I don’t remember on what album it was, but there is a famous photo of Clapton with a graffiti behind him saying "Clapton is god". Now that I think about it, I don’t remember that much from the period I was listening to Clapton a lot…
Clapton is a great guitar player. Truly is.
Wouldn’t put him in the top of my bluesmen list, but he does know how to caress a guitar neck with a slowhand like no one else.
And that was the first Clapton album I had. Slowhand. Some real pearls in there, and some crowd pleasers, but I always had the feeling you hear Clapton after you were shopping at the gap.
I mean, the sound of an amplified guitar in a room full of people was so hypnotic and addictive to me, that I could cross any kind of border to get on there.
Maybe I am just a racist. Probably. Although slowhand was and still is meant to be a very commercial album, and did a wonderful job at that. Still.
Might not be true that white man can't jump, but Clapton was fighting an uphill battle from the start (and he didn’t have the advantage of Johnny winter who was more white then white so he doesn't count…)
When I was younger, I was enchanted by this melodic kind of blues, and was in awe at that oh-so-easy looking guitar playing (I have a thing for guitar players who play like they don’t move their fingers at all, I know it is just more effective way to play, but to me it still always look like magic)
Yeah, I wanted to know where they got it from, what it was all about, you know, and it seemed to strike something in me that was you know rearing it's head and I still don't know what that is.
Clapton's glory was in the fact he did manage to bridge between the blues and the mainstream audience, sometime by abandoning the real blues and inserting a happy jumpy feeling on blues progressions, which in turn brought to life a different kind of music, a different vibe.
Every time I listen to Clapton, I do not thank Robert Johnson, but JJ Cale, that laid back blues-rock troubadour , who gave Clapton some of his more famous hits, like cocaine and after midnight.
Clapton was always the mystery component when he joined forces with others. More than a guitar player, more than a singer, more than a band leader. He did in fact, like the greats do, reinvented himself as the white mutation of the blues , and he saw and said that it was good.
The Yardbirds, Cream, Derek and the dominoes, the blues breakers just to name a few. It would order that strange brew any day of the week… (I will not go into the list of great musicians he was involved with through his formative years as the list is far too long and each one of them deserves an article for themselves so I will just get myself in trouble, and I still have some other things to write about, you know…)
As he developed his style during the years he had the honor of playing with some of the real giants of music and the fact his disciples, or backing musicians if you will, were on a genius level themselves, didn’t hurt that crusade.
it's been up to me to inspire me"
To name two of the most prominent ones, the wonderful ray cooper who was the percussionist for the rolling stones, George Harrison, Elton john and many many more, and the mythical bass player and singer Nathan east who still does the best 'can't find my way home' I know. Had the pleasure of seeing them both playing with Clapton a couple of times, and with this team? White boy or not, I am converted.
All this said, the time Clapton really won a place in my heart, was his unplugged sessions of the blues classics, Robert Johnson, big bill brunsey etc. you can't cheat with just an acoustic guitar. No amps and distortion to hide behind. Just you and the blues. And he passed with flying colors…
Sometimes, yes, sometimes, even white boy can play the blues…