I've been lucky enough to look through the page-proofs of Eric Clapton's book, Six-String Stories. My copy of the book is just a PDF file - sent to me to scroll through so that I can tell you all about it. But it's been a treat. I've been working through the 376 pages, taking in the specs and details of some 300 guitars from Clapton's collection, learning about why he bought each instrument - so many of them bought for his collection because he admired the work of Chet Atkins and Freddie King and Les Paul and so many others. He loved what they played and so he bought versions of the same guitars they used - a way to get close to the sound; a sense of history too; preserving the sound, honouring it.
Over the past decade Clapton has sold many of his guitars in special auctions to help fund the Crossroads Recovery Centre he founded in Antigua.
Six-String Stories is a book that celebrates the guitars, photographed by more than 80 of the world's best photographers with notes from Clapton about each guitar, what it means to him, why he owned it, how it helped to shape his sound, when and why each was used on recordings with Cream, The Yardbirds, Delaney & Bonnie, The Beatles, Blind Faith, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and across his solo career.
This is the documentation of a collection of guitars that Clapton has built up over 50 years.
"One by one these guitars were the chapters of my life," says Clapton.
I struggled to read his autobiography because I could not feel the passion. But it's been a joy reading through Six-String Stories - because across every page you can feel that passion, these guitars were trophies, they are part of music history; they were, also, the tool of the trade for a shy man disappearing inside the music, doing his best to hide within the lines, to blur himself down into the notes.
The book is a limited edition from Genesis Publications. There are only 2000 worldwide in the run, and the price-tag is a hefty £375.
Clapton has signed each copy of the hand-bound leather edition.
To learn more about the titles Genesis Publications has created click here.
Tomorrow, in a world exclusive, Hedleys Booksellers, in Masterton, will launch the book and then have it on display at its HedSpace Gallery from this Saturday, March 16, till Sunday, April 28.
I've only been able to see photographs of the finished product - I can't afford a copy on a blogger's wage, but I've been lucky to see the photos of the guitars and to read the text that accompanies; to soak up some of the feeling of the book.
These books are a thing of beauty - the work, the detail, the love and care.
And the sales of this volume help a good cause.
If you live in Masterton or are able to visit across the next month you might like to check the book out - see some of the pictures of these guitars, take in a bit of music history. You don't have to be an Eric Clapton fan to enjoy learning about these guitars. You don't have to be a guitar fan to appreciate these pictures and stories. But obviously if you are a Clapton fan, if you are a guitar fan (and guitarist, particularly) then this is potentially going to mean even more to you.
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