Eric Clapton Wednesday

Eric Clapton playing guitar and singing

Eric Clapton, often hailed as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, has a storied career that spans several decades and includes an impressive array of bands. His musical journey showcases not only his virtuosity on the guitar but also his ability to adapt and thrive in different musical environments. The various bands that Clapton has been a part of each contributed to his legacy in unique ways.

The Yardbirds: The Birth of a Guitar Legend

Eric Clapton’s professional career began in earnest with The Yardbirds in 1963. Known for their pioneering contributions to rock and blues, The Yardbirds were the perfect incubator for Clapton’s burgeoning talent. During his time with the band, Clapton earned the nickname “Slowhand” due to his precise and measured playing style. His tenure with The Yardbirds was marked by their hit single “For Your Love,” but Clapton’s purist blues instincts led him to leave the band in 1965 as they started moving towards a more commercial pop sound.

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers: Mastering the Blues

Clapton’s departure from The Yardbirds led him to John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, where he truly honed his craft. Joining in April 1965, Clapton’s work with the Bluesbreakers is legendary. The 1966 album “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton,” often referred to as the “Beano” album, is a seminal work in blues rock. Clapton’s fiery solos and deep understanding of the blues idiom cemented his reputation as a guitar hero. His time with Mayall was brief but impactful, setting the stage for his next major venture.

Cream: The Power Trio

In 1966, Clapton co-founded Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce. Cream was one of the first supergroups and is considered one of the greatest bands of all time. Their music was a potent mix of blues, rock, and psychedelia, characterized by extended improvisational jams and virtuosic musicianship. Hits like “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” and “Crossroads” showcased Clapton’s explosive guitar work and the band’s collective musical prowess. Cream disbanded in 1968, but their brief existence left an indelible mark on rock history.

Blind Faith: A Supergroup Experiment

Following Cream’s breakup, Clapton joined forces with Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family to form Blind Faith in 1969. The band was another supergroup, bringing together some of the most talented musicians of the era. Despite their potential, Blind Faith released only one self-titled album, featuring tracks like “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Presence of the Lord.” The band’s life was short, disbanding after just one tour due to internal pressures and Clapton’s dissatisfaction with the supergroup model.

Derek and the Dominos: A Personal and Musical Odyssey

One of Clapton’s most personal and profound musical projects. Formed in 1970, the band included Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon. Their only studio album, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs,” is often cited as one of the greatest rock albums ever. The title track, “Layla,” inspired by Clapton’s unrequited love for Pattie Boyd (then wife of George Harrison), features some of Clapton’s most passionate and searing guitar work. The emotional depth and musical brilliance of this album have cemented its place in rock history.

A Solo Career and Collaborative Ventures

While Clapton’s band days are legendary, his solo career has been equally illustrious. Starting in the 1970s, Clapton released a series of successful solo albums, including “461 Ocean Boulevard” with the hit single “I Shot the Sheriff.” He also collaborated with numerous artists and participated in various group projects, such as The Plastic Ono Band with John Lennon, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, and The Band’s historic “The Last Waltz” concert.


Eric Clapton’s journey highlights his versatility and enduring influence on the music world. From the raw energy of The Yardbirds and the blues mastery with John Mayall, to the groundbreaking work with Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominos, Clapton has continually reinvented himself while remaining true to his blues roots. Each band played a crucial role in shaping his career, contributing to the rich tapestry of rock and blues that defines his legacy. Whether as a band member or a solo artist, Clapton’s impact on music is undeniable and everlasting.

Explore our other musician features to discover more fascinating stories and insights into the legends of the music world.