CROSSROADS by Michael Schumacher


The Life and Music of Eric Clapton
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 An evenhanded biography that humanizes the guitar hero once dubbed ``God'' by his adoring fans. Schumacher (Dharma Lion: The Biography of Allen Ginsberg, 1993) methodically dissects Clapton's life and persona, beginning with the musician's childhood in the rural English village of Ripley, where he was born out of wedlock in 1945 and raised by his 16-year-old mother's parents. We follow Clapton's metamorphosis from an introverted teenager captivated by blues and rock-and-roll into the most heralded young guitarist on London's fertile music scene of the early 1960s, when he worked briefly in such historically important bands as the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Schumacher effectively captures the yin-yang aspects of Clapton's personality, revealing a complicated, troubled individual who began acting like a petulant rock star early in his career. After leaving Mayall's group, Clapton went on to found the influential trio Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, and Schumacher provides some juicy dirt on that volatile three-way alliance. Also covered is Clapton's relationship with Pattie Boyd, wife of Beatle George Harrison when she served as the inspiration for ``Layla,'' one of Clapton's best songs. (She later married Clapton, but it didn't last.) The book bogs down when covering in excessive detail the string of mediocre albums Clapton recorded during the '70s--a time when he had traded in a debilitating heroin addiction for a near-fatal dependence on alcohol--but picks up steam as it moves toward the present. The story ends on a bittersweet note: After the tragic accidental death of Clapton's young son, Conor, in 1991, the musician's career blossomed anew, largely due to the success of ``Tears in Heaven,'' a song commemorating Conor's demise. Clapton recently returned to playing his first love, the blues, bringing his saga full circle. Meatier than the average fan bio. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 28th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7868-6074-X
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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