March 30: Legendary guitarist, singer and songwriter Eric Clapton is 66 today.

Did you know?

Eric Clapton Robert Johnson has had the greatest influence on his guitar playing. In 2004, Clapton released a CD and DVD entitled Sessions for Robert Johnson, featuring Clapton recording Robert Johnson covers with electric and acoustic guitars.

In his book, Discovering Robert Johnson (which he co-authored with several other writers), Clapton said of Johnson, that he was "..the most important blues musician who ever lived. He was true, absolutely, to his own vision, and as deep as I have gotten into the music over the last 30 years, I have never found anything more deeply soulful than Robert Johnson. His music remains the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice..."

Besides Johnson, Clapton  has credited Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin both in musical influence and on his guitar playing style.


Eric Patrick Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time.

Clapton ranked fourth in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.
In the mid sixties, Clapton left the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. In his one-year stay with Mayall, Clapton gained the nickname "Slowhand," and graffiti in London declared "Clapton is God."
Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce, the power trio, Cream, in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and "arty, blues-based psychedelic pop." For most of the seventies, Clapton's output bore the influence of the mellow style of J.J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley.

His version of Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" helped gain reggae a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were "Layla," recorded by Derek and the Dominos, and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," recorded by Cream.

A recipient of seventeen Grammy Awards, in 2004 Clapton was awarded a "Commander of the Order of the British Empire," (CBE) for services to music. In 1998 Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.

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Eric Clapton - Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 (2BD)[Blu-ray]

Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England. Clapton grew up with his grandmother, Rose, believing she was his mother and that his mother was his older sister. Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his 13th birthday, and became serious about playing it when he was 15.

Clapton was influenced by the blues from an early age and practiced long hours to learn chords of blues music he listened to, playing along to the records. He preserved his practice sessions using a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder.

After leaving school in 1961, Clapton studied at the Kingston College of Art but was dismissed at the end of the academic year because his focus remained on music rather than art. His guitar playing had advanced so far that by the age of sixteen people were starting to notice him.

Around this time Clapton began busking around Kingston, Richmond and the West End of London. In 1962, Clapton started performing as a duo with fellow blues enthusiast David Brock in the pubs around Surrey. When he was 17 years old Clapton joined his first band, an early British R&B group, The Roosters, and played briefly with Casey Jones & The Engineers.
In October 1963, Clapton joined The Yardbirds, a blues-influenced rock and roll band, and stayed with them until March 1965.

The Yardbirds
Clapton developed a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarists in the British music scene. The band attracted a large cult following when they took over after the Rolling Stones' departed the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. In March 1965, just before Clapton left the band, he played guitar on The Yardbirds first major hit, "For Your Love."

Still musically devoted to the blues, Clapton was opposed to the Yardbirds' move toward a pop-oriented sound. Clapton joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, in April 1965, only to quit a few months later. In the summer of 1965, he left for Greece with a band called The Glands, then in late 1995, rejoined John Mayall. It was during his second Bluesbreakers stint that his passionate playing established Clapton's name as the best blues guitarist on the club circuit.
Although Clapton gained world fame for his playing on the influential album, Blues Breakers, the album was not released until Clapton had left the Bluesbreakers for good.

In July 1966 Clapton and formed Cream, one of the earliest supergroups, with Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums. During his time with Cream, Clapton began to develop as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, though Bruce took most of the lead vocals and wrote the majority of the material.

 In March 1967, Cream performed a nine show stand at the RKO Theater in New York. In just over two years, Cream became a commercial success, selling millions of records and playing throughout the U.S. and Europe. Their U.S. hit singles include "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room," and "Crossroads." Drug and alcohol use escalated tension between the three members and the conflicts between Bruce and Baker eventually led to Cream's demise.
Cream's farewell album, Goodbye, featured live performances recorded at The Forum, Los Angeles, 19 October 1968, and was released shortly after Cream disbanded in 1968. It also featured the studio single "Badge," co-written by Clapton and George Harrison. Clapton had met Harrison and become friends with him after the Beatles shared a bill with the Yardbirds at the London Palladium.

The close friendship between Clapton and Harrison resulted in Clapton's playing on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from the Beatles' White Album. That same year, Harrison released his solo debut Wonderwall Music, becoming the first of many Harrison solo records to feature Clapton on guitar.
Cream briefly reunited in 1993 to perform at the ceremony inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; however, a full reunion took place in May 2005, with Clapton, Bruce, and Baker playing four sold-out concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall, and three more at New York's Madison Square Garden that October.
Blind Faith
Clapton's next group Blind Faith, formed in 1969, included Cream drummer Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic and Ric Grech of Family. The LP Blind Faith consisted of just six songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled "Do What You Like."  Blind Faith dissolved after less than seven months.
Clapton subsequently toured as a sideman for an act that had opened for Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. He also played two dates that fall as a member of John Lennon's The Plastic Ono Band.


Other media appearances include the Toots & the Maytals album True Love where he played guitar on the track "Pressure Drop." He can also be heard at the beginning of Frank Zappa's album, We're Only in It for the Money.

Clapton frequently appears as a guest on the albums of other musicians. For example, he is credited on Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album, since he lent Mark Knopfler one of his guitars for the album. He also played lead guitar and synthesiser on The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Roger Waters' debut solo album.