11:44 AM GMT 21/05/2013
This month's MOJO magazine cover star is Eric Clapton, the man who invented rock's cult of the lead guitarist then abdicated the high throne of its ruling deity. Through The Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos, solo and in an array of increasingly humble and collegiate collaborations, he has sought new applications for the blues without forsaking its beating heart.
In a remarkable interview, Clapton tells MOJO's Michael Simmons about his comeback from booze and drug oblivion, the musical spirits that still move him and how he still can't stand Led Zeppelin. To whet your appetite for that or (if you've been sent this way by the mag) to enhance your Eric-orientated experience, here are 18 good reasons to believe in "God".
1. The Yardbirds – Louise (1963)
Blues legend John Lee Hooker cut a version of Louise for Modern Records in 1951. Twelve years later The Yardbirds delivered their own version on British TV, with the youthful Eric Clapton cutting loose at approximately 2.07.
2. John Mayall's Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton – All Your Love (1966)
The opening cut on the fabled 'Beano' album showcases Clapton's fattened sound, partly indebted to his switch to a Gibson Les Paul. This spirited take on Otis Rush's tune unwittingly created the template for legions of less inspired blues-rockers who sought to emulate the man now labeled 'God'.
3. Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love (1968)
Thunderous ensemble playing augmented by a fiery, soulful guitar work-out (1.59) define this Cream classic, as does the band's psychedelic finery – the mustachioed axemeister sporting a fetching sleeveless Afghan number.
4. "The Woman Tone" (1968)
Electric Guitar For Dummies, EC-style.
5. "The Dirty Mac" – Yer Blues (1968)
Drafted by the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus, and helping out on John Lennon's first "live" performance since Candlestick Park, Clapton is by turns uptight and cool, wringing an electric Chicago blues from his red Gibson ES-335 that is by turns knowing and heartfelt, and thus entirely in keeping with the conflicted sentiments of Lennon's suicidal Rishikesh 12-bar pastiche.
6. Cream – Badge (1969)
Co-written with George Harrison, Badge marked a progression in Clapton's own songwriting and revealed him moving away from the bombast that he'd learnt to loathe as a member of Cream. The song itself is allegedly rumination on Clapton's former partner, Charlotte Martin.
7. Blind Faith – Can't Find My Way Home (1969)
The retreat from guitar hero to shy, retiring band member begins with a mellifluous performance at Hyde Park. But that's enough shots of the Serpentine, Mr Editor!
8. Delaney And Bonnie with Eric Clapton – Poor Elijah (1969)
The earthy, Southern soulful vibe of Blind Faith's support act, Delaney and Bonnie, altered Clapton's path. This track – while no showcase of EC's dexterity – underlines the duo's remarkable chemistry and appeal. Here's the electric version, with Clapton and George Harrison.
9. Plastic Ono Band – Don't Worry Kyoko (1969)
The trick here, it seems, is to keep playing through the vocals. Backing Yoko Ono at the Toronto Rock And Roll Revival in September 1969, Clapton watches Lennon intently, zoning out Yoko's primal scream vocals to craft a proto-motorik trance-blues riff that wouldn't seem out of place on Can's Monster Movie.
10. Eric Clapton – Sign Language (1976)
In August 1976 Clapton decided to use The Band's Shangri-La Studios in Malibu to record his next album, No Reason To Cry. There, he found Bob Dylan living in a tent at the bottom of the garden. Dylan's first offer of a song was turned down, but Clapton accepted this tune, replete with its doff of the cap to Link Wray. Enjoy the OGWT versh, with George Terry in the intimidating position of offering lead to Clapton's rhythm.
11. Eric Clapton & His Rolling Hotel (1978)
Or more accurately... Eric Clapton & His Train Swilling In Booze. Something tragic and poignant about this rarely-exposed film of Clapton and band on tour in Germany, somehow encapsulated in the prologue: Clapton sings Nat King Cole's Smile.
12. Eric Clapton – Good Night Irene (1982)
Clapton tries out the Leadbelly classic he reprises on his latest album, Old Sock. From Chas & Dave's Christmas Special, in Guildford, but don't let that put you off. No, really! Come back!
13. Eric Clapton – Hard Times (1989)
Co-hosted by sax player David Sanborn and keys-man Jools Holland, NBC's late '80s after-hours show, Night Music, ran for three years. Clapton joined a roll call of talent that reads like a Who's Who of modern music and, sober for two years, looked elegant and at ease as he performed this Ray Charles classic.
14. B.B. King, Eric Clapton & George Benson – Rock Me Baby (1990)
Paying tribute to BB King, EC and George Benson trade licks and vocal lines, forcing the blues legend to dance in appreciation. Then Lucille joins in...
15. Eric Clapton – Ramblin' On My Mind (1999)
Clapton manages to smuggle Robert Johnson into The White House's Concert Of The Century. Another Robert – de Niro – appears less impressed than a grinning Bill Clinton.
16. Clapton & Cordings (2010)
Did you know that Clapton co-owns the famed gentleman's outfitter in London's Piccadilly? Neither did we!
17. "There was a lot of swopping going on..." (2011)
EC's honest and winning account of his theft of George Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd, from the George doc, Living In The Material World.
18. Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Layla (2011)
"A genius and a giant" is how as self-deprecating EC describes Wynton Marsalis before laying bare his admiration for jazz as a whole, and explaining just how he came to translate his most famous tune into a New Orleans-flavoured wailer.
Compiled and annotated by: Phil Alexander, Danny Eccleston and Andrew Male
MOJO 234 is on sale from Tuesday 26, 2013
Posted by Danny_Eccleston at 12:31 PM GMT 22/03/2013