On the list of guitar legends, Eric Clapton is surely one of the most prominent names. He isn’t just a great guitar player, he is an inspiration. Let us get to know the man behind the unforgettable songs like “Tears in Heaven” and other memorable acoustic guitar riffs.
Eric Clapton’s full name is Eric Patrick Clapton and he was born on March 30, 1945. Eric was mostly raised by his maternal grandparents. Eric’s mother Patricia Clapton gave birth to him when she was only 16 and his father Edward Fryer wasn’t really there for him. He was born in Surrey, England.
The Early Life
Eric Clapton was born in a family that loves music. His grandmother and father (Edward) played the piano and this gave young Eric an early appreciation of music. In 1961, he went to Kingston College of Art to study art. But, he didn’t perform well as his love for music grew more.
At 17 years old, Eric bought an electric double cutaway Kay and this started his journey in music, particularly, guitar playing. By 1963, Eric was playing for the Roosters and was performing briefly alongside The Engineers and Casey Jones. Nearing the end of that year, Eric was able to join The Yardbirds and he was a part of the three albums named Five Live Yardbirds, Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds.
The Solo Career
By 1970, Eric Clapton became a popular rock guitarist of his time. He launched his solo career this year and also marked the launch of his own album, a self-titled one. His song “After Midnight” reached the Top 40 after the album launch. But before all this, Clapton was assembling a group named Derek & The Dominos.
In 1971 and 1972, Clapton was inactive due to his heroin addiction but he came back on January 13, 1973 at the Rainbow Theater in London. This performance led to the Rainbow Concert album that was launched in September of the same year. It was only in July 1974 that Clapton finally sustained his solo career with the launch of his album 461 Ocean Boulevard.
The Greatest Hits
Eric Clapton, since the start of his solo career return in 1974 has never stopped making hit after hit. But although he was known to be a rock star, Clapton was making more ballads than rock songs. His hits were as follows:
- There’s One in Every Crowd (March 1975)
- E.C. Was Here (August 1975)
- No Reason to Cry (August 1976)
- But Slowhand (November 1977)
- Lay Down Sally
- Wonderful Tonight
- Backless (November 1978)
- Just One Night (April 1980)
- Another Ticket (February 1981)
- Money and Cigarettes (February 1983)
- Behind the Sun (March 1985)
- August (November 1986)
- Crossroads (April 1988)
- Tears in Heaven
All these years, no album made the most sales than Clapton’s concert for MTV Unplugged that was released in March 1992. By 1994, Clapton made an album that was focused on blues, and it became another successful release. In 1997, Eric Clapton released the album Retail Therapy and then Pilgrim in 1998.
Since 2000, Clapton has been collaborating with different artists like B.B. King, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker for songs and concerts. In 2006, he recorded a duet album with J.J. Cale named The Road to Escondido. In 2007, he released an autobiography together with a compilation entitled The Complete Clapton. In 2008 and 2009, Eric Clapton focused on playing shows together with Steve Winwood. This partner also led to Clapton’s 2010 album.
In 1979, Clapton was married to Pattie Boyd but by 1984, he had an affair with Yvonne Kelly which lasted for a year. Clapton had a daughter with Yvonne but they kept it a secret at first. She was only revealed by 1991. In 1988, Pattie and Clapton got divorced due to another affair with Lory Del Santo, whom he had a son with. Sadly, Pattie was not capable of having children.
Following the divorce, Clapton got married to Melia McEnery in 2001. They had two daughters, Ella May in 2003 and Sophie Belle in 2005. Isaac Bartlett, his grandson was born in June 2013.
The most controversial yet heartbreaking moment in Clapton’s life was when his son, Connor, died in 1991. Connor was only 4 years old. It was a very tragic death. Connor fell out of their 53rd floor Manhattan apartment. The bedroom window was left open. Clapton made the song Tears in Heaven for him.
Eric Clapton was a musical genius. And he was certainly acknowledged for it.
- In 1983, Clapton was presented the Silver Clef Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. It was presented by Princess Michael of Kent.
- In 1985, he was presented with a BAFTA for Best Original TV Music for Score for the show Edge of Darkness.
- In 1993, he was awarded three Grammy awards for Tears of Heaven as Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Male Pop Vocal Performance. The same year, he won Album of the Year, Best Rock Song (Layla) and Best Rock Vocal Performance (Unplugged).
- In 1994, he was awarded OBE for his services to the music industry.
- In 2000, he was inducted as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer… for the third time. It’s also the same year that he was inducted as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream.
- In 2006, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as a Cream member.
- In 1996, Clapton dated Sheryl Crow, another musician.
- In August 1998, Q, a British rock magazine ranked Clapton as the top 10 of the 100 richest rock stars. It was estimated that he had a fortune worth over 75M GBP.
- He was the only musician who played a guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison.
- Both Clapton and George Harrison were married to Pattie Boyd.
- Clapton is the only musician that was inducted three times (1992, 1993 and 2000) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First, as the member of The Yardbirds. Second, as a member of Cream and last as a solo performer.
- At just age 47, at Feb. 1993, Clapton won 6 Grammys in one night.
- In 1969, Clapton played with Yoko Ono and John Lennon in the Toronto Pop Festival.
- He owns several Ferraris.
- Clapton was cured of his heroin addiction through electro-acupuncture. This was the same therapy Boy George went through after a decade.
- Clapton is Rolling Stone’s 53rd Greatest Rock n’ Roll Artist of all time.
- Once while playing in a Cream concert, Clapton stopped playing and his bandmates didn’t even notice.
- Clapton plays and owns the Gibson Byrdland guitar, the guitar designed by Billy Byrd and Hank Garland.
- He was nicknamed “slow hand” because he is known to have slow fingers.
- He likes martial arts.