[Slowhand] Delta Nick's Clapton (and mine) - [more cream musings]

Declan Lewis argyllhighlands at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Mar 8 13:46:22 EST 2008


From: DeltaNick[mailto:deltanick at comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 200810:53 PM
To: Slowhand Digest
Subject: [Slowhand] More CreamMusings

With all the discussion of Cream vacuum
bands, and Led Zeppelin, I'd like to add the following:

The really significant change in music
wasn’t Cream at all, but Eric Clapton’s guitar. Quite literally,
nobody had ever played guitar like Eric Clapton before. Clapton combined the
talents of a blues guitar virtuoso -- there weren’t too many skilled rock
musicians before Clapton raised the bar – and a new guitar playing style,
in which he developed and advanced the capabilities of the electric guitar
using the by products of overdriven amplification: distortion, feedback, and
sustain. The guitar’s amplifier actually became part of the musical
instrument, not simply its amplification. And by doing so, Eric Clapton,
literally, reinvented the electric guitar.

Any new electric guitarist learns that an
amplifier can be turned up too loud, creating all sorts of
“unwanted” effects. The normal reaction is to turn it down. And
until Clapton came along, that’s pretty much what everyone did. Previous
to Clapton, nobody purposely overdrove a guitar, obtaining distortion,
feedback, and the resultant sustain on purpose, except as a novelty sound
effect. Some examples of this are the introduction to the Beatles’
“I Feel Fine”; and the “fuzztone” guitar on the
“Green Acres” TV show theme and the Rolling Stones’

And yes, I know about Brian Jones
overdriven electric slide guitar on the Rolling Stones’ “I Wanna Be
Your Man,” but that sounds to me like a mistake that Jones thought
sounded cool and kept. And I don’t think Jones ever used the effect
again, so it was a novelty. And I’ve also read how several
British rock musicians credited Bernie Watson (who ironically preceded Clapton
in John Mayall’s band) as the first to use distortion. But the standard
BEFORE Clapton was a clean, merely amplified sound, in which the electric
guitar was not much more than an amplified acoustic guitar, allowing it to be
heard alongside other instruments in a band.

You can hear Clapton playing with an
overdriven guitar on a few Yardbirds tracks from 1964. Although he first became
popular while with the Yardbirds -- picking up the nickname “Slowhand:
along the way -- Eric Clapton’s reputation grew while with John Mayall
And The Bluesbreakers. Although they released a few singles including Clapton’s
use of “over-amplification” (“I’m Your
Witchdoctor”), things REALLY picked up when “Blues Breakers”
was released on 22 July 1966. Clapton had just left Mayall’s band a few
days earlier, but “Blues Breakers” showed his passionate virtuoso

Prior to Eric Clapton, there was no desire
for anything but a “clean” guitar tone. Gus Dudgeon, for example,
engineer on the “Blues Breakers” album, told the record’s
producer, Mike Vernon, “I can’t record this,” referring to
Clapton’s overdriven, distorted guitar, but record it he did. Although it
may have not been the very first time an overdriven guitar sound was recorded,
“Beano” became “the shot heard ‘round the world,”
so to speak. So, “Blues Breakers” (aka
“Beano”) showed the world what a truly overdriven guitar could
sound like, especially in the hands of a skilled craftsman, a real musician.

After “Beano” was released,
Clapton’s fate was sealed and within a year, he became probably the
best-known guitarist in the world. But most importantly, by combining his
virtuoso playing with the overdriven style, Eric Clapton single-handedly,
changed the electric guitar forever. Of course, some kids simply heard the
sonics, the overdriven guitar instead of the music, and after Cream’s
breakup filled the vacuum with more crunch, feedback, and sonics, and little
music. I think the term “heavy metal” first appeared in a review of
a Jimi Hendrix performance, but it became the title for a genre associated with
multiple Marshall
stacks, lots of very loud noise, and Spandex clothing on-stage.

A bit more on the guitar playing: at an
early age, Clapton’s guitar playing was noted and characterized by deep
passion, its lyricism (the melodies that Clapton created, often resulting in
“a song within a song”), his excellent sense of rhythm and timing directly
contributed to his easily-accomplished but difficult-to-imitate phrasing, and
his incredible mastery and control of the guitar (technique). This
all allowed Clapton to create solo architectures defining the rock guitar
genre to this day. Clapton set the standard by which others are judged. And one
final point: the revisionism surrounding Jimi Hendrix ,in death, credits him
with what Clapton actually popularized before Hendrix went to England and became a star. It was Eric Clapton, NOT Jimi
Hendrix, who reinvented the electric guitar.



One word:

Perfect !

More words:

Add my name, once again, to the list of those who agree, in whole, with Nick, and
were fortunate enough to have been there during the time to which Nick refers to see,
firsthand, this evolution and revolution !

One can choose to agree, or disagree, with this information, which will not in
any way, whatsoever, change it from being factual.

Lew Campbell~

Sent from Yahoo! Mail.
The World's Favourite Email http://uk.docs.yahoo.com/nowyoucan.html
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