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Eric Clapton
JJ Cale inspired Eric Clapton for a majority of his career, so it was with great anticipation that these two legends got together to release an album.

There’s no greater feeling than working on a dream. And Eric Clapton confessed that before he went under the ground, he’d like to do a JJ Cale album. So when listening to ‘The Road to Escondido’, keep that in mind, and you’ll see a dream play itself out.

The road began way back in 1968 or ’69, when Clapton heard Cale for the first time. The man responsible for selling Cale (Delaney Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie) insisted Clapton listen to After Midnight. Clapton was hooked. In the pre-internet days, all you could do was check out record stores for albums, and he did just that. Then Clapton went to see Cale in concert and this led to their first meeting. The two got off on the right foot, going in later that night to the recording studio to jam. This was the beginning, and from then on, Cale influenced the musical style of Clapton and a number of his famous peers including Mark Knopfler and Neil Young. Eric Clapton

This self-confessed “nasty kid” was intrigued by the blues from an early age. He received his first guitar at the age of 13, and since then hasn’t put it down - well, except for that time when he nearly gave it up because it seemed too hard to learn! Not doing so well in school meant he had more time to practice his guitar playing, and soon Clapton joined his first band The Yardbirds in 1963 at age 17, remaining a member till 1965 when he quit stating differences in musical direction. Clapton, a fan of the blues, was just a tad peeved with the pop direction that The Yardbirds were headed in. A little known fact is that Clapton suggested the band ask a certain Jimmy Page to come on board as his replacement, but Page declined, having had more fun (and earning much more) as a studio musician. Page did, however, suggest Jeff Beck for the job. Given his reason for getting out of The Yardbirds, it would come as no surprise that Clapton then joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (JM&TB). It was with this band that Clapton began to be deified by guitarists around the world, after the release of their highly acclaimed album Blues Breakers.

After JM&TB, Clapton formed Cream, one of the earliest supergroups in music history. With well-known artists like bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, Clapton went on to explore the world of psychedelic rock. In just three years, Cream became a huge commercial success, selling an impressive 15 million records. During his stint in Cream, Clapton was greatly influenced by a session the band had with Jimi Hendrix sitting in and he and Hendrix went on to become great friends. But as supergroups generally go, ego clashes and musical differences began to pop up in Cream, especially between Bruce and Baker. They disbanded in 1968, and Clapton formed another supergroup, Blind Faith, with Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. Blind Faith released just one LP in its short-lived life, and served as a realisation of sorts to Clapton that the “big star” life was not for him.

Clapton then moved on to smaller things, like being a sideman for Delaney & Bonnie & Friends (D&B&F) and appearing on a number of projects for other artists. This period spent in-between bands allowed Clapton to embark on a number of side projects—most notably his friendship, and work, with The Beatles’ George Harrison. This stemmed from his earlier collaboration with the band on Harrison’s track While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Harrison and Clapton continued to work together and would appear at live shows right up to Harrison’s death in 2001.

It was with D&B&F’s backing group that Clapton recorded and supported his first self-titled solo album. JJ Cale’s After Midnight was featured on this album, and proved to be an unexpected hit, reaching #18 on the US charts. However, all this success proved overwhelming and Clapton receded into the shadows of Derek and the Dominos. The Dominos was Clapton’s effort to walk away from the status he’d gained as one of the most prominent guitarists in the world.


You can read the rest of our feature on Eric Clapton in the January 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.




















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The Beatles
All Saints & Take That
Akon
John Legend
John Mayer
Aneela
Indipop, Snap and Crackle!
Boney M
Mobb Deep
Marit Larsen
Then & Now: George Michael
DJ Speak: DJ Whoo Kid
Rockin' India
Origines Des Musiques
Careers In Music: Behind The Song