Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eric Clapton, The #65 Artist of the Seventies*

We featured George Harrison yesterday in the special, and today, another music veteran takes center stage.

Eric Clapton joined the Yardbirds in 1963 and played through 1965.  Fusing blues and rock, Clapton quickly became known for his outstanding guitar playing.  Clapton played with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, then formed Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce.

In 1969, Clapton joined Blind Faith with baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech.  That group produced one album and performed sellout concerts in the United States.  After Blind Faith split, Clapton toured with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends and played guitar for John Lennon on his albums and in a few shows.

In 1970, Clapton enlisted the help of the backing group for Delaney and Bonnie, as well as other noted musicians such as Stephen Stills and Leon Russell, for his self-titled debut solo album.  Clapton released the single "After Midnight, which at #18 is one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

Delaney and Bonnie co-wrote most of the material on the album, with Bonnie co-writing "Let It Rain", a Top Track* on the album that peaked at #48.

Clapton recorded on Harrison's All Things Must Pass album in 1970, and also recorded with Billy Preston, Dr. John, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, Stills, and Dave Mason.  Eric then formed a band including the musicians of Delaney and Bonnie called Derek and the Dominos.

Clapton became close with Harrison, and he became infatuated with George's wife Pattie.  When she spurned his advances, Clapton wrote most of the material for the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs about her.  Duane Allman's guitar work complemented Clapton on several songs on the album.  which featured "Layla".  Please note that the work of Derek & the Dominoes does not count for Clapton's solo career. 

A second album was planned, but the group broke up, and Clapton retreated to isolation at his home in Surrey, England.  Clapton was heavily involved with heroin, prompting Pete Townshend of the Who to organize a comeback concert for him in London (the "Rainbow Concert") to help Eric with his addiction.
In 1974, Clapton finally succeeded in wrestling Harrison's wife away from him, and they were married briefly in 1979.  Clapton assembled another group of musicians and recorded 461 Ocean Boulevard in 1974.  Eric recorded a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff", which took off and went to #1 in the U.S. and Canada, and #9 in the U.K. 

The album became Clapton's first Gold album (500,000 copies sold).  The following year, he released the album There's One in Every Crowd with much worse results.  In 1976, Clapton's album No Reason to Cry did not fare much better, with "Hello Old Friend" being his best effort at #24.
Then in 1978, Clapton released the album of his career, Slowhand.  The single "Lay Down Sally" topped out at #3 in both the U.S. and Canada.

Another single, "Wonderful Tonight", only peaked at #16, giving Clapton another of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

Slowhand went Triple Platinum in the U.S.  Clapton included another cover of a J.J. Cale song, "Cocaine", which aptly fit Eric's experience.

Clapton appeared in concert to pay tribute to the last performance of The Band, filmed for the documentary The Last Waltz.

In 1978, Clapton released the album Backless, which featured the #9 single "Promises". (Please click on the "Play" icon in the top left-hand portion of the video...)

Clapton sold over five million albums for the decade.  He posted 11 hits, with three reaching the Top 10 and the one #1 song.

Clapton is the only person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times:  once as a solo artist, and as a member of both the Yardbirds and Cream.  In 1998, Eric founded the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.

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