Eric Clapton songs and work have catapulted him into the Rock and Roll Hall-of-Fame as an iconic rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He’s been part of monumental bands like Cream, assisted with a number of Beatles tracks, and has found great success as a solo artist.
With the recently announced Crossroads Guitar Festival coming later this year, let’s take a moment to celebrate the songs of “Slowhand.”
This is perhaps the artist’s most famous song. Cocaine has a memorable riff, catchy lyrics and a guitar solo that isn’t flashy, but still technically complicated and intricate. The song was originally written by J.J. Cale but Clapton made it his own. The intro has a fun, beefy riff played near the headstock of the guitar, while the main riff is a simple chord progression featuring three barre chords.
There’s also a second guitar that plays, short, funky chord stabs that’s a ton of fun to get down as well.
Even though this song was recorded live and is a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” it’s still one of Clapton’s most memorable performances. The guitar is heavily overdriven and the two guitar solos are blistering and wild.
Eric played the song with Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums. The three of them were known as Cream, and the band was considered a “supergroup” since each of the band members had successful careers before working together. Cream’s album Wheels of Fire is cited as the world’s first double album to have ever reached platinum sales status.
This is a classic in blues rock guitar. Clapton uses a number of lead tricks and rhythm chops to match the song’s thumping beat. Even though it sounds fairly complicated, especially when the runs are played, it’s important to know that the song is made up of a single chord and a single riff. But Cream were three guys at the top of their powers, and that meant they were able to turn just one riff and one chord into a dizzying array of dynamic playing.
There are call and response sections between the vocals and guitar, there are slight changes in the riff, and a few breakdown sections too. To top it all off, there is a pretty intense guitar solo baked into this jam track that is great for leveling up your blues guitar chops.
For those of you who want to study Clapton’s lead playing, this is the song for you. The guitarist only plays lead licks and melody lines in this track. Brush up on your E minor pentatonic because the intro is ten bars over E. In order to achieve the signature sound from this song, you’ll also need a Wah-wah pedal for all of those swelling notes.
This is also a cover of a Robert Johnson song. Eric Clapton’s “Sweet Home Chicago” features a swinging groove and a summertime feel thanks to its 12 bar blues and strum pattern. This Made Easy version of the song and is great for beginners just beginning to learn the blues.
The song features only three chords, the E7, A7 and B7. The song is also strummed over a 12/8 shuffle. If you want to learn how to play the full version, go here.
Eric Clapton has written a great number of classics in his career and we have even more songs for you to learn.
Find Clapton guitar lessons here. If you want more Cream, go here.
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