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Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and of Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson‘s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009.
In the mid-1960s Clapton left the Yardbirds to play with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed the power trio Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce, in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop”. After Cream broke up, he formed blues rock band Blind Faith with Baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech. Clapton’s solo career began in the 1970s, where his work bore the influence of the mellow style of J. J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped reggae reach a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla“, recorded with Derek and the Dominos; and Robert Johnson‘s “Crossroads“, recorded with Cream. Following the death of his son Conor in 1991, Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven“, which appeared on his Unplugged album.
Clapton has been the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004 he was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. He has received four Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In his solo career, Clapton has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.
Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.
In 2011, The Guardian attributed the creation of the cult of the guitar hero to Clapton, ranking it number seven on their list of the 50 key events in rock music history;
Nothing is more central to rock mythology than the cult of the lead guitarist. And no one did more to create that cult than Eric Clapton. He had already been a member of the Yardbirds before joining John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the clearing house for guitarists, in April 1965. His two stints with Mayall saw his reputation grow to the extent that a famous graffito captured the popular appraisal of him among rock fans: “Clapton is God”.
Elias Leight of Rolling Stone writes that Clapton “influenced recording techniques as well as guitar-playing technique”. During recording sessions with John Mayall’s group, Clapton was frustrated by technicians “that just came up to your amp with the microphone and just stuck it two inches away from the front of the amplifier. It seemed to me that if you wanted to get the atmosphere we were getting in the clubs, you needed it to sound like you were in the audience 10 feet away, not three inches”. Clapton then moved the microphones, with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters stating, “That changed everything. Before Eric, guitar playing in England had been Hank Marvin of the Shadows, very simple, not much technique. Suddenly we heard something completely different. The records sounded unlike anything we had heard before”.
In 2012, Clapton was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires to mark his 80th birthday.