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Eric Clapton and his music
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Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Classic Rock Germany September 2016.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Eric Clapton: King Of The Blues Guitar
Chris Welch, Melody Maker, 13 October 1973
WHO IS THIS man Eric Clapton, of whom they speak so highly? Is he the world's greatest guitarist? Is he now a victim of rock society, in hiding from the world? Not guilty on all charges.
During the sizzling sixties, Eric Clapton became more than a man. He became a symbol, a figurehead, a name taken in vain so often he almost became a cliche.
During the early years of his fame a man came into the MM offices with news of a new group featuring a young guitarist. "In a year's time, he'll be as good as Clapton," hissed the man.
The phantom guitarist remained in obscurity, but the Clapton legend grew.
Eric Clapton the very name has a bold, attractive ring. Eric for honesty and adventure. Clapton for lack of pretension and talent.
Eric has been accused of many faults during the last ten years or so of his career. He has been called over-rated, a copyist, and a man with a butterfly mind, easily swayed by fashion and the demands of others. But this is to insult and misunderstand him.
Clapton hath charm, but he also has a stubborn streak. He places great faith in people. If that faith is shaken, there is little he can do but back off, and try afresh.
It is easy too, to say that Eric was overburdened by his fanatical following, that he couldn't cope with success. Yet during the days of John Mayall, he claimed that his ambition was to be "incredibly successful."
And there is no reason to suppose that he didn't enjoy a great deal of the Cream days, despite the tales of disillusion.
Eric has led a full life and worked as hard for his money as any of the other rock superstars.
The word "mansion" is anathema to some and the guitarist lives in one now. But why not? He a was bricklayer who made good. He slogged on building sites, before he slogged around Britain and America proving his worth as a musician.
If Eric seems inactive now, then those ten years of tours, publicity and controversy should be remembered. And he should also be remembered for the inspiration he gave a whole generation of fans and fellow musicians.
It seems no exaggeration to say that the present American and British rock situation might not have existed, but for the direction given by the blues fan from Ripley in Surrey, who showed that a young, white interpretation of black music could be entertaining, convincing and valid.
"World's greatest?" Of course not. But why should musicians be judged by such impossible definitions?
Eric's greatness can be judged only by the affection he generated, and by the simple fact that he gave his public what they wanted. His talent to play electric blues guitar was unsurpassed at the time of his emergence. And, in retrospect, his latter successes and failures can be seen as relatively unimportant.
The story of Clapton the musician begins quite late in his life. Whereas many will claim they began their careers by beating time with toothbrushes at eighteen months, Eric did not start to play guitar seriously until he was 17.
He was born in Ripley on March 30, 1945. Mr. Clapton Snr was a plasterer and bricklayer and had no particular interest in music.
The early years were uneventful...Ripley Primary School, St. Bedes Secondary Modern, and finally Kingston Primary School Of Art, where he was supposed to train for work as a stained glass designer.
When he was 15 his parents bought him an acoustic guitar, after he had been impressed by an album of songs by Big Bill Broonzy. But he gave up attempting to play anything for two years.
When the blues bug bit deeper, however, he returned to the instrument, and his work at the art college began to suffer.
After three months he was sacked from the college and he spent all his time practising guitar and listening to the development of blues, from R&B to rock and roll.
Chuck Berry and Bo Bidley were his first loves, as they were for thousands of English fans at the time, turning on under the influence of the Rolling Stones and Alexis Korner.
Then Eric went further back into musical history to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, and Skip James, He taught himself to play blues directly from the records. He heard Robert Johnson. Blind Boy Fuller, and then into B. B. King and Chicago blues.
Said Eric: "At first I would do something I had heard on a record and then add something of my own. Gradually my own things took over my playing. Now I play more of my own stuff than anyone else's."
Eric has always been self-effacing about his ability, and said: "I have never been that good a guitarist, and am still not, compared to some around. It's just that my particular style was sort of unique."
A group was the obvious step to becoming a professional musician, and his first contained some enthusiasts who would eventually find their place in the rock history books.
Called the Roosters, the line-up included, at various stages, Tom McGuiness, Paul Jones, and Brian Jones.
With no money available, the Roosters collapsed within two months, and Eric joined a Liverpool Mersey beat style group Casey Jones and the Engineers. "It was a heavy pop show," said Eric," and I couldn't stand it for long. I was such a purist. And the band was top twenty, which at that time was disastrous."
Brain Jones, in the meantime, had joined Jagger and Richard in the Rolling Stones and they went on to greatness, leaving the Yardbirds to fill the gap at Richmond's famed Crawdaddy Club. And the Yardbirds asked Eric to join them.
It was with this band that Eric began to build his reputation for exciting, hard hitting blues guitar solos. But he seemed unhappy with them.
My first meeting with Eric was when they had just released 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' in November, 1964.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
The group seemed cheerful enough, but argued a lot, and one night when I went to see them play at the long gone Bromel Club in Bromley Eric seemed highly displeased with the whole setup, even after playing a storming solo on 'Smokestack Lightning', their big number of the night.
"You look fed-up," I said. "You've noticed," said Eric. Shortly after he quit, and said: "They went too commercial."
Eric said: "I was fooled into joining them. I fooled myself, attracted by the pop thing, big money, travelling and chicks. After 18 months I started to take my music seriously. I wasn't playing well and I had lost my original values."
Eric might have wandered off into obscurity, but for a 'phone call from John Mayall, whose determination to play nothing but the blues was a byword.
Although the Mayall-Clapton collaboration is still talked about as one of the great turning points in rock history, oddly enough this lasted only a short time another 18-month stint.
But in that time his guitar playing blossomed, and the word spread that something extraordinary was happening.
The Bluesbreakers had been another hard working blues band, slogging at the Flamingo Club all-nighters and probably not rated as highly as George Fame's Blue Flames, Zoot Money or the other, more jazz flavoured groups of the day. With Clapton on guitar, the Bluesbreakers became something of a crusade among fans who flocked to see them.
The word was brought to the Melody Maker offices by Nick Jones, Max's son, who followed Eric with as much devotion as he followed the Who.
Nick, who was writing for the MM at the time, and pioneering interest in the future psychedelic, underground movement, insisted that the Clapton phenomenon was something to be seen, and that I should not spend all my time observing the Blue Flames.
At the Zeeta Club in Putney, I saw the "new Eric" wailing with the Bluesbreakers.
Gone was the fresh-faced, uncertain Yardbird. Here was a moustachioed, slightly menacing figure, surrounded by admirers.
"They call him God you know," Nick warned me, and I reached out nervously to shake hands. But there was a familiar smile beneath the hair, and when he began to play 'Steppin' Out', highlight of the set, we knew he couldn't be all bad.
In those happy days of £60 gigs and all the beer that could be drunk, sitting-in was a pleasant pastime, and the very phrase "super-group" unknown.
Eric used to sit in with Stevie Winwood in the Spencer Davis group, and many a friendship was cemented in the long bar of a pub called The Ship, Wardour Street, just down the road from the Marquee.
Among the sitters-in with the Bluebreakers was Jack Bruce, bassist, harmonica player and singer with Graham Bond's. Organisation. Then one night in Oxford, in June, 1966, Ginger Baker, Bond's star drummer, sat in. A kind of magic flowed, and it was only a matter of time before the three musicians would get together.
The first intimation of Cream came when Ginger rang with the news that he had asked Eric to form a group.
The latter wanted Jack to be on bass, and despite the mercurial temperature of the Scots bassist and Anglo-Irish drummer, the two agreed to bury any hatchets flying around.
The first rehearsals took place in Ginger's front room. There was quite a bit of opposition to Cream from various managements, and attempts were made to get MM to retract its story. But Eric left Mayall, Ginger left Graham and Jack quit Manfred Mann.
Cream's debut was to be at the sixth National Jazz And Blues Festival at Windsor, and just a few days beforehand they held a rehearsal in a church hall, I think it was in Putney.
With Brownies, a caretaker and manager Robert Stigwood as their first audiences, they ran through numbers like. 'Take Your Finger Off It', which I don't ever recall hearing them play again.
There was some talk from Eric, of calling the band Sweet 'n' Sour And Roll, and he was excited about the stuffed animals on stage.
After the rehearsal, they set off for a cafe in the group's van, with Jack at the wheel. Attempting a U-turn in busy mainroad traffic, it seemed likely that we were all on the verge of being wiped-out, and there was some discussion about our changing the course of history.
Cream succeeded in revolutionising British rock anyway.
After their sensational debut at Windsor (when it poured with rain), the band went on to break in America in 1967, and in doing so, paved the way for British rock in the States.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
The subsequent cash flow not only made fortunes for Cream, their record company and management, but also saved most British bands from an early demise.
Cream showed the world how good British musicians were and proved there was a vast, international audience for rock.
They were probably overworked, their music could have developed much more, and with the benefit of hindsight, they could have gone on to much greater things. It is symbolic that when Cream played their farewell performance at London's Albert Hall in December 1968, their support band was the unknown Yes.
Cream bowed out when the age of sophisticated sound systems, record production, and a general advancement in song writing and arranging was dawning. They even missed the great British rock festivals.
But the end of Cream was not the end of the Clapton story.
Eric warned the MM in May of '68 that Cream would break up. Keeping the news in confidence for two months was a frustrating business, but eventually we revealed that they would go their separate ways that autumn.
Said Eric: "I've been on the road seven years and I'm going to take a holiday. I went off on a lot of different things since Cream formed. But I find I have floated back to straight blues playing.
"I got really hung up, trying to write pop songs, and create a pop image. It was a shame because I was not being true to myself. I am and always will be a blues guitarist."
He had already been recording with other musicians, tracks like 'Sour Milk Sea' with Ringo, George Harrison and Nicky Hopkins. And he was coming under the laid-back influence of The Band on albums like Music From Big Pink.
"Since I heard all this stuff, all my values have changed. I think it has probably influenced me a lot."
Cream had been an exhausting experience for all concerned. Their success meant there was little time to think consciously about new musical directions for the band.
Today, groups like Genesis insist on taking three or four months off the road to rehearse and record. Cream kept on slogging, and in the meantime, each felt they could do something better on their own.
Before Cream, and during the John Mayall experience, Eric had set off on a round the world trip with friends. It is believed they got as far as Greece before the lure of music got them back home.
After Cream Eric got as far as Hyde Park with the successor group Blind Faith.
It had long been Eric's ambition to work regularly with his old friend Steve Winwood, and in the absence of Traffic, they set about forming the band that was already doomed by the weight of advance publicity.
It was nobody's fault. It could not really have happened any other way, when such revered names were joined together.
Eric, Steve, Ginger and Rick Grech on bass from Family, played a free concert in Hyde Park before a crowd who were expecting miracles. That in itself was enough to put them off their stroke. And although it was an enjoyable concert, the low-keyed approach seemed an anti-climax to some.
They went on a tour of the States which ended up with Eric jamming with Delaney and Bonnie who supported them. To him, they represented a goodtime boogie band, free of hype and responsibility. He brought them to England and they stayed at his home. They toured and Eric took a back seat. It was a good antidote to the years of being a front man.
Later came the ultimate in self-effacement when Eric even dropped his name to become Derek and the Dominos backed by the Delaney and Bonnie band, with Jim Price, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Co. They were a good band and Eric played well.
They made some recordings that only later were properly recognised for their worth. 'Layla' was to come into the chart as a hit single in August 1972, nearly two years after its release on the Assorted Love Sons album.
They toured America where it was claimed fans stayed away because they had "never heard of Derek and the Dominos." It was a strange, unsettling period, yet when I saw them play at a packed Speakeasy, in London, they were a stomping unit, with the guitar player as exciting and committed as ever.
After this came the years of silence. Eric seemed to withdraw from public life, and only one appearance, at the Bangla Desh Relief concert in 1971, where he was induced to appear by George Harrison, with another legendary musician, Bob Dylan.
This year Eric made a welcome return to the British scene by playing at the Rainbow Theatre, with Pete Townshend, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ron Wood and friends. It was a night to remember, and one that proved the Clapton fire is unquenched. Now he may well get a new band together to tour America, once again with the help from Pete Townshend.
When that happens, there will have been enough water under the bridge to make it an historic but non-hysterical event. With the heat off, Eric should be able to shrug off all past hang-ups.
The years of identity crisis, excessive-adulation, and unequal work loads should be over.
Eric the singer, writer and band leader must now come to the fore. The Domino recordings proved his worth in this direction. In fact, he doesn't have to prove him-self...anymore.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Eric Clapton: Farther Up The Road
John Hutchinson, Musician, May 1982
FEW MUSICIANS have been more misunderstood, more overburdened with great expectations and more erroneously worshipped than Eric Clapton.
He has worn the fastest gun in the West and lived to laugh about it. He helped invent the power trio and then did all he could to bury it. He has been the subject of the most-quoted piece of graffiti in rock history, "Clapton is God," yet has consistently rebuffed all attempts to erect a cult of personality. Clapton remains in many ways an enigma, but one thread ties together the eighteen years he has been in the spotlight: the blues.
Clapton cut his teeth on the records of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Skip James and Blind Boy Fuller, but his first love was always Robert Johnson. It was his interest in authenticity that brought him to the Yardbirds in 1964, and his fear that the group was going too far into mainstream pop that prompted his departure the following year. His one-year stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers established him as a genuine blues voice. Mayall recalled, "Eric's a great guitarist, but he's not a leader, and he doesn't want to be a leader. He just wants to be left alone to play. With the Yardbirds he just wanted to play guitar, and it was the same with my band. Later on he was put on a pedestal but all the time he just wanted to be unknown and to play. He's a sweet, nice, retiring guy."
Like his mentor Robert Johnson, Clapton then did what every legend must do: he locked himself in a room for a year with only his guitar and hammered out his own style, speeding up the traditional blues licks into pyrotechnical and showy brilliance. (Legend has it that during this time he and Stevie Winwood talked of doing a band together, but Stevie joined Traffic.) Clapton then took up with bassist Jack Bruce and explosive drummer Ginger Baker to form what is still one of the best hard rock bands ever, Cream.
For two years and four epic albums these three young bulls locked horns, their often wildly divergent goals erupting in offstage (and occasionally onstage) arguments. Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels Of Fire and Goodbye reveal Clapton in his new robes, the high priest of electric guitar. Thrust into the forefront, Clapton responded with some of the most amazing and original guitar playing in rock's hyperbolic history. The lack of a chordal instrument behind him may have pushed Clapton to places that he might never otherwise have gone, as Bruce's aggressively inventive bass taunted and inspired him. By all accounts, Clapton did not relish the trio format and after leaving Cream began a concentrated investigation into playing rhythm guitar.
This, more than any other factor, was the reason Blind Faith, the supergroup of Clapton, Winwood, Baker and bassist Rick Grech, was a letdown for the legions of Cream fans. Their music was not more inspired guitar acrobatics over a docile backup group, but instead was lyrical, chordal and, in the context of the carnival atmosphere of 60s rock, very restrained. Rather than igniting the band, Clapton composed his serene 'In The Presence Of The Lord' and converted to Christianity.
Clapton showed no signs of repentance when he joined Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett on tour and used them for his first solo album. Clapton the soloist was muted; Clapton the songwriter/singer/arranger, presider over a large orchestra of friends, was the show. His fans were further infuriated and bought Deep Purple and Mountain records. His version of J.J. Cale's 'After Midnite' made the AM charts and Leon Russell's slick L.A. friends were all over the album. "Eric, come home," pleaded his followers.
Three of these sidemen became the nucleus of Clapton's next project: drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle and pianist Bobby Whitlock became the Dominos; and Eric, not wishing to trigger the sort of "supergroup" follies Blind Faith had engendered, became Derek. The result was Layla, an album that reconnected Clapton's blues with sophisticated song forms in a raw, pain-soaked, masterpiece. His love affair with George Harrison's wife Patti was shattered when Patti returned to her husband; Clapton deserted his religion and embraced heroin. 'Layla' and 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman?' reveal bare wires and a sense of complete desperation that connects instantly back to Robert Johnson's few eerie recordings. Clapton fought back and married Patti in 1979, but no happy ending was remotely possible on Layla, four sides of brilliant music, with special guest Duane Allman giving some of his best.
Typically, with the god of guitar resurrected, the multitudes again awaited more magic, and Clapton refused to oblige them. From 1971 to 1973, he remained in isolation, until Peter Townshend put together a concert for him at the Rainbow Theatre. The Rainbow Concert was more interesting as rock event than as rock music. Clapton again gave his pursuers the slip when he released 461 Ocean Boulevard, with a "laid-back," survivalist return to religious conviction. This LP became a blueprint for his slickly produced series of best-selling albums which gave him singles like 'Lay Down Sally', 'Cocaine', 'Willie And The Hard Jive' and 'I Shot The Sheriff'. All these are marked by a restraint, a dilution of some gloomy spirit that might otherwise overwhelm Clapton. Again the critics snorted that Clapton had dozed off and was resting on his laurels.
Another Ticket, however, heralded a new turn for Clapton. Far less glossy, the songs are both intimate and simple, with earthier warmth that recalls the Band's early recordings. Despite its marked contrast to 1981 studio excesses, Another Ticket sold quite well. Clapton used the simpler format to reinforce his first and greatest love – the blues – and began playing more lead guitar, to the delight of his audiences. Unfortunately this new development was interrupted when a collapse from a serious ulcer ended his last tour and Clapton laid low to recuperate. (During this hiatus, the wolves came out in the form of several bogus managers who claimed to be handling Clapton; Roger Forrester is his real manager.) Clapton's label, RSO, has quietly fallen by the wayside, but a new LP on Clapton's own Great Records is being recorded as you read this and will appear along with a tour in the early fall. In the meantime, a Clapton duet with Jeff Beck on The Secret Policeman's Other Ball is filling the airwaves.
Eric Clapton remains a mysterious, charismatic figure, and no account of his past contributions to rock can offer much of a clue as to what he'll do next. Don't count him out, though. Just when you've given up on him, he'll produce his best work.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
MUSICIAN: Throughout your career, your fans have been prone to hyperbole. Do you see yourself as the world's best blues and rock guitarist?
CLAPTON: No. It's a bit unfair on a musician to be put in that position, and it can cause a lot of tragedies if you end up being labeled like that. It's a nice accolade to get, but you have to forget it quickly.
MUSICIAN: How about your old nickname, "God"?
CLAPTON: It doesn't mean anything...that's long gone. To me, the best guitarist I ever heard is Robert Johnson. I can safely say that because he was around long before he could have had any immediate effect on me, and it's not going to make him turn in his grave.
MUSICIAN: Do you identify with him?
CLAPTON: No, not in the least.
MUSICIAN: Did you ever identify with him?
CLAPTON: Oh yes, I did – I wanted to be dead at the age of, 29, and so on.
MUSICIAN: Why did that change?
CLAPTON: Because I survived.
MUSICIAN: You don't still identify with his fatalism?
CLAPTON: I don't think that he was a fatalist. He was just a very naive and innocent man; he got ripped off, and blown away.
MUSICIAN: Did you ever play with your back to the audience, like Johnson?
CLAPTON: Yeah, I used to do that, with Mayall.
MUSICIAN: Because of Johnson?
CLAPTON: Yeah, of course.
MUSICIAN: You used to say that you wanted to put a Johnson song on every album. I suppose that idea turned out to be impractical.
CLAPTON: I felt like doing that until the Stones did 'Love In Vain'. Then I thought, "I'll let them take up that burden now."
MUSICIAN: How much do you think that you owe to black music?
MUSICIAN: That's a peculiar thing to say – why not?
CLAPTON: Well, we're all in the same boat.
MUSICIAN: So you don't see any distinctions between yourself and them?
CLAPTON: No, I don't, at all. I think that it's a very condescending attitude to think that you owe anybody anything for what you do. The hardest confrontation I ever had was when Howlin' Wolf tried to teach me to play 'Little Red Rooster'. He was saying to me, "Listen, son, you've got to learn this because after I'm gone, someone's got to keep this alive." Part of me fought this, and I thought, "No, I'm not taking that!"
MUSICIAN: Do you see yourself, then, as a continuation of a thread that leads right back to Robert Johnson, and even beyond him?
CLAPTON: Consciously and subconsciously. Whenever I really get depressed, when I've lost my way and want to know exactly what I should be doing, I always turn, at this point in time, to Muddy Waters. I always find in him a great well of spiritual comfort – the man is strong, you know. And that is where I belong.
MUSICIAN: You toured with him a couple of years ago. How did that go? Did he not feel upstaged or anything?
CLAPTON: No, it was great. He adopted me: I'm actually his son!
MUSICIAN: Do you see him frequently?
CLAPTON: No, I don't see him enough. I'll see him this time, though, when we're over in America. But he's getting on now, and he can't do as much work as he would like to do. He's a wonderful man, "Pops," he's me Dad! When I was completing this last album – I recorded a whole album in England, and I thought, "Well, what would he say if I played this to him?" It was all a bit... lyrical, and I'm sure that although he would have been polite and nice about it, it wouldn't have pleased him.
MUSICIAN: Would Slowhand and Backless please him?
CLAPTON: No, I don't think so.
MUSICIAN: How do you look for your blues material? For instance, would you think of someone like Blind Willie Johnson, and say to yourself, "I must put one of his songs on my next album"?
CLAPTON: No, I don't. Some songs just stand out. Blind Willie Johnson, since you mention him, is very difficult to do. One of his songs that I would like to have done is 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', but it is almost impossible to play. I dare you to find a slide player who can do that!
MUSICIAN: Do you have any favorite albums that you go back to, time and time again?
CLAPTON: Oh yeah – The Best Of Muddy Waters, and The Best Of Little Walter.
MUSICIAN: Do you not listen to B.B. King that much?
CLAPTON: Oh yes, but he's very sophisticated. He's always been that way; the first album of his that I bought had strings on it, and that was before he did Live At The Regal, when he was still on Crown Records. He's great, though, he's the best technician of that style of playing. But I prefer earthier stuff.
MUSICIAN: How about the future? Do you think that you will become bluesier in, let's say, ten years' time?
CLAPTON: I'll be satisfied just doing gigs. The size of the venue often dictates what kind of music you play; if you're playing to 4,000 people you can play pretty much what you want to, but if you're playing to 20,000, there's a chance of a riot if you don't play what they want you to!
MUSICIAN: Who do you really want to appeal to?
CLAPTON: You'd have to come to one of our rehearsals to get the answer to that. You appeal to yourself, to the driving urge to make music that's within you.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
MUSICIAN: Would it disturb you if you lost your popularity?
CLAPTON: No, I don't think so. I would just take it that I had lost my way as far as the public was concerned. But then, after all these years, I'm surprised that I'm not just flotsam and jetsam! When I go onstage, though, I do give it all that I've got.
MUSICIAN: It shows. You often look drained and exhausted after a really good number. I remember, though, that you looked quite hurt on one occasion last year, when a London audience didn't respond to your obvious efforts.
CLAPTON: Yes, then it does hurt. You can be rejected so many times, and London really is the place for it! Every time I walk on a stage in London I'm looking for it, waiting for it, and if, after three or four numbers, there's nothing coming back, I say to myself, "Okay, sods. I'll just play for myself and the band, and it doesn't matter if you like it or not." Usually it ends up as a pretty poor performance. In England they are very jaded; they see too much of what is loosely called the new wave, which I think is a very negative and self-destructive form of music. It doesn't seem to want to exist or further itself.
MUSICIAN: So you are very conscious of audience reaction and participation?
CLAPTON: Yeah. When it's good, it's incredible. Here in Ireland it's amazing. Last night, for example, a young girl ran onstage and said, "Play 'Wonderful Tonight'!" – and I told her that we had already played it. She said, "Play it again!" I remember the days when you could actually do that, as a reprise, when you could play the favorites again.
MUSICIAN: Does 'Wonderful Tonight' mean a lot to you in that respect?
CLAPTON: Yes, it does, especially when you don't even have to sing it, when the whole audience does it for you.
MUSICIAN: It strikes me that you have been playing a fairly popular choice in concert recently.
CLAPTON: Yes, it's a sort of cross between what I want and what others want. You see, I get a lot of pressure from the band to play songs like 'I Shot The Sheriff', which I didn't even like when I recorded it – I didn't want it on the bloody album! I didn't think that it did justice to Bob Marley's version. And it makes you hate your job if you've really got to do something you don't want to do.
MUSICIAN: Listening to the gigs on Saturday and Sunday nights, I notice that you seemed to be playing the other songs in order to earn the right to play the blues in public.
CLAPTON: That's true. During the last five or six years I have been striving to maintain a commercial profit level that will allow me to step back into the blues. It never seemed at any time that just playing the blues would be a viable proposition, financially; I have a lot of expenses. Just keeping the band going is an expensive business – most blues musicians in America use pick-up bands, and don't pay them when they are not working.
MUSICIAN: Could you name some of your favorite songs? 'Layla', I suppose....
CLAPTON: You mean my own? No, not 'Layla', because I have to play that all the time.
MUSICIAN: I felt, though, that in your last two performances you played 'Layla' better than ever.
CLAPTON: That's because the band has learned to play it well; it's quite difficult, as there are a lot of changes. I think it's better on the record, though.
MUSICIAN: Most of the songs on your new album, Another Ticket, are your own compositions. What are they like?
CLAPTON: Well, one is a bit of a novelty, but they are all very bluesy. A couple of them are exceptionally bluesy. I don't really want to talk about the album though, because it's past. It took a long time to make that album because I was totally fed up with writing ditties and pleasant melodies, and I thought it was time for me to reconnect myself with what I know best.
MUSICIAN: Is that why you went back to Tom Dowd, to get a harder feel on the album? Glyn Johns' productions were more commercial than Dowd's, weren't they?
CLAPTON: Yeah. Glyn Johns was always very aware of what he was selling.
MUSICIAN: The live Just One Night was almost like a resume of your albums of the previous few years, as if you were summing up in order to start afresh. Is that how you saw it?
CLAPTON: Yes, although I didn't really want to record it. There's a natural shyness about me when I'm playing onstage; for me it's something that should only happen once, you know, and then it's gone.
MUSICIAN: Was the album put together from several shows?
CLAPTON: No, it was one show. We did it two nights, and recorded both. I think they chose the one I didn't like.
MUSICIAN: Did you first meet Henry Spinetti and Dave Markee during the White Mansion sessions?
CLAPTON: No, I met them at a demo session, when we went to lay down three tracks – wait – that's right, I had met them before. Yeah, it was at the White Mansion sessions. They were great, they were nearby, and we just clicked.
MUSICIAN: Why did the Americans leave your band?
CLAPTON: Well, although I worked with them for five years, I never really got the feeling that I was part of their unit; they kept themselves to themselves, and I was always a little bit separate.
MUSICIAN: Ever since your time with Bonnie & Delaney, you have done a good deal of singing. Do you see yourself now as a guitarist, or as a singer/guitarist?
CLAPTON: As a guitarist. I could never make it on my own as a singer if you took my guitar away from me.
MUSICIAN: All the same, your voice has improved over the last few years.
CLAPTON: Well, I don't lose it as much. When I first started singing, I used to lose it about once every two days – I was gargling and so on.
MUSICIAN: Do you take anything for your voice now?
CLAPTON: No. I've got a few calluses!
MUSICIAN: I'd like to delve just a little into the past. Was your nickname, "Slowhand," coined when you once broke a string playing with the Yardbirds, and the band stood behind you while you changed it, doing a slow handclap?
CLAPTON: Once?! No, it was a nickname given to me by Giorgio Gomelski, the Yardbirds' manager – he thought it was very funny!
MUSICIAN: Did you enjoy your time with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers?
CLAPTON: Yeah, it was a great time.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
MUSICIAN: Your playing was very mature for your age, yet you must have been only about twenty years old....
CLAPTON: Yes, but there was no shyness about me then. I had a little following, which went from club to club in England. That was my little clique, and I felt tough with them. It wasn't a big national thing, it was only fifteen or twenty people – like a gang. You know, it was what you were like when you were in your teens or twenties; you were just one of the lads, you were a bit tough!
MUSICIAN: Your playing was so hard.
CLAPTON: That was just an extension of my personality.
MUSICIAN: You've become more lyrical, more reflective, since then. Is that because you've matured?
CLAPTON: Obviously! I must have matured...! hope I've matured. I don't want to frighten people!
MUSICIAN: You were disillusioned with Cream for a while. Are you still?
CLAPTON: Yeah. Then I was going through a very strange phase, when I thought that I knew exactly what was right. And perhaps I did, perhaps I didn't. But both the other two (Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) thought that they knew as well, and we were all going in parallel lines, different directions and gradually spreading out.
MUSICIAN: All the same, Cream was amazingly popular and influential.
CLAPTON: I think that was pure accident. It stunned us, and we leaped in and took advantage of it. When we saw that in America they actually wanted us to play a number for a whole hour – one number – we just stretched it.
MUSICIAN: When it worked, though, it was very good!
CLAPTON: Yes, but when it got to the stage that everyone else was starting to do the same thing, we thought, "Hey, wait a minute, we've started a precedent here," and it's something that I'm personally quite ashamed of.
CLAPTON: Well – because it was taking a liberty.
MUSICIAN: Did your style of playing alter after you took acid?
CLAPTON: I don't think any of us ever took acid until about halfway through our time with Cream. We were watching people take it, and saw what we could get away with.
MUSICIAN: How about Hendrix? What influence did he have on you?
CLAPTON: He quieted me down.
MUSICIAN: As a contrast?
CLAPTON: No. The first time I met him, he came to a concert in London that the Cream was playing. He was very, very flash – even in the dressing room – he stood in front of the mirror combing his hair, with his Hussar's jacket on, and asked if he could play a couple of numbers. I said, "Of course," but I had a funny feeling about him. He came on then, and did 'Killing Floor', a Howlin' Wolf number that I've always wanted to play, but which I've never really had the complete technique to do. Ginger didn't like it, and Jack didn't like it – they had never heard the song before. It was just – well, he just stole the show! From then on I just started going to watch him, and I toned down.
MUSICIAN: Did you think then that he was the best guitarist around?
CLAPTON: No. But I don't think that he would want to be known as the best.
MUSICIAN: What do you think of Layla, the album, in retrospect? Do you think it's a masterpiece?
CLAPTON: It's great, but I don't know that it's a masterpiece – it's very rough.
MUSICIAN: But the roughness is a good point: the music is very raw and heartfelt. Even after ten years, the passion of the album is still very moving.
CLAPTON: Yeah, the passion covers it.
MUSICIAN: Nizami, the Persian poet who wrote the story of Layla and Majnoun, is also credited with the lyrics of 'I Am Yours'; did he write them or inspire them?
CLAPTON: It was a poem he wrote.
MUSICIAN: How did you discover Persian poetry?
CLAPTON: In a book that was given to me by a Sufi, an Englishman who had become a Sufi. The story in the book struck me as being just like what I was going through.
MUSICIAN: How did the band, the Dominos, relate to what was going on in your mind at that time?
CLAPTON: Well, the Dominos lived in my house for about eight months before we went to America to record the album, and we did nothing but play the whole gamut of blues, R&B, and rock 'n' roll; eventually I started to introduce little bits of my own songs. So they were there in strength, and they knew exactly what I was feeling.
MUSICIAN: Did the dope and drink fundamentally contribute to the tone and atmosphere of the album?
CLAPTON: That all came on about halfway through. We thought we had it made, then suddenly it became a double album, and we had to keep it going.
MUSICIAN: Why did the Dominos fold – the strains of touring?
CLAPTON: I don't think we really had anything left to say to one another.
MUSICIAN: What did Duane Allman contribute to 'Layla'?
CLAPTON: He wrote the riff! I just had the main body of the song, and it wasn't enough. It needed an intro, a motif.
MUSICIAN: And Bobby Whitlock added the piano?
CLAPTON: No, that was Jim Gordon. That was a thing he had written on his own, that he was going to do for his solo album. I found out during those sessions that Jim Gordon was going in early every day and recording his own songs. He was a keyboard man and a guitarist, as well as being a drummer. He actually made an album while we were making our own!
MUSICIAN: I have often thought that you and George Harrison are, in a way, kindred spirits. There seems to be a parallel between you, as if you were heading for the same goal, but by different routes. Does that sound absurd?
CLAPTON: No, absolutely not. We're very different, because he has a very strong sense of rejection of the material world, whereas I want to face it and fight it, but musically we are kindred spirits. That's what joins us together, because he loves what I do, and he can't do it, while I love what he does, but I can't do it. I mean there's no way I could play the slide the way he does: he's fantastic, the first man who had the idea of playing a melody, instead of just trying to play like Elmore James. He's achieved that, and just doing that is enough.
MUSICIAN: How about Richard Manuel? You once said that he was a "soul brother."
CLAPTON: Yeah, he is. We just hit it off, and cause trouble together.
MUSICIAN: Do you ever think of playing with members of the Band again?
CLAPTON: Oh yeah – but it's so far. They all live in California, and in order to see Richard I have to go through a whole circuit of people that I don't particularly like, who drain your energy; and by the time I get to him, he's already in the same state, and we're not good for one another at all. You see, he's usually holed up somewhere, doing whatever he wants to do.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
MUSICIAN: Your versions of J.J. Cale's 'After Midnight' and 'Cocaine' were both very successful. Do you know him well?
CLAPTON: He's a very shut-off man: I don't think many people could get to know him well. It's just something to respect, because he doesn't let anybody get very near to him.
MUSICIAN: Any thoughts about the death of John Lennon?
CLAPTON: I could never bring myself to handle the situation the way Yoko did – she has a completely Oriental way of dealing with it, which is beyond a Westerner's understanding. My immediate reaction was one of anger, but that's settled now. It's all in the past. Yeah, I admire that woman so much.
MUSICIAN: Your wife Patti, what influence has she had?
CLAPTON: I really don't know anything about astrology, but she's Pisces, and I'm Aries, so she cools me down. She doesn't understand my passions, my anger, and she's always on the level, but at the same time she's completely dotty – it's one of her family traits!
MUSICIAN: Do you get depressed as much as you used to?
CLAPTON: Not when she's around, no. She's mellowed me out a lot.
MUSICIAN: Now that you are a happier man, how does your state of mind relate to the blues?
CLAPTON: The blues is the happiest music I know of because it's carefree – simple and carefree!
MUSICIAN: You once said that you found it difficult to write happy songs or music. You must find it easier now?
CLAPTON: Yeah, but it's too easy.
MUSICIAN: Does Patti like the blues?
CLAPTON: Yeah, I think so, or else she makes a very good attempt at pretending to. But she doesn't really need to know about that – it's my work, my way of going about things. It will always be that way. Whether she likes it or not doesn't make any difference – we've come to that kind of arrangement. She likes the sentimental things that I do. You've got to put yourself in my shoes: I say to her, "Listen to this," and she says, "Why is it so scratchy?" She likes music, but she likes it from a different point of view from my own.
MUSICIAN: Are you a loner?
CLAPTON: No, not by choice.
MUSICIAN: Do you see a lot of people?
CLAPTON: Yes, I'm very gregarious, but only with people I know I can trust, who don't mind seeing me fall down drunk, or doing silly things.
MUSICIAN: Do you have a lot of friends around the world?
CLAPTON: No, not really. I don't get the time to make friends in any one place. But you see, I was born not more than eight miles from where I live, and I go back there every weekend.
MUSICIAN: On record, and particularly in performance, there is a solitary air about you. Would you agree?
CLAPTON: Well, I couldn't share my music with the locals, the lads – they wouldn't understand it.
MUSICIAN: When you're playing the blues you seem to be alone, and the band, in a sense, fades away. You appear to be apart. Are you mentally alone at those times?
CLAPTON: Yeah. I often find myself disturbed if someone in the band does something that is a little discordant – then it's like being woken up from a beautiful dream.
MUSICIAN: Even on the album covers – Slowhand, Backless, Just One Night – you're pictured alone.
CLAPTON: Perhaps that's fate, but I can only say that I've always tried to form a unit in which I am a part, and not the foremost person.
MUSICIAN: But I don't mean as a band member, I mean as a human being, as an individual.
CLAPTON: Well...yes. Yeah, I am, it's true. There are certain decisions that I have to make on my own.
MUSICIAN: There is a "lost soul" quality in your music – do you see that in yourself?
CLAPTON: No, not really.
MUSICIAN: Yet I find that very appealing....
CLAPTON: I find it very disturbing.
MUSICIAN: You seem to be gathering together a lot of unhappy, unresolved feelings, and bringing harmony to them – it's cathartic, in a way.
CLAPTON: Yeah, that may be true, but it's not intentional. If it were conscious, it wouldn't work.
MUSICIAN: When you're improvising, you often appear to be carried away by the music; you remind me sometimes of Indian musicians.
CLAPTON: Well, I was influenced by Indian music at one time, very early in my youth. I was an avid fan of people like Bismillah Khan, who plays the shehnai. They're saying the same thing – just another culture, miles and miles away.
MUSICIAN: You often smile at the end of it all. Your eyes are closed when you're playing, and then you're back again, released.
CLAPTON: Yeah, then I'm back in the natural world.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
MUSICIAN: Do you seek comfort or solace in music?
CLAPTON: Yes, I do. There may be a day, or three or four days, when you haven't picked up your instrument, and you haven't felt the desire to say anything. And then one day you've just got to do something, and you want everyone in the world to hear it. There have been so many times when I've been at home, alone, and there's no one else to hear it, except, of course, the Maker! Yeah, perhaps that's what makes me do it!
MUSICIAN: There's an otherworldly quality when you are playing live, when it seems that you are striving for something really beautiful that lies beyond our present experience. You once said that you didn't like life – do you now?
CLAPTON: Did I really? I don't know. Life is an abstract thing to talk about in terms of "like" and "dislike" – you get by with it. The best times are when you can actually go to another place, within your music, and whatever it is that you've got. So if you are a mystic, for instance, you can close your eyes and go somewhere else.
MUSICIAN: Do you do that when you're playing?
CLAPTON: Yes. That's when I love it. But you still get pain in your fingers!
MUSICIAN: Are you a spiritual person?
CLAPTON: No, not essentially. I do pray, when I'm in need, but it's not a habitual thing. I'm certainly aware that there's something else in control, and that the path to proper music, real music, is when you open the door to your soul, and let the oneness come through; then you are no longer in charge of what you are doing at all. When that happens to me, and it isn't very frequently, I get frightened. It just frightens me.
MUSICIAN: Isn't that what gives you the really big thrill?
CLAPTON: Well, it is, but it's a very big buzz, and if you can't handle it, it's best to stay well clear, until you are actually initiated into it. I suppose that's what we're all after... but I know I'm not ready for it yet. At least, I don't think so.
MUSICIAN: Why not?
CLAPTON: Because I'm still frightened of it.
MUSICIAN: But isn't that what gives your music power, when you really get going?
CLAPTON: Yes, but if you notice, I always cut off just when it gets to that point. Otherwise I'd just go...I'd never get back.
Eric Clapton's Equipment
IN THE SIX years Lee Dickson has been on the road with Eric Clapton he's watched Eric experiment with countless guitars. But in the end, Slowhand is inevitably drawn back to his true love – the Fender Stratocaster.
"Sometimes he'll go back and dabble with a Gibson Explorer. or a 335, or a Les Paul, but he always comes back to the Strat," explains Dickson. "There's something about the Strat sound that's perfect for him. Plus, he can get everything out of a Strat that he can from a Les Paul or a Telecaster, so why depend on another guitar?"
According to Dickson, Eric's main arsenal for both stage and studio consists of three vintage Strats. "His favorite is a black '56 Strat. Then there's a brown '57 model that we use as a backup, and a '54 with raised action in an open tuning for slide tunes." All three have been subject to only minor modifications, such as installing five-way pickup selectors in place of the original three-way knobs. The pickups themselves are all the original models, though California wunderkind Seymour Duncan is sometimes called in to repair and rewind them.
"Eric's been known to pick up his '68 Gibson 335 or his '58 Les Paul in the studio, but very rarely," reflects Dickson. "When he was recording Another Ticket, Eric went through a number of guitars trying to get a particular sound on 'Rita Mae'. He finally settled on the 335, but that's the exception that proves the rule."
Onstage, Clapton relies on a Music Man 130 amp, played fairly clean, without reverb or vibrato. He also utilizes a Music Man cabinet, sporting two 12" JBL speakers. He has a full stack, but actually plays through only one cabinet, with the second unit held in reserve as a spare. Eric uses effects boxes sparingly onstage. Outboard equipment includes a classic Vox Cry Baby wah-wah pedal, Boss Chorus, MXR Analog Delay and a specially adapted Leslie "with its guts torn out," explains Dickson, "and rewired for guitar."
He uses Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings exclusively on all his electric guitars, and he certainly gets his money's worth from each set. According to Dickson, "Eric doesn't like to have his strings changed unless it's absolutely necessary. He may go a couple of weeks breaking top E strings before he lets me change the set. Personally, I believe they lose a lot of their brightness, but Eric says he likes the feel of old strings....At least I can clean them every night, so they last longer."
Clapton usually brings his stage amps into the studio and then divides up the two amps and two cabinets so they can be used in stereo. He also employs a variety of combos, ranging from very old Fender Tremoluxes to current Music Man 110s and 210s. For acoustic strumming, Clapton favors vintage Gibson J-200s and Everly Bros, models, and "more old Martin Dreadnoughts than you could count." During their last Japanese tour, the Clapton band switched to using AKG microphones in their stage setup.
Finally, we asked Lee if he could offer any further insight into why, after championing the Gibson sound throughout the 60s, Slowhand mace the radical shift to Fender. "Well, Eric says his Les Paul is an incredibly beautiful guitar," reflected Dickson, "but that's the problem – it's too easy to play. He feels the Stratocaster makes him work harder, and that's important to a dedicated player."
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Андрей Мальгин - Эрик Клэптон (Автограф дискотеки)
Студенческий меридиан №10, 1980
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Globe 24 April 2017.
Re: Eric Clapton and his music
Вино из урюка (ТССР, 1950-ые года)
По-тypкменcки Эрик означает "урюк"
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Classic Rock Italia Rock'n'Blues 2016
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