Eric Clapton Taking It To The Limit

Eric Clapton Taking It To The Limit  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

You could call British musician Eric Clapton a rock star but many fans would call him a guitar craftsman and musical genius.

Eric said music has always been healing for him.  He discovered early on it could wipe away fear and confusion. 

It’s very dependent on your state of mind. And your emotional state as well. And a lot of it comes pouring out; you don’t really have that much control with it.
— Eric Clapton

There was one family growing up in his hometown of Ripley, Surrey, England, he knew who owned a TV.  Eric liked to go over and watch “Sunday Night at the Palladium” a show which was the first to have American performers.  One night Jerry Lee Lewis was on singing “Great Balls of Fire.”  His bass player had a Fender Precision Bass.  Eric said it was like seeing an instrument from outer space.

“That’s the future—that’s what I want,” he said in his autobiography, “Clapton.”

He also realized he was living in a village that would probably never change much in the years to come. 

“There on TV was something out of the future.  And I wanted to go there,” he said.  He knew he could be one of those performers.

That was the beginning of Eric Clapton’s musical odyssey.

The first song Eric learned to play on his first guitar, a Hoyer, was folk song, “Scarlet Ribbons.”  The 13-year-old liked Josh White’s bluesy version and learned to play it completely by ear by playing along with the record. 

He broke one of the strings on his guitar almost right away and went on to learn with only five.  He spent hours working on traditional blues standards and learned how to make love slowly to a single note like the blues greats.  He developed faultless tone and his guitars got better right along with his playing.  He said it wasn’t hard for him to make “good” noise. 

About his hypnotic sound, here’s what he said... 

“It's very dependent on your state of mind. And your emotional state as well. And a lot of it comes pouring out; you don't really have that much control with it.”

By 17, the self-taught guitarist joined his first band “The Roosters.”  Before going solo, Eric went on to play with groups like “The Yardbirds, the “Bluesbreakers,” “Cream,”  “Blind Faith,” and “Derek and the Dominos.”

But he always kept moving.  There was something inside him that said there was always more to do or different places to go.

“Part of my character is made up of an obsession to push something to the limit,” he said. 

“His black-and-white Fender Stratocaster is his most recognized guitar.  Fender also built an Eric Clapton signature Stratocaster for him.  He has used a traditional Marshall stack for amplification.

Eric has won or shared in the winning of 18 Grammy Awards for recorded works.  In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award along with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce for their work in “Cream.”   He is also a three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His musical odyssey continues.

On March 9, Bonhams, New York, featured a simulcast auction in New York and Los Angeles of The Eric Clapton Sale of Guitars and Amps in aid of “The Crossroads Centre Antigua.”  Crossroads is a residential addiction treatment centre offering programs and services to individuals and families from around the world.  The organization supports people to be free of addiction.

Eric Clapton

Stage Suit; Gianni Versace designed; black wool; $7,320.

Guitar; Fender Stratocaster Signature Model; serial no. CN98950; black finish;  $51,240.

Guitar; Fender Stratocaster Signature Model; serial no. CZ512926; Daphne blue finish;  $51, 240.

Guitar; Zemaitis Custom Acoustic; natural finish; African Blackwood body; $61,000.

Guitar; Martin D-12-28; natural finish; rosewood body; spruce top, mahogany neck;  $70,760. 

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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