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A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography by Bobby Whitlock w/ Marc Roberty – Review by AJ Wachtel

by GFats on May 2, 2011

A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography

Bobby Whitlock

with Marc Roberty

Foreword by Eric Clapton

available at

By A.J. Wachtel

This book is fascinating on many different levels: first, it’s a very well-written documentation of a true rock and roll warrior and how he overcomes continuous distractions, remains true to his basic ideals, and lands in a better place after all is said and done.  Second, it is a history of legendary music events and great stories told in a casual and light-hearted way that answer all the questions one might have about the preparation and recording of some of the greatest albums ever made.  It’s almost like reading the Cliff Notes for The Bible written by Moses.  These narratives include all the top artists of the era from George Harrison to Keith Moon to Eric Clapton. And finally, there are lessons learned in this epic saga that everyone can relate to, identify with, and become more informed from.  This mix of unknown info and fun facts results in a great read pure and simple.


Known for his famous music compositions, BW is a great writer as well. He has a great way of creating and communicating images in just one sentence. When Whitlock says: “like most folks would conduct their days I would conduct my nights” or “incredibly rich people-everyone sort of talked without making any noise” the meanings are crystal-clear.  When he observes there are “no visionaries in the music industry today” or understates his self-analysis with “I have always been in the middle of everyone’s strife for some reason”, his sense of irony and sense of humor make these mythic situations seem very real and very interesting.


In telling the tales and filling in the spaces with anecdotes and first-hand info music history from another era becomes better understood and more complete.  I never knew Derek and The Dominos was George Harrison’s backing band for “All Things Must Pass” or that the classic guitar riff on “Layla” was copped from an Albert King tune. When BW explains that “horn parts are an extension of the piano and organ parts” this is great insight into a genius mind. And fun facts like Eric Clapton did his own ironing or that BW is a quick tanner are always smile-inducing.  Re-telling how he and Bonnie Bramlett convinced Delaney to shave his beard and take out his false teeth is classic.  As is his take on sinking Keith Moon’s boat.  Finding out how Bobby lost $80 playing tic-tac-toe to a chicken and hearing his version of encountering Morris the trapped bird and contemplating playing God by opening the cage’s door-“I wanted him to do tricks and all he wanted to do was get out of prison and bite me”-are funny and sure to appeal to both music fans and animal lovers alike.  I love when I read how he explains being given a 4F classification by the Military Induction Board: “They gave me a 4F for eating bad food but I’m sure it was from the stress of being on the road with Delaney and Bonnie”.  Priceless.


The many morals throughout the book remind everyone that the ability to endure one’s hardships and good fortune is what makes life worth living.  Like what Eric Clapton says in the book’s forward: “Never under-estimate Bobby Whitlock”.


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