Born in a small town in Surrey, England, in 1945, Clapton is the only artist to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame three times, for his work as a solo artist, in the Yardbirds, and in Cream. He is a blues rock musician and personally cites his biggest influence as Robert Johnson, and has even gone so far as to record an entire album of Johnson’s songs, entitled ‘Me and Mr. Johnson‘.
Clapton’s solos are extremely memorable due to their melodic nature and their powerful energy and his songwriting capabilities are to be admired as much as his guitar work and singing. Clapton has gone through many phases during his career, focusing more on his singing and songwriting later on.
His group ‘Cream‘ with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce is an absolute joy to behold. Check out this live version of Crossroads and listen to the energy created by the driving rhythm section and Clapton’s exploding blues guitar solos over the top. The whole track makes you want to fall off your seat ! The band broke up after only 4 years despite international acclaim due to the fiery and erratic personalities of the members.
Recommended listing includes the live acoustic album, ‘Unplugged‘, and in particular it is worth comparing his acoustic version of Layla to his earlier electric version. One of the most moving moments from this album is the song Tears in Heaven, written for his son who tragically died when he fell from an open 54th storey window in New York.
Having battled with addiction, he has set up a drugs and alcohol rehabilitation center in the States. He has married multiple times, including to Pattie Boyd, the ex-wife of Beatles guitarist, George Harrison.
He has been known to play many different types of guitar, but settled on the Fender Stratocaster in 1969, here is a photo of him with his famous guitar named ‘Blackie’.
Clapton is considered ‘one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time‘ by Rolling Stone magazine, and is ranked at #2 on their list of ‘100 greatest guitarists of all time‘