Happy Birthday, Slowhand! Eric Clapton turns 75 today

Happy Birthday to Eric Clapton, who celebrates his 75th birthday today.  The blues-rock guitar legend has been one of the most influential and successful musicians to emerge from the 1960s British music scene, and is the only person ever to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times — in 1992 as a member of The Yardbirds, in 1993 with Cream and in 2000 as a solo artist.

Clapton’s music career began more than 55 years ago with The Yardbirds, and he quickly earned a reputation as one of the best guitarists in the U.K.  Unhappy with the group’s pop direction, he left in 1965 to join John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.  The following year, he teamed up with one of his fellow Bluesbreakers, singer/bassist Jack Bruce, and jazz-influenced drum virtuoso Ginger Baker to form Cream.

Cream combined improvisational blues-rock and psychedelia for a sound that influenced countless hard-rock bands.  During his time with the short-lived supergroup, Clapton began to develop as a singer and songwriter, and was responsible for co-writing such classic tunes as “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Strange Brew” and “Badge.”

After Cream’s 1968 breakup, Clapton joined forces with Steve Winwood and Baker to form another supergroup, Blind Faith, which only released one self-titled album, in 1969.  He then took part in a brief collaboration with the American rock/soul duo Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett before beginning an extremely successful solo career.  In 1970, Clapton released his self-titled solo debut, and he also put out Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the landmark album he recorded as Derek and the Dominos, a group that also featured Duane Allman.

Clapton scored his only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974 with a cover of Bob Marley‘s “I Shot the Sheriff,” which helped introduce the reggae legend to many music fans around the world.  Eric’s many other enduring solo tunes include “Lay Down Sally,” “Tears in Heaven,” “Wonderful Tonight,” “I Can’t Stand It,” “Change the World” and his classic covers of the J.J. Cale songs “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.”

Clapton’s most recent studio album was the 2018 holiday collection Happy Xmas. While, he’s limited his touring schedule in recent years, Eric had been slated to launch a month-long European trek in May, but that’s been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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