The bestselling biographer of iconic musicians from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones turns his spotlight on the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's only three-time inductee, reporting on his distinctive and scandalous childhood, coming of age in the 1960s British rock scene, his struggle with addiction, and his later years of quieter pursuits.
It has taken a biographer as perceptive and clear-sighted as Philip Norman to do Clapton justice, revealing him to be a complex, troubled man whose drive to be the best guitarist of all time—and to sleep with as many women as possible—came from a deep-rooted insecurity and sense of abandonment ... Norman, who has written biographies of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, has captured Clapton’s contradictions in style ... Despite everything, you end up liking Clapton, and feeling as if you know and understand him. It is proof that Norman’s biography has done its work.
It’s a comprehensive and often illuminating account of the life and career of a musician who has had an outsize influence on generations of guitarists ... Norman takes readers on a whirlwind tour of Clapton’s long career ... Norman’s analysis of Clapton’s music, while often insightful, sometimes veers into unfiltered adulation ... Exhaustive as it is, Slowhand might have delved more deeply into why Clapton’s music has resonated so strongly with the public for so long, and how other rock and blues guitarists now view the playing of the man frequently called one of the greatest six-string slingers of all time.
These were rock’n’roll’s Bullingdon years, and there are times in this account when the reader feels that the examples of debauchery are being held up for inspection between the thumb and forefinger of a white-gloved hand. No such close examination is applied to the music, which is described in the most cursory terms, sometimes inaccurately (there is nothing 'atonal' about Cream’s 'As You Said'), and with little attempt to place it in a wider context. This is a pity, since the true value of Clapton’s music remains a subject worthy of debate, but there is a sense that the author can’t wait to get back to the themes that enable him to end a chapter with a sentence such as: 'Pattie could hold out no longer.'