"The blues are what I've turned to, what has given me inspiration and relief in all of the trials of my life."
- Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, on March 30, 1945. His love of the blues and American R&B led him to learn guitar and study the masters. The merest glimpse of Bo Diddley or Chuck Berry would send me into frenzies of delight, he recalls. So when I found the stuff that was behind it, Muddy Waters, and beyond that, Robert Johnson, and beyond that, the work song, it did something to me emotionally."
After pinch-hitting in a number of British blues bands in the Early'60s, Clapton rose to prominence in The Yardbirds, with a lineup that would eventually include the three top British guitar heroes of the decade- Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. He left in 1966 to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and after that he formed Cream with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, a band that quickly became the preeminent rock trio of the late '60s.
Rather than simply replicate the blues riffs he'd heard on record, Clapton incorporated the emotion of the original performances into his own style or playing, thus expanding the vocabulary of blues guitar. Cream's enormous success propelled the guitarist to international stardom. The band's winning combination of neo-psychedelia blended with fiery remakes of such blues standards as "Spoonful," "Crossroads" and "Born Under A Bad Sign" cemented Clapton's reputation.
Clapton's post-Cream undertakings were equally admired. Along with Steve Winwood, Rick Grech and Ginger Baker, he formed Blind Faith in 1969, a band that enjoyed tremendous popularity with its self-titled No.1 album. Later that year with Delaney and Bonnie & Friends, Clapton began to test his vocal skills as well. He followed…