As a guitar player who was a teenager in the 80s, when I just started learning the instrument, there are two players that shaped me more than everybody else, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. Yes, I played along with Jeff Beck’s “Truth” a lot. Yes, the Allman Brothers first album was a jam along favorite. Yes, I loved learning the pop rock energy of Jeff Healy, but at the end of the day, the two guys that spoke to my soul most were Eric and Stevie. Stevie was almost too good, like I couldn’t get there. Plus he tuned down to Eflat, so being a tad lazy, I rarely tried to play along with Double Trouble. Clapton was approachable and his solos were so tasteful.
Winnowed down, 1980s Eric Clapton is the biggest influence on my guitar playing. I’ve been disappointed by his Covid wackiness and the drunken racist rants he gave on stage in the 70s that came to light in recent years. He’s also had some really mediocre musical stretches because he often lives and dies by third party songwriters and trusting various producers, but he’s a solid vocalist and man he can play soaring, searing, blistering melodic lines.
When I was 15, I saw Clapton touring on “Behind the Sun”. It’s not a highly regarded album but I have such a sentimental attachment to it. The “Forever Man” video playing on MTV motivated me to ask my parents if I could get a guitar. I got a black and white Stratocaster, oddly enough. I still love the guitar. As for the concert, it was a religious moment. Two hours of paradise with a band to die for, Duck Dunn, Chris Stainton, and Jamie Oldaker.
I recently relistened to “Journeyman”. The songs are hit and miss for me, but goodness, that solo, that tone on “No Alibis”, it’s been stuck in my head for weeks now.
Everything seems to have culminated in my Google feed sending me a Guitar World article about 1980s Clapton. I don’t agree with the author’s opinion about everything, like how much he loved Clapton with Roger Waters. Don’t get me wrong, I like the “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” more than anyone I know, but it’s so eclectic, it’s hard to digest cohesively. I don’t want to nit pick the article, that was just an illustration. I am so deeply entrenched in my love for 80s Clapton that I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the topic brought back to my attention.
Here’s the article if you’re curious.