[Slowhand] CL re: EC, DA, D&D

Bruce Wilson kbw at mchsi.com
Fri Sep 26 16:58:41 EDT 2008

excerpt from Chuck Leavell interview at http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=30216#6

AAJ: In your book you mention Clapton talking about Duane's talent, but it was in the context of him asking, "Why are people so hung up on my guitar playing?" Do you remember ever talking with Eric about Duane or the Allman Brothers in general?

CL: Yes, we did talk about it and some other kinds of crossover issues. One of the things I remember was that they were making the Derek and the Dominos album and the Allmans were playing a show in Miami and someone suggested that they go hear them. Eric was totally blown away by Duane and the band, and he wanted to recruit Duane to play on the album, which he did. They went through the sessions and we all know they were magical. Eric said that Duane lifted the sessions to a whole new place and they were just following fate really-all they knew was that it was unique and sounded good, and they wanted to do it. Of course you have to give credit to the recording engineer, Tom Dowd.

What Eric told me was that after that, when he'd made the record and gone out to do some dates, he wanted to get Duane to play on some dates with him. He said that, oddly enough, it didn't translate as well live as it did on the record. He said he didn't know why-maybe it was his fault, or maybe they didn't have enough time to really work it out, but when they tried it live it was just too much. It just didn't come together as well as it did on the record.

I found that to be an interesting statement, and I can remember very well that there were all kinds of rumors about Duane leaving the Allman Brothers to play with Derek and the Dominos because the record had been a huge success. First of all, I know that Duane would have never left the Allmans. His heart was there and that's what he wanted to do, but Duane was certainly interested in experimenting and trying different things. If things had been different and it had worked with Derek and the Dominos, I think he would have tried-much like Warren Haynes does now-to work in both worlds, but Eric put it to me that it really didn't work out as well as they thought it would, so they carried on separately.

AAJ: You've talked often in interviews about Unplugged (Reprise, 1992) so I thought I'd ask you about the Montreux Jazz Festival when Eric Clapton had you trading off the lead vocal with him on "White Room." That song is no easy task for an occasional singer. Was that a pretty heady experience for you?

CL: Greg Phillinganes used to sing those parts. When we went into the rehearsals beyond the Unplugged experience and into the normal touring and Greg was no longer there, Eric said, "Well, who's going to sing those parts?" I looked around and I kind of put my hand up and I said, "Well, I'll give it a go." And he said, "Let's hear it." So we went into "White Room" and got to the bits and I sang it, and Eric said, "You've passed the audition." I felt good about that.

AAJ: I know you don't experience stage fright, but did you have any misgivings about singing in front of that kind of crowd?

CL: Well it was such an opportunity wasn't it? I wanted to do it well and make Eric feel comfortable and good about it. Hopefully I did, but you'd have to ask him that. [Laughs] I certainly enjoyed it.

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