Sometime in my formative musical years (yeah the 70’s, I’m old) a friend brought over this record he had found by a band called Cream. The record was called Wheels Of Fire. From the second I heard “White Room” I was hooked. Who were these guys? And who was playing that fantastic guitar? Eric Clapton? Who was that?
Ever the music geek I had to know more about this guy. Given the limited resources back then I had to actually talk to people to find more. I found out he was English and had a very prolific musical background. The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, the Immediate All-stars, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Powerhouse, and Derek and the Dominos, all bands I came to know and love.
I found myself drawn into Eric’ s style of playing, his style, passion, and skill . “For Your Love” (Yardbirds), “White Room” “Badge” (Cream), “Can’t Find My Way Home” (Blind Faith), “Layla” (Derek and the Dominos), these were songs that amazed me. I had many discussions with friends and peers about him. Some called him G-d, others didn’t care for him at all, yet others said he was being held back by being in bands and that he should be a solo artist.
Here’s where I piss some people off, I think Eric Clapton is better as a part of a group. While he had a few solo songs that i really dig “Let it Rain” (1972), “Wonderful Tonight” (1978) his subsequent releases didn’t reach out to me as did his earlier works. I know musicians change and grow as their personal lives do. Drugs, family loss, just plain life in general. As the musician changes so do their fans from the same reasons I listed earlier, and that is ok. I just didn’t “feel” the music Eric was making by himself. Does that make him less of player, less talented, less of anything? I say no, it’s just that our musical tastes took us on different paths from each other.
I do believe that Eric has been over-hyped at times. I know people who claim that “Eric Clapton is the greatest guitar player ever” yet when you ask them about his body of work they come up lacking in knowledge. I think that is is a serious injustice to musicians to try and rate them as to who is better than who. How can that be done when each has an individual style and sound? Would it be better to ask who you prefer to listen to and why? Do we really need to create a division in the music world? The love of music binds us together and we should stand strong united. There is music that doesn’t reach me, but does that mean I should say it sucks? I think not, it simply means it doesn’t click for me. I took me a long time and many arguments to figure that out. I have come to admire and respect ANY musician who feels the spark of creativity blossom within them and nurtures it. Of course there are people in it for all of the wrong reasons and that shows in the music they create.
Eric Clapton is G-d?, Eric Clapton is the best guitarist ever?, maybe to some people. Eric Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time, now this I can get behind and agree with. If Eric inspired one, just one person to pick up a guitar and learn to make the music that lived inside them then yes, he is important and influential. Here’s the track that made me appreciate Eric “Slowhand” Clapton:
Here’s a bit of Eric Clapton trivia for ya: The nickname “Slowhand” was not, as is commonly thought, given to Clapton due to playing the guitar slowly. Rather, it was given to him because of audiences giving him a slow hand clap when he would replace guitar strings on stage. When most guitar players break a string on stage, a roady will typically bring them another guitar and fix the string on the old one off-stage. Clapton, on the other hand, had a practice of standing on stage and replacing and tuning the string in front of the audience. While he was doing this during one particular performance, the audience gave him a slow clap or a “slow hand” until he had fixed it and was ready to play again. This slow-clap ultimately became a common thing with Clapton, while with the Yardbirds, where whenever he’d break a string during a performance, the audience would give him a slow clap until he was finished replacing it. According to Eric Clapton, the guy that managed the Yardbirds, Giorgio Gomelsky, then gave him the nickname “Slowhand”: “He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into Slowhand as a play on words.”
Thank you Eric Clapton for picking up a guitar and inspiring the guitarists everywhere. Although I left you years ago, I check in on you periodically and appreciate your dedication and the fact that you are still making music.
it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ERIC CLAPTON!!!
– the Hellion