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Eric Clapton Biography
Widely considered one of the most influential guitarists of all-time, Eric Clapton was captivated by the blues at a young age. He received his first guitar at the age of thirteen, though quickly lost interest in the inexpensive model his parents gave him. He would return to it more consistently just two years later, imitating the chords of famous blues musicians like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and B.B. King. By eighteen, he had developed enough skill to join Casey Jones & The Engineer on a brief England run in October of 1963.
Clapton would quickly go on to join The Yardbirds the same year, a blues-heavy rock and roll band that rose to prominence in the British rock circuit as the Rolling Stones’ residency replacement at the Crawdaddy Club in London. The band saw continuing success with its first hit, “For Your Love”, in 1965, much to the chagrin of Clapton, however, who wanted no part in the group's commercial success. He aptly left the band for John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, though only played with the band for several months.
While his playing was well-known throughout the clubs of Britain, Clapton had yet to become a household name in North America. Following his short tenure with The Bluesbreakers, he was asked to form supergroup Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in 1966. Cream’s infusion of blues, rock, and psychedelic pop was a foundational sound of the 60s; greatly influencing the acid-rock sound and vibrant culture of the last half of the decade. Along with American-born guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix, Cream paved the way for warm guitar tones and the excessive use of pedalboards to create a distinctive sound that is still practiced and idolized today.
Cream would flourish in the United States upon its arrival in 1967. The band was supported by its integral second and third albums Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire, which featured the massive hits “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room”. Success would soon adhere to the demise of the group, however, as rising tension mixed with excessive drug and alcohol abuse caused the trio to part ways in 1968.
Following a period of short-lived gigs in the bands Blind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, Clapton would form Eric Clapton and Friends in 1970. The sextet would then change their name to Derek and the Dominos. While the group would spawn one of the most iconic rock and roll songs ever in “Layla”, its success, much like Cream, was derailed by conflicting personalities and substance abuse. The deaths of Hendrix and Duane Allman and Jim Gordon’s diagnosed schizophrenia were also major contributing factors to its dissolution. Derek and the Dominos disbanded in 1971, just months after initially forming.
While Clapton sought treatment for a severe heroin addiction, he would continue on to a promising solo career. Since the 1970s, he has released 22 solo studio albums, finding critical success with singles like “After Midnight” on his debut self-titled LP, a cover of “I Shot The Sherriff” by Bob Marley off of 461 Ocean Boulevard and “Tears In Heaven”, dedicated to his four-year-old son Conor, who was killed in an accidental fall from a Manhattan hi-rise in 1991.
He continues to tour across the world, though less extensively than in years past. As he celebrates his 70th birthday in 2015, the renowned guitarist has scheduled two shows at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and will follow with a seven-night residency at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May. With an exhaustive catalogue of hits songs and albums, Clapton will continue to live on as one of the most important musicians of the 20th and 21st century, and has no end in sight.
The Road To Escondido (2006)
Back Home (2005)
Me And Mr. Johnson (2004)
Riding With The King (2000)
From The Cradle (1994)
Behind The Sun (1985)
Money And Cigarettes (1983)
Another Ticket (1981)
No Reason To Cry (1976)
There's One In Every Crowd (1975)
461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
Eric Clapton (1970)