The legend Eric Clapton got his first guitar aged 13
Despite difficult childhood, different addictions and an enormous tragedy in his private life, Eric Clapton found the strength to pursue his musical career. He considers music to be the greatest healer. Read the biography of the famous guitar magician, singer and songwriter.
It was 1944 when a Canadian Armed Forces pilot met a local teenage girl in the British village of Ripley. However, the romance did not last long; right after the end of World War II, the 24-year-old Edward Walter Fryer went back to his wife in Canada. At that time, young Patricia Molly Clapton was already pregnant. Few months later she gave birth to a boy who was going to have a difficult childhood as well as a breathtaking musical career.
Eric Clapton (full name Eric Patrick Clapton) was born on March 30th, 1945 in his grandparents‘ house. His 16-year-old mother Pat, as they called her, had to deal with an uneasy situation: raising a child as a single mother in the 40’s. Therefore Pat’s parents, Rose Clapp and Jack Clapp, became Eric’s foster parents and raised him on their own. Clapton’s last name comes from his grandfather and Rose’s first husband’s surname, Reginald Cecil Clapton.
Later, Eric’s mother Pat got married and moved to Canada and Germany, where her husband served in the army. Together they had 3 children: Cheryl, Heather and Brian, who died in a tragic road accident at the age of 26.
Clapton was 9 years old when he realized Pat was not his sister and the Clapps were not his biological parents. Patricia herself told him the truth when she came to visit her family in the United Kingdom. This discovery deeply affected Clapton’s psyche. It turned him into an introvert and quiet boy, though still well mannered.
Clapton was raised in a musical family, mainly attracted to playing the guitar. Grandma Rose played the piano at home, and allegedly, Eric’s biological father was also a promising pianist. In 1958, when young Clapton celebrated his 13th birthday, rock and roll took over the world. It was the same year Clapton received his first guitar produced by the German brand Hoyer.
As a teenager Eric Clapton became moody and he often felt like an outsider. Teachers always described him as an above-average student with an aptitude for art. However, he stopped attending classes and he failed all exams that would have guaranteed him the admission to high schools in England.
At the age of 16 Clapton started to study at the Kingston College of Art, from which he was expelled because of his poor studying results. He did not enjoy learning as much as he liked playing the guitar and listening to the blues. At the age of 17, the Englishman got a job in a music store. He borrowed £100 from his family to buy his own electric guitar. The music helped him deal with his complicated childhood emotions and also shed a light on his undeniable talent.
Although the promising guitarist from Ripley seemed distant, his inner world was filled with a fascination with American blues. Clapton’s greatest inspiration was electric blues with roots in Texas and Chicago, specifically the black blues music by Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, B. B. King and others. Basically the same genre instigated the birth of rock’n’roll, rock, British blues or blues-rock.
In 1963, Clapton played for the first time as a band member. The same year The Roosters broke up. His steps then led to the pop-oriented group Casey Jones and The Engineers. The guitarist was only 18 years old when he started to be noticed as the best guitarist in the local musical circles.
In The Yardbirds he was nicknamed Slowhand. Clapton left as soon as the band decided to play more mainstream music. He wanted to stay true to the blues. In 1970 he started a solo career.
The guitar magician Eric Clapton has won several prestigious awards. According to the music magazine Rolling Stone, he belongs to the TOP 5 out of hundreds of best guitarists in the world. The musician also won 18 Grammy Awards, one of them for the lifetime achievement. Eric Clapton was 3 times inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Queen Elizabeth II. made him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2004.
Despite his complicated childhood, drug and alcohol addiction, and the personal tragedy when his 4-year-old son died after falling out of the window, Eric Clapton found the strength to pursue his musical career. „Music became a healer for me. And I learned to listen with all my being. I found out that it could wipe away all the emotions of fear and confusion related to my family,” he said once.
The live concert of Eric Clapton will be held 5.6.2022 in O2 Arena Prague, Czech Republic.