Being as it was Eric Clapton’s birthday yesterday I wanted to say a little something about him. Then I realized that there is not much that has not already been said. One can find endless biographies of Clapton’s career on the internet. By and large most all of the biographies have similar contents written in different styles. What I find more interesting is the early lives of my favorite guitar players and what motivated and influenced them to play the guitar.
Eric Clapton’s musical influences were American blues artists such as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Sonny Boy Williamson. Clapton experimented with many musical forms, however, he always seemed to find his way back to his beloved blues.
His life is one of struggle and personal tragedy, and his music is seen by many of his fans as a personal reflection of his life. The early 1990s saw tragedy enter Clapton’s life again. On 27 August 1990, fellow guitarist, who was touring with Clapton, and two members of their road crew were killed in a helicopter crash between concerts. Then, on 20 March 1991, Conor, who was four years of age, died when he fell from the 53rd-story window of his mother’s friend’s New York City apartment. Clapton’s deep sorrow was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”. He received a total of six Grammys that year for the single “Tears in Heaven” and the Unplugged album.
Clapton was born on March 30, 1945, in Surrey, England. He was the illegitimate son of Patricia Molly Clapton and a Canadian soldier located in England. His name was Edward Fryer. When Mr. Fryer returned to his wife in Canada, Clapton’s mother left, and he was then raised by his grandparents, Jack and Rose Clapp. His surname came from his mother’s first husband, Reginald Clapton. Clapton was made to understand that his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister. He did not find out the truth until he was nine years old.
Clapton was an good student who enjoyed art, but ended up playing the guitar more often than he studied. He received his first guitar as a present from his grandmother when he turned thirteen, he learned guitar by himself, guitar lessons for beginners were not an option. As Clapton matured through his adolescence, his love for the guitar and American blues music grew. He became influenced and inspired by many of the great American blues artists, Clapton began playing almost full time at age 17, and subsequently he failed out of Kingston College of Art. He soon moved to London, took a labor job, talked his grandparents into buying him an electric guitar, and began his career by playing his guitar in pubs and night clubs.
The fact he was perhaps the first big name to play the electric guitar in the ’60’s and is still alive and well, continuing to write and tour adds to his legacy. His biggest achievement at that time was with the band Cream, along with the Jimi Hendrix Experience band, thus beginning of the Power Trio band era.
His contributions have influenced guitar players and the blues since he was first noticed. His overall impact to the blues will forever be set in granite. Fender makes a Signature series and Custom Shop series Eric Clapton Stratocaster.
It is a popular and versatile guitar with it’s TBX tone control and V-neck. I chose a Custom Shop model precisely for it’s versatility, ease of playability and unmatchable tone.
Maybe it’s just Guitar Players Center but that sure seemed like an exciting unforgettable time in music history. I hope you enjoy this era as much as I did and continue too.