International Guitar Month: Day 15 – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 30 March 1945), is an English musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist. 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”. He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009.

In the mid-1960s, Clapton left the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton joined Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop”. For most of the 1970s, Clapton’s output bore the influence of the mellow style of JJ Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped reggae reach a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla”, recorded while he was a member of band Derek and the Dominos; and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”, recorded by band Cream. Following the death of his son Conor in 1991, Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”, which featured in his Unplugged album.

Clapton has been the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004, he was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.

Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his thirteenth birthday, but the inexpensive steel-stringed instrument was difficult to play and he 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, and practised long hours to learn the chords of blues music by playing along to the records. He preserved his practice sessions using his portable Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, listening to them over and over until he felt he’d got it right.

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. Around this time, Clapton began busking around Kingston, Richmond, and the West End. In 1962, 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.

Timeline

1963 – 1965 The Yardbirds
1966 – Cream
1969 – Blind Faith

Layla – Clapton


 

Tears in Heaven

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