I'm just finishing Eric Clapton's autobiography. It was rather unusual for me to get caught up in it since I haven't really followed pop music for quite some time (although I do enjoy youtube videos of certain performers from my youth). But he was a childhood hero of mine and I was curious....
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The stories of "Clapton is God" being written as graffiti all over London, even before he was in the band "Cream", are well-known. But the more (literally) sobering story of his finding the other God, is really quite compelling.
The amount of drug and alcohol abuse in his life was truly unbelievable. He writes about being drunk 24 hours a day, in addition to doing copious amounts of coke, heroin, etc (often at the same time) nonstop, for about 3 decades. He once played an entire concert in a stadium lying on the floor next to the microphone (and no one complained. He said the audience was probably as drunk as he).
Clapton even attempted suicide at least once. The only reason he gives for not trying on a number of other occassions was simply because he wouldn't be able to drink if he were dead! Now THAT's addiction...
Anyway, the book (not surprisingly) turns out to be quite "spiritual", because towards the end of his 2nd rehab stay, when he is about to leave knowing he is still fully addicted, and that his life is a complete mess, the miraculous occurs:
"I was absolutely terrified, in complete despair. At that moment, almost of their own accord, my legs gave way, and I fell to my knees. In the privacy of my room I begged for help. I had no notion of who I was taking to, I just knew I had come to the end of my tether, I had nothing left to fight with. Then I remembered what I had heard about surrender, something I thought I could never do, my pride just wouldn't allow it, but I knew that on my own I just wasn't going to make it, so I asked for help, getting down on my knees, I surrendered...
Within a few days I realized something had happened to me. An atheist would probably say that it was just a change in attitude, and to a certain extent that's true, but there was much more to it than that. I had found a place to turn to, a place that I always knew was there, but that I never wanted, or needed, to believe in.
From that day until this (over 20 years), I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express my gratitude for my life, and, most of all, for my sobriety...
In all this time since I've been sober, I have never once seriously thought of taking a drink or a drug."
It really is an extraordinary book. Eric is amazingly candid and very hard on himself, while being extremely self-aware (due at least in part to decades of therapy), and with an astounding memory for almost everything that's ever happened to him.
He's one smart, talented, survivor. And I'm sure now is an inspiration to millions of others who have struggled with their own various demons...
For a surprisngly good interview on Larry King (transcript only- video no longer available, click here
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