Eric Clapton tunes

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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 has 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, 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.

Clapton’s next band, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers are 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 honour 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 nick named 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!

Best tunes on this now legendary album were Hideaway (Freddie King) What’d I Say (Ray Charles), and Ramblin’ On My Mind (Robert Johnson).

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 too and formed Fleetwood Mac, taking the other bass player with him, John McVie.

It is now 1966 and Clapton has formed Cream, the world 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 release 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, it was 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 entitled 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, 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), and most famously Cocaine (J.J. Cale).

As we enter the 90s, Clapton slows down and release only two albums. First, From The Cradle, a blues album only containing covers. 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 releases 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.

2013 and another covers album arrives in the strangely entitled Old Sock, here he plays the jazz standard All Of Me and Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues.

This is followed by I Still Do in 2016, again, mainly covers, no tunes.

Finally, in 2018 Eric Clapton release 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 release Stand & Deliver, a co write with Van Morrison. As a protest song against the governments handling of COVID19, he almost gets cancelled by the woke.

But let’s not worry about that, it wasn’t the first time he got caught for saying things the public didn’t agree with. Instead, let’s focus on his music.

His appearance on other artists/bands’ recordings include 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 posessions.

This doesn’t include his signature model, which has been on sale from Fender since 1988, its main feature being a built-in preamp boost.

As Eric Clapton is my biggest influence, I could go on an on all day about him. I’m gonna stop now and let his tunes do the talking, below you find some of my favorites.

Eric Clapton tunes | Related pages


A7 | D7 | A7 | A7 |
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knee.
D5 D6 D5 D6 | D5 D6 D5 D6 | A7 | A7 |
Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knee.

Crossroads chords.

I Shot The Sheriff

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!
Gm | Cm Cm7 Cm Cm7 | Gm7 Gm Gm7 Gm7 Gm Gm7 |
I shot the sheriff, but I didn’t shoot no deputy, ooh, ooh, oo-ooh.

I Shot The Sheriff chords.

Sunshine Of Your Love

D blues scale riff | D blues scale riff |
It’s getting near dawn,
D blues scale riff | D blues scale riff |
when lights close their tired eyes.

Sunshine Of Your Love chords.

Tears In Heaven

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?
Aadd4 E/G# | F#m A/E | D/F# A | E A/E E7 |
Would you feel the same, if I saw you in heaven?

Tears In Heaven chords.

Wonderful Tonight

Wonderful Tonight chords

G | D/F# | C | D |
It’s late in the evening, she’s wondering what clothes to wear.
G | D/F# | C | D |
She puts on her makeup and brushes her long blonde hair.

Wonderful Tonight chords.

Eric Clapton on the web

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