Rock Reads: Eric Clapton, Day by Day: The Early Years 1963- 1982 by Marc Roberty

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Clapton himself may or may not actually see this book but if he does he'll no doubt get a big kick out of it and so will the more fanatical of his fans. Day by Day is exactly what the title indicates: a chronicle of Clapton's professional life broken down by date and focusing on live performances and recording sessions.

There's even mention of Clapton's very early gigs with the Roosters and Casey Jones and the Engineers from 1963; both were short-lived affairs and the book really gets going as Eric joins the Yardbirds in the same year.

The first half of the book traces Clapton's career from the Yardbirds through his stints with John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith and one-off shows like his participation in the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus and Supershow events.

Each chapter or segment of a chapter includes an essay from Roberty, graphics including reproductions of album covers, fliers and posters and a few photographs although photography is not emphasized here.

Then there's the real day by day nitty-gritty; details about shows including set lists, band personnel and even in many cases the amount the band was paid. For example, on August 20, 1966, Cream played the Lion Hotel in Warrington, Lancashire, England, two 45-minute sets between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM and they were paid 40 British Pounds Sterling for it.

Things had changed quite a bit monetarily by 1969; when Blind Faith played a show in Wisconsin with opening acts SRC, the MC5, Taste, Shag, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and John Mayall, they got $20,000.

Reviews from pertinent newspapers and magazines are inserted, each presenting a snapshot of the era and how critics and the crowds felt about Clapton and company at the time.

The second portion of the book looks at Clapton's time with the Plastic Ono Band, the Concert for Bangladesh, Derek & the Dominos, the Rainbow Concerts and his first flight of solo albums. This part of the book is also heavy with detail about Clapton's session work; fans will drool over some of the recorded material that's documented here that's never been released.

Considering that the portion of Clapton's career that's covered here took place well before the "information age" brought on by the Internet it is amazing that Roberty was able to come up with such thorough documentation.

Presented in hardback form in the coffee-table book style, Day by Day will keep Clapton-philes riveted from front to back; the more casual fan will get just as much enjoyment out of taking it a few pages or a chapter at a time. A companion book chronicling the latter part of Clapton's career will be published by Backbeat later this year.

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