Eric Clapton Biography

Eric Clapton Biography
Eric Clapton (born March 30, 1945) is a British guitarist, nicknamed slowhand or, in the 1960s, God.


Having learned to play as a boy, and growing up listening to blues recording by the likes of Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton first made his name as a member of the Yardbirds, a pop-influenced rock and roll band whose biggest hit "For Your Love" came whilst Eric was a member. Feeling the need to return to his blues roots he joined the Bluesbreakers, with John Mayall. His emotional playing on their first album (which features Eric reading a copy of the Beano on the cover) made his name as a blues player, and inspired a short-lived craze of graffiti deifying him ("Clapton is God", it read).

Limited by Mayall's traditional blues format, and destroyed by Jimi Hendrix's newly formed Experience playing a double-timed version of "Killing Floor" at the Central Polytechnic in London, he left in 1966 to form Cream, one of the earliest examples of the supergroup, and also one of the earliest 'power trios', with Jack Bruce (also of Bluesbreakers) and Ginger Baker (of the Graham Bond Organisation). During his time with Cream he began to develop as a singer as well as play, though Bruce took most of the vocals.

Cream's repertoire varied from pop soul ("I Feel Free") to lengthy instrumental jams ("Spoonful"). The group achieved commercial success during its brief existence with the song "Sunshine of Your Love", from the Disraeli Gears album, and "White Room" from Wheels of Fire. The Goodbye album, released shortly after Cream disbanded in 1968, featured the single "Badge," co-written by Clapton and Beatle George Harrison. The friendship between the two, which had resulted in Clapton playing on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from The Beatles' White Album (a tactic by Harrison to make the other band members take his song seriously) was later sorely tested when Harrison's wife, Patti Boyd-Harrison, left him for Clapton.

Following a second spell in a supergroup, the far less successful Blind Faith, Eric Clapton first played as one of Delaney and Bonnie & Friends before releasing a restrained solo album. The next record, however, was better received. Taking the sidemen from his solo record, he recorded Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs as "Derek and the Dominos", along with an unplanned late addition of slide guitar virtuoso Duane Allman, whom Eric first met when he attended a show by the Allman Brothers in Miami, where Eric was recording. The title track, a statement of unrequited love for Boyd-Harrison with an immediately recognizable guitar riff, remains one of the most widely played rock songs of the 1970s. The remainder of the album, which was heavily blues-influenced, featured a winning combination of the two guitars of Allman and Clapton.

Despite his success, Eric Clapton's personal life was a mess. In addition to the romantic entanglements, he had become addicted to heroin, which resulted in a career hiatus interrupted only by the Concert for Bangladesh and the "Rainbow Concert" in 1973 (see 1973 in music), organized by The Who's Pete Townshend to help Clapton kick the drug. Relatively clean again, he released 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), an album with the emphasis on songs rather than musicianship. Its cover of "I Shot The Sheriff" was important in bringing the music of Bob Marley to a wider audience. The 1975 album There's One In Every Crowd continued this trend. (Its original intended title The World's Greatest Guitar Player (There's One In Every Crowd) was altered, as it was felt the ironic intention would be missed.)

The late 1970s saw Eric Clapton struggle to come to terms with the changes in popular music, and a relapse into alcoholism, that eventually saw him hospitalised and spend a period of convalescence in Antigua, where he would later support the creation of a drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre. His albums continued in the 1980s, with only 1989's Journeyman achieving much critical acclaim, featuring a strong return to his blues roots.

The early 1990s saw tragedy enter Eric Clapton's life on two occasions. On August 27, 1990 guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was touring with Clapton, and two members of their road crew were killed in a helicopter crash between concerts. Then, on March 20 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son Conor died following an accidental fall from an apartment window. A fraction of Clapton's grief was heard on the song "Tears In Heaven" (on the soundtrack to the movie Rush), co-written with Will Jennings, which, like the MTV Unplugged album that followed it, won a Grammy award.

Like Unplugged, his 1994 album From The Cradle, featured a number of versions of old blues standards, and highlighted his economical acoustic guitar style. In 1997 he recorded Retail Therapy, an album of electronic music under the pseudonym TDF, and he finished the twentieth century with critically-acclaimed collaborations with Carlos Santana and B. B. King. Clapton's 1996 recording of the Wayne Kirkpatrick/ Gordon Kennedy/Tommy Sims tune Change the World won a Grammy award for song of the year in 1997.


  • 1970 Self-Titled
  • 1970 Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (as Derek and the Dominoes)
  • 1973 Live at the Fillmore (as Derek and the Dominoes) (Live 1970)
  • 1973 Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert (Live 1972)
  • 1974 461 Ocean Boulevard
  • 1975 There's One In Every Crowd
  • 1975 E.C. Was Here (Live 1975)
  • 1976 No Reason To Cry
  • 1977 Slowhand
  • 1978 Backless
  • 1980 Just One Night (Live 1979, Double Disc Set)
  • 1981 Another Ticket
  • 1982 Time Pieces: Best Of Eric Clapton (1969-1979)
  • 1983 Money And Cigarettes
  • 1984 Too Much Monkey Business
  • 1985 Behind The Sun
  • 1986 August
  • 1988 Crossroads (Box Set)
  • 1989 Homeboy
  • 1989 Journeyman
  • 1990 The Layla Sessions (as Derek and the Dominoes) (20th Anniversary Edition, Box Set)
  • 1991 24 Nights (Live 1990)
  • 1992 Rush
  • 1992 Unplugged (Live 1991)
  • 1994 From The Cradle
  • 1995 The Cream Of Clapton (Live)
  • 1996 Crossroads 2: Live In The Seventies (Live from 1974 to 1978, Quadruple CD Set)
  • 1998 Pilgrim
  • 1999 The Blues (Double Disc Set)
  • 2000 Riding With The King
  • 2001 Reptile
  • 2002 One More Car, One More Rider (Live 2001)
  • 2003 TBA

Singles Discography

  • 1970 After Midnight
  • 1974 I Shot The Sheriff
  • 1974 Willie And The Hand Jive
  • 1976 Hello Old Friend
  • 1978 Lay Down Sally
  • 1978 Wonderful Tonight
  • 1978 Promises
  • 1979 Watch Out For Lucy
  • 1980 Tulsa Time
  • 1980 Cocaine
  • 1981 I Can't Stand It
  • 1983 I've Got A Rock N' Roll Heart
  • 1985 Forever Man
  • 1990 Bad Love
  • 1992 Tears In Heaven
  • 1995 Love Can Build A Bridge
  • 1996 Change The World

This Eric Clapton Biography Page is Copyright The Planets 2004 - 2006 Chuck Ayoub