Eric Clapton reflects on his ‘pompous’ youth

TORONTO — Eric Clapton says it’s hard to watch himself as a pompous young man in the new documentary “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars.”

The guitar legend says he was forced to confront his arrogant youth in the film, which is making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Clapton tells a festival press conference that it’s only now that he’s older that he realizes he knows “nothing at all.”

He says it’s been a slow evolution that started when he stopped drinking and had children.

The new film, directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, traces the life of the guitar virtuoso as he builds a career with the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos, and then as a solo artist.

It features interviews with B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Steve Winwood and Clapton’s former wife, Pattie Boyd.

Clapton was candid when asked Monday if anything in the film’s depiction of his youth embarrassed him.

“The whole thing, are you kidding? The whole thing,” said Clapton, eliciting laughs from the press gallery, many of them rock journalists.

“Right up to the time I stopped drinking, everything I said was absolute blather, you know what I mean?… There’s a certain amount of pompousness that I see when I’m being interviewed and a sort of, I don’t know, there’s some kind of weird expression on my face like, ‘Don’t ask me these questions.’

“And that’s really tough for me to watch, obviously. And maybe it’s true for all of us when we’re young. There’s a level of arrogance there of, ‘I know it all.’ Well, only as I get older do I realize that I know nothing at all, whatsoever. For me to watch myself going through all of that was not easy.”

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