For anyone who may be old enough, they would know exactly what I am talking about here. For our younger readers and aspiring guitarists, you can browse through millions of guitarists, be inspired by them, and even become an inspiration yourself, but when it comes to Eric Clapton, there is no one quite like him.
Who is Eric Clapton?
I can’t believe I would ever hear anyone ask this question, but then again, times have changed a little, so let me quickly get you up to speed.
The world has seen many great guitarists within the last century and many have already left the world, leaving behind legacies that cannot be replicated. Eric Clapton happens to be one such legend, a guitar god, an icon, and he is very much alive today!
Born on March 30th, 1945, he is an English rock and blues guitarist. He is also a singer and a songwriter, and if that already impresses you, wait till you read the next bit.
Of all the guitarists to have existed, he is the only one to be inducted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thrice. That is not a typo! Oh, and he was also a massive contributor to The Yardbirds and Cream. That is quite a resume, especially considering that Clapton was often called “Slowhand.”
If that isn’t enough, here’s yet another fact to blow your mind out. The Rolling Stones compiled a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and he ranks right at number two. No one, and I mean no one, can match the virtuosity, the elegance, and the creativity of Clapton. The only person that precedes him is the iconic Jimi Hendrix. Okay, enough with the introduction. Let’s get on with the real reason why I am writing all this.
Reliving the Past
Every year, March 30th marks an auspicious day for guitar lovers all around the globe. Of course, that is the day Mr. Clapton was born, and there has not been a single year that has gone by without fans and inspired souls sending him warm love and wishes. I decided to get in on the action and write something that reflects back on the spectacular career of this legendary guitarist.
You do not have to be old to know Clapton. If you share the same passion for playing guitars, composing music, and performing, Eric Clapton will always remain one of the finest inspirations for us all. There is just so much to learn from him. Don’t take my word for it either because there are many, many guitarists and bands that have been inspired by his works, and I am not even talking about bands that you and I may have never heard of either.
The recently deceased Eddie Van Halen is one of those many whom Eric Clapton inspired. Theoretically speaking, if I stop the list right here, it would still be unbelievably impressive. Imagine walking around the world knowing that you are someone who inspired a great legend; wow! However, in the interest of knowledge, and to serve as a tribute, here are some other iconic names that were influenced by Mr. Clapton’s skills, creativity, and music.
- Brian May
- Lenny Kravitz
- Mark Knopfler
- Jimmy Page
- Joe Satriani
- Tony Iommi
- Steve Vai
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Ted Nugent
That’s not even the complete list, but you get the idea of what I am on about, right?
The Sound of Clapton
Eric Clapton shot into fame for one very specific reason; his guitar sound. Today, if I was to pick up a Gibson guitar, say a Les Paul, and I asked you to suggest an amplifier that could complement the guitar’s tone, you would automatically suggest a Marshall. However, did you ever wonder who on earth gave the world that combination in the first place? Who was it who single-handedly redefined guitar sound? It was none other than Eric Clapton.
As a part of the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album, Clapton used a Gibson guitar. However, to try out something new, something different, he decided to plug it in with a Marshall amplifier. The results were simply astonishing. When the sound was made public, guitarists all over the world wanted to copy his style. Everyone wanted a Gibson and everyone wanted a Marshall amplifier. That trend continues even today. He gave the world the traditional sound of a rock guitar, and he used his newly found sound in many, many fabulous hits, some of which are:
- “I shot the sheriff”
- “Sunshine for your love”
- “She’s waiting”
- “Let it rain”
- “Knocking on heavens door”
Eric Clapton would use a multitude of techniques. He would often play with plectrums, but when needed, he started using the finger-style. He was fast and, make no mistake, he could play extremely fast when he wanted to. He knew every trick in the book, such as slides, legato, vibrato, bends, and he was a champion at every technique that he used.
In our recent book, Soloing Technique for Beginners we’ve discussed in detail about all these techniques with diagrams and examples. It also comes with Eric Clapton inspired licks which you can pick up and start playing today!
It's beginner friendly and will be a one stop destination for all your "technique needs".