The most successful guitarist of all time!
As well as a solo career, and being in bands like Derek & The Dominos, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, and Cream, Clapton has successfully played sessions for more stars than any other guitar player.
His string-bending skills have brought him to studios and stages with legends such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, B.B. King, SRV, Freddie King, and Sheryl Crow (who wrote My Favorite Mistake about Clapton).
His long career has earned him not one, not two, but three inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (as a solo artist, with Yardbirds and Cream). No other musician has achieved this.
Let’s go through his career, looking at the tunes that would come to define him.
Eric’s first band that had any success was The Yardbirds. Formed in 1963, Clapton was their second guitarist, replacing Top Topham.
Even though Yardbirds was a young band, they had already taken over a residency from The Rolling Stones and had a direction in playing Chicago Blues material which suited Eric as he a the time was obsessed with Muddy Waters and Co.
After a tour supporting legend Sonny Boy Williamson II, and releasing a couple of blues covers as singles (Good Morning Little Schoolgirl being one of them), the band wanted to take a more commercial route.
They recorded For Your Love, a tune written by Graham Goldman (10cc). On the day it was released, the 25th of March 1965, Clapton left the band in protest of this new commercial direction.
He was replaced by Jeff Beck, even though he initially had recommended Jimmy Page for the gig.
On to the next band
Clapton’s next band, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers is best known for having members of The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and Cream coming through it. In fact, over 100 musicians would at some point claim the honor of having been in the band!
Anyway, back to Clapton! The main release that Eric featured on was an album named Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. Although, because Clapton was reading the comic book Beano on the front cover, it is usually nicknamed the Beano album.
By now Clapton had swapped his Telecaster and Vox for a Les Paul and Marshall combo and would become known for his sound on this album.
Unbeknown to most, the tone was mainly captured by room microphones. So if this is the sound you’re looking for, crank the amp, and put the microphone far away, not on the cone!
On the 40th-anniversary Deluxe edition, another 19 tunes appeared, Call It Stormy Monday, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, and Hoochie Coochie Man stand out the most.
Bass players on this album were John McVie, later of Fleetwood Mac, and Jack Bruce (only on the anniversary version).
Just after the album was released, Clapton saw Buddy Guy in concert and came to the conclusion that it would be better to form a trio with Jack Bruce called Cream so he left the band and took Jack with him.
His replacement, Peter Green, would make the next album with John Mayall before he left and formed Fleetwood Mac, taking the other bass player with him, John McVie.
It is now 1966 and Clapton has formed Cream, the world’s first supergroup (supergroup meaning that all members were already famous).
As this band was so big, there’s a separate article on them but to sum up their output, Cream released Fresh Cream in 1966 (tunes were I Feel Free and I’m So Glad).
In 1967 we got Disraeli Gears, tunes here were Strange Brew and Sunshine Of Your Love. 1968, Wheels of Fire came with White Room, Born Under A Bad Sign (Albert King), and the legendary live version of Crossroads (Robert Johnson).
Finally, in 1969 they released the aptly named Goodbye, which had the tune Badge on it.
Before Clapton went solo, he formed two more bands, the first one only lasted a few months, called Blind Faith.
In Blind Faith, we had yet another supergroup. This time, formed out of two bands, Cream and Traffic. Eric and Ginger Baker came from Cream, Steve Winwood (first band, Spencer Davis Group), and Ric Grech from Traffic.
Blind Faith only made one record, which didn’t contain any big tunes and they remained famous for having well-known members as well as a controversial album cover.
The cover had an 11-year-old topless girl holding a somewhat phallic model plane. The girl was paid £40 for her efforts which apparently were supposed to represent innocence and technology.
After touring with the band Free, being exposed to huge crowds without having any real material as a band, Blind Faith ended up playing covers of their previous bands Cream and Traffic. This didn’t make Clapton happy and the band was abandoned within a year.
During Blind Faith’s short tour, Clapton met a duo called Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, whom he ended up touring with. Out of the touring band his next project came, Derek and the Dominos.
With the addition of Duane Allman (Allman Brothers band) Derek and the Dominos made one double album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Some critics still call this Eric Clapton’s best work and with tunes such as Bell Bottom Blues, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Key To The Highway (Freddie King), Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix), and of course, Layla, these critics may have a point!
In the same year, Clapton also released his debut self-titled solo album, the one big tune here was After Midnight.
All these bands and drama that came with them must have led to some kind of burnout as Eric now stopped working and instead opted to abuse Heroin, watch TV all day, and “get out of shape” as he recalls.
Luckily, he snapped out of it, and in 1974, the follow-up 461 Ocean Boulevard was released. A huge success, mainly down to a cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff, it got him back on track and from now on, Eric Clapton was a solo artist.
From 1975-1989, Eric released nine studio albums, his best tunes here include, Wonderful Tonight, Lay Down Sally, Pretending, Bad Love, Running on Faith, and Old Love. All from the albums Slowhand and Journeyman.
Notable covers, traditional and blues classics include Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (traditional), The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James), May You Never (John Martyn), Crosscut Saw (R.G. Ford), Hound Dog (Elvis), Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd), Before You Accuse Me (Bo Diddley, Hard Times (Ray Charles), Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dyan), and most famously Cocaine (J.J. Cale).
As we entered the ’90s, Clapton slowed down and released only two albums. First, From The Cradle, a blues album only containing covers. The best tune here must be Sinner’s Prayer.
The 1998 release, Pilgrim, on the other hand, is almost all his own stuff, My Father’s Eyes being the lead single and by far the best tune.
In 2000, he teams up with B.B. King on Riding With The King. Highlights here are the title track (John Hiatt), Key To The Highway (again!), Three O’Clock Blues, and the old Sam & Dave tune Hold On, I’m Comin’.
2001 sees him release Reptile, a mix of original material and covers here with Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, a James Taylor tune being what stands out the most.
Clapton’s next album is a tribute to Robert Johnson. Released in 2004 it is a great introduction to the legend should you find the original recordings a bit too much to handle.
The 2005 release, Back Home is another mix of covers and original material, no big tunes are to be found here.
In 2010, he released his 17th solo album, entitled Clapton, it strangely has no tunes written by him on it. Instead, we get a cover of Autumn Leaves among others.
This is followed by I Still Do in 2016, again, mainly covers, no tunes.
Finally, in 2018 Eric Clapton released a Christmas Album. I wonder what the younger version of himself would have thought about that, the one that left Yardbirds when they didn’t want to play Chicago Blues anymore!
During the world pandemic of 2020, Clapton released Stand & Deliver, a co-write with Van Morrison. As a protest song against the government’s handling of COVID-19, he almost gets canceled by the woke.
But let’s not worry about that, it wasn’t the first time he got caught saying things the public didn’t agree with. Instead, let’s focus on his music.
His appearance on other artists/bands’ recordings includes It’s Probably Me (Sting), While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles), My Sweet Lord (George Harrison), I Wish It Would Rain Down (Phil Collins), and many, many more.
There are numerous books and websites dedicated to Eric Clapton, perhaps the greatest resource is the Where’s Eric Magazine.
Should you be interested in his legendary instrument, there’s a blog post on that called Eric Clapton Guitars, including videos with the man himself talking about each of his priced possessions.
This doesn’t include his signature model, which has been on sale as a Fender guitar since 1988, its main feature being a built-in preamp boost.
As Eric Clapton is my biggest influence, I could go on and on all day about him. I’m gonna stop now and let the tunes he recorded do the talking.
Eric Clapton tunes | Related pages
All Of Me
You can learn how to play All Of Me by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Bbmaj7 | Bbmaj7 | D7 | D7 |
All of me, why not take all of me…
You can learn how to play Autumn Leaves by Chet Baker using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Am7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
The falling leaves drift by my window…
Born Under A Bad Sign
You can learn how to play Born Under A Bad Sign by Albert King using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.
| Db7 | Db7 | Db7 | Db7 (Gb G) |
Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl…
Call It Stormy Monday
Learn how to play Call It Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.
| G9 | C9 | G9 | G9 |
They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad.
Learn how to play Cream’s live version of Crossroads using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.
| A7 | D7 | A7 | A7 |
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knee…
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Learn how to play Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Bob Dylan using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| C C/G G G7 | Am7 Am/G |
Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe…
You can learn how to play The Stumble, Hide Away, The Moon Is Rising by Freddie King using chords and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.
| A7 | A7 | E7 (F#7 F7) | E7 |
Hold On, I’m Comin’
You can learn how to play Hold On, I’m Comin’ by Sam & Dave using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Ab7 | Ab7 | Ab7 | Ab7 |
Don’t you ever, be sad. Lean on me, when the times are bad…
You can learn how to play Hound Dog by Elvis Presley using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| N.C | C7 | C7 | C7 | C7 |
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time…
I Shot The Sheriff
You can learn how to play I Shot The Sheriff by Bob Marley using chords, lyrics, TAB, chord analysis, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.
| Gm | Cm Cm7 Cm Cm7 | Gm7 Gm Gm7 | Gm7 Gm Gm7 |
I shot the sheriff, but I didn’t shoot no deputy, oh no! Oh…
Knock On Wood
You can learn how to play Knock On Wood by Eddie Floyd using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, the original recording, and cover versions.
| A6 | A6 | A6 | A6 |
I don’t want to lose, this good thing, that I got…
Knocking On Heaven’s Door
You can learn how to play Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| G D/F# | Am Am7 |
Mama take this badge off of me…
Still Got The Blues
You can learn how to play Still Got The Blues by Gary Moore using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.
| Dm7 | Dm7/G | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 |
Used to be so easy, to give my heart away…
Sunshine Of Your Love
You can learn how to play Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.
| D blues scale riff | D blues scale riff |
It’s getting near dawn…
Tears In Heaven
Learn how to play Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, 2nd guitar, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.
| Aadd4 E/G# | F#m A/E | D/F# A | E A/E E7 |
Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven…
You can learn how to play Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| G | D/F# | C | D |
It’s late in the evening, she’s wondering what clothes to wear…