Eric Clapton

Active - 20th Century  |   Born - Mar 30, 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England  |   Genres - Music [nf]

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The son of a bricklayer, British rock artist Eric Clapton attended Kingston Art School before choosing the quicksilver life of a street musician. Clapton's guitar prowess did not go unrecognized for long, and soon he was aligned with the Yardbirds, a major Mersey-beat band of the 1960s. Clapton owns the distinction of appearing with three of the most popular rock aggregations in music history: The Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith. So devoted were Clapton's followers that, by 1970, graffiti began popping up all over the world proclaiming "Clapton Is God." Even into the 1990s, Clapton has earned several Grammy awards for his ongoing musical contributions. Most of Clapton's film appearances have been in concert or "retrospective" movies like Concert for Bangladesh (71), The Last Waltz (78) and Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock N Roll (87).

His signature solo hit "Layla" was used memorably by Martin Scorsese in this 1990 gangster masterpiece Goodfellas, and he scored a huge hit with "Tears In Heaven" which featured prominently in the 1991 film Rush. In addition to a number of concert films and music documentaries, Clapton provided some of the most intimate remembrances of George Harrison in the Scorsese directed biography George Harrison: Living in the Material World.

Movie Highlights

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Factsheet

  • Raised by his grandparents.
  • Believed that his mother Patricia, who had him out of wedlock at 16, was his sister; learned the truth when he was 9.
  • Never met his biological father, who was a Canadian soldier stationed in Britain during World War II.
  • Introduced to the blues by Uncle Mac's Children's Hour, a children's radio show that occasionally played blues songs. 
  • Received his first guitar at age 13.
  • Joined his first band, the Roosters, at age 17, in early 1963.
  • Recruited to the Yardbirds in October 1963; earned the nickname "Slowhand" during his stint with the band.
  • Quit the Yardbirds because of their move to a pop sound with the hit single "For Your Love."
  • Joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, a blues-purist group, in 1965. It was with them that he earned another nickname: "God."
  • Formed Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in July 1966.
  • Broke up Cream in 1968 due to personality conflicts and a desire to get away from music driven by extended guitar solos. 
  • Played lead guitar on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
  • Became a close friend of George Harrison. 
  • Formed the supergroup Blind Faith with Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech after Cream disbanded. The band released one album before breaking up.
  • Though unsure of himself as a singer, he pressed on with vocals and released his self-titled solo debut in 1970.
  • Formed Derek and the Dominos in 1970, releasing the classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album that same year.
  • Inspired by his then-unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, wife of George Harrison, to write "Layla."
  • Wrote the Grammy-winning "Tears From Heaven" for his 4-year-old son Conor, who died in 1991 when he fell from a 53rd-floor apartment in New York City.
  • Struggled with addictions to alcohol and heroin, finally becoming sober in 1987.
  • Founded Crossroads Centre, an alcohol-drug treatment facility in Antigua, in 1998.
  • Has played guitar on songs by (among many others) Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, George Harrison, Elton John, B.B. King, John Lennon and Frank Zappa.
  • Three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: with the Yardbirds (1992), Cream (1993) and on his own (2000).
  • Published the acclaimed, best-selling Clapton: The Autobiography in 2007.