Eric Clapton

Difficulty: Spectrum
Views: 120,822,833

Name: Eric Clapton

DOB/Location: 30 March 1945, Surrey, UK

Brief Biography

With the exception perhaps of Jimi Hendrix, it’s hard to think of another guitarist who is as famous, recognisable, successful and admired as Eric Clapton. Chances are that if you already know many E.C. songs - ‘Layla’, ‘Wonderful Tonight’, ‘Tears In Heaven’ etc. - but he has a huge discography and it’s worth exploring his entire output, which divides up, fairly roughly, into five stages:

The first is as a precocious teenager on London’s blues scene in the 1960s. The young Clapton quickly absorbed influences from records by guitarists including Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy and Freddie King to create his own virtuosic style, which can be heard on his work as a member of the Yardbirds (the '60s group that was to later feature Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck) and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. 

Clapton then formed Cream with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. This power trio was short lived (1966-68), but songs such as ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Crossroads’, ‘White Room’, ‘Strange Brew’ and ‘Badge’ are essential listening.

The third phase is then Clapton as a solo star in the 1970s, first fronting Derek and The Dominoes, and then with a run of solo albums including 461 Ocean Boulevard and Slowhand which produced songs such as ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ and ‘Lay Down Sally’. Clapton’s style in this decade broke from his blues focus to encompass a whole range of styles from reggae to pop ballads.

After a relative lull in the 1980s, he returned with the phenomenally successful Unplugged album in 1992, which heralded a return to Clapton’s blues roots, with stripped-down versions of some of his biggest hits alongside some blues standards, and then From The Cradle (1994) which continued the blues direction. Have a look at my lessons for e.g., ‘Layla’, ‘Hey Hey’ and ‘Tore Down’ below. 

Finally, for the last two decades, Eric as produced a steady stream of new albums with a particular focus on collaborations in the studio and live, most fruitfully with B.B. King and J.J. Cale. Check out the video below of Clapton recreating his solo on the Beatles' ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ with an all-star band including Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. 


There are many guitars associated with Eric Clapton's '60s career, and at various points he played Gibson Les Pauls, SGs and ES-335. However, he made a switch to Fender Stratocasters in 1969 - most famously his customised 'Blackie' guitar - and they have been his main guitar ever since:
Fender Stratocaster Signature Model
Martin Acoustic Signature Model

Eric Clapton has mainly favoured Fender amps throughout his career, most notably Fender Twins.

Check out the following at Clapton's fan club for a detailed rundown of his live set ups.  

Related Lessons

Lay Down Sally by Eric Clapton
Before You Accuse Me by Eric Clapton
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
Crossroads by Eric Clapton (Cream)
Crossroads [SOLO] by Eric Clapton (Cream)
Sunshine Of Your Love by Eric Clapton (Cream)
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out [1/2] by Eric Clapton
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out [2/2] by Eric Clapton
Tears in Heaven [1/2] by Eric Clapton
Tears in Heaven [2/2] by Eric Clapton
Layla (Unplugged) [1/3] by Eric Clapton
Layla (Unplugged) [2/3] by Eric Clapton
Layla (Unplugged) [3/3] by Eric Clapton
Hey Hey by Eric Clapton
Tore Down [RHYTHM] by Eric Clapton
Tore Down [LEAD] by Eric Clapton

Lick #05: Eric Clapton: P1 Doublestop Bend
Lick #12: Eric Clapton: P1 16 classic
Lick #19: Eric Clapton: P3 Country Blue
Lick #26: Eric Clapton: P1 Third Play
Lick #33: Eric Clapton: P1 Clapturn
Lick #40: Eric Clapton: P3 Semidown
Lick #47: Eric Clapton: P2 Claptic
Lick #54: Eric Clapton: P3 Clap On IV

Videos To Check Out

There is a ton of Clapton stuff on YouTube, including 'Layla', above, I’ve chosen some videos here which maybe aren’t the most viewed or obvious choices but are interesting examples to illustrate Eric Clapton’s career.

Yardbirds ‘Louise’ (1964)
Cream ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ (1968)
‘I Shot The Sheriff’ (1977)
Unplugged: ‘Old Love’ (1992)
‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (2002 - ‘Concert For George' (Harrison) w/Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr etc).

Associated Products

Beginner’s Songbook 1 

  • Lay Down Sally
  • Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself)
  • Wonderful Tonight

Also available in German 

Acoustic Songbook 

  • Layla (Unplugged version)
  • Tears In Heaven

Also in available in German

Vintage Songbook 

  • Hideaway - John Mayall (with Eric Clapton)

Blues Lead Guitar Solos 

  • Crossroads

Blues Licks #1 DVD 


Official Site
Fan Club

The Guitar Greats



Found an issue?

Please submit it. This will help me make constant improvements to better your experience.