I should point out before I begin that I am not EC’s biggest fan – I have never forgiven him for 461 Ocean Bvd.
Having got that off my chest I must say that I enjoyed this book. It is well written with lots of insights and honesty (as far as anyone can tell). He acknowledges his arrogance and failings though he becomes a bit self serving towards the end of his book. All in all, however, it comes across as an honest account of his life.
The account of his upbringing seems so removed from the experience of today’s youth, it is even removed from those of us born just 10 years later than him. The privations of the post war years, the birth of skiffle, the part played by the old jazzers in introducing the Blues to these shores are covered. That EC became fixated with the blues resonated with me. I remember the effect of listening to Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf etc. for the first time and understand what that would mean to a socially inadequate, but talented youngster.
The lost years, fogged by various addictions, are covered openly. EC makes no excuses. The one question that I have is how much of the past can he really remember, but then I asked myself that when ready Life by Keith Richard.
Worth buying? I would say yes. You will not get a track by track explanation of the albums as you sometimes find in other biographies. What you do get is a worthy attempt to put his life into context. Motives and feelings are the name of the game here. It is an exceptional book because it is so personal. The flaws and mistakes are addressed (though I would have liked a bit more about the Birmingham racist comments). This is a man who was known to be a bastard to his family and friends, a man who dodged his responsibilities for years, a man who took the easy way out and relied on others.
EC started as an exceptional talent who could not live up to other peoples’ expectations. He became a jobbing guitarist, going through the motions. He both believed his own hype and hated the attention that it brought to him. That he survived is a testament to his resilience, that he survived and reclaimed happiness and the ability to play sublime music is a testament to his strength.
I still have not forgiven for 461 but I understand better, I just wish that I had not bought it. This book should be on your Christmas list, you will not be disappointed.