For many of us fans of classic rock, one name sums it all up for the golden age of rock and roll – Eric Patrick Clapton. A musician’s musician, a prolific song-writer, a youth icon to millions for generation after generation, Clapton has been one of the most charismatic man to ever have the stage lights shine on him.
Today, on his birthday, let’s talk about some fascinating stories about the legendary rocker’s life that will leave you playing the Eric Clapton discography all night long.
1. The story behind Tears in Heaven
Two decades after Eric Clapton is already a legend, the world laid its ears to yet another heart rending song – Tears In Heaven. It didn’t take long for this unusual composition of otherwise blues rocker Clapton to get popular because, as they say, our sweetest songs are those that remind us of the saddest thoughts.
The haunting melancholy of the song owes itself to the real tragedy of Clapton’s life when his four year old son, Conor, fell off a 49 floor window of a New York City apartment and died. Clapton went into a hiatus only to come back with this gem of a song, dedicated to his deceased son.
2. The time when Clapton threw a pie at the face of a Hollywood actress
It was 1975 and Shirley MacLaine already a big name in the tinsel town while Clapton was the rock and roll giant. Clapton, 10 years younger to Shirley had a celebrity crush on her and met her at the sets of Celebrity Circus along with Hollywood hotshots like Sean Connery, John Huston, Burgess Meredith and of course, Shirley MacLaine.
Now, the script had it that Clapton and Meridith would throw pies at each other but they chose not to stick to the script. Therefore, an unsuspecting MacLaine was smeared with pie from both sides by Eric Clapton and his accomplice after which, MacLaine stayed furious with Clapton for months.
3. Clapton’s guitars on a Beatle’s song
Well, it seems as Eric Clapton, with his long list of bands that he has been with, has been the fifth Beatle on one occasion. The occasion in concern is the recording of the bluesy ballad, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The extended solo at the end of the song was played by none other than Eric Clapton.
As the legend goes, John, Paul, George and Ringo were getting on each other’s nerves during the recording of the White Album. Therefore, for the sake of a little freshness, George Harrison, the legendary guitar player of The Beatles invited Clapton over to record the song with them and the rest, as you know, is history.
4. Clapton and Harrison both fell in love with the same woman
Once an interviewer asks George Harrison about his friendship with Eric Clapton and he, with a rye sense of humor replies, “We shared the same wife”. Eric Clapton, although chums with Harrison during the 60s, could not help but fall in live with his wife, Patty Boyd. Among several songs written for Pattie, Layla was one of the first few and Clapton wasn’t shy to confess that she got her on his knees.
When Pattie put off his advances, Clapton was heart broken and went into an exile of three years – a time of rampant substance abuse for the guitar God. However, Pattie and Clapton did end up together in matrimony after she broke up with Harrison and although Eric and Pattie’s marriage didn’t last, the world got something to treasure out if the relationship – Clapton’s sublime love song, Wonderful Tonight.
5. Those three years of exile
Although, Clapton was said to be in exile it wasn’t that he was not performing at all. However, it was a different Eric Clapton onstage. With no holds barred on heroin, Clapton would play lying down on stage which he remembers as nothing out of the ordinary as it was either lying on the stage or lying down somewhere else for him during those days. It was “financially ridiculous” for him – the drugs and the booze.
It was those years of the 1970s which Claton describes as “casual and crazy…and when anything was possible.” However, Clapton doesn’t really seem to regret his days of drug addiction as he believes everything that has happened has led him to where he stands today – rock legend.
6. Clapton’s life after coming out of drugs
Life in sobriety seemed to bring its own challenges for Clapton as everything seemed disoriented. Without his daily dose of drugs and alcohol, the music sounded too loud and too rough and so did sex. Now, Clapton, in his own word had said that music and sex were the two things he had taken for granted in those dark days.
He felt paralyzed, impotent and fearful of his capabilities regarding sex as well as his music. But the, we all know the he got right out of that pit of self doubt and eventually produced some of the best records in rock and roll history since his days of continence began.
7. Clapton and Hendrix – the friendship of legends
Jimi Hendrix came to London in 1966 with hopes to be discovered by the English rock aficionados. When Eric met Jimi, the two hit off at once. Now, the people who were benefited the most out of this legendary friendship were the nightclub hitters of London as Eric and Jimi would go from nightclub to nightclub, jam with the musicians and blow everyone’s mind off.
In September 1970, Eric Clapton bought a left-handed Stratocaster which he wanted to gift his friend, Jimi Hendrix. However, Jimi passed away on September 17, 1990 before Eric could present the guitar to him.
8. Eric Clapton dealing with stupid fans
It was 2015 and Eric Clapton’s legend had lived on. So, when the legendary Clapton was hanging out with friends at Leonora, news spread quickly that he’s around. A bunch of youngsters, who have heard his songs, or have just heard his name because it’s cool to mention names like Eric Clapton in a conversation, spotted him and asked for a picture.
Now, the youngsters made one tiny mistake – they took Clapton’s friend to be the legendary rock-star and asked the man himself to click the picture while they posed with the friend. Clapton, in true rock and roll spirit obliged and the youngsters, who could have had the best photo frame of their lives ended up clicking a picture with a random stranger.