Clapton at the Hard Rock Calling concert on 28 June 2008, Hyde Park, London
|Birth name||Eric Patrick Clapton|
|Also known as||Slowhand|
|Born||30 March 1945|
Ripley, Surrey, England
|Genres||Rock, blues, hard rock|
|Years active||since 1962|
|Associated acts||The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos|
Eric Patrick Clapton (born 30 March 1945, in The Green, Ripley, Surrey, England) is an English guitarist, singer and composer. Clapton is the son of a sixteen-year-old, Patricia Clapton, and Edward Fryer, a Canadian soldier stationed in England. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 2 on its list of Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England on March 30, 1945. Clapton's father, who already had a wife, returned to Canada after World War II. His mother, was not able to bear the shame of raising an illegitimate child (a child of unmarried parents) in post-war Britain. She left Clapton with his grandparents Jack and Rose Clapp (Clapton by her first marriage) and moved to Germany where she married another Canadian soldier. Clapton was raised believing his mother was his sister. His grandmother did not tell him the truth until he was nine years old.
A polite and well-behaved boy, the young Clapton was an above-average student, though in 1956 he failed the eleven-plus and went to St. Bedes Secondary Modern School. Two years later however, he passed the review and went to 13-plus on the strength of his art accomplishment and got a scholarship to a school in Tolworth, near Surbiton. He liked art very much. He wanted to learn to play the guitar after watching Jerry Lee Lewis on television. Clapton's obsession with playing blues music caused him to be expelled from Kingston College of Art because he was playing the guitar in class.
Working as a labourer to pay his way, Clapton spent most of his free time playing his electric guitar. Eventually he joined a local band, The Roosters. He later joined Casey Jones And The Engineers with fellow band member Tom McGuiness. In 1963, Clapton was asked to join The Yardbirds. It was in the Yardbirds that he earned his nickname of 'Slowhand'. The name came from his forceful string-bending that often caused broken guitar strings. He would replace the strings on stage while the crowd slowly clapped their hands.
After about 18 months with the Yardbirds, musical differences led Clapton to move on to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, where his talent grew even more. It was at this part in his career that Eric's fans gave him his second, and ultimate, nickname - "God"!
In mid-1966 he left the Bluesbreakers, whose members had grown to include Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The band he formed with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker would become Eric's best-known band, and rock's first-ever supergroup, Cream. Cream became the "pre-eminent (best) rock trio of the Sixties"; the name came from its members being among the top session musicians in England. They played both their own songs ("Strange Brew", "Sunshine Of Your Love", "White Room") and cover versions of other people's songs ("I'm So Glad"). Like his contemporary Jimi Hendrix, Clapton helped to pioneer the use of the wah-wah pedal. He played a famous guitar called The Fool. He also developed what he called the "woman tone" on his guitar and used it to great effect. For instance, at one point during the song "Tales of Brave Ulysses", he combines the woman tone with feedback (overdriven amplifier) to create a unique sound.
Clapton became friends with Beatle George Harrison, who asked him to play guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", for 1968's "White Album". Clapton also played on John Lennon's "Yer Blues", in a filmed performance.
While Cream were popular and had several hit records, problems between Baker and Bruce, and the increasing drug use of all three caused tensions that eventually broke the band up in 1969. George Harrison teamed with Clapton, to write and record "Badge" for Cream's final album.
Clapton played again with John Lennon and his new wife Yoko Ono, as a member of the Plastic Ono Band. He appeared with them onstage in Toronto that September, and played guitar on "Cold Turkey", Lennon's song about heroin addiction. At that time, the Beatles were getting ready to break up. Lennon thought about asking Clapton to join his and Ono's new band, but decided not to have a permanent lineup.
Clapton and Baker joined with Rick Grech and Steve Winwood to form Blind Faith. Blind Faith lasted only a few months, and released one album. After Blind Faith broke up, Clapton formed another band, called Derek and the Dominos. Their most popular song was "Layla". He performed a concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 13 January 1973, thanks to his friend Pete Townshend of The Who. He started work on a new album, 461 Ocean Blvd, which was released July 1974.
The inspiration for "Layla" was fashion model Pattie Boyd. She was married to Clapton's friend, George Harrison. Clapton was in love with Boyd. He was not happy because he could not be with her because she was married to his friend. In time, Boyd and Harrison grew apart, and Clapton and Boyd got together. They married in May 1979. All three remained friends, and Clapton and Harrison called themselves "husbands-in-law", though for some years afterwards, the friendship between them was understandably strained. Clapton and Boyd were divorced in 1989, after they also grew apart.
Following the death of his four-year-old son Conor, who fell from a window of a 53rd-floor New York apartment owned by his mother's friend on March 20 1991, Clapton arrived at the apartment shortly after the accident. Clapton's grief was expressed in the song "Tears in Heaven", which was featured on his Unplugged album and for the 1991 Rush film soundtrack. The song was Clapton's best-selling single in the United States and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. It won three Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Tears in Heaven" 362nd on the magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
Along with his drug problems, Clapton had trouble with alcohol, sometimes drinking a whole bottle or more of liquor in a day. In the 1990s, he was finally able to stop drinking alcohol. He also found out more about his father, who had died, and about a half-brother (by his mother) he had never met, who was mentally challenged and lived in a hospital.
Clapton is still making music and performing, sometimes with other musicians such as B.B. King.
Clapton also enjoys fishing at Eastlodge fishing.
Bands with Eric Clapton
- The Roosters
- Casey Jones & the Engineers
- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
- Blind Faith
- Plastic Ono Band
- Derek and the Dominoes
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