Following the release of the 2001 record Reptile, Eric performed "Layla" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" at the Party at the Palace in 2002. On 29 November of that year the Concert for George was held at the Royal Albert Hall, a tribute to George Harrison who had died a year earlier of cancer. Clapton was a performer, and also the musical director. The concert featured Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ravi Shankar, Gary Brooker, Billy Preston, Joe Brown and Dhani Harrison. In 2004, Clapton released two albums packed full of covers by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, Me and Mr. Johnson and Sessions for Robert J. The same year Rolling Stone ranked Clapton #53 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
On 22 January 2005, Clapton performed in the Tsunami Relief Concert held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, in aid of the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In May 2005, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker reunited as Cream for a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Concert recordings were released on CD and DVD. Later, Cream performed in New York at Madison Square Garden. Back Home, Clapton's first album of new original material in nearly five years, was released on Reprise Records on 30 August. In 2006 he invited Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II to join his band for his 2006–2007 world tour. Trucks is the third member of The Allman Brothers Band to tour supportng Clapton, the second being pianist/keyboardist Chuck Leavell who appeared on the MTV Unplugged album and the 24 Nights performances at the Royal Albert Hall theatre of London in 1990 and 1991, as well as Clapton's 1992 U.S. tour.
On 20 May 2006, Clapton performed with Queen drummer Roger Taylor and former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters at the Highclere Castle, in support of the Countryside Alliance. On 13 August 2006, Clapton made a guest appearance at the Bob Dylan concert in Columbus, Ohio, playing guitar on three songs in Jimmie Vaughan's opening act. A collaboration with guitarist J. J. Cale, titled The Road to Escondido, was released on 7 November 2006, featuring Derek Trucks and Billy Preston. The 14-track CD was produced and recorded by the duo in August 2005 in California. The chemistry between Trucks and Clapton convinced him to invite The Derek Trucks Band to open for Clapton's set on his 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival, with Trucks remaining on set afterward, performing with Clapton's band throughout his performances, and embarking on a world tour with him.
The rights to Clapton's official memoirs, written by Christopher Simon Sykes and published in 2007, were sold at the 2005 Frankfurt Book Fair for US$4 million.
On 26 February 2008, it was reported that North Korean officials had invited Clapton to play a concert in the communist state. According to reports, Clapton's management received the invitation and passed it on to the singer, who has agreed in principle and suggested it take place sometime in 2009. Kristen Foster, a spokesperson, said, "Eric Clapton receives numerous offers to play in countries around the world," and "there is no agreement whatsoever for him to play in North Korea."
In 2007, Clapton learned more about his father, a Canadian soldier who left the UK after the war. Although Clapton's grandparents eventually told him the truth about his parentage, he only knew that his father's name was Edward Fryer. This was a source of disquiet for Clapton, as witnessed by his 1998 song "My Father's Eyes". A Montreal journalist named Michael Woloschuk researched Canadian Armed Forces service records and tracked down members of Fryer's family, finally piecing together the story. He learned that Clapton's father was Edward Walter Fryer, born 21 March 1920, in Montreal and died 15 May 1985 in Newmarket, Ontario. Fryer was a musician (piano and saxophone) and a lifelong drifter, who was married several times, had several children and apparently never knew that he was the father of Eric Clapton. Clapton thanked Woloschuk in an encounter at Macdonald Cartier Airport, in Ottawa, Canada.
In February 2008, Clapton performed with his long-time friend Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden and guested on his recorded single "Dirty City" on Winwood's album Nine Lives. The two former Blind Faith bandmates met again for a series of 14 concerts throughout the United States in June 2009.
Clapton's 2008 Summer Tour began on 3 May at the Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa Bay, Florida, and then moved to Canada, Ireland, England, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Monaco. On 28 June 2008, he headlined Saturday night for Hard Rock Calling 2008 in London's Hyde Park (previously Hyde Park Calling) with support from Sheryl Crow & John Mayer. In September 2008, Clapton performed at a private charity fundraiser for The Countryside Alliance at Floridita in Soho, London, that included such guests as the London Mayor Boris Johnson.
In March 2009, The Allman Brothers Band (amongst many notable guests), celebrated their 40th year, dedicating their string of concerts to the late Duane Allman on their annual run at the Beacon Theatre. Eric Clapton was one of the performers, with drummer Butch Trucks remarking that the performance was not the typical Allman Brothers experience, given the number and musical styles of the guests who were invited to perform. Songs like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" were punctuated with others including "The Weight", with Levon Helm; Johnny Winter sitting in on Hendrix's "Red House" and "Layla". Two months later, on 4 May 2009 Clapton appeared as a featured guest at the Royal Albert Hall playing "Further on Up the Road" with Joe Bonamassa.
Clapton was scheduled to be one of the performers at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary concert in Madison Square Garden on 30 October 2009, but cancelled due to gallstone surgery. Van Morrison (who also cancelled) said in an interview that he and Clapton were to do a "couple of songs" but that they would do something else together at "some other stage of the game".
Clapton performed a 2-night show with Jeff Beck at London's O2 Arena 13–14 February 2010. The two former Yardbirds extended their 2010 tour with stops at Madison Square Garden, Air Canada Centre and the Bell Centre in Montreal. Clapton performed a series of concerts in 11 cities throughout the United States from 25 February to 13 March 2010. His third European tour with Steve Winwood began on 18 May and ended 13 June. He then began a short North American tour lasting from 26 June to 3 July, starting with his third Crossroads Guitar Festival on 26 June in Bridgeview, Illinois. Clapton released a new studio album, Clapton, on 27 September 2010 in the United Kingdom and 28 September 2010 in the United States. On 17 November 2010, Clapton performed as guest on the Prince's Trust rock gala held at the Royal Albert Hall, supported by the house band for the evening which included Jools Holland, Midge Ure and Mark King.
Clapton has performed songs by myriad artists, which include Bob Marley, J.J. Cale, Bo Diddley, Robert Johnson, and Bob Dylan. He cites Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin both in musical influence and on his style on the guitar.
He holds no other artist in higher esteem than Robert Johnson. In 2004, Clapton released a CD and DVD entitled Sessions for Robert Johnson, featuring Clapton recording Robert Johnson covers with electric and acoustic guitars. He performs these tracks live and in the practice space on the DVD, as well as gives brief interviews explaining the huge influence Robert Johnson had on him. Doyle Bramhall II assists Clapton on the acoustic tracks of the CD and the DVD.
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, really. ... it seemed to echo something I had always felt." Clapton persuaded Freddie King to sign with his record label, RSO in 1974. Clapton has recorded more than six of J. J. Cale's originals and has put out an album with him. Clapton has also collaborated with Frank Zappa, B.B. King, George Harrison, Santana, Ringo Starr, Roger Waters, John Lennon, Mark Knopfler and The Plastic Ono Band. Clapton also collaborated with singer/songwriter John Mayer on his 2006 album release, Continuum. Mayer cites Clapton in his liner notes: "Eric Clapton knows I steal from him and is still cool with it."
Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. 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. He ranked fourth in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"3 and fourth in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.
A number of guitarists that Clapton has influenced are: Richie Sambora, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, Orianthi, Jimi Hendrix, Brad Paisley, Jonny Buckland, Joe Don Rooney, Alex Lifeson, Jonny Lang, John Mayer, Joe Satriani, Joe Bonamassa, and Davy Knowles.
Clapton's choice of electric guitars has been as notable as the man himself, and alongside Hank Marvin, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Clapton exerted a crucial and widespread influence in popularising particular models of the electric guitar. With the Yardbirds, Clapton played a Fender Telecaster, a Fender Jazzmaster, a double-cutaway Gretsch 6120 and a 1964 Cherry-Red Gibson ES-335. He became exclusively a Gibson player for a period beginning in mid-1965, when he purchased a used Gibson Les Paul Sunburst Standard guitar from a local guitar store in London. Clapton commented on the slim profile of the neck, which would indicate it as a 1960 model.
Early during his stint in Cream, Clapton's first Les Paul Standard was stolen. He continued to play Les Pauls exclusively with Cream (one bought from Andy Summers was almost identical to the stolen guitar) until 1967 when he acquired his most famous guitar in this period, a 1964 Gibson SG. Just before Cream's first U.S. appearance in 1967, Clapton's SG, Bruce's Fender VI, and Baker's drum head were all repainted in psychedelic designs created by the visual art collective known as The Fool. In 1968 Clapton bought a Gibson Firebird and started using the 1964 Cherry-Red Gibson ES-335 again. The aforementioned 1964 ES-335 had a storied career. Clapton used it at the last Cream show in November 1968 as well as with Blind Faith, played sparingly for slide pieces in the 1970s, heard on "Hard Times" from Journeyman, the Hyde Park live concert of 1996 and the From the Cradle sessions and tour of 1994/95. It was sold for $847,500 at the 2004 auction. Gibson produced a limited run of 250 "Crossroads 335" replicas. The 335 was only the second electric guitar Clapton bought.
In July 1968, Clapton gave George Harrison a red, refinished Les Paul. In the following September, Clapton played the guitar on the Beatles' studio recording of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". His SG found its way into the hands of George Harrison's friend Jackie Lomax, who subsequently sold it to musician Todd Rundgren for US$500 in 1972. Rundgren restored the guitar and nicknamed it "Sunny", after "Sunshine of Your Love". He retained it until 2000, when he sold it at an auction for US$150,000. At the 1969 Blind Faith concert in Hyde Park, London Clapton played a Fender Custom Telecaster, which was fitted with Brownie's neck.
In late 1969, Clapton made the switch to the Fender Stratocaster. "I had a lot of influences when I took up the Strat. First there was Buddy Holly, and Buddy Guy. Hank Marvin was the first well known person over here in England who was using one, but that wasn't really my kind of music. Steve Winwood had so much credibility, and when he started playing one, I thought, oh, if he can do it, I can do it."77 First was "Brownie" used during the recording of Eric Clapton which in 1974 became the backup to the most famous of all Clapton's guitars, "Blackie". In November 1970 Eric bought six Fender Stratocasters from the Sho-bud guitar shop in Nashville, Tennessee while on tour with the Dominos. He gave one each to George Harrison, Steve Winwood and Pete Townshend.
Clapton assembled the best components of the remaining three to create "Blackie", which was his favourite stage guitar until its retirement in 1985. It was first played live 13 January 1973 at the Rainbow Concert.78 Clapton called the 1956/57 Strat a "mongrel".79 On 24 June 2004, Clapton sold "Blackie" at Christie's Auction House, New York for $959,500 to raise funds for his Crossroads Centre for drug and alcohol addictions. "Brownie" is now on display at the Experience Music Project. The Fender Custom Shop has since produced a limited run of 275 'Blackie' replicas, correct in every detail right down to the 'Duck Brothers' flight case, and artificially aged using Fender's 'Relic' process to simulate years of hard wear. One was presented to Eric upon the model's release and used for three numbers during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 17 May 2006.
In 1981, Clapton gave his signed Fender Lead II guitar to the Hard Rock Cafe to designate his favourite bar stool. Pete Townshend also donated his own Gibson Les Paul guitar, with a note attached: "Mine's as good as his! Love, Pete."
In 1988, Fender honoured Clapton with the introduction of his signature Eric Clapton Stratocaster. These were the first two artist models in the Stratocaster range and since then, the artist series has grown to include models inspired both by Clapton's contemporaries such as Rory Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and by those who have influenced him such as Buddy Guy. Clapton uses Ernie Ball Slinky and Super Slinky strings. Clapton has also been honoured with signature-model 000-28EC and 000-42EC acoustic guitars made by the famous American firm of C.F. Martin & Company. His 1939 000-42 Martin that he played on the Unplugged album sold for $791,500 at auction. Clapton plays a custom 000-ECHF Martin these days.
In 1999, Clapton auctioned off some of his guitar collection to raise more than $5 million for continuing support of the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, which he founded in 1997. The Crossroads Centre is a treatment base for addictive disorders such as drugs and alcohol. In 2004, Clapton organised and participated in the Crossroads Guitar Festival to benefit the Centre. A second guitar auction, including the "Cream" of Clapton's collection – as well as guitars donated by famous friends – was also held on 24 June 2004. His Lowden acoustic guitar sold for $41,825. The total revenue garnered by this auction at Christie's was US $7,438,624.
In 2010, Eric Clapton announced that he would be auctioning off over 150 items at a New York auction in 2011. Proceeds will benefit his Crossroads Centre in Antigua. Items include Clapton's guitar from the Cream reunion tour in 2005, speaker cabinets used in the early 1970s from his days with Derek and the Dominoes, and some guitars from Jeff Beck, J.J. Cale, and Joe Bonamassa. In March 2011 Clapton raised more than $2.15 million dollars when he auctioned off key items including a 1984 Gibson hollow body guitar, a Giovanni Versace87 suit from his 1990 concert at the Royal Albert Hall and a replica of the famous Fender Stratocaster, also known as "Blackie", which fetched more than $30,000. All proceeds from the auction are being donated to Clapton's Crossroads drug and rehabilitation centre in Antigua.
The "woman tone" is the informal term used by Clapton to refer to his distinctive mid- to late-1960s electric guitar sound, created using his Gibson SG solidbody guitar (with humbucking pick-ups) and a Marshall tube amplifier. It is an overdriven sound that is articulate yet thick. It is characterised by being quite distorted (or even achieved with a fuzz) but muted, in contrast to the bright and twangy distortion that most guitarists were using at the time. Many players have tried to duplicate it, usually without success, in part because Clapton's playing technique had a lot to do with the tone.
Among the techniques used to replicate Clapton's sound is a technique by which the amplifier's volume is turned up to full, while the guitar's tone knob is turned down to zero or one.
Perhaps the best examples of the "woman tone" are Clapton's famous riff and solo from his band Cream's 1967 hit "Sunshine of Your Love". Clapton has explained that he obtained the tone with his Gibson's tone control rolled all the way down, switching to the neck pick-up (closest to the fretboard) and the volume all the way up, with his distortion turned all the way up. The treble, mids and bass controls on the amplifier were also maxed out. Some versions of the "woman tone" may also have involved strategic positioning of Clapton's wah-wah pedal.
Other media appearances
Clapton frequently appears as a guest on the albums of other musicians. For example, he is cred on Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album, as 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. 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, repeating the phrase, "Are you hung up?" over and over again. In 1985, Clapton appeared on the charity concert Live Aid in Philadelphia with Phil Collins, Tim Renwick, Chris Stainton, Jamie Oldaker, Marcy Levy, Shaun Murphy and Donald 'Duck' Dunn. In 1988 he played with Dire Straits and Elton John at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Stadium and the Prince's Trust rock gala at the Royal Albert Hall. On 30 June 1990, Dire Straits, Clapton and Elton John made a guest appearance in the Nordoff-Robbins charity show held at Knebworth. In 1991, Clapton was featured on Richie Sambora's album, Stranger In This Town, in a song dedicated to him called "Mr. Bluesman". He also contributed guitar and vocals to "Runaway Train", a duet with Elton John on the latter's The One album the following year.
On 12 September 1996, Clapton played a party for Armani at New York City's Lexington Armory with Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East and Steve Gadd. Sheryl Crow appeared on one number, performing "Tearing Us Apart", a track from August, which was first performed by Tina Turner during the Prince's Trust All-Star Rock show in 1986. It was Clapton's sole US appearance that year, following the open-air concert held at Hyde Park with Dave Bronze, Andy Fairweather-Low, The Kick Horns, Jerry Portnoy, Chris Stainton and backing vocalists Katie Kissoon and Tessa Niles. The concert was taped and the footage was released both on VHS video cassette and later, on DVD.
Clapton was featured in the movie version of Tommy, the first full length rock opera written by The Who. The movie version gave Clapton a cameo appearance as the Preacher, performing Sonny Boy Williamson's song, "Eyesight to the Blind". He also appeared in Blues Brothers 2000 as one of the Louisiana Gator Boys. In addition to being in the band, he had a small speaking role. Clapton has also appeared in an advertisement for the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. In March 2007, Clapton appeared in an advertisement for RealNetwork's Rhapsody online music service. In 2010 Clapton started appearing as a spokesman for T-Mobile, advertising their MyTouch Fender cell phone.
Eric Clapton was again compared to God's image in the episode "Holy Crap!" of season two of That '70s Show when Eric Forman and Steven Hyde are made by their minister to draw God.
Political views and advocacy
Clapton is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance, has played in concerts to raise funds for the organisation and publicly opposed the Labour Party’s ban on fox hunting. A spokesperson for Clapton said: "Eric supports the Countryside Alliance. He doesn't hunt himself, but does enjoy rural pursuits such as fishing and shooting. He supports the Alliance's pursuit to scrap the ban on the basis that he doesn't agree with the state's interference with people's private pursuits."
Wealth and assets
In 2009, Philip Beresford, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, estimated Clapton's fortune as £120 million from his assets, including a £9m yacht, Va Bene, previously owned by F1 racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone, his back catalogue, his touring income and his Marshbrook holding company, which had earned him £110 million since 1989, making him one of the 20 richest residents of Surrey, England.
Awards and Honours
Year Award / Recognition
1983 Presented the Silver Clef Award from Princess Michael of Kent for outstanding contribution to British music.
1985 Presented with BAFTA for Best Original Television Music for Score of Edge of Darkness with Michael Kamen.
1993 "Tears In Heaven" won three Grammy awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year,
and Male Pop Vocal Performance. Clapton also won Album of the Year and Best Rock
Vocal Performance for Unplugged and Best Rock Song for "Layla".
1994 Awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to music.
2000 Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the third time,
this time as a solo artist. He was earlier inducted as a member
of the bands Cream and The Yardbirds.
2004 Promoted to CBE, receiving the award from the Princess Royal
at Buckingham Palace as part of the New Year's Honours list.
2006 Awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (as a member of Cream)
- In 1982, he performed a concert before West Bromwich Albion player John Wile's testimonial game at the Hawthorns, and it is often reported by various sources that Clapton (despite being from London more than 100 miles away) is an Albion supporter. Credence for this notion can be taken from the cover pictures to the "Backless" solo album, where he is seen on the front cover to be wearing a football scarf; the rear cover photograph reveals the slogan "ALBION" on the scarf. It has also been reported that the club rejected his offer to invest cash in them around this time, and that he has since expressed more of an interest in Chelsea instead.
Clapton's music in film and TV
- Mean Streets (1973) – "I Looked Away"
- Purple Haze (1983) - "I Feel Free"
- The Hit (1984) – Score
- Miami Vice (1984–1989) - Four songs over the course of the show's five seasons: "Wonderful Tonight", "Knock On Wood", "She's Waiting" and "Layla"
- Back to the Future (1985) – Heaven Is One Step Away
- Edge of Darkness (1985) – Soundtrack
- The Color of Money (1986) – "It's In The Way That You Use It"
- SpaceCamp (1986 film) – "Forever Man" plays when Tate Donovan's character arrives at the Space Camp.
- The German car manufacturer Opel and Vauxhall in the UK used the guitar riff of Clapton's "Layla" in its advertising campaign throughout in 1987–95.
- Lethal Weapon (1987) – Soundtrack with Michael Kamen
- Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) – "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
- Goodfellas (1990) – "Layla" and "Sunshine of Your Love"
- Rush (1991) – Clapton wrote the score
- Wayne's World (1992) – "Loving your Loving"
- Peter's Friends (1992) – "Give Me Strength"
- Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Clapton contributed to the score and co-wrote and co-performed the song "It's Probably Me" with Sting and "Runaway Train" with Elton John.
- True Lies (1994) – "Sunshine of Your Love"
- The Simpsons episode "Mother Simpson" (1995) – "Sunshine of Your Love"
- Twister (1996) – "Motherless Child"
- Phenomenon (1996) – "Change the World"
- The Van (1996) – (Soundtrack)
- Happy Gilmore (1996) - "Wonderful Tonight"
- Patch Adams (1998) – "Let It Rain"
- Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) – "Pilgrim"
- City of Angels (1998) – "Further On Up The Road"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes "Band Candy" and "Forever" (1998) – "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
- Runaway Bride (1999) – "Blue Eyes Blue "
- The Story of Us (1999) – "(I) Get Lost" (featured multiple times)
- Friends episode "The One with the Proposal, Part 2" (2000) - "Wonderful Tonight"
- Dancing At The Blue Iguana (2000) – "River of Tears"
- A Knight's Tale (2001) – "Further On Up The Road"
- Blow (2001) – "Strange Brew"
- Friends episode "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby, Part Two" (2002) - "River of Tears"
- Futurama episode "The 30% Iron Chef" (2002) – "Sunshine of Your Love"
- The Sopranos episode "Whitecaps" (2002) – Tony Soprano is seen listening to "Layla" in his Suburban.
- School Of Rock (2003) – "Sunshine of Your Love"
- Starsky & Hutch (2004) – "Cocaine"
- Anger Management (2004) – "Strange Brew"
- Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) – "Cocaine"
- Bad News Bears (2005) – "Cocaine"
- Lords of Dogtown (2005) – "Strange Brew"
- Lord of War (2005) – "Cocaine"
- United States of Tara episode – "Cocaine"
- The Good Guys Episode Silvio's Way - "Layla"
- Due Date (2010) - "White Room"
Click Here for Eric Clapton's Discography
Click Here to go back to the beginning