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Eric Clapton Bio - Chronicles of his Life

Updated on August 20, 2014

Early Years

He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. He is ranked fourth on the Rolling Stone's list of the worlds best guitarist; unlike many performers who had a single defining hit, Eric or "Slowhand" to his friends, has had many defining moments, as he continues to redefine and reinvent his music. Although his music has changed, it has always been based on the blues.

Blues-Rock guitarist Eric Patrick Clapton was born on March 30, 1945 to sixteen-year-old Patrica Clapton and Edward Fryer in Ripley, Surrey, England. Concerned for his welfare, Clapton's grandparents acted as legal guardian for him until 1963. From his early years, Clapton grew up in a musical household. Many of his relatives listened to the sounds of the big bands, and Clapton's grandmother played the piano; Early on, Eric was exposed to a variety of musical styles and artist, such as Rock and Roll's Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Billy Hailey. But Clapton's first love would be the blues; He spent long hours listening to the popular blues men of the day, including the legendary Delta blues man Robert Johnson. For his thirteen birthday, Clapton asked for and received a guitar; The inexpensive guitar he received was difficult to play, but Eric was determined to play as well as many of the blues men he admired. In 1961, Eric enrolled at Kingston College; because he was more focused on his musical hobbies than his studies, he was suspended. Following his suspension, Clapton begun performing on street corners for tips; later, he would perform in the local clubs there in England.

The YardBirds

Eric Clapton joined his first band "The Roosters" in 1963; From January to August 1963, he was in this group till its demise; In October 1963, after a brief stay with Casey Jones and the Engineers, Clapton joined the Yardbirds. This group was a Blues-Rock band that was heavily influenced with the Chicago Blues sound. It was during this time Eric developed his own sound, and as a result begun to attracted attention from the musical fans there. As time went on, Clapton became unhappy with the musical direction of the the Yardbirds; When The Yardbirds began moving away from its blues sound to a pop based sound with songs such as “For Your Love,” Clapton decided to resigned from the band; A month later in April 1965, Clapton teamed up with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. While he was with the Bluesbreakers, Clapton contributed to several albums, and refined his musical abilities that would eventually attract cult-worshipers. It was during this time, he established his reputation as a serious guitarist. Eric took a brief leave of absence from Mayall's band during the summer of 1965, to perform with an old friends in Greece. Clapton rejoined Mayall's Bluesbreakers for a second round of performances in November of the same year. During the second round of performances with the Bluesbreakers, Clapton earned respect as the best blues guitarist on the English club scene.


By now Clapton's reputation preceded him; because of his performances with the Yardbirds and the Bluesbreakers, he was considered Britain's top guitarist. Around this time, Ginger Baker of the Graham Bond Organization(GBM) went to see Clapton perform with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; after the concert Baker had a conversation with Clapton about their future; basically, Baker said he felt like he was going no where in GBM, and he wanted to start his own band. Baker asked Clapton to join his unnamed group. Clapton agreed to this inventation as long as Jack Bruce was selected as the bass player.

As a result, the super group Cream was formed; it featured Jack Bruce on bass, and Ginger Baker on drums. Although Clapton was already an accomplished guitarist, It was during this time with Cream he developed his singer/songwriting skills. Cream made its official debut at the National Jazz and Blues Festival in Windsor; Although Cream was new and had few songs of thier own, they were able to thrill the audience. In October of the same year, Cream performed with Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix had admired Clapton for some time and wanted to meet and perform with him. Cream's first album was released in 1966; When the album "Fresh Cream" was released, it reached number thirty-nine in the United States, and number six on the charts in the UK; this album was mainly covers of blues songs such as "Spoonful" recorded by Howlin' Wolf and "Rollin and Tumblin" by Muddy Waters. in March of 1967, Cream visited the United States for the first time; they played nine performances at the RKO Theater in New York City. In May of the same year, Cream returned to Atlantic Studios in New York city to record "Disraeli Gears." This album reached number five on the charts in both England and the United States. This album was the first one Cream produced that successfully merged psychedelic Rock with American blues, in their own musical compositions. In 1968 "Wheel of Fire" was the third release from Cream; although this album marked a slight shift away from the blues, it did include two songs by Albert King and Howlin' Wolf. The songs were "Born under a bad sign" and "Sitting on Top of the World."

Cream Break Up

Later in the middle of 1968, after the completion of the album "Wheels of Fire," the band member were ready to go their separate ways; Clapton was tired of acting as mediator between Baker and Bruce as their combustible relationship got worst. However, while Clapton was a member of Cream he secured superstar status, and his place as rocks best guitarist. Although Cream wasn't together long, they are one of the most influential rock bands of the modern rock era. Clapton himself is unique even among the members of Cream; because he did more than just re-play what he heard; When Clapton played, he infused his music with emotions of the original artist, and merged this with his own passions and style of playing. Thus the statement mentioned earlier "he continues to redefine and reinvent his music." He doesn't just copy what he heard, he adds to the genre called the blues. Cream's final tours were held in October and November of 1968; These shows consisted of 22 shows at nineteen locations across the United States, and two final concerts at Royal Albert Hall in London, England.

Blind Faith and Derrik and the Dominoes

After the demise of the group Cream, Clapton was involved with a second super group Blind Faith. This group was made up of the members Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Rick Grech; Despite the talent in this group, it disbanded after one album, and one US tour.

Clapton was growing tired of the fan worship; he decided to perform with Delaney & Bonnie as an unnamed guitarist. He moved to New York during the latter part of 1969, and continued to perform with Delaney and Bonnie until early 1970. While he was with this group, he developed his singer/songwriter skills. With various members of the Bramletts band(Delaney & Bonnie), and a few friends, Clapton recorded his first vocal Album named simply "Eric Clapton." This album was a number eighteen hit on the American charts, and this album was truly a milestone for Clapton; he would continue to sing lead vocal with his next group and beyond. Never one to stay in a band for long, Clapton created the group Derek and the Dominoes; With this group would come the hit single "Layla." Clapton's friendship with George Harrison brought him in contact with Pattie Boyd, Harrison's wife. Over time, Clapton developed strong feeling for Patti. Although Patti rejected Clapton's affections, his feelings for her resulted in much of the material on the album " Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs." One other interesting fact is despite the amount of drugs and alcohol used during the "Layla" concerts, the resulting live album was surprisingly strong, as Clapton would later admit. Despite this, the band would have a short existence. Derek and the Dominoes had already recorded several tracks for a second album in 1971, and five of the songs were released on the Eric Clapton's "Crossroads"; When "Crossroads" was released, the resulting reviews were luke-warm. Also, as time went on, disagreements among the band members caused a series of ego related conflicts that resulted in the group disbanding

Drug Problems and Comeback

Distraught by his substance abuse issues, and his rejected love of Patti Boyd, Clapton retreated to his Surrey, England home for most of 1971 and seventy-two, while he dealt with his heroin addiction. However In early 1973, with the help of his friend Pete Townshend and others, Clapton re- started his career with a couple of performances at London’s Rainbow Theater. Now that Clapton was no longer using heroin, and his career was starting to get back on track, he put together another band for his upcoming "461 Ocean Boulevard" album. For this endeavor, he assembled a less known band that included guitarist George Terry, Dick Sims on keyboard, Jamie Oldaker on drums, and vocalist Marcy Levy, and Yvonne Elliman. This album focused less on guitar and more on vocals.

Latter 1970's

Clapton's cover of Bob Marley's "I shot the Sheriff" was a number one hit, and it is credited with helping to bringing reggae to mainstream appeal. Some other albums released in the latter part of the 70's include "There's One in Every Crowd" released in March of 1975, and "E.C. Was Here" released in August 1975, Another notable album was "No Reason to Cry" released in August 1976; on this album, Clapton worked with musician Bob Dylan on some of the tracks. One last hit album released in November 1977 was "Slowhand." This album was a big seller for Clapton, and it received good reviews when it was released. This album contained the hit single "Cocaine." Later in 1979, after being together since 1974, Clapton married Patti Boyd.


During the 1980's, Clapton continued to be active in the music industry. He had a top ten hit in 1981 with the song "I Can't Stand it." During January 1982, Clapton finally admitted he was an alcoholic and needed help. He checked into Hazelden Treatment Center in Center City, Minnesota. Soon after his discharge from the treatment center, and against doctors orders to avoid stress triggers, Clapton worked on his next album "Money and Cigarettes." When asked about the experience, Clapton replied "it was the most forced album to date." Later in 1983, Claption created his own record label ; it name was Duck Records. Clapton begun to show more interest in charities; consequently, he frequently performed at major charity benefits. During this decade, some hits he had included “Ive Got a Rock ’n’ Roll Heart” which was number eighteen on the charts in 1983, and “Forever Man." In 1985 Clapton decided to separated from his wife Pattie Boyd. Later In August 1986, after an affair with an Italian actress, Clapton had a son Conor; Later in 1988, Clapton and Patti Boyd would be divorced. Toward the end of the decade Eric had a released called "Journeyman" this album covered a variety of genres such as pop, blues, jazz and soul. Some of the artist he worked with on this album included Phil Collins, George Harrison, Chaka Khan, and Robert Cray.


The early nineties started with tragedy, but was no less hectic for Eric. Early in the decade, Clapton was touring with Stevie Ray Vaughan; between concerts, Vaughn and two members of thier crew were killed in a helicopter crash. Later in March 1991, Eric's son Conor was killed after a fall from a 53-story apartment in New York. In honor of his son's life Clapton wrote the song "Tears in Heaven." In 1992, Claption's career got a boost from his MTV’s Unplugged series. Early in 1993, Cream's band members Clapton, Bruce and Baker were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame; for the induction, the trio performed three classic songs. Later In 1994, Clapton recorded a blues album called "From the Cradle." Despite the changing musical climate in the nineties, he continued to have hit songs. One notable hit was a collaboration with artist Babyface to produce the hit disk "Change the World;" it won a Grammy for best record of the year. In 1996 Eric had a relationship with singer Sheryl Crow; after the relationship, the two remained friends. Clapton appeared as a guest star at Crow's Central Park Concert; the two artist performed a classic Cream song "White Room." Later in 1997, Clapton Collaborated with his friend B.B. King on his Album "Deuces Wild" that would be released in November of the same year.

2000's and Beyond

During this collaboration on the "Deuces Wild," King and Clapton discussed possibly making another album called "Riding with the King." This CD was released in June 2000. In January 2002, Clapton married a 23 year-old store clerk Melina McEnery, he met back in 1999; as of 2005, the couple had three girls. In respect for his life long idol, Clapton recorded "Me and Mr Johnson", a tribute to Robert Johnson released in 2004. Cream had another reunion in May 2005; Clapton, Bruce, and Baker performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden in New York, for a few performances. In August 2005 a new solo disk "Back Home" was released. "The Road to Escondido" was released in November 2006; Clapton wrote the song "Three Little Girls", on this disk; the song talks about the contentment Eric found at home with his wife and kids. In 2007, Clapton published his autobiography; its was simply named "Clapton."

Eric Clapton is known though out the world for his guitar and singer/songwriter skills. He has received numerous award and tributes. His music has been featured in many Movies, and he has appeared in a few movies as well; back in 1998, he briefly appeared in the movie Blues Brothers 2000. In addition, he was the first guitarist to be honored with a Fender Signature Series model named for him. Clapton has successfully collaborated with a variety of performers including: Tom Petty, Ringo Star, Carlos Santana, Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones. Also, Eric has covered songs by many artist including: Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan and Bo Diddley; he has been influenced by many artist including: B.B. King, Albert King, Hubert Sumlin, and Bubby Guy; Some artist Clapton has influenced includes Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, and Alex Lifeson. With more than four decades in the music business, Eric Clapton continues to be true to his music, and a relevant force in the music world today.

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    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      @platinumOwl4 - Thank you for re-visiting my article and thanks for your comments :)

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 5 years ago

      Coolmon2009, I had to comment on this article again. I downloaded some live blues concerts with BBKing Geroge Benson, and of Course Eric Clapton. I was listening to one of the song very carefully, and right away I had the feeling he was expressing his feeling for or about a subject close to him. Then I re-read your article and discovered he was in love with a woman of a very good friend. amazing what you discover re-reading an article and especially one of your musical contributions. Love your work keep it up.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Pollyannalana - Thanks for your feedback on this article :)

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      Great hub. My husband remembers Cream. It was after Eric's son went out a window and died that I knew of him. I had mixed feelings about that but anyway I did start listening to him and he was very great. He also took George Harrison's wife but it didn't hurt their friendship. Go figure.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      @BucksBunney - I am glad my article helped you to relax. Thanks you for your comments :)

    • profile image

      BucksBunney 7 years ago

      Woah, thanks alot for sharing all this! I can Surely go to sleep well now =)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @tonymac04 - Yes Clapton was quite the guitarist and he still is. It is nice to hear from you again :)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      A great "blast form the past" to hear Cream again. Have loved Clapton since then and really appreciate this great write-up. Thank you.

      Love and peace


    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @platinumOwl4 - I am glad I was able to bring you a little happiness. Sounds like you have an interesting hobby too. Thank you for reading my article and your feedback.

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 8 years ago

      You brighten my day. I am impress with your subject matter. It is always awesome. One of my favorite hobby is to collect great artist in an analog format and covert it to a digital format.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Micky Dee - Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the feedback on both hubs. I really enjoyed your Al Green article too :)

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 8 years ago

      He's a superman. I was in Vietnam when I first heard Clapton and the Cream with "Crossroads". I was hooked. Thank you Coolman. This was very thorough. Great job here. I can't go by a Clapton video without punching that ticket. -BB King too though!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @lightning john - hummm sounds nice, I am glad you enjoyed the show. Once again, thanks for reading my article and leaving comments.

    • lightning john profile image

      lightning john 8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you so much! Eric Clapton is my main inspiration for acoustic blues, and just surviving from devasting events that have happened in my life. I was given a ticket-5th row center from stage, from a friend for his back to cradle blues show, Austin Tx, where he did a tribute to all the great bluesmen, from Robert Johnson to B.B. it was awsome!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Putz Ballard - Thank you for your feedback.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 8 years ago

      Excellent hub about a heck of a musician. Thumbs up!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Sage Williams - Thank you for your comments, glad you enjoyed this article :)

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 8 years ago

      Wow, you did some amazing research for this hub. Thanks for taking me back. Eric Clapton is a long time favorite of mine. It was nice to play the videos and listen to a lot of his songs.

      Great Job!


    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Mystique1957 - I am glad you like this article; it was your idea and request. Sorry it took so long for me to get to it. As always it is nice to hear from you :)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @dahoglund - I am glad you enjoy reading my articles; Thank you for your feedback, and its nice to hear from you again.

    • Mystique1957 profile image

      Mystique1957 8 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      MY friend...

      This is one of my all time favorites! I guess I Started following him ever since I heard "white Room" with Cream. I followed him with Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes, and many of his contributions with John Mayall, another great Blues Musician. I loved this hub because some of my most revered musicians are mentioned here: B.B.King,Albert King, John Mayall, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Phil Collins. Some of my all times favorites from Clapton are:"In the Presence of the Lord"(Blind Faith); "White Room", "The sunshine of your love"(Cream); "Layla"(Derek& The Dominoes) and a blues from Clapton's Blues records: "Ramblin' on my mind".

      This is one of the very best hubs I have read from you(In the music category), and I deeply thank you for it!

      Rated up! Bookmarked and Stumbled!

      Warmest regards and infinite eternal blessings,


    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I used to run across Clapton's name a lot and I think I have one of his recordings around, but didn't know much about him.You hub reminds me of how much more there is to learn about musicians.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @habee - Thank you for your feedback, and thank you for the taking time to read my article.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      What an amazing talent! Great hub!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Sandyspider - Thank you for your feedback, and it is nice to hear from you again :)

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      A great musician and guitarist.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @ billyaustindillon - Thank you for your feedback, and I am glad you enjoyed this article :)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 8 years ago

      Excelelnt bio - covering all his career - he certainly came back from the dead, literally.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @prettydarkhorse - Thank you for your comments; I agree he is unique. Nice to hear from you again Maita :)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      Cool, this is a great hub, well researched and well written, I admire Eric Claton very much -- most of his guitar playing, Thumbs up, Maita

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @dali48 - I am glad you have happy memories attached to Clapton's music; thank you for your comments.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @katiem2 - Sorry to hear about your sister; I am glad you enjoyed reading this article, and thank you for taking the time to post your comments :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 8 years ago from I'm outta here

      Coolmon2009, Very nice hub and well designed. I learned a lot about Eric Clapton that I didn't know. Love the videos and Tears In Heaven, I lost my sister to a car accident and that song always makes me think of her. Great, Fantastic Hub. I love it and Rate it Up and call it a Must Read! Peace :)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Pamela99 - Thank you for your feedback, and it is nice to hear from you again :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      Great guitar player and great talent. i enjoyed your hub. Thanks.


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