapton's work since 1975, seeing in the release of several failed albums a continual penchant for experimentation which, although aesthetically courageous, as often as not has resulted in substandard, inaccessible material. A complete discography is appended. R&b devotees will read this work with pleasure and an appreciation for Pidgeon's highbrow approach; those more attuned to fanzine-style rock bios will do better to lay out their cash for Clapton's next album.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Century Hutchinson-dist. by David & Charles