Rhino Reading Room: Eric Clapton and Jan Berry
It’s time to return to the Rhino Reading Room to remind you of a pair artists from the Rhino catalog who are celebrating birthdays this week and have either written memoirs or have had biographies written about them. You don’t necessarily have to be a big fan of both artists to keep reading, but if you enjoy getting immersed in the life stories of musicians, then you might just want to read about both of them!
Eric Clapton, Clapton
“With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys. Born illegitimate in 1945 and raised by his grandparents, Eric never knew his father and, until the age of nine, believed his actual mother to be his sister. In his early teens his solace was the guitar, and his incredible talent would make him a cult hero in the clubs of Britain and inspire devoted fans to scrawl ‘Clapton is God’ on the walls of London’s Underground. With the formation of Cream, the world's first supergroup, he became a worldwide superstar, but conflicting personalities tore the band apart within two years. His stints in Blind Faith, in Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and in Derek and the Dominos were also short-lived but yielded some of the most enduring songs in history, including the classic ‘Layla.’ During the late sixties he played as a guest with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, as well as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and longtime friend George Harrison. It was while working with the latter that he fell for George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, a seemingly unrequited love that led him to the depths of despair, self-imposed seclusion, and drug addiction.
“By the early seventies he had overcome his addiction and released the bestselling album 461 Ocean Boulevard, with its massive hit ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ He followed that with the platinum album Slowhand, which included ‘Wonderful Tonight,’ the touching love song to Pattie, whom he finally married at the end of 1979. A short time later, however, Eric had replaced heroin with alcohol as his preferred vice, following a pattern of behavior that not only was detrimental to his music but contributed to the eventual breakup of his marriage. In the eighties he would battle and begin his recovery from alcoholism and become a father. But just as his life was coming together, he was struck by a terrible blow: His beloved four-year-old son, Conor, died in a freak accident. At an earlier time Eric might have coped with this tragedy by fleeing into a world of addiction. But now a much stronger man, he took refuge in music, responding with the achingly beautiful ‘Tears in Heaven. Clapton is the powerfully written story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time.”
Jan Berry – Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story, by Dean Torrence
“The Jan and Dean Story is a personal story of the iconic musician and entrepreneur Dean Torrence. As a memoir The Jan and Dean Story has elements of humor, tragedy and redemption. It tells their story from the early high school friendship struck up between Jan Berry and Dean Torrence and their ascent to the dizzying heights of stardom riding the crest of the “surf” craze. The Jan and Dean Story is as much about the culture of the 1960s as it is about music. Dean has lived an incredible life and continues to promote a lifestyle and surf culture that is now universally admired and followed throughout the world. The story also recounts Jan’s tragic car accident and his ability to recover enough to continue to perform will be inspiring to many readers even those not familiar with surf music. For pop culture addicts and music buffs alike this book is indispensable. As early teen icons, Jan and Dean left an indelible mark on the music of the 60’s and the American psyche.”