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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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MUSIC

Amyt Datta

First taste of Clapton...

In 1976, I was part of a band called the New Blues Connection with Kochuda (brother Monojit Datta) on drums. We used to do a lot of Clapton songs. One of the first numbers I picked up was Further On Up the Road and then we did Clapton’s version of Robert Johnson’s Crossroads.

Apart from Jimi Hendrix, Clapton was the first blues guy that captured my imagination. He was the white guy playing the blues. Within the parameters of the blues, he could inject this Clapton-esque quality to all kinds of genres.

First album bought...

Slowhand (1977).

Favourite album...

Money And Cigarettes (1983). It has sentimental value to me. At that time I was studying all the blues guitarists. The album has a raw, careless feel to it.

Strengths...

His tone. He plays a Fender Stratocaster, and he could extract... almost squeeze out... this amazing sound from the instrument. The important thing about Clapton is that he has an incredible melodic sense. Within a solo, he could play hook after hook, which you can remember as part of a song.

Signature touch...

His tone and his melodic sense. He has been successful at putting his emotional thinking on to the guitar and then channel it out to the world. Clapton could go between the notes, like the black guitarists did, like Albert King. Clapton is more restrained now, he plays to the song. But with Cream [the British rock supergroup] he was vicious, he could raunch out. And that intro of Wonderful Tonight... that is a work of art.

Lessons for aspiring guitarists...

How less is more. As a young guitarist, I picked up his licks. Now, his thinking inspires me. Also his personality. His aura is quiet and his silence has such strength.

 

Vikramjit Banerjee

First taste of Clapton...

When I heard him first as a teenager, I was in a very serious high-energy rock phase but I would read up interviews of all my favourite guitar players and make a note of who they admired and go out and hunt those albums and artistes down just so I could study the music. I noticed most of my childhood favourites, like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Johnson, mentioned Clapton profusely in their interviews, so I had to listen to him.

First album bought...

Just One Night (1980).

Favourite albums...

Fresh Cream (1966), Just One Night and Journeyman (1989).

Strengths...

I think his strengths are his fluid and expressive vibrato techniques on the guitar and he pretty much has the electric blues down pat.

Signature touch...

His vibrato and note-bending. I draw some of my blues licks and phrasing from the early Cream era. I really liked his jamming with other guitarists at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. He has fused blues and rockabilly with other folk forms to create his own style.

Lessons for aspiring guitarists...

Clapton often mimics a vocalist’s approach to playing the guitar which gives him his great vibrato and bending technique.

 

Jayanta Dasgupta

First taste of Clapton...

Some time in the late ’70s. I was a kid and Eric Clapton’s songs blew my mind. I clearly remember the song I Looked Away, the first number on Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (1970).

First album bought...

EC Was Here (1975). I bought this one on vinyl.

Favourite albums...

Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, EC Was Here and From The Cradle (1994).

Strengths...

Even before I read his autobiography I realised that he must have studied the blues in depth and spent years just honing that single musical language — the blues. One can easily tell by listening to his early records. It’s talent there and sheer hard work. My good friend, the legendary singer-songwriter-Hammond player Bobby Whitlock tells me that when he was living in Hurtwood Edge (Clapton’s house) co-writing the Layla album with ‘Eric’, they just spent hours and days just playing and writing new songs and playing them and jamming. Eric Clapton has given his soul to the blues and spent his life honing the art and we all know how that has paid him back!

Signature touch...

It’s a massive arsenal of sounds that he has that are now his signature touch.

Lessons for aspiring guitarists...

Very early in his musical journey he realised that the blues inspired him and that’s the road he embarked on making himself a full-time student of that art form; listening to the old records over and over again and absorbing the music like a sponge. He is a complete musician.

Slowhand in motion

Before turning to music, Clapton studied stained-glass design at Kingston College of Art.

The hit song Layla (1970) is about Pattie Boyd, who was then married to George Harrison. And then came Wonderful Tonight (also inspired by Pattie) in 1977. The two eventually married in 1979 (divorced in 1988).

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played at Eric and Pattie’s wedding. This was the closest The Beatles came to reuniting. John Lennon did not attend.

Clapton mostly played Gibson guitars till 1969-70 and then he switched to a Fender Stratocaster.

Clapton played the guitar on the Phil Collins hit I Wish It Would Rain Down.

Sheryl Crow’s song My Favourite Mistake is rumoured to be about him. They dated in 1996.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thrice –– first as a member of The Yardbirds (1992); then as a member of Cream (1993); and finally as a solo performer (2000).

Clapton has said he’ll stop touring when he turns 70.

Top 5 EC songs:

Layla
Cocaine
Wonderful Tonight
I Shot The Sheriff
Tears in Heaven