Eric Clapton CBE

English musician, singer songwriter Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, was born 30 March 1945. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. Clapton started playing guitar after receiving an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his thirteenth birthday, but briefly lost interest.Two years later Clapton picked it up again and started playing consistently. Clapton was influenced by the blues from an early age. In 1961, after leaving Hollyfield School in Surbiton, Clapton studied at the Kingston College of Art but was dismissed at the end of the academic year because his focus remained on music rather than art. His guitar playing was so advanced that, by the age of 16, he was getting noticed and began busking around Kingston, Richmond, and the West End.

In1962, Clapton started performing as a duo with fellow blues enthusiast David Brock in pubs around Surrey. When he was seventeen years old, Clapton joined his first band, an early British R&B group, the Roosters, whose other guitarist was Tom McGuinness. He stayed with this band from January through August 1963.In October of that year, Clapton did a seven-gig stint with Casey Jones & the Engineers. In October 1963, Clapton joined The Yardbirds, a blues-influenced rock and roll band, and stayed with them until March 1965. Synthesising influences from Chicago blues and leading blues guitarists such as Buddy Guy, Freddie King, and B. B. King, Clapton forged a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarists in the British music scene.The band initially played Chess/Checker/Vee-Jay blues numbers and began to attract a large cult following when they took over the Rolling Stones’ residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. They toured England with American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson II; a joint LP album, recorded in December 1963, was issued in 1965. He gained the nickname slowhand because whenever He broke a guitar string during a concert, he would stay on stage and replace it and The English audiences would do a “slow handclap”. The nickname of ‘Slowhand’ was coined by Giorgio Gomelsky, who said Clapton was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into Slowhand as a play on words”.

In March 1965 the Yardbirds had their first major hit, “For Your Love”, which was written by pop songwriter-for-hire Graham Gouldman (who would achieve success as a member of 10cc). Still musically devoted to the blues, Clapton was opposed to the move, and left the band. He recommended fellow guitarist Jimmy Page as his replacement, but Page declined out of loyalty to Clapton, putting Jeff Beck forward. While Beck and Page played together in the Yardbirds, although the trio of Beck, Page, and Clapton were never in the group together. In April 1965 Clapton joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers , quitting shortly afterwards and rejoining In November 1965 and gained world fame as the best blues guitarist which inspired a well-publicised graffito that deified him with the famous slogan “Clapton is God”. The phrase was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967. The graffiti was captured in a now-famous photograph, in which a dog is urinating on the wall and. The phrase began to appear in other areas of Islington throughout the mid-1960s. Clapton left the Bluesbreakers in July 1966 (to be replaced by Peter Green) and was invited by drummer Ginger Baker to play in his newly formed band Cream, one of the earliest supergroups, with Jack Bruce on bass (previously of the Bluesbreakers, the Graham Bond Organisation and Manfred Mann).

During his time with Cream, Clapton began to develop as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist and Cream established its enduring legend with the high-volume blues jamming and extended solos of their live shows. By early 1967, as fans of the emerging blues-rock sound in Britain had begun to portray Clapton as Britain’s top guitarist; however, he found himself rivalled by the emergence of Jimi Hendrix, who attended a performance of the newly formed Cream at the Central London Polytechnic. Top UK stars, including Clapton, Pete Townshend, and members of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, avidly attended Hendrix’s early club performances. Cream’s repertoire varied from hard rock (“I Feel Free”) to lengthy blues-based instrumental jams (“Spoonful”). Together, Cream’s talents secured them as an influential power trio and they went on to, sell millions of records and redefined the instrumentalist’s role in rock and were one of the first blues-rock bands to emphasise musical virtuosity and lengthy jazz-style improvisation sessions. Though Cream was hailed as one of the greatest groups of its day, it was short-lived. Drug and alcohol use escalated tension between the three members, and conflicts between Bruce and Baker eventually led to Cream’s demise.

Cream’s farewell album, was released shortly after Cream disbanded; it also featured the studio single “Badge”, co-written by Clapton and George Harrison. Clapton met Harrison and became friends with him after the Beatles shared a bill with the Clapton-era Yardbirds at the London Palladium and also resulted in Clapton playing on Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the Beatles’ White Album (1968). Harrison also released his solo debut album, Wonderwall Music, in 1968. It became the first of many Harrison solo records to feature Clapton on guitar. The pair would often play live together as each other’s guest. A year after Harrison’s death in 2001, Clapton helped organise a tribute concert, for which he was musical director and in 1969, when The Beatles were recording/filming what became Let It Be, tensions became so acute that Harrison quit the group for several days, prompting the others to consider replacing him with Clapton, though Clapton himself later said that the idea was absurd

Clapton’s next group, Blind Faith (1969), was composed of Cream drummer Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family, and yielded one LP which consisted of just six songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled “Do What You Like”. Sadly Blind Faith dissolved after less than seven months and Clapton subsequently toured for Delaney and Bonnie and The Plastic Ono Band, played lead guitar on Lennon’s second solo single, Cold Turkey and performed with John Lennon, George Harrison, and others at a fundraiser for UNICEF in London. Clapton recorded his first solo album With Delaney Bramletts’ backing group and an all-star cast of session players (including Leon Russell and Stephen Stills), which was entitled Eric Clapton and featured the songs Let It Rain” andJ. J. Cale’s “After Midnight”. Clapton also helped record George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass in spring 1970 and also recorded with other artists including Dr. John, Leon Russell, Plastic Ono Band, Billy Preston, Stephen Stills, Ringo Starr and Dave Mason, and played guitar on “Go Back Home” from Stephen Stills’ self-titled first solo album. Clapton then assembled a new band composed of Delaney and Bonnie’s former rhythm section, Bobby Whitlock as keyboardist and vocalist, Carl Radle as the bassist, and drummer Jim Gordon, with Clapton playing guitar.The band was originally called “Eric Clapton and Friends”. The name “Derek and the Dominos” was a fluke that occurred when the band’s provisional name of “Del and the Dynamos” was misread as Derek and the Dominos. Clapton’s close friendship with George Harrison brought him into contact with Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, with whom he became deeply infatuated. When she spurned his advances, Clapton’s unrequited affections prompted most of the material for the Dominos’ album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Heavily blues-influenced, the album features the twin lead guitars of Duane Allman and Clapton and the songs “Tell the Truth”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “Key to the Highway”, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman”, “Why Does Love Got to be So sad”,”I Looked Away”, “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Keep on Growing”, “I am Yours”, “Anyday”, and “It’s Too late”.

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