In simple terms, Eric Clapton is one of the greatest guitarists to grace the Earth. He said that "I am, and always will be, a blues guitarist" but he doesn't seem to have played that much blues over his career. 1967 to about 1991 was pretty much rock, with smatterings of blues here and there. The Unplugged album heralded (in terms of albums) Clapton's return to blues and From The Cradle in 1994 sealed his (and our) fate. Eric Clapton is once again, and always will be, a blues guitarist.
Eric Clapton was born on March 30th, 1945 in Ripley, England. It is rumoured that he didn't pick up a guitar (i.e., learn it properly) until he was 17. This is almost certainly untrue. What is true is that he used to design stained glass windows, and was once Mick Jagger's stand-in at a night-club.
Eric wanted to be in a band, he was serious about music, and he joined the Yardbirds in 1963. That was Clapton's big break.
The Yardbirds were the first bluesy group to hit the charts, but you always hear more about The Bestles, but this is due to the Beatles' more popular sound. By '65 Clapton thought that the Yardbirds were being too commercial, more into money than music, so he quit.
He joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, sharing a house with Mr M. He was on-off with the Bluesbreakers during this time ('65-'66), sometimes he was with the band and sometimes he wasn't. This was due to the fact that sometimes Eic would want to do his own playing, and left/joined the Bluesbreakers when it was convineant.
By now Eric had an imprsseive track record by any musician's standard (this is the 60s remember), but the BIG ONE came with the band founded by ex-Graeme Bond Organisation drummer Ginger Baker:
With Baker on drums, Clapton on electric guitar & vocals, Jack Bruce on bass guitar & vocals (also harmonica and piano when required). In their two and a half years of existance they sold more records than the vinyl sold in 24 years. Wheels Of Fire was the world's first platinum selling album . Unfortunatley the band split in 1969. It was due to their manager (Robert Stigwood) milking them for everything they had (his initial impressions of the band where not favourable), Eric wanting anomnity and the clashes of egos that would occur.
Deep breath now. I'll continue...
After the demise of Cream Clapton formed Blind Faith with Steve Winwood (February 1969). G.Baker and Rick Grech got involved too. They released one album and toured Scandinavia and America before they split (November '69).
So for the rest of '69 and early 1970 Eric played in the band Delaney & Bonnie as a sideman, that is he wasn't a big part of the band. He just played. Eric likes anonymity. He doesn't want people pointing at him in the street and saying "Look, it's Eric Clapton!" Fair enough.
Then came Derek & the Dominoes. Clapton tried to find anonymity (again) within the group, but everyone loved him too much. Layla, the single, reached #10 in 1970.
The band split in '72.
In 1970 Clapton also released a solo album, but his solo career only really started after he left the Dominoes. In the early 70s Clapton beat his wife, Patti Boyd, and got hooked on heroin and booze.
Around 1974 his voice changed, it got so much deeper.
In 1979 he toured with Muddy Waters, which supplied with a reminder that he ought to stick to playing the blues. Not that he needed reminding.
The 80s followed the same game of touring, albums, singles and everything that goes with being a big name musician. In 1982 he and Patti Boyd got divorced. He married again a few years later, and this heralded a tragedy that would be a turning point for Eric.
In 1992 his son Connor fell out of a Manhattan skyrise window.
This inspired the album Tears In Heaven, and various other songs (When The Circus Left Town, My Fathers Eyes, Tears In Heaven). It also demonstrates who strong Eric is. He has gone through hell (various addictions, his son's death) yet he has come out on top. Other people would generally snap under that sort of punishment, but Eric has managed to survive it.
In 1994 he won six Grammy awards, including album of the year (Unplugged) and song of the year (Tears In Heaven). In 1995 he won another Grammy for album of the year (From The Cradle), which was Eric's return to the good old blues he'd played for most of his youth.
He has been in the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame twice, as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. A third nod for his solo career is the only sensible thing to happen.
Eric Clapton (Aug 1970)
Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert (Sept '73)
461 Ocean Boulevard (Aug '74)
There's One In Every Crowd (Apr '75)
E.C. Was Here (Sept '75)
No Reason To Cry (Aug '76)
Slowhand (Nov '77)
Backless (Nov '78)
Just One Night (May '80)
Another Ticket (Feb '81)
Timepeices (Mar '82)
Money And Cigarettes (Feb '83)
Behind The Sun (Mar '85)
August (Nov '86)
The Cream Of Eric Clapton (Sept '87)
Journeyman (Nov '89)
24 Nights (Dec '91)
Unplugged (Aug '92)
From The Cradle (Sept '94)
Pilgrim (Mar '98)
Chronicles (Oct '99)