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Eric Clapton

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Eric Clapton
Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Eric Clapton is like an old friend you’ve known all your life. From each album or live show, you know what to expect; quality music, great guitar solos, a few ballads and the blues. Clapton 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.

From John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie, and Derek and the Dominos, Clapton has had an unrivalled musical journey over 50 odd years.

Born in Ripley, Surrey, England, Clapton grew up with his grandmother, Rose, and her second husband, Jack Clapp believing they were his parents and that his mother was actually his older sister.

Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his thirteenth birthday, influenced by the blues from an early age, (Muddy Waters, Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin), he would record his own practice sessions using a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder, listening to them over and over until he felt he’d got it right.

When he was seventeen, Clapton joined his first band, an early British R&B group, the Roosters, (whose other guitarist was Tom McGuinness from Manfred Mann and The Blues Band). In 1963 Clapton joined the Yardbirds and forged a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarist in the British music scene.

Unhappy with the bands ‘pop’ direction Clapton quit the Yardbirds and joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in April 1965 – his playing on the influential album, Blues Breakers – John Mayall – With Eric Clapton gained the guitarist the phrase “Clapton is God” which was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967.

Clapton left the Bluesbreakers in July 1966 (replaced by Peter Green later of Fleetwood Mac) and was invited by drummer Ginger Baker to play in his newly formed band Cream, one of the earliest power trio supergroups, with Jack Bruce on bass and who are now widely regarded as being the world’s first successful supergroup. Their mix of blues rock, hard rock and psychedelic rock, influenced the emergence of British bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Jeff Beck Group, and Deep Purple.

Next came the short lived Blind Faith with Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech who released their only album, Blind Faith, in August 1969.

Now the story becomes complicated.

Clapton had met George Harrison during his stint in the Yardbirds and became friends with him, the close friendship between Clapton and Harrison resulted in Clapton playing the lead guitar solo on Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the Beatles’ White Album as well as Harrison’s solo debut album, Wonderwall Music, in 1968.

During this time Clapton fell in love with Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. His 1970 album with Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, was written to proclaim his love for her, particularly the song “Layla”.

When Boyd rebuffed his advances late that year, Clapton descended into heroin addiction and self-imposed exile for three years. Pattie eventually moved in with Clapton and married him in 1979. Boyd left Clapton in September 1984, and divorced him in 1988. Her stated reasons were Clapton’s years of alcoholism, as well as his numerous affairs including one with Italian model Lory Del Santo.

His next move was “Eric Clapton and Friends”, composed of Delaney and Bonnie’s former rhythm section, Bobby Whitlock as keyboardist and vocalist, Carl Radle as the bassist, and drummer Jim Gordon. 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 biography states that Tony Ashton of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke told Clapton to call the band “Del and the Dominos”, since “Del” was his nickname for Eric Clapton. Del and Eric were combined and the final name became “Derek and the Dominos”.

The Layla LP features the hit love song “Layla”, inspired by the classical poet of Persian literature, Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, During this period Clapton was devastated by the news of the death of Jimi Hendrix when eight days previously the band had cut a cover of “Little Wing” as a tribute to Hendrix. On 17 September 1970, one day before Hendrix’s death, Clapton had purchased a left-handed Fender Stratocaster that he had planned to give to Hendrix as a birthday gift.

He withdrew from recording and touring to isolation in his Surrey, England, residence as the band broke up. There he nursed a heroin and alcohol addiction. In January 1973, The Who‘s Pete Townshend organised a comeback concert for Clapton at London’s Rainbow Theatre, aptly titled the “Rainbow Concert”, to help Clapton kick his addiction.

More tragedy struck when in 1990 fellow blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan who was touring with Clapton, and three members of their road crew were killed in a helicopter crash between concerts. Then, on 20 March 1991, Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor, died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of his mother’s friend’s New York City apartment at 117 East 57th Street.

Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”, which was co-written by Will Jennings. At the 35th Grammy Awards, Clapton received six Grammy Awards for the single and his Unplugged album. The album reached number one on the Billboard chart.

In 1998, Clapton established the Crossroads Centre in Antigua to help others overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol and is active in its management oversight and fundraising to the present day. Clapton has organised the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 1999, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 to raise funds for this centre.

For a man with so much talent, Clapton has had more than his share of ups and downs. He continues to astonish and delight a vast spectrum of music lovers. It’s a legacy that will continue as part of a journey in the lifelong musical odyssey of an authentic musical genius.

Important Dates In The Life Of Eric Clapton:

On this day in music
3 Jul 2023
English multi-instrumentalist Mo Foster died from liver and bile duct cancer at the age of 78. As a session musician Foster played on over 350 recordings including artists as varied as: Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Meat Loaf and Ringo Starr.
19 May 2023
English performance poet, lyricist, and singer Pete Brown died at the age of 82. Together with Jack Bruce he wrote many of Cream's songs, including the hits 'I Feel Free', 'White Room' and with Eric Clapton 'Sunshine of Your Love'.
13 Mar 2023
American drummer Jim Gordon, died in prison at the age of 77. He was one of the most requested session drummers in the late 1960s and 1970s. Gordon co-wrote Layla with Eric Clapton, worked with The Everly Brothers, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, George Harrison, (All Things Must Pass), John Lennon (Imagine), The Carpenters, Traffic, Glen Campbell, (Wichita Lineman), Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, Frank Zappa and many others. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Gordon murdered his mother on June 3, 1983, by pounding her head with a hammer. He was sentenced to sixteen years-to-life in prison in 1984.
23 Jan 2023
English musician Top Topham died at the age of 75. He was best known as a blues guitarist and also for being the first lead guitarist of The Yardbirds. Topham left the band before they achieved mainstream popularity and was replaced by Eric Clapton.
19 Feb 2022
Gary Brooker died from cancer at the age of 76. The English singer, songwriter, pianist was the founder of the rock band Procol Harum who had the 1967 UK No.1 and US No.5 single 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', (one of the few singles to have sold over 10 million copies) and scored the hits 'Homburg' and 'Conquistador'. Brooker founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower and has also worked with Eric Clapton, Alan Parsons and Ringo Starr. Brooker also contributed to various George Harrison albums including All Things Must Pass (1970).
20 May 2021
American drummer Roger Hawkins died age 75. He was best known for playing as part of the studio band known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. His drumming can be heard on dozens of hit singles, including tracks by Percy Sledge (‘When a Man Loves a Woman’), Aretha Franklin (‘Respect’), Wilson Pickett (‘Mustang Sally’. Hawkins also worked with Duane Allman, Joe Cocker, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Bonnie Bramlett, Boz Scaggs, Albert King, Traffic, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson.
2 Mar 2021
English jazz musician, Chris Barber died age 90. He sponsored African-American blues musicians to visit Britain, making Barber a significant figure in launching the British rhythm and blues and "beat boom" of the 1960s. This, with the encouragement of local enthusiasts such as Alexis Korner and John Mayall, sparked young musicians such as Peter Green, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.
16 Jul 2020
Drummer Jamie Oldaker, whose career included stints alongside Eric Clapton and Peter Frampton, died of cancer at the age of 68. In 1974, Oldaker played on Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard, the first of 11 Clapton albums to feature Oldaker on drums. Oldaker also played alongside Leon Russell and Bob Seger, with Ace Frehley and Peter Frampton, and appeared on recordings with artists as diverse as the Bee Gees, Stephen Stills and the Bellamy Brothers.
1 Jan 2020
American keyboardist, guitarist, and saxophonist Marty Grebb died age 74. He was a member of The Buckinghams in the late 1960s, who scored the 1967 US number one hit 'Kind of a Drag"' Grebb later worked as a record producer and an arranger, who worked with musicians including Peter Cetera, Bill Payne, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Etta James, and Leon Russell.
6 Oct 2019
Ginger Baker, the legendary drummer and co-founder of rock band Cream died at the age of 80. The drummer co-founded Cream in 1966 with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The band released four albums before splitting in 1968, after which he formed the short-lived band Blind Faith with Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. Baker, one of the most innovative and influential drummers in rock music also played with Blind Faith, Hawkwind and Fela Kuti in a long and varied career. In 1962, joined Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated on the recommendation of Charlie Watts - who was leaving to join the Rolling Stones and later gained early fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organisation alongside bassist Jack Bruce.
6 Jun 2019
American singer and songwriter Dr John known for music combining blues, pop, jazz, boogie woogie and rock and roll died at the age of 77 after suffering a heart attack. Born Malcolm John Rebennack his career started in the late 1950s, when he became prominent as a pianist and singer on the New Orleans music scene. He also worked with the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger and Joe Walsh.
26 Dec 2017
Jim Burns, the co-creator of MTV's iconic MTV Unplugged series, famous for hosting shows by artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Nirvana and Jay-Z died at the age of 65. He was struck by a taxi while crossing Fifth Avenue in Manhattan three days earlier walking with his seeing-eye dog near his Upper East Side home.
2 Dec 2014
American saxophone player Bobby Keys died as a result of cirrhosis at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. Keys started touring at age fifteen with Bobby Vee and fellow Texan Buddy Holly and was best known as being the main saxophone player for The Rolling Stones. When on tour with the Stones, according to legend Keys filled a bathtub with Dom Perignon champagne and drank most of it. Keys appeared on albums by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Harry Nilsson, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and other prominent musicians.
5 Nov 2014
The funeral for Jack Bruce was held in London, attended by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and noted musicians Phil Manzanera, Gary Brooker, Vernon Reid and Nitin Sawhney among others. Dozens assembled at the Golders Green Crematorium paying a last tribute singing "Morning Has Broken", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Theme for an Imaginary Western". The Scottish-born bass player and singer had died last month as a result of liver disease.
26 Jul 2013
US singer-songwriter JJ Cale died of a heart attack at the age of 74. He became famous in 1970, when Eric Clapton covered his song 'After Midnight'. In 1977 Clapton also popularised Cale's 'Cocaine'. The two worked together on an album which won a Grammy award in 2008.
12 Jul 2013
Eric Clapton displayed his exclusive one-off version of the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Ferrari SP12 EC, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, taking part in the Michelin Supercar Run. The SP12 EC reportedly cost Clapton £3 million and was made for him by Ferrari's secretive One-Off Programme, which can make bespoke cars for special clients.
31 Dec 2012
A draft of a letter John Lennon written to Eric Clapton on Sept. 29, 1971 asking him to collaborate on a musical project sold for $35,000 at an auction. Still in pristine condition, the letter was originally estimated to fetch somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.
13 Oct 2012
An oil painting by the German artist Gerhard Richter which was owned by Eric Clapton sold for £21m ($34m) - an auction record for a work by a living artist. Clapton was set to give the money to the Crossroads Centre drug and alcohol rehabilitation center founded by the guitarist in Antigua.
15 Aug 2012
American musician Bob Birch died from an self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Los Angeles home, aged 56. Birch was badly injured in a car accident in 1995 and since then struggled with constant headaches, dizziness, vertigo, and severe pain throughout his body. He worked with Doobie Brothers, Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie, George Michael, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Phil Collins, Keith Emerson,Barry Manilow and Elton John.
20 Apr 2012
Bert Weedon, whose Play in a Day guitar guide set some of the biggest names in rock and roll on the road to greatness, died, aged 91. Play in a Day, released in 1957, sold over two million copies and helped inspire a generation of budding musicians including Eric Clapton, Brian May of Queen and the late John Lennon.
5 Apr 2012
Jim Marshall, who made rock ’n’ roll rawer and noisier by inventing the Marshall amplifier died at a hospice in London, aged 88. His amplifiers and speakers known as 'Marshall stacks' were used by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and almost every other major rock guitarist in the ’60s and ’70s and by the next generation of guitarists as well, including Kurt Cobain, Eddie Van Halen and Slash.
23 Jul 2011
A yellow Ferrari previously owned by Eric Clapton sold for £66,500 at auction. The rare 2003 Ferrari 575 Maranello, which had only 10,000 miles on the clock, was snapped up by a private buyer at a sale at the Classic Car Sale at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England. The yellow Maranello was bought new by Mr Clapton, who signed its service book, was later sold to BBC radio presenter Chris Evans.
9 Dec 2010
Eric Clapton announced he was to sell off part of his extensive guitar collection to raise money for his Crossroads rehab Centre in Antigua. Highlights of the sale would include a guitar Clapton played at the Cream reunion shows in 2005, estimated to sell for more than £13,000. The sale to be held by Bonhams in New York would also feature a vast collection of amps and speakers, including a pair of Marshall speaker cabinets.
27 Oct 2009
Eric Clapton pulled out of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert in New York City after he underwent an operation to remove gallstones. His place at the Madison Square Garden gig was taken by Jeff Beck.
29 Jan 2009
Singer-songwriter John Martyn died in hospital in Ireland at the age of 60. The folk, blues and funk artist was widely regarded as one of the most soulful and innovative singer-songwriters of his generation and had been cited as an influence by artists as varied as U2, Portishead and Eric Clapton.
27 Dec 2008
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, Delaney Bramlett died in Los Angeles from complications after gall bladder surgery. Was a member of Delaney, Bonnie & Friends and worked with George Harrison, The Everly Brothers, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, J.J. Cale, and Eric Clapton.
12 Nov 2008
Mitch Mitchell, the British drummer with the Jimi Hendrix Experience was found dead in his US hotel room aged 61. As a teenager, he starred in a children's television programme, Jennings and Derbyshire, and starred in a leading role in the 1960 British film Bottoms Up with Jimmy Edwards. Mitchell had been working with Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames when in 1966 he was invited to audition for a new band being formed to back Jimi Hendrix. In December 1968, Mitchell played with the Dirty Mac, an all-star band assembled for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (with John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards).
2 Mar 2008
Canadian guitarist, singer, Jeff Healey, died of cancer. Healey lost his sight to retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes when he was 8 months old, resulting in his eyes being surgically removed. After living cancer-free for 38 years, he developed sarcoma in his legs. Despite surgery for this, the sarcoma spread to his lungs and ultimately was the cause of his death. Healey released over 12 albums, presented a long running radio show and worked with many artists incuding; Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, ZZ Top & Eric Clapton.
6 Jun 2006
Billy Preston died of kidney failure. The Grammy-winning keyboard player collaborated with some of the greatest names in the music industry, including The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Preston is among those sometimes known as the "Fifth Beatle". After befriending the group in 1962, Preston joined the Get Back sessions in January 1969. At one point John Lennon proposed the idea of having Preston join the band.
20 Jan 2006
American music executive Johnny Bienstock died of complications from heart disease aged 83. He owned Moss Rose Music and worked with Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Elvis Presley, The Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, Del Shannon and Meat Loaf.
10 Sep 2005
Grammy-award winning guitarist and singer Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown died in Texas at the age of 81. Recorded with Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder and Frank Zappa during a career that spanned 50 years.
2 May 2005
Eric Clapton joined former Cream members Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce for the first of four nights at London's Royal Albert Hall 36 years after they had split up. Tickets were changing hands for more than £500 on eBay and fans had flown over from the USA to witness the reunion, which Clapton aged 60, is said to have agreed to because of the failing health of the other former members of the band.
28 Jan 2005
English drummer and singer songwriter Jim Capaldi died of stomach cancer aged 60. He co-founded Traffic with Steve Winwood who had the 1967 UK No.2 single 'Hole In My Shoe'. Capaldi also had the solo 1975 UK No.4 single 'Love Hurts'. Capaldi also worked with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and George Harrison.
22 Jan 2005
One of the biggest charity concerts since Live Aid raised £1.25 million ($2 million) for victims of the tsunami disaster in Asia. The concert held at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff featured Eric Clapton, Manic Street Preachers, Keane, Charlotte Church, Snow Patrol, Embrace, Feeder, Craig David and Liberty X, who appeared before 60,000 fans at the sold-out concert.
2 Nov 2004
Guitarist Eric Clapton collected his CBE from Buckingham Palace for his services to music.
14 Oct 2004
Eric Clapton was suspended from driving in France after being caught speeding at 134mph in his Porsche 911 Turbo near Merceuil. He was given a 750 euro (£515) fine and his UK licence was confiscated. After paying his fine Clapton posed for photographs with French police and then left the scene in his Porsche - with his secretary behind the wheel.
2 Aug 2004
Eric Clapton bought a 50% share in Cordings to save the historic gentleman's outfitters from closure. The store, based in London since 1839 had run into financial difficulties. The guitarist said he had been fond of the shop since a window display caught his eye when he was 16, and had become a regular shopper their. Cordings was the originator of the Covert coat and the Tattersall shirt and made riding boots for the Queen Mother, the Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson.
24 Jun 2004
A Fender Stratocaster that Eric Clapton nicknamed 'Blackie' sold at a Christie's auction for $959,500 (£564,412) in New York, making it the most expensive guitar in the world. The proceeds of the sale went towards Clapton's Crossroads addiction clinic, which he founded in 1998.
18 Nov 2003
American composer and orchestral arranger Michael Kamen died of a heart attack in London aged 55. Worked with Pink Floyd, Queen, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Eurythmics, Queensryche, Rush, Metallica, Herbie Hancock, The Cranberries, Bryan Adams, Jim Croce, Sting, and Kate Bush. Kamen co-wrote the Bryan Adams' ballad ‘(Everything I Do), I Do It for You.’
26 Aug 2003
Rolling Stone Magazine named Jimi Hendrix as the greatest guitarist in Rock history. Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ry Cooder also made the top 10 list.
27 Oct 2002
American record producer Tom Dowd died of emphysema. He recorded albums by many artists including: Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, Dusty Springfield, The Drifters and Otis Redding.
1 Jan 2002
Eric Clapton married 25-year old Melia McEnery the mother of his baby daughter at a secret ceremony at the 15th Century St Mary Magdalen Church in Ripley, Surrey, England.
21 Oct 2001
Concerts at Madison Square Garden and the RFK stadium in Washington were expected to raise millions in funds for the victims of the Sept 11th attacks. Stars who appeared included Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, and The Who.
29 Feb 2000
Eric Clapton was banned from driving for six months after speeding at 45mph in a 30mph zone near his UK home in Surrey.
25 Aug 1999
Robert Fisher from New Romantic duo Naked Eyes and Climie Fisher died of cancer. With Climie Fisher scored the 1988 UK No.2 single 'Love Changes Everything' and wrote songs for Rod Stewart, Milli Vanilli, Fleetwood Mac and Jermaine Jackson. Fisher also worked as a producer, working with various acts including Eric Clapton.
24 Jul 1999
Phil Collins married for the third time. The 48-year-old drummer wed marketing consultant Orianne Cevey in Lausanne, Switzerland. Guests at the wedding included Elton John, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler.
24 Jun 1999
Eric Clapton put 100 of his guitars up for auction at Christie's in New York City to raise money for his drug rehab clinic, the Crossroads Centre in Antigua. His 1956 Fender Stratocaster named Brownie, which was used to record the electric version of ‘Layla’, sold for a record $497,500. The auction helped raise nearly $5 million for the clinic.
12 Oct 1996
28 years after its creation, The Rolling Stones' Rock & Roll Circus was finally released. The 1968 event put together by The Stones comprised two concerts on a circus stage and included performaces by The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull and Jethro Tull. John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed as part of a supergroup called The Dirty Mac, along with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Keith Richards. It was originally planned to be aired on BBC TV.
26 May 1996
A fire at the home of Eric Clapton caused over one and a half million pounds worth of damage; Firemen arrived on the scene to find Clapton braving the blaze to save his collection of guitars.
28 Feb 1994
Eric Clapton played his 100th performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, which was in aid of the 'Children In Crisis', charity. A young Clapton first graced the Royal Albert Hall’s famous stage on 7 December 1964 with The Yardbirds as part of a BBC Two Top Beat concert.
13 Mar 1993
Eric Clapton started a three-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with Unplugged. It remains the most successful and best-selling live album ever, winning two Grammy awards at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in 1993. It is also Clapton's best-selling album ever, having sold 26 million copies worldwide.
16 Oct 1992
Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary (of his recording debut) tribute concert took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Guest performers include Neil Young, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Ronnie Wood and Dylan himself.
5 Aug 1992
Jeff Porcaro drummer from Toto died age 38 from a heart attack. His death has been the subject of controversy: some say the attack was caused by an allergic reaction to garden pesticide, while others say Porcaro's heart was weakened by smoking and cocaine use. Porcaro also worked with many other acts including Sonny and Cher, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Steely Dan, Paul Simon and Boz Scaggs.
22 Feb 1992
Shakespears Sister started an eight-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Stay'. The duo was made up of ex Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey and singer Marcella Detroit (who co-wrote 'Lay Down Sally' with Eric Clapton). One of the longest running UK No.1's in chart history and the longest by an all-female act.
16 Jan 1992
Eric Clapton recorded his unplugged session for MTV. The set which included his current hit single 'Tears in Heaven' and a reworked acoustic version of 'Layla', earned six Grammy Awards for the album including Record of the Year.
20 Mar 1991
Eric Clapton's four year old son, Conor, fell to his death from the 53rd story of a New York City apartment after a housekeeper who was cleaning the room left a window open. The boy was in the custody of his mother, Italian actress, Lori Del Santo and the pair were visiting a friend's apartment. Clapton was staying in a nearby hotel after taking his son to the circus the previous evening. The tragedy inspired his song ‘Tears in Heaven’.
27 Aug 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed when the helicopter he was flying in, hit a man-made ski slope while trying to navigate through dense fog. Vaughan had played a show at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, Wisconsin with Robert Cray & His Memphis Horns, and Eric Clapton. Vaughan was informed by a member of Clapton's crew that three seats were open on a helicopter returning to Chicago with Clapton's crew, it turned out there was only one seat left; Vaughan requested it from his brother, who obliged. Three members of Eric Clapton's entourage were also killed.
2 Apr 1990
Eric Clapton was fined by Walton-on-Thames Magistrates court, after being booked for speeding at 105mph; Clapton was also banned from driving for three months.
22 Jun 1988
American session guitarist Jesse Ed Davis died of a heroin overdose after collapsing in a laundry room in Venice, California, aged 43. Worked with Conway Twitty, The Monkees, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Leonard Cohen, Keith Moon, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, Harry Nilsson and Taj Mahal.
11 Jun 1988
Nelson Mandellas 70th birthday tribute took place at Wembley Stadium, London, featuring Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Dire Straits, Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman, George Michael, Eric Clapton, UB40, The Eurythmics and Simple Minds. The event was broadcast live on BBC 2 to 40 different countries with an estimated audience of 1 billion.
20 Jun 1987
Aerosmith appeared at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the first night on their Permanent Vacation 147 date world tour. Over the years the venue has been the home to the Texxas Jam, which has featured Deep Purple, Boston, Journey, Ted Nugent, Scorpions, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Blue Öyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, Rush, Nazareth, Styx, Foghat, Santana and the Eagles. Eric Clapton notably held his first massive 3-day Crossroads Guitar Festival here in 2004.
6 Jan 1987
Eric Clapton started what became an annual event by playing six shows at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
16 Oct 1986
Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray joined other artists on stage in St Louis, for Chuck Berry's 60th birthday concert, as featured in the film 'Hail Hail! Rock & Roll'.
8 May 1984
Roger Waters released his first solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking. The concept album, as originally envisioned by Waters in 1977, rotated around a man's thoughts during a midlife crisis, and featured guest musicians Eric Clapton on guitar, David Sanborn on saxophone and Michael Kamen on piano.
3 Jun 1983
US session drummer Jim Gordon murdered his mother during a psychotic episode. Diagnosed schizophrenic during his 1984 trial, Gordon was sentenced to 16 years-to-life in prison. A Grammy Award winner for co-writing Layla with Eric Clapton, Gordon worked with The Beach Boys, John Lennon, George Harrison Frank Zappa and many other artists.
30 Apr 1983
American Blues legend Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield) died in his sleep at his home in Westmont, Illinois, aged 68. He was a major influence on many acts including, Cream, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones named themselves after Waters' 1950 song 'Rollin' Stone.' Some of his best known songs include 'I Just Want To Make Love To You', 'I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man', and 'Got My Mojo Working.'
12 Jan 1983
Swedish percussionist with Traffic, Reebop Kwaku Baah died from a brain haemorrhage in Stockholm, Sweden. Also worked with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker's Air Force, Can and The Rolling Stones.
4 Apr 1982
‘Layla’ was on the UK singles chart. The re-released track originally featured on the Derek and the Dominos, album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (November 1970). Inspired by Clapton's then unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend George Harrison, ‘Layla’ is considered one of rock music's definitive love songs, and features an unmistakable guitar figure played by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.
14 Mar 1981
Eric Clapton was hospitalised with bleeding ulcers causing a US tour to be cancelled. He was back in hospital five weeks later after being involved in a car crash.
19 May 1979
Eric Clapton held a party at his Surrey house celebrating his recent marriage to Patti Boyd. Clapton had set-up a small stage in the garden and as the evening progressed, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr ended up jamming together along with Clapton, Ginger Baker and Mick Jagger. The all-star band ran through old Little Richard and Eddie Cochran songs.
27 Mar 1979
Eric Clapton married Patti Harrison (the ex wife of George) at Temple Bethel, Tucson, Arizona. Patti applied for a divorce in 1988.
27 Sep 1978
Eric Clapton sponsored a West Bromwich Albion UEFA cup-tie against Galatasarey of Turkey. After the game, Eric presented each player with a gold copy of his latest album 'Slowhand''
15 Jul 1978
Bob Dylan with special guest Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading and Graham Parker all appeared at Blackbushe Aerodrome, Surrey, England. Reputedly this was the biggest ever UK audience for Bob Dylan, with over 200,000 fans attending.
4 Nov 1977
The Last Waltz, the movie of The Bands final concert premiered in New York. The Martin Scorsese movie also featured Joni Mitchell, Dr John, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton.
28 Dec 1976
Blues guitarist Freddie King died of heart trouble and ulcers aged 42. Eric Clapton covered his 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman' on his Layla album. Major influence on British and American blues-rock musicians such as Jimmy Vaughan, Ronnie Earl, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.
25 Nov 1976
The Band made their final performance; 'The Last Waltz' held on American Thanksgiving Day, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The show also featured Joni Mitchell, Dr John, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton and others. The event was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary of the same name, released in 1978.
14 Sep 1974
Eric Clapton scored a US No.1 with his version of the Bob Marley song I Shot the Sheriff which was first released in 1973 on The Wailers' album Burnin'. Clapton's version was included on his 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard.
17 Aug 1974
Eric Clapton started a four-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 461 Ocean Boulevard, a No.3 hit in the UK. The house featured on the album cover is 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach, Florida (near Miami) where Clapton lived while making the album.
10 May 1974
Eric Clapton recorded I Shot the Sheriff a cover of a Bob Marley song that would be included on his 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard. Clapton was reluctant to record the track but it became the only No.1 hit of his career (to date) on the US chart.
13 Jan 1973
Eric Clapton made his stage comeback at the Rainbow Theatre, London, with Pete Townsend, Ronnie Wood, Stevie Winwood, Rebop, Jim Capaldi and support from The Average White Band. The night's two shows were recorded for the 'Rainbow Concert' album. Pete Townshend from The Who had organised the concert to help Clapton kick his heroin addiction.
23 Mar 1972
The film of The Concert For Bangladesh featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton premiered in New York. The event was the first benefit concert of this magnitude in world history. The concert raised $243,418.51 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. Sales of the album and DVD continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.
29 Jan 1972
The triple album The Concert For Bangladesh went to No.1 on the UK album chart. Organised by George Harrison to raise funds for the people caught up in the war and famine from the area. The set featured; Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar and members from Badfinger.
1 Aug 1971
The Concert For Bangladesh organised by George Harrison to aid victims of famine and war in Bangladesh took place at New York's Madison Sq Garden. Featuring Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar and members from Badfinger. Harrison had to shell out his own money to maintain the fund after legal problems froze all proceeds. The triple album release (the second in a row by Harrison), hit No.1 in the UK and No.2 in the US and received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
12 May 1971
Rolling Stone Mick Jagger married Bianca Macias at St Tropez Town Hall. The guest list included the other members of the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Stephen Stills. The couple separated in 1977.
26 Aug 1970
Recording with Eric Clapton for what would become the double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, producer Tom Dowd took Clapton and his band to an Allman Brothers concert where Clapton, already a fan of the guitarist, first heard Duane Allman play in person. After Clapton invited the whole band back to the studio that night, he and Allman formed an instant bond that provided the catalyst for the Layla album. Over ten days Allman contributed to most of the tracks on the album.
9 Jan 1970
During a UK tour Led Zeppelin appeared at The Royal Albert Hall, London, the night of Jimmy Page's 26th birthday. (John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck were all in the audience). The two and a quarter hour set was recorded and filmed but shelved for several decades, eventually seeing a release on a 2003 official DVD.
15 Dec 1969
John Lennon played what would be his final ever gig in the UK when he appeared at The Lyceum Ballroom, London, with the Plastic Ono Band in a UNICEF 'Peace For Christmas' benefit. George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Delaney and Bonnie, Billy Preston and The Who's drummer, Keith Moon also took part.
25 Sep 1969
John Lennon recorded the track 'Cold Turkey', with Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman and Yoko. Lennon presented the song to Paul McCartney as a potential single by The Beatles, but was refused and released it as a Plastic Ono Band single with sole writing credits to him.
20 Sep 1969
Blind Faith started a two-week run at No.1 on the UK chart with their self-titled debut album. The only release from the Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Rick Grech line-up also reached No.1 in the US. Their only UK gig was in Hyde Park, London on 7th Jun 1969.
20 Sep 1969
UK music paper Melody Maker readers poll results were published. Winners included Eric Clapton who won best musician, Bob Dylan best male singer and best album for 'Nashville Skyline'. Best group went to The Beatles, Best single went to Simon And Garfunkel for 'The Boxer' and Janis Joplin won Best female singer.
13 Sep 1969
John Lennon & Yoko Ono flew to Canada to perform at the Rock & Roll Revival Show in Toronto, Canada. The band members Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White were put together so late that they had to rehearse on the plane from England. Also making an appearance at the concert were Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, The Doors and Alice Cooper. Lennon later released his performance as the Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album.
16 Jul 1969
During recordings for their Abbey Road album, The Beatles worked on two new George Harrison songs, 'Here Comes The Sun' and 'Something.' Harrison was inspired to write 'Here Comes The Sun' when taking a day off from Apple business and spending the day walking around the garden at Eric Clapton's house.
7 Jun 1969
British supergroup Blind Faith, featuring Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Rick Grech and Steve Winwood made their live debut at a free concert in London's Hyde Park. Their only album release provoked controversy because the cover featured a topless pubescent girl, holding a silver space ship which some perceived as a phallic symbol. The US record company issued it with an alternative cover which showed a photograph of the band on the front. Rumours about the girl's relationship to the band fuelled the controversy; among them were that she was a groupie kept as a slave by the band members.
1 May 1969
Bob Dylan recorded an appearance for The Johnny Cash Show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. After two solo numbers from Dylan, Johnny Cash joined him for a rendition of 'Girl From The North Country'. In this primetime show, Cash enjoyed booking contemporary performers as guests; Neil Young, James Taylor, Ray Charles and Eric Clapton were all booked to appear on forthcoming shows.
15 Mar 1969
Cream started a two-week run at No.1 on the UK chart with their fourth and final original album Goodbye. The single, 'Badge', (which was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison), was subsequently released from the album a month later. Harrison was credited on the track, (for contractual reasons), as 'L'Angelo Misterioso' on rhythm guitar.
11 Dec 1968
Filming began for The Rolling Stones 'Rock & Roll Circus.' As well as clowns and acrobats, John Lennon and his fiancee Yoko Ono performed as part of a supergroup called The Dirty Mac, along with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards. It was originally meant to be aired on the BBC, but the Rolling Stones withheld it because they were unhappy with their performance. The film was eventually released in 1996.
1 Nov 1968
George Harrison released his first solo album, 'Wonderwall Music' on the Apple label. The songs which were mostly Harrison instrumentals, featured Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and an unaccredited banjo contribution by Peter Tork of The Monkees.
3 Oct 1968
Working at Trident Studios in London, The Beatles recorded the new George Harrison song ‘Savoy Truffle’. George, Paul, and Ringo recorded just one take of the basic track (drums, bass, and lead guitar). The song was inspired by Eric Clapton's love of chocolates, particularly Mackintosh's Good News.
6 Sep 1968
Working at Abbey Road studio's in London on George Harrison song 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Eric Clapton added the guitar solo (and became the first famous outside musician to play on a Beatles recording) and George recorded his lead vocal.
10 Jul 1968
Eric Clapton announced that Cream would break-up after their current tour. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire, was the world's first platinum-selling double album and Cream are widely regarded as being the world's first successful supergroup.
20 Mar 1968
Eric Clapton Neil Young, Richie Furay and Jim Mesina, were arrested in Los Angeles for 'being at a place where it was suspected marijuana was being used.' Clapton was later found innocent, the others paid small fines.
19 Aug 1967
The Beatles scored their 14th US No.1 single with 'All You Need Is Love'. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, Marianne Faithfull and Walker Brother Gary Leeds all sang backing vocals on the track.
3 Jul 1967
A private party was held at the Speakeasy Club in London, England for The Monkees. Guests included: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Dusty Springfield, Eric Clapton, Lulu and all the members from Manfred Mann, The Who and Procol Harum.
25 Jun 1967
400 million people saw The Beatles perform 'All You Need Is Love', live via satellite as part of the TV global link- up, 'Our World'. Mick Jagger Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, Keith Moon and Gary Leeds provided backing vocals.
9 Dec 1966
Supergroup Cream released their debut studio album Fresh Cream in the UK. The three piece of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker also released their second single 'I Feel Free' on the same day.
25 Nov 1966
The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their UK live debut at the Bag O'Nails Club, London, where they played using the clubs DJ booth. Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, The Hollies, and the Small Faces would all hang out at the club.
29 Jul 1966
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker made their live debut as Cream at The Twisted Wheel, Manchester, England. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire, was the world's first platinum-selling double album.
16 Jul 1966
Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton formed Cream. The three piece group only lasted two years, leaving behind some classic recordings including ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ ‘Badge,’ ‘Strange Brew,’ and ‘White Room.’
2 Jul 1966
David Bowie and The Lower Third appeared at The Lion Hotel in Warrington, England, (they were paid £30 for the gig). Also appearing was The Powerhouse which featured Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood and Paul Jones.
21 Jan 1966
George Harrison married Patti Boyd at Leatherhead Register Office in Surrey with Paul McCartney as Best man. George had first met Patti on the set of The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. She left Harrison in the mid-'70s and started an affair with Harrison's friend Eric Clapton, who wrote the song 'Layla' about her. The two married in May 1979 but split in 1988. Harrison and Clapton remained close friends with Harrison, taking to calling Clapton his "husband-in-law".
20 Aug 1965
The Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and his partner Tony Calder launched Immediate records. Their first release was The McCoy's 'Hang On Sloopy', Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Nico (later to join Velvet Underground), all attended the launch party. The label became the home of the Small Faces, Nice, Amen Corner and Chris Farlowe and a young producer - guitarist Jimmy Page.
13 Mar 1965
Eric Clapton quit The Yardbirds due to musical differences with the other band members. Clapton wanted to continue in a blues type vein, while the rest of the band preferred the more commercial style of their first hit, 'For Your Love'.
3 Mar 1965
Eric Clapton played his last show with The Yardbirds, leaving to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He was replaced by Jeff Beck.
13 Dec 1962
Elvis Presley was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Return To Sender', his 13th UK No.1. Elvis performed 'Return To Sender' in the film Girls! Girls! Girls!. The opening bars and backing on baritone saxophone was performed by Bobby Keys who later went on to work with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Harry Nilsson, George Harrison and Eric Clapton.
17 Mar 1962
Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies played at the opening of the Ealing Blues Club in Ealing, England. For the first time, British musicians played the blues and were given an opportunity to see other British artists playing the music. By the end of 1962, the Club had overseen the creation of The Rolling Stones who’d been brought together by Alexis Korner and played there over 20 times. Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Pete Townshend played Ealing, as did many other members of the future bands that would later take the raw sound of blues-based around the world.
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Stacy K Lowe

    April 1, 2021 at 5:01 am

    great article!

  2. David

    January 25, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    No mention of his racist views then?
    Not such an icon after all.

  3. Timothy Kimber

    January 30, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Goes to show you can be the greatest guitarist of all time but still be a total fuckwit

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