Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Oct 8th 2007 12:30PM by Beville Darden
For the first time, Clapton is retracing the steps of both his personal and professional life, including his struggles with drug addiction and romance, in his poignant new book, 'Clapton: The Autobiography.' In this exclusive book excerpt, Clapton details the downfall of Cream, his dangerous drug habits and how his friendship with Beatles guitarist George Harrison was almost ruined.
When we returned to England in the summer of 1968, commercially speaking we were in very good shape.We could have sold out concert halls wherever we went twice over. 'Disraeli Gears' was a bestselling album in the States, and we had a hit single there with 'Sunshine of Your Love.' As far as I was concerned, all this counted for nothing because we had lost our direction. Musically, I was fed up with the virtuoso thing. Our gigs had become nothing more than an excuse for us to show off as individuals, and any sense of unity we might have had when we started seemed to have gone out the window.
We were also suffering from an inability to get along. We would just run away from one another. We never socialized together and never really shared ideas anymore. We just got together onstage and played and then went our separate ways. In the end this was the undoing of the music. I think if we had been able to listen to each other, and care for one another more, then Cream might have had a chance for further life, but at that point it was beyond our grasp as individuals. We were immature and incapable of putting aside our differences. Maybe, too, a little rest now and then might have helped.
Our decision to go our separate ways may have upset Robert Stigwood, but it was certainly no surprise to him. He'd been the recipient of too many increasingly desperate phone calls from for that. He had told us from the very beginning that he had all our interests at heart, but as time went by I came to believe that it was me he was starting to pin his hopes on. In the meantime we struck a deal agreeing to do two more albums, one of which we had partially recorded before leaving the States, a farewell tour of America in the autumn, and two last shows in London on our return.
Life soon settled into the old routine, with people dropping in for tea and musical soirées. A regular visitor was George Harrison, whom I had known since I was in the Yardbirds. Not being the kind of guy, in those days, to instigate a friendship, I had just considered him a fellow musician. He used to drop by on the way home from his office in Savile Row to his bungalow in Esher, often bringing with him acetates of records the Beatles were working on.
Sometimes I would go down to George's house in
My reading of the situation was that Paul and John were quite disparaging about both George's and Ringo's contributions to the group. George would put songs forward on every project only to find them pushed into the background. I think he felt our friendship would give him some support, and that having me there to play might stabilize his position and even earn him some respect. I was a little nervous because John and Paul were pretty fast on their feet, and I was an outsider, but it went well. The song was 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' We did just one take, and I thought it sounded fantastic. John and Paul were fairly noncommittal, but I knew George was happy because he listened to it over and over again in the control room, and after adding some effects and doing a rough mix, the other guys played some of the other songs they had already recorded.I felt like I had been brought into their inner sanctum.
A couple of weeks later George dropped by the Pheasantry and left me acetates of the double album on which the song was going to appear. This was 'The White Album,' the long-awaited successor to 'Sgt. Pepper.' When I left the following month to go to on Cream's farewell tour, I took these with me. While I was in L.A., I had been playing some of the songs on the album to various friends when I got a phone call from George. Word had got back to him that I was playing the album around town, and he was furious and gave me a huge bollocking. I remember being incredibly hurt because I thought I'd been doing a grand job of promoting their music to really discriminating people. It brought me down to earth with a bang, and it was a good lesson to learn about boundaries, and not making assumptions, but it stung like hell. For a little while I steered clear of him, but in time we became friends again, although after that, I was always a little wary of letting my guard down around him.
Excerpted from 'Clapton' by Eric Clapton Copyright © 2007 by E.C. Music Limited. Reprinted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Doubleday Braodway Publishing Group of Random House, Inc.
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