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Born in Surrey, England on 30 March 1945, he was raised in a musical family by his grandparents believing that his mother was his sister. Ray Coleman, Clapton’s official biographer, wrote that Eric’s father was a "gifted musician."
The boy was above-average as a child, with aptitude for art. It was when his mother visited him, aged 9, with his half brother, that he learned about his parentage and was profoundly affected. He switched off, eventually failed his 11-plus and went to a secondary modern school.
He wanted a guitar for his 13th birthday as rock 'n' roll was all around by the late 1950s. He found his Hoyer with steel strings difficult to play, but by the time he was 16 he was expelled from Kingston College Of Art for spending too much time playing guitar and listening to the blues.
This fascination led to a real feel for the blues within his psyche (different; an outsider). He bought a £100 electric double cutaway Kay (described as a Gibson ES-335 clone), and joined The Roosters in 1963, coupled with supporting himself as a building labourer. He built a reputation as a guitarist on the R&B pub circuit, which led to Keith Relf and Paul Samwell-Smith inviting him to join The Yardbirds in October 1963.
He played for eighteen months with them, and became known as ‘Slowhand’. As the band moved towards more commercial pop, Clapton wanted to keep true to the blues and quit, to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he acquired a second nickname, ‘God’.
The rest is history. Eric Clapton has won 17 Grammy Awards and was awarded the CBE for services to music in 2004. Learn how to play like Eric Clapton and sound like Eric Clapton courtesy of our video lessons.