Eric Clapton is one of the world’s most celebrated guitarists and rock musicians. Not only was he member of iconic bands The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos, but he has also sustained a highly successful solo career, selling over 130 million records worldwide.
Here, we’ve picked out just a handful of his greatest ever solo songs that would make the perfect Clapton mix tape:
1. “Wonderful Tonight”
Released on his 1977 album Slowhand, Clapton wrote this song for his then-girlfriend Pattie Boyd (who divorced George Harrison in the same year). He penned it while waiting for her to get ready to go to Paul and Lind McCartney’s annual Buddy Holly party.
Boyd later said: “For years it tore at me. To have inspired Eric, and George before him, to write such music was so flattering. ‘Wonderful Tonight’ was the most poignant reminder of all that was good in our relationship, and when things went wrong it was torture to hear it.”
The couple married two years later, but were divorced by 1989. Still pretty song, right?
2. “Tears In Heaven”
While Eric co-wrote this song for the 1991 movie Rush, it was also inspired by the tragic death of his young son Conor Clapton. His four-year-old son fell from a window of a 53rd-floor New York apartment owned by his mother’s friend. Clapton arrived at the scene shortly after the accident.
Eric stopped playing the song in 2004, saying: “I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them. They’re kind of gone and I really don’t want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now. They probably just need a rest and maybe I’ll introduce them for a much more detached point of view.”
3. “I Shot The Sheriff”
Bob Marley and the Wailers first released this reggae classic in 1973, and tells the point of view of a narrator who admits to having killed the corrupt local sheriff, but is also falsely accused of having killed the deputy. A year later, Eric released a rock-tinged cover version, and it became an even bigger hit than the original.
4. “My Father’s Eyes”
Taken from his 1998 album Pilgrim, this song is inspired by how Clapton never met his father, who died in 1985. Describing how he wishes he knew his dad, it also refers to his son Conor.
“In it I tried to describe the parallel between looking in the eyes of my son, and the eyes of the father that I never met, through the chain of our blood”, he later said in his autobiography.
5. “Layla” (Acoustic)
This was one of the most iconic rock songs of the early 1970s for Eric’s band Derek and the Dominos, and was inspired by a love story from the 7th-century Arabia, and later inspired The Story of Layla and Majnun by 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi.
Eric re-recorded it in 1992 for his live Unplugged show and album. He said of the new ‘jazzy’ version: “I have done it the same all these years and never ever considered trying to revamp it.”
6. “I Get Lost”
Eric composed this song for the soundtrack of the Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer movie The Story of Us.
While he released a dance-pop version of this song as a single, he also recorded this acoustic version for its use at the beginning of the movie. The song tells the story of a man, who is longing for his partner after a massive argument.
7. “Behind the Mask”
A truly fascinating song! Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra first recorded this song in 1979, before Michael Jackson added lyrics in the early 1980s. Jackson’s keyboardist Greg Phillinganes released this new version in 1985, before Eric covered it a year later.
Phillinganes played keyboards on this version, as well as singing backing vocals. It wasn’t until Jackson’s posthumous album Michael that his own version was released. It was originally written for Thriller, but was left off due to a royalties’ dispute with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s team.