Few guitarists, if any, have been as influential as Eric Clapton. He started by learning the riffs of blues masters Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Robert Johnson, among others. Combining this encyclopedia of blues licks with his own original phrases, he developed a style which has become the template for blues/rock guitar playing.
Eric first became known in 1963, as the lead guitarist for the Yardbirds, a virtual university of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitar players, whose graduates also include Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. The solos on early singles “I Wish You Would” and “Good Morning Little School Girl” provided a glimpse of the stem cells from which Clapton’s body of work would emerge. The voices of this stylistic DNA were the Fender Telecaster, Fender Jazzmaster, and Gibson ES-335 guitars, played through Vox AC-30 amplifiers. In 1964 Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky gave Clapton the nickname “Slowhand”. The legend is that when Eric broke a string onstage, the audience would engage in a “slow hand clap” until Clapton had finished changing it. speed dating
In 1965, following the release of the hit single “For Your Love”, Clapton left the Yardbirds because of artistic differences. Instead of the pop stardom the rest of the Yardbirds desired, Clapton wanted to play music that was true to his blues roots. He joined forces with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, whose alumni also include original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green and Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Mayall and Clapton recorded “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton”, nicknamed “The Beano Album”, because Clapton was pictured reading a Beano comic book on the cover. Highlights included a smoking version of “Hideaway”, Freddie King’s instrumental classic, and Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin’ on my Mind”, which is Clapton’s first recorded vocal performance. With the Bluesbreakers, Clapton combined Gibson Les Pauls and Marshall amplifiers to produce a guitar sound noted for high volume, feedback, and sustain. Eric’s reputation grew to the point that fans began to write “Clapton is God” on the walls of buildings around London as a tribute to his guitar playing prowess.