"Some people talk about me like a revolutionary. That’s nonsense. All I did was copy B.B King." Eric Clapton
British blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Eric Clapton first gained fame as a member of the 1960s bands The Yardbirds, John Mayall's & the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos (Clapton recorded the rock classic "Layla" with them). Eric Clapton, whose trade mark is his Fender Stratocaster, later went solo and gathered broad recognition with his Grammy winning album Eric Clapton: Unplugged. His smash hit singles include "After Midnight," a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," “Lay Down Sally,” “Wonderful Tonight,” "Promises," “I Can't Stand It,” "My Father's Eyes" and "Tears in Heaven." Winner of 15 Grammys since 1972 (including six in 1992), Eric Clapton, nicknamed Slowhand or God, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: as a member of The Yardbirds (1992), as a member of Cream (1993) and as a solo performer (2000). Recently, in August of 2005, Clapton released his new album, Back Home, with the first single "Revolution."
Eric Clapton was awarded an OBE in 1994, Commanders of the Order of the British Empire in December 2003 and a CBE from British Princess Royal for his services to music in 2004. One of Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of All Time,” Clapton was privately linked to Italian TV actress Lori Del Santo (gave him a son) and Yvonne Khan Kelly (gave him a daughter). He was once married to the ex-wife of former Beatle George Harrison, actress and model Patricia Anne Boyd (a.k.a. Pattie Boyd), and is currently the husband of graphic artist Melia McEnery.
In January of 2005, Clapton joined other stars performing at the UK's biggest charity concert at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The concert was held to raise money for Asian tsunami relief.
"He is a great person, as well as a great musician. And this guy sings like he was born down below Mississippi!" B.B. King (on Eric Clapton)
Tears In Heaven
Childhood and Family:
In Ripley, Surrey, England, UK, Eric Patrick Clapton was born on March 30, 1945, to parents Edward Fryer (Canadian soldier) and Patricia Molly Clapton. Born out of wedlock, Eric was raised by his grandparents, Jack and Rose Clapp. He believed his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his older sister until he learned the truth at age 9. Eric also has one half brother, guitarist Ted Rich (father: Edward Fryer).
Eric Clapton studied stained-glass design at Kingston Art School in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. On March 27, 1979, he married the ex-wife of George Harrison (Beatles), actress and model Patricia Anne Boyd (a.k.a. Pattie Boyd). However, in 1985, Clapton met and fell in love with Irish and Korean descendant graphic artist Melia McEnery. Clapton then divorced Pattie Boyd in June 1988. Clapton and Melia McEnery eventually exchanged wedding vows on January 1, 2002.
Eric Clapton is a father of five: son Conor Clapton (born on August 21, 1986; died on March 20, 1991, as a result of a fall from the 53rd floor of a NYC condo; mother: Lori Del Santo, Clapton dedicated song “Tears In Heaven” to him) and daughters Ella May (born on January 14, 2003; mother Melia McEnery), Julie Rose (born on June 12, 2001; mother: Melia McEnery), Ruth Kelly (born in 1985; mother: Yvonne Kelly) and Sophie Clapton (born on Feb 1, 2005; mother Melia McEnery).
Change the World
It’s been very important throughout my career that I’ve met all the guys I’ve copied, because at each stage they’ve said, ‘Don’t play like me, play like you.’” Eric Clapton
After watching Jerry Lee Lewis performed on TV, Eric Clapton was influenced by R&B and blues. At age 15, he received his first guitar from his grandmother and once was expelled from class for playing the guitar. 17-year-old Clapton joined his first band, the early British R&B outfit the Roosters, from January to August 1963, in which he worked with Tom McGuinness (later of Manfred Mann). With the band, Clapton often performed in London clubs with future members of the Rolling Stones. He also did a seven-gig stint with the Top Forty band Casey Jones and the Engineers, in September of 1963.
Also in 1963, Clapton was selected to replace The Yardbirds guitarist Tony Topham. Clapton’s distinctive guitar-playing, which was influenced by Chicago blues and leading blues guitarists like B.B. King and Freddie King, made him the most-talked about guitarist in England and he subsequently earned the nickname “Slowhand.” With blues-influenced rock and roll band The Yardbirds, Clapton enjoyed the victory of the band's first two albums, For Your Love (released in August 1965) and Five Live Yardbirds.
Due to The Yardbirds' new pop direction, Clapton left The Yardbirds and joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in 1965. Clapton’s emotional guitar playing on the band’s enormously prominent debut album enthused graffiti trends with the famous slogan "Clapton is God." Also with Mayall, Clapton took part in a studio band called Powerhouse, which included Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood.
In mid 1966, Clapton left John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and formed the super band Cream, along with Jack Bruce (also of Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann) and Ginger Baker (of the Graham Bond Organization). The powerful trio debuted at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. Three years later, they hit the US music scene with their singles "Sunshine Of Your Love" (#5, 1968) from the Disraeli Gears album, as well as "White Room" (#6, 1968) and "Crossroads" (#28,1969, a live version cover of Robert Johnson's country blues "Crossroads") from the Wheels of Fire album. Unfortunately, Cream was short-lived and disbanded in 1968. They released the valedictory Goodbye album featuring live performances from Cream's farewell performance at the Royal Albert Hall and the studio single "Badge" (co-written by Clapton and his friend George Harrison).
Along with Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic and Rick Grech of Family, Clapton formed the overvalued and short-lived Blind Faith in 1969.
Blind Faith debuted in London's Hyde Park on June 7, 1969, and began a sold-out American tour in July. They recorded their first and only LP, which includes a 15-minute jam "Do What You Like" as well as Windwood's classic "Can't Find My Way Home" and Clapton's "Presence of the Lord."
Clapton moved to New York in late 1969 and toured as a sideman with the American group Delaney and Bonnie and Friends through early 1970. With Delaney Bramlett's backing group and an all-star cast of session players like Leon Russell and Stephen Stills, Clapton released his first solo album, Eric Clapton, in 1970. The album consists of the Bramlett composition "Bottle Of Red Wine" and Clapton's "Let It Rain." It also spawned the surprising U.S. #18 hit, the J.J. Cale song "After Midnight."
Along with Delaney & Bonnie's Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon, Clapton formed the band Derek and the Dominos. Under the legendary Atlantic Records producer Tom Dowd, the band recorded a luminous double-album titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. It featured the hit title track Layla, which was inspired by his love of Beatle George Harrison's then-wife, model Pattie Boyd. After an outdoor concert in Miami with guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band, Clapton invited him to become the fifth member of The Dominos. However, the band ended in bitterness. Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident, Clapton and Whitlock split and reportedly never worked together again and drummer Jim Gordon, an undiagnosed schizophrenic, murdered his mother and was confined to a mental institution where he still remains.
In 1972, Clapton became addicted to heroin and withdrew from recording and touring. However, he performed at the benefit Concert for Bangladesh, the "Rainbow Concert" in 1973. After doing an electro-acupuncture procedure in heroin rehabilitation, Clapton appeared on the big screen playing The Preacher in Ken Russell's adaptation of The Who's Tommy, in 1975. He also provided music (along with Brian Ahern and Van Morrison) for the Canadian film Slipstream (1973).
461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton next album, was released in 1974. It spawned the huge hit, cover-version of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff," which topped the US chart at No. 1 and reached No. 9 in UK. It also produced the No. 26 US single “Willie and The Hand Jive.” Clapton followed it up with the 1975 album There's One In Every Crowd, which spawned the UK #19 hit single “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” That same year, a non-album single, “Knockin' on Heaven's Door” was released.
The rest of the 1970s saw Clapton with his hit singles “Hello Old Friend” (1976, from album No Reason to Cry), “Lay Down Sally” (1977, US release in 1978), “Wonderful Tonight” (1978, both from album Slowhand), “Promises” (1978) and “Watch Out for Lucy” (1979, both from album Backless).
After briefly being hospitalized for alcoholism, Clapton released the album Just One Night, which spawned the 1980 singles “Tulsa Time” and “Cocaine.” Later that year, the album Another Ticket arrived, with the No. 10 US hit song “I Can't Stand It.” Other hit singles include “Layla” (1982, re-issue, Derek & The Dominoes, from album Time Pieces: The Best of Eric Clapton), “I've Got a Rock N' Roll Heart” (1983, from album Money and Cigarettes), “Forever Man” (1985, from album Behind the Sun) and “Behind the Mask” (1987, from album August). Clapton also co-wrote with Michael Kamen the music for the Lethal Weapon films (1987, 1989; also with David Sanborn, and 1992).
In March of 1990, Clapton appeared as the musical guest on the "Saturday Night Live" show. He later released albums Journeyman with the #25 UK’s single “Bad Love” (1990), 24 Nights with the #30 UK’s “Wonderful Tonight” (1991, live) and the Grammy-winning Unplugged (from the "MTV Unplugged" series) with the #12 US’ “Layla” (1992, an acoustics version). He also released "Tears in Heaven" (1992), a song inspired by the death of his son Conor. The song, which he co-wrote with Will Jennings, became the soundtrack to the 1991 movie Rush. It peaked the UK chart at No. 5 and the US chart at No. 2 and eventually nabbed a Grammy.
Clapton collaborated with Elton John in the song “Runaway Train,” with Sting in “It's Probably Me” (both in 1992) and with Cher, Chrissie Hynde & Neneh Cherry in the #1 UK’s charity single Love Can Build a Bridge (1995). He also provided the soundtrack for the Phenomenon movie (starring John Travolta), the Grammy-winning “Change the World” (1996). Meanwhile, Clapton continued to release the albums: From The Cradle (1994), The Cream of Clapton (1995), Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies (1996, Live from 1974 to 1978, Quadruple CD Set), Pilgrim (1998, with the hit singles “My Father's Eyes” and “Circus”), The Blues (1999, Double Disc Set) and Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton (1999). He also provided the music for Gary Oldman's directorial debut, Nil By Mouth and collaborated with B. B King in "Blues Brothers 2000" finale (also Steve Winwood, Lou Rawls and Jimmie Vaughn).
The new millennium saw Clapton with his albums Riding With the King (2000, with B.B. King), Reptile (2001), One More Car, One More Rider (2002, Live 2001), Me and Mr. Johnson (2004, an album of Robert Johnson covers) and Sessions for Robert J. (2004, official CD/DVD of tour auditions). On August 29, 2005, Clapton internationally released his latest album, Back Home, which spotted the UK chart at No. 19 and the US chart at No. 13.
"Since I got sober, I've just been trying to develop...a career with dignity, records where I can say, 'I finished it, it's complete. Whether or not it's up to the standard of the current thing, it's complete." Eric Clapton
- Grammy: Male Pop Vocal Performance, "My Father's Eyes" (from Pilgrim), 1998
- Grammy: Record of the Year, "Change the World"; shared award with producer Babyface, 1996
- Grammy: Best Rock Instrumental Performance, "SRV Shuffle"; award shared with seven others, including Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, 1996
- Grammy: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, "Change the World," 1996
- American Music Award: Pop/Rock Male Artist, 1996
- Grammy: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Unplugged, 1993
- Grammy: Album of the Year, Unplugged, 1993
- Grammy: Record of the Year, "Tears in Heaven," 1993
- Grammy: Best Pop Vocal Performance Male, “Tears In Heaven,” 1993
- BMI Film Music: for Lethal Weapon 3, 1993
- American Music: Pop/Rock Male Vocalist, 1993
- Grammy: Best Rock Song, "Layla"; cowritten with Jim Gordon, 1992
- MTV Video Music Award: Male Video, "Tears in Heaven," 1992
- Grammy: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, "Bad Love" (from Journeyman), 1991
- Grammy: Album of the Year, The Concert for Bangladesh; shared award, 1972