Andre Gardner

Guitar guru Eric Clapton is one prolific player. Think of all the bands he’s been in, not to mention his long and storied solo career. On top of that, he’s been a much-requested guest musician on an amazing amount of songs by a who’s who of talent.

So much so that, for his birthday on March 30, I came up with 9 times you were listening to Eric Clapton but possibly didn’t know.

The Career of Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is a rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is one of the most successful and influential guitarists in rock music. He ranked second in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009.

After playing in several different local bands, Clapton joined the Yardbirds from 1963 to 1965, and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers from 1965 to 1966.

After leaving Mayall, he formed the power trio Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce. Clapton played blues improvisations and blues-based psychedelic pop. After four successful albums, Cream broke up in November 1968.

After that, Clapton formed the blues rock band Blind Faith with Baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, recording one album and performing on one tour before they broke up.

Clapton then toured with Delaney & Bonnie and recorded his first solo album in 1970, before forming Derek and the Dominos with Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon. Like Blind Faith, the band only lasted one album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which includes “Layla”, one of Clapton’s signature songs.

Clapton as a Guest Musician

Obviously, I didn’t include his most famous guest appearance, on The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” but, once you hear these songs, that unmistakable style shines through. In just about every case, it adds to the song.

  • Are You Hung Up? - Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention

    Yes, that is Clapton’s voice at the beginning. He’s on this opening track of Zappa’s “We’re Only In It For the Money,” as well as the first song on side 2, “Nasal Retentive Calliope Music.” These are perhaps two of the very few times he’s guested on a song without playing guitar.

  • Save It For A Rainy Day - Stephen Bishop

    It’s actually kind of jarring, but in a good way, when Clapton shreds a :10 solo in the middle of Bishop’s soft rock debut hit.  Chaka Khan sings a beautiful backing vocal during the fade out. Some soft rock stations (I remember WIP being one!) played the song, but edited the solo out. Eric would appear on several other Bishop albums through the 70s and 80s.

  • Good To Me As I Am to You - Aretha Franklin

    It must have been the Tom Dowd connection (he engineered Cream sessions) that brought Eric to The Queen Of Soul, and play on a track from her album Lady Soul. His blues playing on this track is delightful from start to finish.

  • Fishes And Scorpions - Stephen Stills

    This is my favorite track from Still’s sophomore album Stephen Stills 2.  It starts off as a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on CSNY’s Deja Vu, then Clapton comes in on guitar and it sounds like a Derek And The Dominos outtake. A very underrated song, in my opinion!

  • Love Comes To Everyone - George Harrison

    The lead off track from Harrison’s self-titled 1979 album opens with an excellent solo from George’s old pal, then he’s silent for the rest of the song! Eric would later play on virtually every track on George Harrison’s “Cloud Nine” album.

  • The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking - Roger Waters

    Clapton, and his guitar and keyboard playing, is all over Waters’ debut solo album.  Honestly, I though Clapton’s playing sounded at little “Gilmour-ish” on this passage from the album.


  • Tonight Will Be Alright - Lionel Richie

    It doesn’t take long to realize that is Slowhand himself on the ending guitar solo, and he even gets some encouragement from Lionel on the track, taken from Richie’s third solo album Dancing On The Ceiling.

  • The Calling - Santana

    Holy Stratocaster! It’s a guitar duet dream come true with two of the best, on one recording! They do not disappoint, blending like fine whiskey, on the marvelous closer from Supernatural.

  • Fight (No Matter How Long) - The Bunburys

    Yes, Eric Clapton played on a track with The Bee Gees!  The Bunburys were the pseudonym of this supergroup, organized as part of a charity album for the Bunbury Cricket Club of the UK!  He’s on both vocals and guitar on the track.

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