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Eric Clapton

Eric Patrick Clapp, 30 March 1945, Ripley, Surrey, England. The world's premier living rock guitarist will be forever grateful to his grandparents, for they gave him his first guitar. The young Eric was raised by his grandparents Rose and Jack Clapp when his natural mother could not face bringing up an illegitimate child at the age of 16. He received a Ј14 acoustic guitar for his fourteenth birthday, then proceeded to copy the great blues guitarists note for note. His first band was the Roosters, a local R&B group that included Tom McGuinness, a future member of Manfred Mann, and latterly part of the Blues Band. Clapton stayed for eight months until he and McGuinness left to join Casey Jones And The Engineers. This brief sojourn ended in 1963 when Clapton was sought out by the Yardbirds, an aspiring R&B band, who needed a replacement for their guitarist Tony Topham. The reputation swiftly established by the Yardbirds was largely centred on Clapton, who had already been nicknamed "Slowhand" by the partisan crowd at Richmond's Crawdaddy club. Clapton stayed for 18 months until musical differences interfered. The Yardbirds were taking a more pop-orientated direction and he just wanted to play the blues. He departed shortly after the recording of "For Your Love".

Clapton kept busy for a time as an occasional guest player with Delaney & Bonnie, the husband-and-wife team that had been Blind Faith's opening act during their tour. A disappointing live album from that collaboration was released in 1970, as was Clapton's self-titled solo debut. That album featured three other musicians--bassist Carl Radle, keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, and drummer Jim Gordon--from Delaney's band, and yielded a modest pop hit with Clapton's version of J.J. Cale's "After Midnight." The collective proceeded to baptize themselves Derek and the Dominos, and commenced recording Clapton's landmark double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, with the added contribution of slide guitarist Duane Allman. An anguished lament of unrequited love, "Layla" was inspired by a difficult love triangle between Clapton, his close friend George Harrison, and Harrison's wife Pattie (she and Clapton eventually married in 1979 and divorced in 1988). Unfortunately, personal struggles and career pressure on the guitarist led to a major heroin addiction. Derek and the Dominos crumbled during the course of an American tour and an aborted attempt to record a second album.

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