With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
From the book
Early in my childhood, when I was about six or seven, I began to get the feeling that there was something different about me. Maybe it was the way people talked about me as if I weren't in the room. My family lived at 1, the Green, a tiny house in Ripley, Surrey, which opened directly onto the village Green. It was part of what had once been almshouses and was divided into four rooms; two poky bedrooms upstairs, and a small front room and kitchen downstairs. The toilet was outside, in a corrugated iron shed at the bottom of the garden, and we had no bathtub, just a big zinc basin that hung on the back door. I don't remember ever using it.
Twice a week my mum used to fill a smaller tin tub with water and sponge me down, and on Sunday afternoons I used to go and have a bath at my Auntie Audrey's, my dad's sister, who lived in the new flats on the main road. I lived with Mum and Dad, who slept in the main bedroom overlooking the Green, and my brother, Adrian, who had a room at the back. I slept on a camp bed, sometimes with my parents, sometimes downstairs, depending on who was staying at the time. The house had no electricity, and the gas lamps made a constant hissing sound. It amazes me now to think that whole families lived in these little houses.
My mum had six sisters: Nell, Elsie, Renie, Flossie, Cath, and Phyllis, and two brothers, Joe and Jack. On a Sunday it wasn't unusual for two or three of these families to show up, and they would pass the gossip and get up--to--date with what was happening with us and with them. In the smallness of this house, conversations were always being carried on in front of me as if I didn't exist, with whispers exchanged between the sisters. It was a house full of secrets. But bit by bit, by carefully listening to these exchanges, I slowly began to put together a picture of what was going on and to understand that the secrets were usually to do with me. One day I heard one of my aunties ask, "Have you heard from his mum?" and the truth dawned on me, that when Uncle Adrian jokingly called me a little bastard, he was telling the truth.
The full impact of this realization upon me was traumatic, because at the time I was born, in March 1945--in spite of the fact that it had become so common because of the large number of overseas soldiers and airmen passing through England--an enormous stigma was still attached to illegitimacy. Though this was true across the class divide, it was particularly so among working--class families such as ours, who, living in a small village community, knew little of the luxury of privacy. Because of this, I became intensely confused about my position, and alongside my deep feelings of love for my family there existed a suspicion that in a tiny place like Ripley, I might be an embarrassment to them that they always had to explain.
The truth I eventually discovered was that Mum and Dad, Rose and Jack Clapp, were in fact my grandparents, Adrian was my uncle, and Rose's daughter, Patricia, from an earlier marriage, was my real mother and had given me the name Clapton. In the mid--1920s, Rose Mitchell, as she was then, had met and fallen in love with Reginald Cecil Clapton, known as Rex, the dashing and handsome, Oxford--educated son of an Indian army officer. They had married in February 1927, much against the wishes of his parents, who considered that Rex was marrying beneath him. The wedding took place a few weeks after Rose had given birth to their first child, my uncle Adrian. They set up home in Woking, but sadly, it was a short--lived marriage, as Rex died of consumption in 1932, three years after the birth of their second child, Patricia.
"Like the bluesmen who inspired him, Clapton has his share of scars . . . his compelling memoir is . . . a soulful performance." - People
"An absorbing tale of artistry, decadence, and redemption." - Los Angeles Times
"One of the very best rock autobiographies ever." - Houston Chronicle
"A glorious rock history." - New York Post
"This book does what many rock historians couldn't: It debunks the legend . . . puts a lie to the glamour of what it means to be a rock star." - Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
"Strong stuff. Clapton reveals its author's journey to self-acceptance and manhood. Anyone who cares about the man and his music will want to take the trip with him." - Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone
"Clapton is honest . . . even searing and often witty, with a hard-won survivor's humor . . . an honorable badge of a book." - Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
"An even, unblinking sensibility defines the author's voice." - New York Times
"An unsparing self-portrait." - USA Today