This Day In Music 30.03.2016
Eric Patrick Clapton was born on 30 March 1945 in his grandparents’ home at 1 The Green, Ripley, Surrey, England. He was the son of 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton and Edward Walter Fryer, a 24-year-old Canadian soldier stationed in England during World War II. Before Eric was born, Fryer returned to his wife in Canada. Pat’s parents, Rose and Jack Clapp, stepped in as surrogate parents and raised Eric as their own. Thus, he grew up believing his mother was his sister. At the age of nine, he learned the truth about his parentage when Pat returned to England with his six-year-old half brother for a visit. This singular event affected him deeply and was a defining moment in his life.
For his 13th birthday, Eric asked for a guitar. Guitar playing and listening to the blues dominated his waking hours. Typical of his introspective nature, Eric looked beneath the surface and explored the roots of rock in American Blues.
In early 1963, 17 year-old Eric joined his first band, The Roosters. Before turning to music as a full-time career, he supported himself as a laborer at building sites, working alongside his grandfather, a master bricklayer and plasterer.
In October 1963, Keith Relf and Paul Samwell-Smith recruited him to become a member of The Yardbirds because Clapton was the most talked about guitar player on the R&B pub circuit. During his 18-month tenure with The Yardbirds, he earned his nickname, Slowhand, and recorded his first albums: Five Live Yardbirds and Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds. The band also recorded the single, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. When The Yardbirds began moving towards a more commercial sound with “For Your Love”, he quit. His path in music was the blues.
The Yardbirds - Good Morning Little School Girl, 1964
In April 1965, John Mayall invited Eric to join his band, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. With this group, Clapton established his reputation as a guitarist and earned his second nickname: “God”. While with the Bluesbreakers, Eric also recorded a one-off four-track session with a band dubbed “The Powerhouse”.
This studio band included John Paul Jones, Steve Winwood and Jack Bruce.
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers – Hideway, 1966
In July 1966, Eric teamed up with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form Cream. Extensive touring in the U.S. and three solid albums - Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, and Wheels of Fire - brought the band worldwide acclaim.
While a member of Cream, he cemented his reputation as rock’s premier guitarist and was elevated to superstar status. They disbanded after two final performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 26 November 1968.
Cream – White Room, live 1968
Following Cream’s break-up, Clapton founded Blind Faith - rock’s first “supergroup” - with Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech. Disbanding after one album and a disastrous American tour, Clapton’s self-titled debut was released in 1970.
In the summer of 1970, Eric formed Derek and the Dominos with Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock from Delaney & Bonnie’s band . The Dominos would go on to record the seminal rock album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. A concept album, its theme revolved around Clapton’s unrequited love for George Harrison’s wife, Patti.
Derek and the Dominos - Layla, 1970
He kicked his 3 years drug addiction and re-launched his career in January 1973 with two concerts at London’s Rainbow Theater organized by his friend, Pete Townshend (The Who). The concerts represented a turning point in his career. In 1974, he reappeared with a new style and sound with 461 Ocean Boulevard. Eric had become an assured vocalist and composer in addition to a guitar hero.
With each album after 461 Ocean Boulevard, Eric reinvented himself musically. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, albums and tours would follow year in and year out. His career went from strength to strength and reached new heights in 1992 with the release of Unplugged and the Grammy winning single, “Tears In Heaven.”
Clapton – I Can't Stand it (from Another Ticket, 1981)
In 1994, Eric returned to his blues roots with the release of From The Cradle. In 1998, he released the soul-influenced Pilgrim, his first album of all new material in nine years. In 2000 he recorded an album with American blues legend, B.B. King. Riding With The King and within three weeks of release was certified gold.
In 2005, Eric also revisted the past. He, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce re-formed Cream for four very special reunion shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
In October 2005, the men performed three further concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Cream – Crossroads, live 2005 (reunion show at Royal Albert Hall, London, UK)
In his more than 40 year career, Eric Clapton has received many awards. He is the only triple inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (as a member of both the Yardbirds and Cream and as a solo artist). He has also won or shared in eighteen Grammy Awards.
Eric has also contributed to numerous artists’ albums over the decades. The most well known session occurred in September 1968, when he added guitar to George Harrison’s composition, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It is on the album, The Beatles (best known as “The White Album”). He can also be heard on albums by Aretha Franklin, Steven Stills, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Ringo Starr, Sting, and Roger Waters.
Clapton – While My Guitar Gently Weeps, live (Concert for George, 29 november 2002, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK)
In 1998, Eric announced the opening of Crossroads Centre, a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse on the island of Antigua. A foundation was established to provide “scholarships” for these individuals. Clapton in this years auctioned hundreds of his guitars, including “Brownie” (the guitar on which he recorded “Layla”), “Blackie”, his legendary Fender Stratocaster and a cherry red Gibson ES335, known as “The Cream Guitar”.