Known for his outstanding abilities to make his fingers create magic across the six strings of a guitar, Clapton is a rock and roll legend who used his own unique style to win the ears of his fans. Born in Britain to a sixteen-year-old mother, his grandparents raised him in a musical environment, as his grandmother played the piano and Eric easily developed a passion for music and songwriting. Though a lazy student who was kicked out of school on numerous occasions for his irresponsible behavior, he pursued a musical career nonetheless, enrolling at Kingston College of Art in London. There, he strengthened his love for the guitar and discovered the blues and electric guitars. Among his most idolized musician role-models were B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
Clapton joined his first band, The Roosters, in 1963 at a young 17 years old, but the experience was short-lived. After only a few months of playing with the band, Clapton left, and soon joined another band by the name of Casey Jones and the Engineers. They, too, did not hit it off with Clapton. That same year, the yet to be discovered guitarist accepted an invitation from The Yardbirds, the band that essentially made him famous. Finally able to showcase his talents to the world, Clapton served as the band's guitarist until 1965, when he left, once again, due to frustrations with the band's pop-sounding music. He continued to stay true to his blues roots, however. Alongside Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, Clapton reignited his career with the band Cream in 1966, where he was able to express the blues sounds that he loved.
Though able to release several hit songs such as those featured in albums Fresh Cream and Wheels on Fire, he broke up with Cream as well and formed Blind Faith. Eric, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech played together long enough to produce one album and to perform on one tour before disintegrating. Then, in 1970, Clapton joined the band that most know him best for: Derek and the Dominos. It was with these musicians that he released the album Layla...and Other Assorted Love Songs featuring "Layla", the song about his crush: Pattie Boyd. At the time of its release, Pattie Boyd was married to George Harrison; however, Boyd ended up divorcing Harrison and marrying Clapton in 1979. Ten years later, after witnessing the birth of two children fathered by Clapton but not her own, Boyd divorced him.
Despite its popularity today as a classic Clapton hit, the Layla album sunk as a commercial opportunity, and he bailed on this band as well. It wasn't until 1973, at London's Rainbow Theatre with the help of The Who's Pete Townshend, that Clapton reintroduced himself to the fans of rock and roll. Establishing himself as a deep vocalist and outstanding blues rock guitarist, he began his career as a solo artist.
Some of Clapton's famous works include "Wonderful Tonight" (one of my personally favorite songs) and "Cocaine", both part of his album Slowhand - a nickname he earned with the bands he played with - released in 1977. He then released one of his most well-known albums, Crossroads, in 1988. In 1991, one of the most beloved and widely accepted as one of the most beautiful songs ever written by Clapton was released: "Tears in Heaven". Emotionally disturbed and sorrowed, Clapton wrote this about the death of his young son, Conor, when he crawled out of a 49-story high window due to lack of supervision on the housekeeper's part. He was 4 years old.
Battling with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his entire life, Clapton established the Crossroads Centre in 1998, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. In interviews, Clapton claimed that the death of his son was one of his motivations to become completely sober. In 2000, the star was inducted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member and guitarist of The Yardbirds, Cream, and as a solo artist. Just two years later, he married Melie McEnery, his last and most stable marriage. Together, they had three kids, and Clapton claimed this time in his life to be the most enjoyable due to his cleansed body and new family. He released his autobiography in 2008.
Eric Clapton continues to tour today around the world, and is vastly considered as the greatest guitar hero of all time. In the rhythms, lyrics, and styles incorporated in his songs, one can easily find the unique sound of Clapton and the life he lived beneath it all.
Eric Clapton's "Layla"
For more information about Eric Clapton's life, music, tours, fan club, and other topics, visit his website here.