AIR FM Gold Brunching with music

Master of the Blues

Eric Clapton, born Eric Patrick Clapp is considered to be one of the best rock artists of all time and one of the best musicians who came out of Britain. According to Rolling Stone magazine, he is one of the best singers of all time and comes on the list of 100 best musicians of all time and also one of those musicians who has sold over more than 125 million records.

Clapton grew up in a very musical household. His grandmother was a skilled pianist, and his mother enjoyed listening to big-band music. As it turns out, Clapton’s father was also a talented pianist who had played in Surrey. From an early age, Clapton had an aptitude for art and especially for music. At age 14, his grandparents bought him a £14 guitar and that’s how his musical journey started.

Clapton left the Bluesbreakers in order to start his own band, Cream, with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. He wished to start a musical revolution and change what people thought about music, with which he succeeded. Cream became one of the most prominent bands and was compared with the all time greats of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Clapton however, got back together with Baker and with bassist Rich Green and Traffic’s Steve Winwood to record one album as Blind Faith, rock’s first “supergroup”. They released one album and went on a 24 city tour in America.

Eric Clapton was nicknamed “God” in one of the most prominent pieces of graffiti seen in London and New York. More than forty years later, the all time great guitarist and singer continues to be as popular and a fair share of his present-day fans weren’t even born when those words of worship were emblazoned on public edifices. This phrase, immortalized in graffiti that spread across both London and NY in 1967, originated a few years earlier when Clapton was playing with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers just after leaving the Yardbirds in 1965. Clapton never was comfortable with the nickname — he embraced “Slowhand,” (and amusing example of a totally wrong nickname for the man) even titling his 1977 album after it — but “Clapton Is God” is a pivotal part of his story and an instrumental moment in the rise of the guitar hero, a rock & roll cliché that didn’t exist prior to Eric Clapton . There were other famous blues and rock players prior to Clapton, but no one quite achieved the stature of Clapton, who quickly eclipsed the founder John Mayall in the Bluesbreakers and whose guitar skills (and singing as well) became the centerpiece of Cream, which he co-led with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker between 1966 and 1968. Clapton was venerated for his fast-fingered solos (the “Slowhand” nickname was in jest) and that’s what people came to see. Although he sang some Cream songs, it took him a while before he embraced lead vocals, easing into a solo career after a stint with Delaney & Bonnie in 1969 and 1970. Clapton was reluctant to step into the lead singer’s role and he adopted a pseudonym for what’s regarded as his finest album, with Derek & the Dominos group. He re-emerged as the pre-eminent guitarist, a great guitarist who sang pretty ballads.
Young Ricky (that’s what his grandparents called him) was a quiet and polite child, and an above average student with an aptitude for art. His groundbreaking musical career started as an adolescent, and Clapton glimpsed the future when he tuned in to a Jerry Lee Lewis appearance on British television. Lewis’s explosive performance, coupled with Eric’s emerging love of the blues and American R&B, was powerful enough to ignite a desire to learn to play guitar. He commenced studies at the Kingston College of Art, and joined a number of British blues bands, including the Roosters and Casey Jones, and eventually rose to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds, whose lineup would include all the British guitar heroes of the sixties: Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. The group became a sensation for their blues-tinged rock, as did the budding guitar virtuoso Clapton, who earned the nickname “Slowhand” because his forceful string-bending often resulted in broken guitar strings, which he would replace onstage while the crowd engaged in a slow hand-clapping!

Despite the popularity of the band’s first two albums, Clapton left Yardbirds in 1965 because he felt the band was veering away from its bluesy bent in favour of a more commercially viable pop focus. He joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers almost immediately, and in the ferment of that band’s purist blues sensibilities, his talent blossomed at an accelerated rate and he quickly became the defining musical force of the group. “Clapton is God” was the hue and cry of a fanatic following that propelled the band’s Bluesbreakers album to #6 on the English pop charts. Clapton parted with the Bluesbreakers in mid-1966 to form his own band, Cream, with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. With this lineup, Clapton sought “to start a revolution in musical thought: to change the world. His vision was more than met as Cream quickly became the preeminent rock trio of the late sixties. On the strength of their first three albums and extensive touring, the band achieved a level of international fame approaching that of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, and Clapton became even more almighty in the minds of his fans. In fact, the “Clapton is God” gospel contributed largely to Cream’s disintegration. Early in 1969, Clapton united with Baker, bassist Rick Grech, and Traffic’s Steve Winwood to record one album as Blind Faith, rock’s first “supergroup.” In support of their self-titled album, Blind Faith commenced a sold-out, twenty-four-city American tour, the stress of which resulted in their disbanding in less than a year after its inception.

Clapton kept busy for a time as an occasional guest player with Delaney & Bonnie, the team that had been Blind Faith‘s opening act during their debut. After Derek and the Dominos, he rebounded creatively with a role in the film version of Townsend’s rock opera, Tommy, and with a string of albums, including the reggae-influenced 461 Ocean Boulevard, which yielded a chart-topping single cover of Bob Marley.
Clapton’s galvanizing 1980 live album, was a creative resurgence that reminded devotees just exactly who their guitar hero was, releasing a string of consistently successful albums. After Journeyman in 1989 , that he was a paragon of rock became more than apparent and when Polygram released a rich four-CD retrospective of his career, Crossroads, in 1988; the set scored Grammy awards for Best Historical Album and Best Liner Notes!
He reigned in the ’90s, benefitting from the acoustic authenticity of 1993’s Unplugged, which turned into one of his biggest records winning a total of 6 Grammy Awards.
In 1994, he began once again to play traditional blues; in February of 1997 he picked up Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammys for “Change the World,” from the soundtrack of the John Travolta movie Phenomenon.

Already a double inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream, a third nod as a solo artist is an inevitable honour for the legendary guitarist.
The acclaimed Pilgrim, captured the Grammy nomination for Best Pop Album in 1998. In 1999 he won a Grammy for his performance on “The Calling” from Santana’s Supernatural. Clapton revisited the blues with friend and musical legend BB King in 2000’s Riding With The King, garnering the artist more platinum and a Grammy nomination in a career full of chartbusters and precious metal.

The only triple inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of both The Yardbirds and Cream and as a solo artist), Eric Clapton continues to astonish and delight a vast spectrum of music lovers.
With more than 50 years of touring under his belt, Eric Clapton has played in excess of 3,000 concerts in 58 countries across six continents and played to over 2 billion people. Since 1964, he has appeared at London’s Royal Albert Hall more than 200 times. Between 1987 and 1996, he held annual residencies at the venue which reached their peak in 1991 with 24 nights that featured five different band formats including a full orchestra. Across the Atlantic, he has graced the stage of Madison Square Garden more than 50 times since 1968.
Eric’s 2001 and 2006/2007 world tours were amongst his most ambitious with 104 and 119 shows respectively.
In October 2007, Eric’s autobiography was published. “Clapton – The Autobiography”, was translated into twelve languages and topped the best-seller lists around the world. An unflinching documentary about his life, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
By the time Eric Clapton launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in mid-1970, he was long established as one of the world’s major rock stars due to his group affiliations — the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith — all of which had demonstrated his claim to being the best rock guitarist of his generation. The fact that it took Clapton so long to go out on his own, however, was evidence of a degree of reticence unusual for someone of his stature.

Clapton’s place in music history had long since been assured, but with the release of Unplugged, his popularity took a quantum leap. Suddenly, he was as fresh and formidable a talent as the latest arrival from the grunge generation. It was a popularity built in large part on his adherence to total musical integrity, which brought him, time and again, back to the basics of the blues.
According to Clapton., “It’s almost as if I’m going back and producing my own blues band.”
“The bones of this thing,” Clapton continues, “is coming from inside me and my need to pay back all these people that I heard from Day One. I want to emulate and pay back and say thank you.”
“Muddy’s songs have been the hardest,” Clapton admitted while speaking of Muddy Waters. “His music was the first that got to me and it remains some of the most important music in my life today. I love this man so much that I want to do it absolutely perfectly, and, of course, that’s not possible.”
In terms of musical identity, Clapton avows, “It’s where I’ve come from and what I mean. And wherever I go in the future will be the result of this.” and in the process of rediscovering his roots, Eric has made his own enduring contribution to the blues.
Eric Patrick Clapp, the world’s premier rock guitarist will be forever grateful to his grandparents, for they gave him his first guitar. The young Eric was raised by his grandparents Rose and Jack Clapp and received a £14 acoustic guitar for his fourteenth birthday, and then proceeded to copy the great blues guitarists note for note. From “Slowhand” while with the Yardbirds to “God” with Bluesbreakers!
Clapton was elevated to superstar status with the formation of Cream where with Graham Bond Organisation members Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, he created one of the most influential rock bands. Additionally, due to his close friendship with George Harrison, he was asked to play the beautiful lead solo on Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on The Beatles (‘The White Album’). Cream lasted just over two years, and shortly after, Clapton was back with Baker, this time in Blind Faith. The line-up was completed by Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. This ‘supergroup’ couldn’t record more than one self-titled album, although they had a financially lucrative American tour. During the tour Clapton befriended Delaney And Bonnie, decided that he wanted to be their guitarist, and then joined them following his last Blind Faith gig in January 1970. He played on one album, the excellent Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton, and three months later Most of Delaney & Bonnie’s band sessioned on Clapton’s solo album and three members (Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock and Carl Radle) ended up flying over to the UK to join Clapton again. The band then metamorphosed into Derek And The Dominos. This memorable unit, together with Duane Allman, recorded one of his most famous compositions, the perennial ‘Layla’.

Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. He ranked second in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009.
Clapton has been the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004 he was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. He has received four Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In his solo career, Clapton has sold more than 125 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time.

Named the world’s top musician by Melody Maker, Guitar Player readers poll, best in rock, 1971-74, overall, 1973, and electric blues, 1975 and 1980-82; Grammy Award for album of the year, 1972, for The Concert for BanglaDesh, and 1988, for best historical collection and best liner notes, for Crossroads; six Grammy awards, including album of the year and song of the year, 1993, for Unplugged and “Tears in Heaven”; multiplatinum album (six million) for Unplugged, 1993; Grammy Award, best traditional blues album, Emmy Award, outstanding cultural program, 1995, for In the Spotlight; Grammy Award, best male pop vocal, 1998, for “My Father’s Eyes;” Grammy Award for best traditional blues album, for Riding With The King (with B.B. King), 2000; Stevie Ray Vaughan (Allegro) Award, 2000; Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2001; named Commander of the British Empire, 2003; numerous gold and platinum records, his journey so far has been both monumental and astonishing!

The complete recording of the program is available at this link:

1. Pretending.

“Pretending”, is from the 1989 Album: “Journeyman”.

Clapton didn’t write the lyrics to this which was written by Jerry Williams, who also wrote for Clapton’s 1985 album, “Behind The Sun.” Williams also played guitar and sang background on “Pretending” and wrote four other songs on the “Journeyman” album.
When he released his Crossroads compilation in 1988 with a wide selection of songs from throughout his career, it was very well received, proving that his fans were interested in the full range of his work. This convinced him to vary his styles on “Journeyman”, creating an album that couldn’t be catalogued into one specific genre like Blues, R&B or Rock.

Clapton based his vocal delivery on Leon Russell, an American blues musician he admired. One can hear this most clearly in the first line when Eric sings, “How many tiiiimes must we tell the tale,” emulating Russell’s distinctive drawl. Russell and Clapton go back a ways: they co-wrote the song “Blues Power,” which appears on Clapton’s debut solo album.

Those big snare hits were created with a drum machine programmed by Jimmy Bralower, one of the top musicians in drum programming. In the video, Clapton and his band perform the song in a downpour in what looks like a homeless encampment as it tries to depict him at the end of the rope, the look which was in line with Clapton’s Michelob ads from the time. This is in the official music video.

Clapton was never big on MTV, but around this time he got a lot of airplay on VH1. Chaka Khan sang the background vocals.

The song has higher complexity than any average song in terms of its Melodic Complexity.

2. Cocaine is from the 1977 Album: “Slowhand”.

“Cocaine” was written and originally recorded by JJ Cale, an Oklahoma blues guitarist. It was released in 1976 on his fourth album, “Troubadour”.

When Eric Clapton covered the song, it propelled both the track and Cale to stardom. Clapton’s version was released on November 1977 for his Album “Slowhand,” and his version is one of the most enduringly popular hits and even for an artist like Clapton with a huge body of high-quality work, “Cocaine”, ranks among his best.

When Clapton was looking for songs for his “Slowhand” album, he once again looked to Cale, and chose “Cocaine,” which became the first song on the set. Clapton would later cover Cale’s song ,”Travelin’ Light,” and in 2006, they teamed up to record an album together called “The Road To Escondido”.
In an interview, Clapton has said this was actually an anti drug song. If most people “misunderstand” your lyrics to be a pro cocaine song, then you are a bad lyric writer. It was cleverly crafted to seem ambiguous. In fact, he didn’t perform this track during his numerous live shows and concerts to avoid sending the wrong message. When he did include this is his repertoire, he added “that dirty cocaine” into the chorus to send a powerful message against drug addiction!

Clapton is a master guitarist. In fact his songs are some of the most difficult for musicians to master or “cover” because he often would tune his guitar differently and play in a different position.

The lyrics are powerful that layer seemingly simple with more ambiguous, complex undertones. The unique appeal of the song to both rock aficionados and casual listeners, and the manner in which it establishes Clapton as one of the greatest pioneers and influencers of the blues rock genre is found in the repetition of the same phrase thrice within the refrain which serves to highlight and emphasize the addictive nature of cocaine. Surely, a close examination of the lyrics shows him reiterating the anti-drug message of the track.

When J J Cale wrote this song, he envisioned it as a jazz number. His producer, Audie Ashworth, convinced him to make it a rocker, which required some overdubbing by Cale. Clapton’s version has a much more complex guitar line and vocals that are more prominent in the mix.

In 1988, Elton John and Mark Knopfler joined Clapton on stage to perform this at the 6th annual Prince’s Trust Rock Gala and the proceeds from the show went to charity.

After Clapton recorded this song,, J J Cale saw many new faces at his concerts, but many of them expected him to sound like Clapton which Cale couldn’t conform to.

3. My father’s eyes is from the 1998 Album: “Pilgrim”.
It is a deep and very meaningful ballad song written and performed by Eric Clapton. The song was then released in 1998 as a single from Clapton’s album, “Pilgrim”.
Upon the release of the song, it immediately reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay Chart and spent 5 weeks on the chart. A year after the song was released, “My Father’s Eyes” won BMI Award for “Song Of The Year” and with this song, Clapton won a Grammy award for “Best Pop Vocal Male.”

“My Father’s Eyes” is inspired by Clapton and his father’s story. He was raised by his grandparents, whom he thought were his real parents until he was in his teens. Featured on MTV Unplugged, “My Father’s Eyes” tells the story of Clapton as he let his guard down enough for us to see who he really is!
The song is described on how Clapton crossed the threshold of a boy without a father who only contacted him once he became famous. As intimate as this performance is, it’s easy to get the impression that it’s as much for Eric as it is for his father he never knew.
It’s like he’s hoping that he’s watching somewhere, and that he’s proud of the success Eric’s achieved and that he made it without him, even though he may have stumbled on the way.
The tale of regret and sadness is evident in this song. It is also about Clapton meeting his father in his son, Conor’s eyes and realizing that they were his father’s eyes. Sadly, he lost Conor very early in very tragic circumstances , too and that became another very famous song.

4. Change the world is from the 1996, Album: “Phenomenon Soundtrack”.

It began in Nashville’s Omni Studio A in 1991. Clapton and his musicians were working on recording four new tracks that particular day when, on some down time, Tommy played Wayne Kirkpatrick and Clapton liked the idea, asking if it was something that they could write together. Some months would go by before Wayne asked for Tommy to put the nugget of the idea on a tape. Wayne would write the chorus lyric, and all but one line of the second verse before handing Clapton a tape with his additions. He had Wayne’s parts and Clapton had made some musical changes so he was confident enough that they could go ahead and lay down a demo. In April of 1991, Clapton travelled to Columbus, Ohio, to meet Tommy and record the demo track. He had the micro-cassette recording of his which he played in the car system, singing along into the micro recorder, trying to come up with the first verse lyrics, and Wayne’s missing second verse line. By the time Clapton got back to Nashville, he went back to Omni B to put guitar and vocals on the demo. None of them were ever at one place when they each wrote their bits for that song.

It sounds timeless, and one can hear a multitude of influences. Looking back, he remembers when Tommy unveiled the idea that day in the studio, he was thinking, “it sounds enough like McCartney” that I liked it. I imagined Wayne thinking “Yeah…Fogelberg…James Taylor…”, and Tommy probably thinking “hope this doesn’t sound too much like Stevie Wonder to fit this project.” Three artists bringing a host of heroes and influences, but nevertheless they all surface in that one song.

While the original title from Tommy might have been meant to be a little more of a social consciousness type of a song , it was Wayne’s idea to make it into a love song and once that was established, it was mostly finding those phrases that sounded like the grandiose things one wishes one could do to demonstrate love.

Clapton gravitates towards picking up the guitar which ultimately has him reaching for some device to record a new idea. The idea that there can be a moment that starts with a blank canvas, and perhaps within hours, yields something that wasn’t there before.
Well, it was the first song that the three of them wrote together and the journey it took them on was something they could have never dreamed. Clapton remembers one of them saying right afterwards, “we should probably write another song together!” They went on to write 11 songs together and 9 of them got cut and some by more than one artist.
Five years after the song idea was introduced, and four years after the demo was done, Clapton recorded it and it spent 13 weeks at #1 and a record 81 consecutive weeks in the Top 20 AC charts in Billboard., and it was Grammys “Song Of The Year.”

“Change the World” finds Eric Clapton wishing that he had some sort of supernatural power to make certain changes in the world. The reason for his wish is simple; to prove his undying love for the one he loves. As the song begins, he talks about how he wishes he could pull down a star, shine it on his heart so his love interest can clearly see how much he adores her. In the chorus, Clapton further expresses that if he had such power to transform the world, he would become sunlight to her, providing her with brightness, hope and good love. With this same power, the writer wishes that if he was a king, he would make his woman the queen. His main point is that he would hold this lady in high esteem and make her feel so loved if he had extreme power to do so.
This tune first featured on July 5, 1996 as the soundtrack for the John Travolta movie, “Phenomenon”. It was subsequently included on Clapton’s 1999 album, “Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton”.

Clapton and Babyface performed this at the Grammys in 1997, where the song won the award for “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year ” and “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.”

Clapton explained, “When I heard Tommy’s demo. I could hear McCartney doing that, so I needed to, with greatest respect to Paul, take that and put it somewhere back. So I asked Babyface who, even though he may not be aware of it, gave it the blues thing. The first two lines I play on that song on the acoustic guitar are lines I quote wherever I can and they come from the beginning of ‘Mannish Boy’. On every record I make I think. This has got a chance of doing well, I make sure I pay my dues on this. So I think I’ve found a way to do it, but it has to have one foot in the blues, even if its subtly disguised. Babyface was one of those great catalysts for me. I’d seen him on TV doing his thing with acoustic guitar and I was thinking, ‘this is a guy who’s in the R&B world, he’s a producer and yet he knows how to get that minimal thing and make a small sound really powerful.’ And when I heard the song, I put it on in my car and was driving around listening to it about 200 times without stopping. And I just knew it was a hit. I’m the guy that used to hate the idea of pop songs and I was so against that for myself. But when the music is that good, I start to become okay about it. And this really was an opportunity it would have been childish to walk away from. And there’s only one guy I knew that would make it absolutely right and that was Babyface”.

5. Badge is a song performed by British rock music group Cream. It was co-written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison, and was included as a track on Cream’s final album, “Goodbye”.

Eric Clapton was in several super-famous bands: Cream, Blind Faith, Derrick & the Dominoes, and he had equal success as a solo artist. When one combines those bands’ works one gets one of the all-time great collections of music. He is a rock contributor up there with The Beatles, Dylan, Elton John and The Stones and “Badge” is no different. The song came about due to a collaboration with George Harrison. They worked together on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. The Beatles got that song, and Cream got this one.

Cream were far more of an album rock band than they were concerned with hit singles during their all-too-brief, two-year career. Nevertheless, they notched up no fewer than seven visits to the UK Top 40. In May 1969, they appeared in the Top 20 of the singles chart there for the last time, with “Badge” and with the help of a “the mysterious angel”, George Harrison of the Beatles.

The song, written by Eric Clapton and his friend George Harrison, was released as a single soon after the appearance of Cream’s final album “Goodbye”.
Harrison was the song’s secret weapon, and “secret” was indeed the watchword. For contractual reasons, he could not be identified for the rhythm guitar he played on “Badge,” and was credited as “L’Angelo Misterioso,” Italian for “The Mysterious Angel.” It was the return of another studio favour, when Clapton had played the uncredited guitar lead on Harrison’s Beatles epic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Clapton’s distinctive guitar sound on “Badge” was the result of putting his instrument through a Leslie cabinet, but the song’s title was not, as is sometimes suggested, named after a chord progression. It was actually the result of Eric misreading Harrison’s note on the lyric sheet, which said “bridge!” Harrison, who is listed on the album as “L’Angelo Misterioso,” also played rhythm guitar on this, since Cream had only one guitarist, Clapton.
The lyrics are not intended to make sense as many of them were taken from conversations that Harrison had with his bandmate Ringo Starr.
Cream recorded this shortly before their final shows: two sold-out performances at Royal Albert Hall in England. It was one of three studio recordings on their last album and the rest of it was filled with live cuts.
This is one of the shortest Cream songs as they were known for their long, improvised jams. “The Wheels Of Fire”, live album, for example, contains only 4 songs.
This is also one of the few Cream songs that Eric Clapton sang lead on, as Jack Bruce usually handled the vocals. Also, this is the only Cream song to include 5 people: in addition to Clapton, Bruce, Baker and Harrison, Felix Pappalardi played the piano and Mellotron.
The song titles were written on tombstones inside the album, leaving little doubt that it was their last.
Clapton had played on Harrison’s album “Wonderwall”, the previous year, and on The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which was released the same month as this.
During the writing of Goodbye album, Cream, Bruce, Baker and Clapton were tasked to each pen a track of their own. Clapton enlisted the help of George Harrison, and together with the assistance of Ringo Starr, they wrote the song.

Harrison later spoke of how the name “Badge” came to be: “We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo walked in and gave us that line about the swans living in the park.”
So, “Badge” got its title from Eric Clapton misreading the word “bridge” which Harrison had written down for the part in the song where there is a bridge between other verses. The song lyrics leaves one with fragments of a picture and the listener is left to make its own meaning.

6. White Room by Cream is from the 1968 Album: “Wheels Of Fire”.

It’s a great example of pure poetry in free verse where not one line rhymes throughout the song.The lyrics were penned by a poet named Pete Brown who was a friend of Cream bass player Jack Bruce, the lead vocalist on the track. Brown also wrote the lyrics for “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “SWLABR”.

The music was written first and Pete Brown’s first attempt at a lyric was something about “Cinderella” but Jack Bruce in response pulled up an eight-page poem which Pete had written earlier, which he reworked into “White Room.”
Pete Brown told the story: “It was a kind of watershed period really when I became a songwriter and musician because I was a professional poet, you know. I was doing poetry readings and making a living from that and then I got asked to work by Ginger and Jack.
And there was this kind of transitional period where I lived in this actual white room and was trying to come to terms with various things that were going on. That song’s like a kind of a little movie: it changes perspectives all the time. That’s why it’s probably lasted – it’s got a kind of mystery to it.”

Jack Bruce wrote the music. He was inspired by a cycling tour that he took in France.
Eric Clapton used a wah-wah pedal on his guitar solo and said he got the idea from Jimi Hendrix.
Clapton’s solo earned the #2 spot on Guitar World’s greatest wah solos of all time in 2015. The #1 spot? Well, it naturally went to Jimi Hendrix.

Why are the starlings tired? Well , because of the pollution in London. Pete Brown also told: “The ‘tired starlings’ is also a bit of a metaphor. “Black-roof Country” – “That was the kind of area that I lived in. There were still steam trains at one point around that area, so the roofs were black. It was black and sooty. It’s got that kind of a feel to it.”
On their last tour, Cream opened most of their shows with this song. When Cream did a reunion tour in 2005, they played it near the end of the sets. Clapton refused to play this after leaving their band until 1985, when Paul Shaffer urged him to play it while he was sitting in with the band on the David Letterman Show. That same year, Clapton played it at Live Aid.
This was released as a single and did better in the US than in UK, since Cream had caught on in the States.
In 2000, Apple Computer used this in commercials for their white iMacs. While the song does have the word “white” in the title, the subject matter is not as bright for selling computers.
One has the chance to hear his amazing isolated guitar on this classic “White Room”, from Cream’s 1968 album “Wheels of Fire”, where the verses are usually composed of four syllables. The single reached 6th place on the Billboard Hot 100, staying 11 weeks on the chart. Also reached 28th place on the UK charts and 1st place in Australia. In addition, it appears in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time!
Clapton played his guitar through a wah-wah pedal to achieve a “talking-effect”.
Cream recorded the instrumental tracks for this song, making it the first of what would comprise the studio side of “Wheels of Fire.”
“White Room” has since been reissued on various back-to-back hit singles over the years, and was even used in commercials for Nissan (1995) and Apple (2000).

The one observation worth making is that this is a fairly serious bit of modern poetry to be used as a lyric for a rock song. Considering its singularly uncatchy title, its lack of rhyme or alliteration, and the absence of any easily discernible subject matter, one might even agree with its author that it is a miracle that it worked at all.

As one turns to the recording one will find that the music beautifully amplifies and extends these devices one has discovered in the lyrics. To begin with, the track opens with a brilliantly ominous sound, composed partly from the unlikely rock instruments of viola and tympani.

In the context of the words and music, Clapton’s guitar seems to represent some life force fighting against the colourless, regimented, neatly contained emotional life of the singer.

This recording is simply a brilliant example of the best that rock has to offer. Lyrics, vocals, music and instrumental parts all work together to produce a complex, unified, unique effect.
Cream’s highly-metaphorical number has proven to be a classic in a rock-music genre.
“White Room” is still considered one of the best rock tracks in American music history.

7. Old Love by Eric Clapton is from the 1989 Album, “Journeyman”.

Eric Clapton’s solo is an absolute masterpiece! Clapton showcases his talent and insane guitar skills in the mesmerizing solo and even before he starts singing, one gets goosebumps!

Clapton wrote the lyrics along with American blues musician Robert Cray who plays guitar on the track and what a brilliant collaboration it was.which appeared in his eleventh studio album “Journeyman”.

Clapton plays this sensitive song with a lot of emotion.
According to George Harrison who first wrote it : “I just wrote it, and then somebody put together a video. And what they did was they went out and got some footage of me and Patti, Paul and Linda, Ringo and Maureen, it was at that time, and John and Yoko and they just made up a little video to go with it. So then, everybody presumed I wrote it about Patti, but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of Ray Charles.” Patti Boyd was an inspiration for a lot of songs but not this one which wasn’t released as a single, but is one of Clapton’s most popular songs to play live and for a great reason.

8. Crossroads: by Cream is from the 1968 Album: “Wheels Of Fire”.

This was originally recorded by the blues musician Robert Johnson in the 1930s. According to legend, Johnson went to the crossroads and made a deal with the Devil, giving up his soul in exchange for the ability to play the blues. The story originates from an interview with the blues singer Son House, who explained how Johnson went from being a terrible guitar player to a very good one in a very short period of time. Over the years, the story grew into the tale of Johnson selling his soul to the Devil.
Johnson fueled the legend on his track “Me And The Devil Blues”.

Cream’s version is a compilation of parts of two Johnson songs: “Crossroads Blues” and “Traveling Riverside Blues.”

Eric Clapton didn’t like to talk about the song but when pressed on the length and editing issues, he might say something along the vague lines of he supposed it was originally longer, because the Cream usually played it longer live.
At the end of the song, Jack Bruce announces, “Eric Clapton, please,” over Eric’s saying, “Thank you” (both said simultaneously). Eric follows up by saying (probably turning toward Jack), “Kerfuffle.” This is British English referring to the time disjoint back in mid-song.

Clapton played this on a Gibson SG, a solid-body guitar and recorded this song two years earlier in a greatly different form – slower, less urban, Steve Winwood singing, plus a harmonica – though he still gave credit to Robert Johnson.

In March 1966 he went to do a one-off studio session with, among others, Jack Bruce (bass) and Stevie Winwood (vocals and keys). This group called themselves The Powerhouse, and “Cross Roads” (note space) was one of three songs they recorded. This was the version, appearing on an album with various artists called What’s Shakin’, that was heard by Duane Allman in mid-1966.
Clapton named his 1988 greatest hits compilation Crossroads after this song. In 2004, he released a blues album called Me And Mr. Johnson, the title a reference to Robert Johnson.
Cream played this in 1993 when they reunited for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Robert Johnson’s fingerpicking style had him simultaneously playing a disjointed bass line on the low strings, rhythm on the middle strings, and lead on the treble strings while singing at the same time. Johnson’s sound was very hard to re-create, and it often sounded like more than one guitarist was playing.

Crossroads is regarded as a song that set America’s fascination with the blues in motion.
Crossroads (sometimes known as the Crossroads blues) is a song so shrouded in mystery and hearsay that separating fact from legend is a tricky task. Thanks to Eric Clapton, Hollywood and Blues lore one has heard about how the song’s creator Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads to sell his soul in exchange for superhuman skills on the guitar.

According to a combination of rumour and a broad interpretation of the song’s lyrics, Crossroads is both the documentation and result of Johnson’s bargain. The truth is probably less thrilling but here’s what one can say with certainty: Robert Johnson was an itinerant blues man, who in October of 1936 recorded the song for ARC records.
The ferocity of Johnson’s solo performance lends credence to the rumour of its Faustian origin. His fret board skills are fiercely nimble enough to suggest that he got the better of his bargain. And the howl in the bluesman’s voice can still produce shivers more than eighty years after its recording date!

Blues legend Robert Johnson recorded the original version of “Crossroads” way back in 1936, but after Cream’s electrified reworking of the song started showing up in their set lists (and as a live cut on their third album, Wheels of Fire), it became one of their most popular cuts and Clapton’s signature tune.

Eric Clapton rode his soaring personal popularity to new heights with Cream. In earlier short stints with The Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Clapton’s mastery of both the blues rock idioms and his stunning combination of technical ability and creativity inspired the, `Eric is God’ graffiti that appeared on overpasses all over London. He was proficient in everything from technique to slide guitar to the newly popular wah-wah pedal.

The Cream cover of Robert Johnson’s song, renamed Crossroads, was featured on the group’s double album Wheels of Fire.
It is rightly celebrated as a superb rock transformation of a blues standard. Eric Clapton’s guitar work represents a masterful combination of blues chords with power guitar licks.
The group had initially decided that Bruce would be the lead vocalist, so Crossroads is one of the few Cream songs featuring Eric Clapton on lead vocals. During the vocals, the guitar and bass simply drive forward the beat at a much faster tempo than the Robert Johnson original, while Clapton’s soaring solos show off his technical capabilities and Cream’s popularity marked Eric Clapton’s ascendance to ‘rock god’ status!

9. Bell bottom blues from Derek & The Dominos.

Clapton poured his heart into the songs on Layla.

Clapton would never again present the blues with such urgency as on the album versions of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” and “Key To The Highway.”

“Bell Bottom Blues”, the only song on the album Clapton wrote entirely by himself, is a portrait of a man on the brink of collapse. As Whitlock recalls, one of the great all-time rock and roll bands “didn’t break up, it just kind of dissipated…Eric locked himself away for a couple of years, and that was that.”

Along with Cream and Blind Faith, Derrick and the Dominoes was another Eric Clapton led band. They produced one album, but it was amazing.

This song deals with a rawness, and unfiltered emotions and that is why it sounds so honest and powerful.

Also unique to “Bell Bottom Blues” is the guitar work. It sounds like dueling guitars especially throughout the verses and sounds almost improvised. This was some hard rock at the time. One also catches a rare glimpse of Clapton’s falsetto, and also some harmonizing.
Also, one can hear the difference between a Cream song and a Derrick and the Dominoes song if one listens carefully to the drumbeat. Ginger Baker of Cream played much more complex beats.

10. Tears in heaven. by Eric Clapton is from the 1992 Album: “Rush Soundtrack “.

Eric Clapton is an English Rock and blues guitarist, songwriter and singer. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – once as a solo artist and twice while being a member of the bands, “The Yardbirds” and “Cream”. Clapton has also been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time, ranking second in the “Rolling Stone” magazine’s most important and influential guitarists of all time. He has also sold over 130 million records worldwide, and won 18 Grammy awards throughout his musical career.
“Tears in Heaven” was borne out of unbearably heartbreaking circumstances.
The melody came back to him when US director Lili Fini Zanuck offered him the chance to write a song for an action film called Rush, which starred Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric. Clapton played Zanuck a few chords of the melody that had stuck in his mind. “What I heard was Eric sitting in his room and saying, ‘If you don’t like this, I’ve got plenty more,’” Zanuck later told Newsweek. “Then he began playing Tears In Heaven… it was so painfully personal, I wondered if it would work in the movie.”

“Tears In Heaven”, was a difficult song to record, and Clapton, who sang and played guitar and dobro on the track, had to record several takes for producer Russ Titelman.

Released as a single in 1992, a week ahead of the Rush soundtrack release, “Tears In Heaven”, went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. By the end of that year, it had sold more than three million copies in the US alone.

The popularity of the song was sealed when it was given a memorable premier by Clapton, for an MTV Unplugged concert. The guitarist, performing before a small audience at Bray Studios, in Berkshire, poured all his sadness into the song as he recorded a haunting acoustic version on his 1992 MTV Unplugged special.
The resulting MTV Unplugged album went on to sell 26 million copies worldwide and won three Grammy awards.

“Tears In Heaven”, remains the most successful and the most personal song in Clapton’s repertoire and one that has the power to move anyone. In an interview with ABC television presenter Daphne Barak, Clapton reflected on what the song meant to him, adding, “I almost subconsciously used music for myself and I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.” He knows that “beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure”, meaning he is aware that after this painful period in his life, he’ll be fine. The song ends with Clapton repeating the first verse.

There is no official music video for the song, but there is a video of Clapton performing it live on a TV show for the first time in 1992. Clapton wasn’t sure he wanted this song to be released at all, but the director of Rush, Lili Zanuck, convinced him to use it in the film. “The argument was that it might in some way help somebody, and that got my vote,” Clapton said.
The song plays near the end of the film.

This won Grammys in 1993 for “Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year”, and “Best Male Pop Vocal”. Clapton was nominated for nine Grammys that year and won six.

Clapton wrote about this song in his 2007 autobiography: “The most powerful of the new songs was ‘Tears in Heaven.’ Musically, I had always been haunted by Jimmy Cliff’s song, ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ and wanted to borrow from that chord progression, but essentially it’s difficult to talk about these songs in depth, that’s why they’re songs. Their development is what kept me alive through the darkest period of my life. When I try to take myself back to that time, to recall the terrible numbness that I lived in, I recoil in fear. I never want to go through anything like that again. Originally, these songs were never meant for publication or public consumption; I played them to myself, over and over, constantly changing or refining them, until they were part of my being.”

11. Layla

“Layla”, is from the 1970 album, “Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs”
It was Pattie Boyd’s love that ignited the creativity within Clapton, resulting in some of his best-known songs, and arguably the most well-known, Layla. While Layla is a ballad inspired heavily by Clapton’s love for Pattie Boyd, the idea for the track initially came from a love story by the 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, entitled “The Story of Layla and Majnun”. I am sure all Indians would know Laila- Majnu story better than the average American .

It was 50 years ago that Eric Clapton, with a band of stellar musicians that included Duane Allman, went to record what would become one of the great classic albums of all time. “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”. With its standout track “Layla”, the album became a timeless record that helped determine the direction of 1970s rock guitar, performed by a band called Derek and the Dominos, as Clapton didn’t want to use his name for the marquee value.

“Layla” was a song Clapton wrote, with Dominos drummer Jim Gordon, about a woman who eventually became Clapton’s wife. The song was inspired by Clapton’s reading of the classic Persian love story, the epic poem Layla and Manjun.

In 1992 Clapton recorded an acoustic version of “Layla” for “MTV Unplugged.” That version later appeared on his own Unplugged album, introducing the song to a new generation of listeners who may have heard the original recording, but had no idea who it was, especially given the Derek and the Dominos moniker. Propelled by “Layla” and “Tears In Heaven,” Unplugged became Clapton’s biggest selling-album, as well as one of the biggest-selling live albums in history with a purported 26 million copies sold. And “Layla” won a Grammy, more than two decades after it was originally recorded, for Best Rock Song which many argued was won because of the song’s sentimentality as it was not rock at all.

Clapton typically played a Fender Strat on the “Layla” sessions, while the 1957 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top that Allman used on the song (often called the “Layla” guitar) went for $1.25 million at an auction .

12. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton is from the 1977 Album: “Slowhand”.

Eric Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” while waiting for his future wife Pattie Boyd to get ready for attending Paul McCartney’s tribute function for Buddy Holly and is perhaps Clapton’s prettiest and mellowest love ballad.
The lines “I feel wonderful because I see the love light in your eyes,
And the wonder of it all is that you just don’t realize how much I love you”
are the best written words with the most impact of any song.
Billboard particularly praised Clapton’s guitar playing during the interludes. Cash Box said that “Eric’s singing is superbly understated; the guitar work is simple and evocative” and praised “the gentle beat and organ accompaniment.”

This song always pulls at one’s heartstrings as the man loves this woman unconditionally.
The day after they got married, Clapton brought Pattie on stage and sang this to her at his concert in Arizona.

The female backing harmonies on the track were provided by none other Marcella Detroit, and Yvonne Elliman.

Despite that, it has become one of Clapton’s most famous hits.

Pattie inspired a lot of great songs. Clapton released a live version in 1991 recorded in London with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. That is the version that charted in the UK.

I was very happy to present this compilation as a selection of some of most favourite songs by one of my most favourite rock/ blues artist, a guitarist par excellence and a great songwriter and singer.

A big thank you to Kiran Misra ji to allow me the creative freedom in selection of songs. Thanks to her freedom, this would be one of the programs I loved doing the most, it brought back memories over the last 40 years.


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

12 replies on “Master of the Blues”

Wow….a treasure collection !
Beaten the blues of the day..
Feeling like I am in 1000 Oaks at Camp, Pune 😀
Pretending 👌… Cocain ✌️👍

Thank you

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s