After watching Lili Zanuck's Showtime documentary, "Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars," the one thing that struck me more than anything was Clapton's output from 1964-1970 versus his output from 1971-2017. This isn't really a new discussion, as the same type of talk has taken place regarding many artists, including Elton John, Rod Stewart and Neil Young, for starters. But what fascinates me more about Clapton is that, during those seven years, he was part of what are arguably some of the most important records in music and none of them are his proper.
He can be heard on two Yardbirds records, John Mayall's Blues Breakers, three Cream records, not to mention various live recordings, Blind Faith, and of course, Derek & The Dominoes. He began as a side man and peaked as a featured player. And though he had the most success, including his only Grammys, as a leader, the music released in the 45 years after "Layla," that is actually worthy of comparison to his first 7 years, would arguably not fill up a two-record set.
There have been moments of live genius. The guitar solo from a NYC performance of "I Shot The Sheriff" in 2004, remains one of the most intense live moments I have ever witnessed. His "Crossroads" benefit concerts always produced a few YouTube-able moments. But when we talk about his best solo records, his debut from 1970, or what? "Slowhand?" "Journeyman?" "Unplugged?" What is really there but 40 minutes of playing it safe?
45 years is a long stretch of time to not even come close to why you are called "God."