“Slowhand” turned 75 on Monday.
Eric Clapton has been a force in rock 'n' roll since the mid-1960s and his guitar playing has been legendary. He is a three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream.
How good was Clapton? One fan sprayed the phrase “Clapton is God” on a wall in Islington, London during the 1960s.
Here are some things to know about Clapton, who won 18 Grammy Awards during his career:
That nickname: Giorgio Gomelsky, who managed the Yardbirds, tagged Clapton with the nickname “Slowhand” in early 1964. According to Yardbirds rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, whenever Clapton broke a guitar string during a concert, he would remain on stage and replace it. While English audiences waited, they would begin a slow handclap, which is called “to be given the slowhand.”
Cream a sour experience: On the surface, the super-band Cream appeared to be a rock 'n' roll dream come true. Clapton teamed with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, and they produced hits like “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room” and “Crossroads.” However, Bruce and Baker did not get along, and the friction between the two members broke up the band. "There was a constant dispute between Jack and Ginger every day,” the band’s manager told Rolling Stone. “It didn’t matter what they were arguing about really, just that they were at each other’s throats.”
Eric and George: Clapton had a complicated relationship with Beatles guitarist George Harrison. He became the first nonmember to play in the band when he performed the solo for Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Harrison co-wrote the song “Badge” with Clapton for Cream’s final album. However, Clapton became infatuated with Harrison’s first wife, Pattie Boyd. Harrison and Boyd eventually divorced, and Clapton married Boyd in 1979, according to Rolling Stone.
Layla: After Cream, Clapton formed Blind Faith, which disbanded after one album. He then formed Derek and the Dominos in 1970 and recorded his signature hit, “Layla.” The song, whose distinctive opening riff and wailing guitar coda are legendary in rock, remains a radio standard. Clapton also performed an acoustic version of the song on MTV’s “Unplugged” series.
String of hits: After kicking a heroin habit in the mid-1970s, Clapton produced a string of hits and successful albums. His hits include a remake of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Hello Old Friend,” “Cocaine,” “Lay Down Sally" and “Wonderful Tonight.”
Clapton speaks: “People who tend to go after money as a solution for whatever they feel they lack had better be careful what they pray for, because they just may get it.”
Cox Media Group