Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked fourth in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.
In the mid sixties, Clapton left the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. In his one-year stay with Mayall, Clapton gained the nickname “Slowhand”, and graffiti in London declared “Clapton is God.” Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce the trio Cream, in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop.” For most of the seventies, Clapton’s output bore the influence of the mellow style of J.J.
Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped gain reggae a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla”, recorded by Derek and the Dominos, and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”, recorded by Cream. A recipient of seventeen Grammy Awards, in 2004 Clapton was awarded a CBE for services to music. In 1998 Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.
Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England, the son of 16 year old Patricia Molly Clapton (b. 7 January 1929) and Edward Walter Fryer (21 March 1920 / 15 May 1985), a 24-year-old soldier from Montreal, Quebec. Fryer shipped off to war prior to Clapton’s birth and then returned to Canada. Clapton grew up with his grandmother, Rose, and her second husband Jack, believing they were his parents and that his mother was his older sister. Their surname was Clapp, which has given rise to the widespread but erroneous belief that Clapton’s real surname is Clapp (Reginald Cecil Clapton is the name of Rose’s first husband, Eric Clapton’s maternal grandfather). Years later, his mother married another Canadian soldier, and moved to Canada, leaving young Eric with his grandparents in distant Surrey.
Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his 13th birthday, but the inexpensive steel-stringed instrument was difficult to play and he briefly lost interest. Two years later Clapton picked it up again and started playing consistently. Clapton was influenced by the blues from an early age and practiced long hours to learn chords of blues music he listened to, playing along to the records. He preserved his practice sessions using his portable Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, listening to them over and over until he felt he’d got it right.
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