Eric Clapton Day by Day: The Early Years is a truly remarkable account of Clapton’s musical career from 1963 until 1982. It covers every tour and every recording session and chronicles every band and band change throughout Clapton’s first decades. Everything is here from The Yardbirds through John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to Cream and Derek and The Dominoes to Clapton’s early solo career. Every song that was recorded and every musician who Clapton played with is in this book.
Of course this is not the sort of book that is going to be read word for word by most people. The minute details of setlists and recording and touring dates are best for skimming or reference use. But there is plenty of material here to fascinate any Clapton fan. There are reviews of shows and comments from Clapton and his band members as well as fellow musicians and friends that offer real insight into the man and the musician. One can quickly see how many days were spent on the road and how much the band was payed. It is immediately obvious that playing America was much more profitable in the early days and it becomes clear why more successful bands moved out of Britain.
This is not a tell-all biography of Clapton. Drugs and alcohol do get numerous mentions as the years progress. They are only mentioned as they affect the music though. This is true for personal feuds and health problems. Even the famous love triangle between George Harrison and Clapton and Patti Boyd Harrison is not mentioned except as it directly affected the music. There is no information about what Clapton did on his days off or what went on outside the studio or the concert hall or jam sessions.
And yet through detailing the music, the book tells us as much or more about Clapton than many of those books that focus on the personal information could do. We read about the constant touring and the mental and physical toll it takes on the musicians. We learn about the good times in the studio and on the road and the bad times as well. We learn about the man in the context of that which is most essential to him: his music.
There are some problems with the format. Some of the band lineups are written in very faint type. The use of a green background with black type on shiny paper to set them apart causes some difficulty in reading some of the commentary and reviews. Some of the black and white photos are quite dark.
The copious illustrations do add a great deal to the book even though some are quite small and some are not too clear. it is nice to see the vintage posters and advertisements as well as the album covers and photos of Clapton in concert.
This book was obviously done with meticulous care for accuracy and with love and respect for the artist. It is a must for Clapton fans and collectors of music history. It would make a great template for how to prepare any book of this sort about any musician.