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Author: Subject: Clapton Autobiography Excerpt

Peach Master





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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 09:35 PM
Tears in heaven - London Times - 7 Oct 2007
Struggling to rebuild his life after decades of addiction, Eric Clapton lost his son Conor in a horrifying freak accident. Here for the first time the rock star tells the full story.
We were introduced while I was touring Italy in 1985. Lori had a powerful personality, very confident and flirtatious, and I was flattered by her interest in me. The energy between us was very strong, and had a quality that only exists when you meet someone for the first time. It was also very playful, something that had disappeared from my relationship with Pattie, my wife.

When the tour ended and I went back home to Pattie in England, we made a further half-hearted attempt to rekindle our marriage; but I had barely been home more than a few days when I suddenly told her I was leaving.

I was like a candle in the wind, being blown all over the place, with no concern for other people’s feelings or for the consequences of my actions. In my mind I had persuaded myself that, since I had just turned 40, I was going through a midlife crisis, and that was the explanation for everything.

I turned up on Lori’s doorstep in Milan, right out of the blue, and told her I’d left Pattie and I was coming to live with her. She didn’t bat an eyelid. Her attitude was one of, “Come and live here and we’ll see where it takes us”.

Lori was the second daughter of a poor Catholic family. When her father had died young, her mother worked all hours to make ends meet. As soon as she left school, Lori had made the decision that she would never be poor again. She had gone to Rome, by the age of 20 had got parts in various films and sitcoms, and had become the girlfriend of the international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. By the time I met her, seven years later, she was famous throughout Italy as the star of a popular weekly TV show.

To begin with we lived in Milan for a while, where Lori was starting a new career as a fashion photographer. For a while I became her model, and spent quite a lot of time doing shoots with her.

We began to discuss the possibility of having children together. I told her I had always wanted children, but that Pattie and I had been unable to conceive. I suggested to Lori that the two of us would make the most perfect babies. Looking back, it seems like adolescent nonsense, but at the time it made perfect sense. She agreed and said that she would stop using birth control.

One day she went out and left me on my own, and I started to poke around, which was not a great idea. I opened a cupboard and found a pile of photograph albums, which I took out and started looking through. They were full of pictures of Lori with famous men – footballers, actors, politicians, musicians, anyone with any kind of notoriety. She struck the same pose in every photograph, wearing the sort of smile that wasn’t really a smile at all. I went icy cold and my hair stood on end. I knew we were doomed.

However much I might have wanted to walk out, I realised that I had already set in motion something that was out of control, particularly because of the conversation we had had about pregnancy. So I put this experience on file, as a reason why the relationship would never last.

We moved to London, where I organised an apartment for us in Berkeley Square. But only two or three weeks after we moved in together I told Lori that the relationship just wasn’t working for me any more, and that I had to go back to my wife.

“That’s not good news at all,” she said, “because I’m pregnant.”

I couldn’t really take this in. I remember getting into my car and driving down to Hurtwood, my home in Surrey, to see Pattie, who had been living there since I had left. Somewhere in my alcoholic mind was the idea that she might be waiting for me. When I arrived, it was night time, and there were lights on all over the house.

Pattie had for some time had a boyfriend, a society photographer. I peered in through the kitchen window and saw them making dinner together. It was like I’d come home to someone else’s house.

I knocked on the door and said: “I’m back, I’m home!” Pattie came to the door and said coldly, “You can’t come in here right now. This is not the right time.”

“But this is my home,” I said, to which she replied, “No, you can’t do this . . .”

Suddenly my world was absolutely in tatters. I was disenchanted with my now pregnant mistress, and I’d lost my wife. I felt like I’d opened a vast door into an empty chasm.

At some point during this period I decided that the only answer to my problems was suicide. I happened to have a full bottle of blue 5mg Valium tablets, and I downed the whole bloody lot. I was convinced they would kill me, but I woke up 10 hours later, stone-cold sober and full of the realisation of what a lucky escape I’d had.

Lori went back to Milan, while I stayed in England and tried to clear up the mess I’d created, by first of all telling Pattie about the pregnancy. Considering how much she had longed for our own child and her deep disappointment at her failure to conceive, it was a dreadful thing to have to tell her. She was utterly devastated, and from then on our life together at Hurtwood was hell.

We hacked along for a while, sleeping in different rooms and living pretty much separate lives until, several months later, on her birthday, March 17, I had a complete meltdown and threw her out of the house. It was a cruel and vicious thing to do, and within a few days I was regretting it.

Pattie found a very nice apartment in Kensington and things actually settled down. I visited her once a week and we were quite civil to one another. I stayed out at Hurtwood, doing bits and pieces, drinking in as controlled a manner as I could, but occasionally going on massive benders.

I was sitting at home one day when I received a mysterious phone call from a lady with a strong European accent. She claimed to know all about my marriage difficulties over the years, and said she knew how to repair them. She began to call quite regularly with bizarre instructions, which I followed to the letter, my reasoning being, “What have I got to lose?”

To begin with I had to take a bath in an assortment of herbs, which left me looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Gradually the rituals got more convoluted. I read weird incantations at midnight. Then, of course, with great excitement and expectation, I would call Pattie to see if there was any change in Continued on page 2 her demeanour towards me. There never was.

The lady on the phone eventually told me she should meet me in New York. I agreed. I knew it was madness, but my rationale was still the same: “What harm can it do?”

She was an extremely strange-looking woman and she told me that I should sleep with a virgin. “Where do you find a virgin in New York?” I replied, and she said, “I’m a virgin.”

God knows why I didn’t just run then. I wish I had, but I was drunk and desperate and still under the illusion that a reconciliation with Pattie would solve everything, so I went through with it. It was a humiliating experience and I did run, but only after the damage was done.

In the months before Lori’s baby was due to be born, I came to realise this was the one thing in my life that something good could come of. I went to visit her in Milan, and a few weeks before the birth she returned to London. I rented a mews house in Chelsea for her, where I used to visit her every day.

Conor was born on August 21, 1986, at St Mary’s, Paddington. As soon as I heard that Lori had gone into labour I rushed to the hospital. I just had an incredible feeling that this was going to be the first real thing that had ever happened to me. When they gave him to me to hold, I was spellbound, and I felt so proud, even though I had no idea how to hold a baby.

It began to sink in that I was a father and that it was time for me to grow up. I considered all my previous irrational behaviour to have been reasonably excusable, because it had been conducted with consenting adults. Whereas with this tiny child, so vulnerable as he was, I suddenly became aware that it was time to try to stop f****** around. But the question was how?

Lori returned to Italy soon after the birth, the idea being that I would go over and visit her and Conor for a few days whenever it was possible. The problem was that my drinking had become full-blown again, and I was finding it harder and harder to control.

I really loved this little boy, and yet when I went to visit him in Milan I would sit and play with him in the daytime, and, every second of that time, all I could think about was how much longer it would be before Lori would arrive to feed him and take him away to bed so that I could have another drink.

I never drank in his presence. I would stay white-knuckle sober all the time he was awake, but as soon as she had put him in his cot I would get back to my normal consumption, drinking until I passed out. I would do this every night until I went back to England, where I just carried on drinking.

By the autumn of 1987, touring Australia, there had been such an erosion of my capabilities that I couldn’t stop shaking. Cooped up in my hotel room, a long way from home, with nothing to think about but my own pain and misery, I suddenly knew that I had to go back into treatment. I thought to myself, “This has got to stop.”

In 1982 I’d treatment at Hazelden, a clinic in Minnesota. It was time to go back. I really did it for Conor, because I thought no matter what kind of human being I was, I couldn’t stand being around him like that. I couldn’t bear the idea that, as he experienced enough of life to form a picture of me, it would be a picture of the man I was then.

I stumbled through my month in treatment much as I had done the first time, just ticking off the days, hoping that something would change in me without me having to do much about it. Then one day, as my visit drew to an end, a panic hit me, and I realised that in fact nothing had changed in me, and I was going back out into the world again completely unprotected.

The noise in my head was deafening, and drinking was in my thoughts all the time. It shocked me to realise that here I was in a treatment centre, a supposedly safe environment, and I was in serious danger. 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 who I thought I was talking to, I just knew that 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 wasn’t going to make it, so I asked for help and, getting down on my knees, I surrendered.

Within a few days I realised that something had happened for me. An atheist would probably say it was just a change of 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’d always known was there, but never really wanted, or needed, to believe in.

From that day I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life, and most of all for my sobriety. If you were to ask why I do this, I will tell you . . . because it works, as simple as that. In all this time that I’ve been sober, I have never once seriously thought of taking a drink or a drug.

I came home from Hazelden for Christmas, to Lori and Conor at Hurtwood. There was a lot to be done, a lot of wreckage to clear up, and Lori was very supportive. I think she knew intuitively that I was not ready to make a decision about our situation yet, and seemed reasonably content just to see where things would lead.

Funnily enough the first person I wanted to see on my return was Pattie. I wanted to see if there was still a spark of something there, even if it was only friendship. We met for lunch, and it was great. I couldn’t feel any enmity from her, and we were able to speak without manipulation, which for me was a miracle.

In the first few months after rehab, the phone lady contacted me again, saying she was about to be evicted from her flat and needed money. I made the mistake of sending her some cash. From that day on, for the next few years, she hounded me. It started in the press in the spring of 1988, with photos of her in the Sunday tabloids appearing to be several months pregnant, and dreadful headlines calling me every name under the sun.

It went on for about a month, until someone, a girl who apparently worked for her, contacted the tabloids to say that it was all a hoax. The photos were taken with pillows and there was no truth in any of it. The papers issued minuscule apologies, but I was badly shaken. From time to time, over the next few years, the phone lady would reappear, sometimes on the street in broad daylight screaming things like, “You’ll never get away from me”. For a man who is naturally inclined to fear the opposite sex, this was sometimes more than I could bear. Gradually she faded into the background, until one day I met her again in New York, with another guy, who she had obviously set up home with.

I felt I ought to straighten him out about what she was capable of. In the end I left it alone. They seemed very happy, and I just didn’t have the heart to rock their boat.

The best times I had in those early years of sobriety were in the company of my son and his mother. Conor was a good-looking boy with blond hair, much the same as mine at the same age, and brown eyes.

He was a beautiful child, with a wonderful, gentle nature, who was walking by the time he was a year old and, as soon as he could talk, used to call me “Papa”. But however deeply I loved this little boy, I had no idea where to begin with him, because I was a baby trying to look after a baby, so I just let Lori raise him, which she did brilliantly.

I used to watch Conor’s every move, and because I didn’t really know much about how to be a father I played with him in the way a sibling plays, kicking balls around on the terrace for hours and going for walks in the garden. Anyone who came into contact with him adored him. He was a little angel really, a very divine being.

IN 1989 I began working on one of my own favourite albums, Journeyman. During the recording sessions I was introduced to a pretty young Italian model named Carla. Initially I wasn’t overly interested, but she was clearly a music fan and seemed quite taken with me. I was very flattered because she was only 21 and very sexy. We began dating, and in a very short time I became obsessed with her.

I was living in New York, and it served as a backdrop for our affair, very fast and very romantic. While it was still going strong, the Stones came through town on their Steel Wheels tour. Carla asked me if I would take her to see them. We went to the show and afterwards I took her backstage to meet the guys.

I remember saying to Jagger, “Please Mick, not this one. I think I’m in love.” In the past he had made several unsuccessful passes at Pattie, and I knew Carla would appeal to his eye. For all my pleadings, it was only a matter of days before they started a clandestine affair.

After Carla had stood me up a couple of times, I got a call from the girl who had introduced us, telling me Carla was seeing Mick and it was serious. The obsession gripped me for the rest of that year, and took some grisly turns when I found myself guesting with the Stones on a couple of shows, knowing she was lurking in the background.

The deception involved in her affair with Jagger drove a deep wedge between me and him, and for a while I found it hard to think of him without malice. Later on, of course, I quietly felt both gratitude and compassion towards him, first for delivering me from certain doom, and second for apparently suffering such prolonged agony in her service.

Prompted by my obsession with Carla and Mick, I began to do some proper recovery work. For a start, it was deemed necessary by my sponsor [in the 12-step programme] that a “fourth step” inventory be taken on the subject of my resentment toward them both. The fourth step is generally practised as an honest review of the past to identify the alcoholic’s own contribution to his drinking problems.

I found a pattern in my behaviour that had been repeating itself for years, decades even. Bad choices were my speciality, and if something honest and decent came along I would shun it or run the other way.

I did not run away from Conor, even though there was to begin with a certain amount of fear involved in my relationship with him. I was, after all, a part-time father. Small children can be quite dismissive and unintentionally cruel, and I tended to take this very personally. However, as the time of my sobriety increased, I began to be more comfortable with him and to really look forward to seeing him.

I was very much in this mood in March 1991, when I had arranged to see Conor in New York, where Lori and her new boyfriend were planning to buy an apartment. On the evening of March 19 I went to the Galleria, the apartment block on West 57th Street where they were staying, to pick up Conor and take him to the circus on Long Island.

It was the first time I had taken him out on my own and I was both nervous and excited. It was a great night out. Conor never drew breath and was particularly excited at seeing the elephants. It made me realise for the first time what it meant to have a child and be a father. I remember telling Lori, when I took him back, that from then on, when I had Conor home on visits, I wanted to look after him all on my own.

The following morning I was up early, ready to walk crosstown from my hotel to pick up Lori and Conor to take them to the Central Park Zoo, followed by lunch at Bice, my favourite Italian restaurant. At about 11am the phone rang and it was Lori. She was hysterical, screaming that Conor was dead.

I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous. How can he be dead?” and I asked her the silliest question, “Are you sure?” And then she told me that he’d fallen out of the window. She was beside herself. Screaming. I said, “I’ll be right there.”

I remember walking up Park Avenue trying to convince myself that everything was really all right . . . as if anyone could make a mistake about something like that. When I got near the apartment building I saw a police line and paramedics on the street, and I walked past the scene, lacking the courage to go in.

Finally I went into the building, where I was asked a few questions by the police. I took the elevator upstairs to the apartment, which was on the 53rd floor. Lori was out of her mind and talking in a crazy way. I had become very calm and detached. I had stepped back within myself and become one of those people who just attend to others.

By talking to the police and the doctors I established what had happened without even having to go into the room. The main sitting room had windows down one side, which went from floor to ceiling, and they could be cantilevered open for cleaning. There were no window guards, since the building was a con-dominium and escaped the normal building regulations.

On this morning the janitor was cleaning the windows and had temporarily left them open. Conor was racing about playing a game of hide and seek with his nanny and, while Lori was distracted by the janitor warning her about the danger, he simply ran into the room and straight out of the window. He then fell 49 floors before landing on the roof of an adjacent four-storey building.

There was no way that Lori was going to come down to the mortuary, so I had to go and identify him on my own. Whatever physical damage he had suffered in the fall, by the time I saw him they had restored his body to some normality. As I looked at his beautiful face in repose, I remember thinking, “This isn’t my son. It looks a bit like him, but he’s gone.”

I went to see him again at the funeral home, to say goodbye to him and to apologise for not being a better father. A few days later Lori and I flew back to England with the coffin.

Conor’s funeral took place at St Mary Magdalen church in Ripley, Surrey, on a bleak March day shortly before my 46th birthday. It was a lovely service, but I was speechless. I looked up at his coffin, and I just couldn’t talk.

We laid him to rest in a plot next to the wall of the church, and as his coffin was lowered into the ground his Italian grandmother became completely hysterical and tried to throw herself into the grave. I remember feeling a bit shocked by this, as I’m not very good at outward emotion. I just don’t grieve that way.

After the funeral, when Lori’s family had gone home and Hurtwood was quiet and it was just me alone with my thoughts, I found a letter Conor had written for me from Milan, telling me how much he missed me and was looking forward to seeing me in New York. He had written “I love you”. Heartbreaking though it was, I looked upon it as a positive thing.

There were thousands of letters for me to read, written from all over the world. One of the first I opened was from Keith Richards; it just said, “If there’s anything I can do, just let me know.” I’ll always be grateful for that.

Icannot deny that there was a moment when I did lose faith, and what saved my life was the unconditional love and understanding that I received from my friends, and my fellows in the 12-step programme. I was asked to chair some meetings, and at one of these sessions, when I was doing a chair on the third step, which is about handing your will over to the care of God, I recounted the story of how, during my last stay in Hazelden, I had fallen upon my knees and asked for help to stay sober.

I told the meeting that the fact that the compulsion had at that moment been taken away was, as far as I was concerned, physical evidence that my prayers had been answered. Having had that experience, I said, I knew I could get through this.

A woman came up to me after the meeting and said, “You’ve just taken away my last excuse to have a drink.” I asked her what she meant. She said, “I’ve always had this little corner of my mind which held the excuse, that if anything were to happen to my kids, then I’d be justified in getting drunk. You’ve shown me that’s not true.”

I was suddenly aware of the fact that there was a way to turn this dreadful tragedy into something positive. I really was in the position of being able to say, “Well if I can go through this and stay sober, then anyone can.” At that moment I realised that there was no better way of honouring the memory of my son.

 
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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 09:44 PM
WOW. Sounds like Eric really bares his soul in this.......well, that's obvious from this excerpt.

 

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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 10:10 PM

Whew! Gave me chill bumps ...

 

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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 10:22 PM
quote:
A woman came up to me after the meeting and said, “You’ve just taken away my last excuse to have a drink.” I asked her what she meant. She said, “I’ve always had this little corner of my mind which held the excuse, that if anything were to happen to my kids, then I’d be justified in getting drunk. You’ve shown me that’s not true.”

I was suddenly aware of the fact that there was a way to turn this dreadful tragedy into something positive. I really was in the position of being able to say, “Well if I can go through this and stay sober, then anyone can.” At that moment I realised that there was no better way of honouring the memory of my son.



I had that exact little corner in my mind at one time. What a story.

 

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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 10:45 PM
The last one was great and this will be even better. Look forward to reading the whole thing.
 

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  posted on 10/7/2007 at 10:52 PM
Being the father of two adorable young children, it's very hard for me to read that. These days I can't even see a film that involves a father losing children. Frankly, I doubt I could survive a calamity like that.

You don't need no gypsy to tell you why, you can't let one precious day slip by.

Doug

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 01:44 AM
It interesting to see Eric bare himself so much lately. I read Pattie's book when it came out a few weeks back. I was surprised to see that Eric had given her permission to publish some of his love letters to her. All were very personal and emotional. His account (read above) of telling Pattie about Lori differs slightly from hers, but not so significantly to mean much. I'm looking forward to digging into his book - should be here in a few days

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 08:35 AM
When does this book come out?
 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 08:44 AM
looks like a good read
 
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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 08:59 AM
Thanks for sharing this! I've read several excerpts over the past couple weeks and this one is the best.

I can't wait for this book to come out tomorrow!

EC is truly an inspiration - as a musician and even more as a human being.

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 11:31 AM
I believe the release date is tomorrow.

Clapton probably needs to move to the deep South, where he can find peace and get away from some of his demons. He seems like a real person, caught up in a world where he doesn't quite fit.

I wish him nothing but the best for the rest of his years. His music has brought great joy to my world over the years. He's due for some smiles--inside and out.

 
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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 02:37 PM
Wonder if Brother Duane is mentioned?
 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 05:39 PM
When I posted this, I had no idea how much pain this man has endured.

You see, last night my two sons were involved in an Auto Accident, where if I posted
the pictures you would gasp. Totaled their RAV4.

All last night my wife and I were on our knees crying out with thanks to God, because
they were bruised but not broken, and how they could climb out of that vehicle is a miracle.

There is no pain greater than watching your children get hurt or worse. I for one cannot fathom how EC could carry on, and his courage, music, and the way he conducts himself is truly uplifting. There is no BS in him which is very refreshing and unique. He is a simple man who cares not for all the trappings, and indeed is very humble.

His last two tours were simply amazing, and of course now with Cream reunions, Derek and The Dominoes revisited with Derek, and Blind Faith with Steve Windwood, he still has something left to say.

The live DVD from the last tour will be revisited next year, and possibility some collaborations between EC & Windwood, and Robbie Robertson, with tour for 09.

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 05:51 PM
wow - I'm glad your kids are OK Chuckels...

I can't wait to read Clapton's account of everything...I love his music and to me it seems he's always done it for the right reasons.

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 06:03 PM
quote:
Wonder if Brother Duane is mentioned?


Rolling Stone did a book review and mentioned Eric's feelings about Duane-something like "he was the musical brother I never had-more so than Jimi, who was a loner. Duane was a brother, a family man." Just quoting frm memory, but that's the gist of it, pretty cool.

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 07:58 PM
quote:
wow - I'm glad your kids are OK Chuckels...



Yes Amen to that. I saw my son in the hospital several years ago, after his auto accident with a concussion, and major gash in his head, he's was fine after some stitches and rest.

Never want to go through that again.

It's amazing that a white kid like Clapton got hooked on the blues like he did, and because of that, music has never been the same since.

I'm sure he has a lot of stories to tell, but I heard he got so many calls from some many people, since he has jammed with everyone, and cut out some of the really good stories, he has a lot more to tell.

 

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  posted on 10/8/2007 at 08:47 PM
chuckels

Glad the kids are OK. I spent my summer in the hospital with a teen involved in a car crash. Scary stuff and a real eye opener.

 

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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 04:52 AM
chuckels, glad to read your children are okay.

Barnes & Noble sent me their weekly card member discount e-mail. The Clapton book is only $14.04 with those discounts! I'll be ordering that later today--a month-early birthday present to myself...

 

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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 11:39 AM
chukels - glad your kids are ok....pwew.


and thank you for posting this excerpt. Clapton has really inspired many people with his sobriety, me being no exception......

and of course he had to go and mention a G-dammed fourth step i'm running out of excuses trying to get to that one.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 12:03 PM
I am glad your children were not seriously hurt. That excerpt gave me goose bumps. My son is Connor and my mind was wondering wondering what if that was me.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 02:07 PM
quote:
Clapton probably needs to move to the deep South, where he can find peace and get away from some of his demons. He seems like a real person, caught up in a world where he doesn't quite like


Eric is doing fine here in Ohio, in the Heartland where his wife is from. I believe they have a house outside of Columbus.

Eric was on the Today Show this morning and said that the first draft was written by a ghost writer. But, as he read it, he realized that working with and through a ghost writer only allowed him to put a veneer on his thoughts. He re-wrote it and opened up and got down to the bare bones required of telling it like it is.

As for his son dying, it was obvious that it is still hard to talk about. He said that he drove to the studio this morning and went by the hotel-apartment where his son died at, and it brought it all back again.

 

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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 02:21 PM
Am really looking forward to reading this - Clapton is one of my all-time favorites and has been since the 60's. I'm with EZM - love my Barnes&Noble 'frequent reader' card!

chuckels - so glad to hear your children are ok. Loosing a child is one of the hardest things that can be endured. You can rejoin the living but there is a constant pain that follows you. I saw that interview that DerekFromC mentions on the Today show and you could sense EC's difficulty in revisiting his experience with his son - he said...

“My metabolism will only allow so much of it to enter my consciousness at any one time.
It’s kind of a grief that I’ve dealt with as best I can, but it will always come back in some kind of measure for as long as I live.”

 

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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 04:41 PM
Heartbreaking and inspirational!!!!!

 

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  posted on 10/9/2007 at 09:47 PM
i cannot wait to read his story,this summer he was boating around the island i live on,some friends saw him but i never connected.i wanted to thank him for his part in"A concert for george"was even carrying the dvd around in my car.this man has led quite a life,and to still be with us.were are very lucky.
 
 


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