[Slowhand] Clapton reading music

Fabio Dwyer fabiodwyer at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 26 21:30:58 EDT 2008


don't worry, you're completely right on this. Clapton can't read music. I don't have an specific interview as an official source, but I have read many times he discussing that. Once he mentioned he tried when he was a teenager, and he could manage to learn the traditional folk melody Greensleaves by sight reading, but he had dropped it since then. Actually a very small group of rock/blues/pop players can read music. The list of those who can't read goes like that:

- Clapton
- Hendrix
- Van Halen
- Pink Floyd members
- Phil Collins
- Buddy Guy
- Rolling Stones original members
- Stevie Ray
- Santana
- Beatles (except George Martin, of course)
- Led Zeppelin ...

and here's a list from people who I'm pretty sure are able to read music:

- Jack Bruce
- The Police Members
- Joe Satriani
- Steve Vai
- Brian Setzer
- B.B. King (at least he told that he learned after he was 60 yrs. old, he decided to learn so he could help to write charts for the horn session of his band)
- Dave Gilmour (yeah, I know he's a Pink Floyd Member but he couldn't read when PF was active. In his last DVD's extras he told he learned to read/write music recently when he began to study saxophone with his son's school band material)
- All the other jazz/classical cats

One I'm not sure about is Mark Knopfler's abilities to read music.

This subject is something I'm always interested, since I'm one of the few blues/rock players around my area able to read. I'm always treated like a braniac because of that:-)

My conclusion on this matter is that it's definitely not necessary to be able to read to play rock or blues, but it does help on the communication with other non-guitarrists musicians. If you want to learn jazz or classical, learn to read FIRST! People who can read tend to be much more versatile as musicians, but there are those genius who can leave without that!


PS. Simon, do yourself a favor: STAY AWAY from You Tube comments, I never saw so much bullshit in the same place, all kinds of morons gather there, Slowhand Digest is heaven comparing to it. I believe our Billy Boy is a beautiful example of you tube type of comments.

From: simon.george5 at ntlworld.com
To: pjones at doodlesite.com; slowhand at planet-torque.com
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 23:03:06 +0100
Subject: [Slowhand] Clapton reading music

Please back me up here. I know I'm right but you know what its like when someone questions you.
I commented on Youtube a while ago on 'Eric Clapton instrumental best ever' which is a clip of the concerto from 1990.
I remember at the time Clapton saying in an interview, how hard it was because he had to learn so much of it 'off by heart' because he couldn't read music and there was little room for improvising.
however I dont have that interview to hand and some guy has emailed me saying:

Dude of course he can read music. I think you mean Hendrix.

I'm sure he can't but I need someone to confirm it for me! (or put me right!)


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