5 Lessons Learned From Reading Eric Clapton’s Autobiography

1. Never attempt to introduce a nice old lady to John Lennon.

On page 52, Clapton recounts a rather revealing tale about the first time he met the famously tempermental Beatle.  While en route via subway train to a Yardbirds gig in late 1964, Clapton meets a nice old American lady who strikes up a conversation with him.  “She was lost and asking me for directions,” he wrote. 

During the course of their chat, the unnamed woman asks about his job and where his stop was.  When he mentioned he was going to a gig that would feature The Beatles, the woman excitedly asks if she can go with him to the Hammersmith Odeon where the show was to take place that night.  Clapton is up for it and even offers to introduce her to the members of the band backstage.

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are absolutely lovely to her in their dressing room.  But not John.  According to Clapton, “he made a face of mock boredom and started doing wanking movements inside his coat.”.

Maybe his nickname should’ve been The Jerky Beatle.

2. Never ever try to take a whiz on the White House lawn.

It’s December 1998.  The famed guitarist has been invited to attend a special celebration commemorating the 30th Anniversary of The Special Olympics at the Clinton White House.  Well, actually, “in a tent on the White House lawn.”.  At one point, Clapton was “desperate to pee, but since finding a toilet would have meant going through complicated security and back into the main building, I decided to sneak out and water the lawn.”

Big mistake.  “I opened a flap in the tent and walked out into the darkness and had just undone my fly when I heard ‘Don’t move!’ and there was a SWAT man there, all in black and camouflage, pointing an M-16 at me.”

Clapton never reveals what happened next but I’m thinking he didn’t have to pee anymore.

3. Never introduce your new love interest to Mick Jagger.  He’ll inevitably steal her away from you.

In 1989, Clapton began an affair with Carla Bruni (her last name is curiously not mentioned), the gorgeous Italian model who was only 21 at the time.  (The guitarist was 44.)  They were introduced by a friend of the mother of his son, Conor, which already made the situation awkward.

It was about to get worse.  Clapton was working on the Journeyman album the same time that The Rolling Stones were passing through town on their Steel Wheels tour.  Bruni wanted to meet them. 

Big mistake.  As Clapton recalls, he made a personal plea to Mick Jagger:  “Please, Mick.  Not this one.  I think I’m in love.”.  (The singer tried very hard to snag Clapton’s first wife, Pattie Boyd, but remarkably, did not succeed.)  Unsurprisingly, as the guitarist feared, Jagger and Bruni hit it off.  While Clapton went out on tour, they began their own affair.

Things were never the same after that.  Bruni became more distant with Clapton who ultimately learned from some of her exes and that same friend that introduced them that she “tended to move through men quite quickly, sometimes quite ruthlessly.”. 

Nicolas Sarkozy, you’ve been warned.

4. It’s not impossible to get laid in rehab and get away with it.

During his first attempt to clean up his alcoholism, Clapton found that the Hazelden Centre was a great place to meet women, despite being incredibly risky.  As he recounts on page 203, “I did manage to have a couple of dalliances with girls without being caught.  I achieved this by somehow persuading my counselor that I was entitled to a room of my own, and once I got this, I set about trying to get girls to come and visit me.  I succeeded, but only at risk to other people who knew it was happening.  If they had been found out for not reporting me, we would all have been thrown out.”

Eat your heart out, Dr. Drew.

5. Heroin is the worst drug to be addicted to.

It turns you into a fat, impotent, suicidal insomniac with no desire to connect with the outside world and leaves open the lovely possibility of life-threatening ulcers and grand mal seizures.  Clapton had five of the former and two of the latter, yet lived to tell the tale.

Top that, Keith Richards.

(Special thanks to Dave Scacchi.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, October 15, 2010
6:55 p.m.

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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