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Eric Clapton

also known as Slowhand

artist , guitarist , musician , Producer , singer , songwriter

Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. 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.

Background

Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England, the son of 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton (7 January 1929 - March 1999) and Edward Walter Fryer (21 March 1920 – 15 May 1985), a 25-year-old soldier from Montreal, Quebec Fryer shipped off to war prior to Clapton's birth and then returned to Canada. Clapton grew up with his grandmother, Rose, and her second husband, Jack Clapp, who was stepfather to Patricia Clapton and her brother Adrian, believing they were his parents and that his mother was actually his older sister. The similarity in surnames gave rise to the erroneous belief that Clapton's real surname is Clapp (Reginald Cecil Clapton was the name of Rose's first husband, Eric Clapton's maternal grandfather). Years later, his mother married another Canadian soldier and moved to Germany, leaving young Eric with his grandparents in Surrey.



Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his thirteenth birthday, but the inexpensive steel-stringed instrument was difficult to play and he briefly lost interest. Two years later Clapton picked it up again and started playing consistently. Clapton was influenced by the blues from an early age, and practised long hours to learn the chords of blues music by playing along to the records. He preserved his practice sessions using his portable Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, listening to them over and over until he felt he'd got it right.

Education

After leaving Hollyfield School, in Surbiton, in 1961, Clapton studied at the Kingston College of Art but was dismissed at the end of the academic year because his focus remained on music rather than art.

Career

His guitar playing was so advanced that by the age of 16 he was getting noticed. Around this time Clapton began busking around Kingston, Richmond, and the West End. In 1962, Clapton started performing as a duo with fellow blues enthusiast David Brock in pubs around Surrey. When he was seventeen years old Clapton joined his first band, an early British R&B group, "The Roosters", whose other guitarist was Tom McGuinness. He stayed with this band from January through August 1963. In October of that year, Clapton did a seven-gig stint with Casey Jones & The Engineers.

In the mid 1960s, Clapton departed from the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. In his one-year stay with Mayall, Clapton gained the nickname "Slowhand". Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and "arty, blues-based psychedelic pop." For most of the 1970s, Clapton's output bore the influence of the mellow style of J.J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" helped reggae reach a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were "Layla", recorded by Derek and the Dominos, another band he formed and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads", recorded by Cream. A recipient of seventeen Grammy Awards, in 2004 Clapton was awarded a CBE for services to music. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.

By the time Eric Clapton launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in mid-1970, he was long established as one of the world's major rock stars due to his group affiliations -- the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith -- which had demonstrated his claim to being the best rock guitarist of his generation. That it took Clapton so long to go out on his own, however, was evidence of a degree of reticence unusual for one of his stature. And his debut album, though it spawned the Top 40 hit "After Midnight," was typical of his self-effacing approach: it was, in effect, an album by the group he had lately been featured in, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.

Not surprisingly, before his solo debut had even been released, Clapton had retreated from his solo stance, assembling from the D&B&F ranks the personnel for a group, Derek & the Dominos, with whom he played for most of 1970 and recorded the landmark album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Clapton was largely inactive in 1971 and 1972, due to heroin addiction, but he performed a comeback concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London on January 13, 1973, resulting in the album Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert (September 1973). But Clapton did not launch a sustained solo career until July 1974, when he released 461 Ocean Boulevard, which topped the charts and spawned the number one single "I Shot the Sheriff."

The persona Clapton established over the next decade was less that of guitar hero than arena rock star with a weakness for ballads. The follow-ups to 461 Ocean Boulevard, There's One in Every Crowd (March 1975), the live E.C. Was Here (August 1975), and No Reason to Cry (August 1976), were less successful. But Slowhand (November 1977), which featured both the powerful "Cocaine" (written by J.J. Cale, who had also written "After Midnight") and the hit singles "Lay Down Sally" and "Wonderful Tonight," was a million-seller. Its follow-ups, Backless (November 1978), featuring the Top Ten hit "Promises," the live Just One Night (April 1980), and Another Ticket (February 1981), featuring the Top Ten hit "I Can't Stand It," were all big sellers.

Clapton's popularity waned somewhat in the first half of the '80s, as the albums Money and Cigarettes (February 1983), Behind the Sun (March 1985), and August (November 1986) indicated a certain career stasis. But he was buoyed up by the release of the box set retrospective Crossroads (April 1988), which seemed to remind his fans of how great he was. Journeyman (November 1989) was a return to form. It would be his last new studio album for nearly five years, though in the interim he would suffer greatly and enjoy surprising triumph. On March 20, 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son was killed in a fall. While he mourned, he released a live album, 24 Nights (October 1991), culled from his annual concert series at Royal Albert Hall in London, and prepared a movie soundtrack, Rush (January 1992). The soundtrack featured a song written for his son, "Tears in Heaven," that became a massive hit single.

In March 1992, Clapton recorded a concert for MTV Unplugged which, when released on an album in August, became his biggest-selling record ever. Two years later, Clapton returned with a blues album, From the Cradle, which became one of his most successful albums, both commercially and critically. Crossroads, Vol. 2: Live in the Seventies, a box set chronicling his live work from the '70s, was released to mixed reviews. In early 1997, Clapton, billing himself by the pseudonym "X-Sample," collaborated with keyboardist/producer Simon Climie as the ambient new age and trip-hop duo T.D.F. The duo released Retail Therapy to mixed reviews in early 1997.

Clapton retained Climie as his collaborator for Pilgrim, his first album of new material since 1989's Journeyman. Pilgrim was greeted with decidedly mixed reviews upon its spring 1998 release, but the album debuted at number four and stayed in the Top Ten for several weeks on the success of the single "My Father's Eyes." In 2000, Clapton teamed up with old friend B.B. King on Riding with the King, a set of blues standards and material from contemporary singer/songwriters. Another solo outing, entitled Reptile, followed in early 2001. Three years later, Clapton issued Me and Mr. Johnson, a collection of tunes honoring the Mississippi-born bluesman Robert Johnson. Released in 2005, Back Home, Clapton's 14th album of original material, reflected his ease with fatherhood. Also in 2005, Clapton unexpectedly teamed with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker for a Cream reunion that included May concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall and shows at New York's Madison Square Garden in October, with the former being compiled for a live release that fall.

This turned out to be the first of many reunions and looks back for Clapton. In 2006, he elevated the profile of his latter-day idol J.J. Cale by recording an album-long duet, The Road to Escondido. The following year he released his autobiography -- accompanied by a new career compilation called The Complete Clapton -- which focused more on his trials with addiction and subsequent recovery than his musical career. In 2008, Clapton began playing regular shows with his old Blind Faith partner Steve Winwood, gigs that were captured on the 2009 double-live set Live from Madison Square Garden. Winwood also appeared on Clapton's next studio album, 2010's Clapton, which was a collaboration-heavy affair also featuring Cale, Sheryl Crow, Allen Toussaint, and Wynton Marsalis. In 2011, Clapton returned the favor to Marsalis by collaborating on the live concert album Play the Blues: Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Clapton parted ways with Warner after Clapton, and he chose to set up his own Bushbranch imprint on Gary Hoey's independent label Surfdog. His first album for the label was Old Sock, largely a collection of old songs the guitarist loved. It reached the Top Ten in the U.S. and Great Britain. In the fall of 2013, Warner Bros. released Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013, and his Unplugged album was expanded and remastered by Rhino. Early the following year, Clapton announced that a new album, The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale, would be issued in July, one year on from the passing of his key inspiration. The tribute album included contributions from artists such as Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Tom Petty, and Mark Knopfler. A collection of his Warner recordings called Forever Man saw a spring 2015 release.

Achievements

  • Achievements include minor planet named "(4305) Clapton" in his honor, 1990.

    Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

  • First triple inductee into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

  • Guitarist (albums with The Yardbirds) Five Live Yardbirds, 1964, For Your Love, 1965, Having A Rave Up, 1965, guitarist, singer (albums with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers) Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, 1966, (albums with Cream) Fresh Cream, 1966, Disraeli Gears, 1967, Wheels of Fire, 1968, Goodbye, 1969, Live Cream, 1970, Live Cream Volume The second, 1972, Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream, 1983, Those Were the Days, 1997, British Broadcasting Corporation Sessions, 2003, Cream Gold, 2005, Royal Albert Hall London 2-6 May 2005, 2005, guitarist (albums with Blind Faith) Blind Faith, 1969; guitarist (albums with Delaney and Bonnie & Friends) On Tour with Eric Clapton, 1970; singer, guitarist (albums with Derek and the Dominos) Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970, In Concert, 1973, The Layla Sessions: The 20th Anniversary Edition, 1990, Live at the Fillmore, 1994, (solo albums) Eric Clapton, 1970, 461 Ocean Boulevard, 1974, There's One in Every Crowd, 1975, E.C. Was Here, 1975, No Reason to Cry, 1976, Slowhand, 1977, Backless, 1978, Just One Night, 1980, Another Ticket, 1981, Time Pieces: Best of Eric Clapton, 1982, Money and Cigarettes, 1983, Behind the Sun, 1985, Time Pieces Vol. The second 'Live' in the 70's, 1985, August, 1987, Crossroads, 1988, One Moment in Time, 1988, Journeyman, 1989, 24 Nights, 1991, Unplugged, 1992 (Winner of 6 Grammy awards including Album of Year, Record of Year), From the Cradle, 1994 (Grammy award Best Traditional Blues Album), The Cream of Clapton, 1995, Crossroads The second: Live in the Seventies, 1996, Retail Therapy, 1997, Pilgrim, 1998, Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton 1981-1999, 1999, The Blues, 1999, Reptile, 2001 (Grammy award Best Pop Instrumental Perf.), One More Car, One More Rider, 2002, Me and Mr. Johnson, 2004, Sessions for Robert J., 2004, Back Home, 2005, Complete Clapton, 2007, Clapton, 2010, (soundtracks) Rush, 1992, (soundtracks with The Band & others) The Last Waltz, 1976, (albums with others) A Concert for Bangladesh, 1972 (Grammy award Album of Year), Rainbow Concert, 1973, Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, 1993, (albums with B.B. King) Riding with the King, 2000 (Grammy award Best Trad. Blues Album), (albums with J.J. Cale) The Road to Escondido, 2006, (albums with Steve Winwood) Live From Madison Square Garden, 2009; producer (with Rod Stewart): (albums) Beginnings, 2004; composer: (songs) British Broadcasting Corporation miniseries Edge of Darkness, 1986, (film score) Lethal Weapon, 1986, Homeboy, 1988, Lethal Weapon 2, 1989, The Van, 1996, Nil by Mouth, 1997; co-composer (film score) Lethal Weapon 3, 1992; performer: (films) The Concert for Bangladesh, 1972, The Last Waltz, 1978, Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, 1993, The Rolling Stones Rock 'N' Roll Circus, 1996; author: Clapton: The Autobiography, 2007

Politics

Clapton is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance, he has played in concerts to raise funds for the organisation and he publicly opposed the Labour Party’s ban on fox hunting. A spokesperson for Clapton said, "Eric supports the Countryside Alliance. He doesn't hunt himself, but does enjoy rural pursuits such as fishing and shooting. He supports the Alliance's pursuit to scrap the ban on the basis that he doesn't agree with the state's interference with people's private pursuits."

In 2008, he donated a song to Aid Still Required's CD to assist with the restoration of the devastation done to Southeast Asia from the 2004 Tsunami.

Views

Quotations: "Given the choice between accomplishing something and just lying around, I'd rather lie around. No contest"

"I am, and always will be, a blues guitarist."

"When all the original blues guys are gone, you start to realize that someone has to tend to the tradition. I recognize that I have some responsibility to keep the music alive, and it's a pretty honorable position to be in."

"I would challenge anybody to come up with a better design for a guitar. The Stratocaster is as good as it gets."

"My original interests and intentions in guitar playing were primarily created on quality of tone, for instance, the way the instrument could be made to echo or simulate the human voice. At the time when I was still thrashing around on the acoustic guitar trying to sound like Leadbelly or Jesse Fuller, there was someone who had already achieved this particular goal. That was Hank Marvin [Hank B. Marvin] of The Shadows. He had found, and settled on, a clean, pure sound which disallowed any kind of ham-fisted playing. Only the lightest touch was permitted. The result was a marvelous mixture of clear, sweet melody over a strong rock beat (and what a great drum sound). On top of all this, he looked like Buddy Holly and played a real Stratocaster!"

"My dedication to my music has driven everyone away. I've had girlfriends, but I always end up on my own. I don't particularly like it, but I don't see a way 'round it."

"We didn't really have a band with Cream. We rarely played as an ensemble; we were three virtuosos, all of us soloing all the time."

"We didn't really have a band with Cream. We rarely played as an ensemble; we were three virtuosos, all of us soloing all the time."

Personality

When he was 2 his mother felt she was unable to look after him, so Eric then went to live with his grandparents. When he was 14 he took up the guitar, having been influenced by blues artists such as B.B King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. In 1963, after he was chucked out of art college, he joined Paul Samwell-Smith, as he was in art school with Keith Relf. He stayed for about 18 months before beginning a stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Eric became known as "god", as he impressed the whole English music scene with his amazing guitar playing. After about a year Eric had had enough of impersonating his blues idols and decided to form a group of his own, so in 1966 he formed a band with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker (who had the idea) that became known as Cream. This band was not a purist blues group but a hard-driving rock and blues trio.

Interests

  • Sport & Clubs

    Football

  • Music & Bands

    Rock and Roll

Connections

father:
Edward - Canadian - pilot

mother:
Patricia

ex-wife:
Patricia Anne Boyd

wife:
Melia McEnery

Children:
Julie Rose, Ella May, Sophie, Conor (deceased 1991)

10/03/91: His five-year-old son Conor (mother is Lory Del Santo) died in a fall from a 53rd-floor apartment. Clapton's Grammy-winning hit song "Tears in Heaven" was dedicated to the memory of his son.

Daughter Ella May was born in London.

friend:
Duane Allman

Was very good friends with Duane Allman, and they held a great deal of respect for each other. Allman played guitar on the Derek and the Dominos song "Layla."