Picks and Pans Review: A Rock and Roll Icon Looks Back

updated 10/15/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Eric Clapton |

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Like the bluesmen who inspired him, Clapton, 62, has his share of scars. Raised in a "house full of secrets," he learned by age 9 that his birth mother was the woman he knew as his sister. In his hard-drinking years, he notoriously won—and lost—George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd, who inspired "Layla" (and whose own memoir is now on bestseller lists). And in 1991 he buried his son Conor, 4, who had fallen from a window in a high-rise. In this compelling memoir Clapton discusses it all. Brandy and heroin were his poisons; at his worst, "I didn't commit suicide," he writes, only because "I wouldn't be able to drink anymore if I was dead." After twenty years in recovery, he's matured but he's hardly a bore: He offers vivid scenes of clashes with Ginger Baker and club-hopping with Hendrix. It's a soulful performance—one that even casual fans will find absorbing.

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