Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars
A look at the life and work of guitarist Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.A look at the life and work of guitarist Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.A look at the life and work of guitarist Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.
This documentary gives us an excellent background to the man behind the music and deals honestly with his life and his career. I was very surprised there was no mention of his work with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Delaney greatly influenced his musical direction, connected him to Duane Allman and Leon Russell, and encouraged him to write and sing more- all while providing an escape from a psychological and professional rut he desperately needed escape from.
The problem I have with this documentary is that it tries to make us feel sympathy for Clapton, but why? He was brought up by his Grandparents in a loving home. His mother left for Canada soon after his birth. He met her twice, and didn't really know her. That's about it, but sadly, this documentary is presented in a way that its uses this as an excuse for all his poor choices and irresponsible behavior in his life. Truth is, he has never taken full responsibility for his own actions except by way of past reflection and for me- that's not enough.
This documentary was filled with too many- "I really should have apologized" or "I really wished I hadn't done that" -- for my liking. It showed us how fame, fortune and self centered behavior can bring out the monster in some people and yet leave them still looking for sympathy. His apologies strike me as disingenuous, self serving, and selfish. If he felt this documentary is an act of redemption, i truly pity him.
Clapton left his original band- the Yardbirds- without notice. He later abandoned the band "Blind Faith" much like the Yardbirds- again, without notice. He influenced Delaney and Bonnie's band members to leave them and form the "Dominos", and eventually stole a married women away from his best friend- only to abuse her later, (resulting from his battles with Alcohol). His poor judgement led to an accident in which his 5 year old son died- having fallen out of a window - evidently unsupervised by his girlfriend who he knew was mentally unstable at the time- and although he had periods later in life of showing good will towards others with benefit concerts (something almost every artist does in their careers), even his diehard fans were not spared. I was at that concert in Pittsburgh in 1986, and the movie depicts just a glimpse of what happened. It was ugly. Destroyed relationships seems to be an ongoing theme here and in some cases, one has to wonder if there was ever a relationship at all.
This movie also gives Clapton credit which was undeserved. They pointed out that he "opened the door" for all the Blues musicians, making it easier for them to get exposure to the general public- but was this a wonderful gesture on his part- or simply the byproduct of playing their music? Big difference. One can actually say without THEIR inspiration- he never would have picked up a guitar in the first place.
What really bothered me though was his failure to give credit to those who loved him and even saved him from further self destruction. Pete Townsend dragged him out of bed during his drug addiction and got him back onstage to help save not only his career but his life. Procol Harum's Gary Brooker did the same by helping him kick his alcoholism by sharing his passion for fishing. Patty Boyd? Many people helped him thru his down times, but were NEVER mentioned or given credit for any of their support along the way. For a documentary of such length, there was surely enough time.
Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of Clapton but after seeing this I'm not so sure anymore. I still admire his music, but there's a big difference between living the blues and playing it. Clapton's Blues were the results of his own selfish actions- unlike the Blues masters, who were TRULY dealt a bad hand in life and had to express their hardships thru their music. Many today still live in poverty- not in multi million dollar mansions.
- Mar 1, 2018