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Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars (2017)

2:36 | Trailer
A look at the life and work of guitarist Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.


Lili Fini Zanuck
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Eric Clapton ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Duane Allman ... Himself (archive footage)
Ginger Baker ... Himself (archive footage)
Chuck Berry ... Himself (archive footage)
Pattie Boyd ... Herself (archive footage)
Jack Bruce ... Himself (archive footage)
Tom Dowd Tom Dowd ... Himself (archive footage)
Chris Dreja ... Himself
Bob Dylan ... Himself (archive footage)
Ahmet Ertegun ... Himself (archive footage)
Hughie Flint Hughie Flint ... Himself
Aretha Franklin ... Herself (archive footage)
Richard Goldstein Richard Goldstein ... Himself
Jim Gordon ... Himself (archive footage)
Bill Graham ... Himself (archive footage)


A look at the life and work of guitarist Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Genius Amplified


TV-MA | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]





Release Date:

24 November 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Eric Clapton See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Passion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Ahmet Ertegun's name on captions is misspelled throughout the film. See more »


Roger Waters is incorrectly described as Pink Floyd's guitarist - he was their bassist. See more »


All You Need Is Love
Performed by The Beatles
Words and Music by John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Published by Sony / ATV Tunes, LLC
Coutresy of Calderstone Productions Limited
Under license from Universal Music Operations Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

Eric Clapton - The Man or the Genius?
1 March 2018 | by rontepper-38401See all my reviews

I guess there are a lot of ways one can look at this documentary. It was indeed an excellent overview of one of the most gifted musicians of our generation. There is no doubt that Eric Clapton is a music legend, and in all fairness, he doesn't try to hide his shortcomings as a human being. But maybe, there in lies the problem. Some things are better left unsaid.

This documentary gives us an excellent background to the man behind the music, and deals honestly with his life and his career. I was very surprised there was no mention of his work with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Delaney greatly influenced his musical direction, introduced him to Duane Allman and Leon Russell, and encouraged him to write and sing more, all while giving him an escape from a psychological and professional rut he desperately needed escape from.

The problem I have with this documentary is that it tries to make us feel sympathy for Clapton. Yes, he grew up being rejected by his real mother, (who he only met twice and never really knew), but he had Grandparents who raised him and blessed his childhood. So, why all the self pity? They continually brought up that his Grandparents raising him, (as opposed to his biological mother), was such a tremendous trauma to him, that his life went straight downhill as a result. Really?

Truth is, he has never taken full responsibility for his own actions except by way of past reflection and for me, that wasn't enough. This documentary was filled with too many- "I really should have apologized" or "I really wished I hadn't done that" -- for my liking. Actions speak louder than words. It showed us how fame, fortune and self centered behavior can bring out the monster in some people, but yet leave them still looking for sympathy? Sorry. Many of us have gone through hard times in our lives. Few of us use it to justify our actions later in life.

Clapton left his original band- the Yardbirds- without notice. He later abandoned the band "Blind Faith" much like the Yardbirds- again, without notice. He stole Delaney and Bonnie's band members away from them in secret to form the "Dominos", and eventually stole a married women away from his best friend- only to abuse her later, (resulting from his battles with Alcohol). His poor judgement led to an accident in which his 5 year old son died- having fallen out of a window - evidently unsupervised by his girlfriend who he knew was mentally unstable at the time- and although he had periods later in life of showing good will towards others with benefit concerts (something almost every artist does in their careers), even his diehard fans were not spared. I was at that concert in Pittsburgh in 1986, and the movie depicts just a glimpse of what happened. It was ugly. Destroyed relationships seems to be an ongoing theme here, and in some cases, one has to wonder if there was ever a relationship at all.

This movie also gives Clapton credit which was undeserved. They pointed out that he "opened the door" for all the Blues musicians, making it easier for them to get exposure to the general public- but was this a wonderful gesture on his part- or simply the byproduct of playing their music? Big difference. One can actually say without THEIR inspiration- he never would have picked up a guitar in the first place.

What really bothered me though was his failure to give credit to those who loved him and even saved him from further self destruction. Pete Townsend dragged him out of bed during his drug addiction, and got him back onstage to help save his life and career. Procol Harum's Gary Brooker befriended him and helped him to kick his alcoholism by sharing his passion for fishing. Patty Boyd? Many people helped him thru his down times, and yet were NEVER mentioned, or given credit for any of their support along the way. For a documentary of such length, there was surely enough time.

This Documentary was long, detailed, and above all honest and I give him credit for that, but it also suffered from extreme self indulgence, and his obsession with George Harrison's wife? Breaking up their marriage by begging her to leave him, and then when she finally uprooted her life for him - he ignored and abused her? While some say "his personal life is his business" fine, but that was not their intention. Show highlights of his career with musical insight but don't manipulate us to pity him. You made his personal life "our" business.

Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of Clapton but after seeing this, I'm not so sure anymore. I still love and admire his music, there is a big difference between living the blues and playing it. Clapton's Blues were the results of his own selfish actions- unlike the Blues masters, who were TRULY dealt a bad hand in life, and had to express their hardships thru their music. Many today still live in poverty- not in multi million dollar mansions.

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