Sunday, June 06, 2004

the problem with biographical tomes

After having finished reading both Ray Coleman's official biography (Clapton!) and Michael Schumacher's journalistic exploration of Clapton's life and music (Crossroads, the 1996 edition), it's interesting to note that the little nuggets of informtion that have delighted F&M triviamongers are the ones most in shadow -- the origin of his nickname "Slowhand" being a good example. Both books, however, make for interesting reading, although the Schumacher book wins for covering more detail on the albums. Clapton has always thought of himself as a bluesman, and like some of the legendary bluesmen, he has had his share of personal tragedies (the destruction of his marriage to Patty, the loss of his son Conor) and downfalls (the years of drug addiction followed by the years as an alcoholic). What shines through is an unflinching dedication to his music, his willingness to explore different kinds of music and melding them with his vision, and the simply breathtaking expanse of his collaborations with the cream (no pun intended) of his time -- Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, the Beatles, Sting, every group he was part of (the Yardbirds, the BluesBreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos). And the man refuses to stop (his collaboration with B B King being a very good example). A good shot in the arm for my desire to procure all his albums.

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