Eric Clapton releases cover of Moon River featuring the late Jeff Beck on stellar form in one of his final recordings

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck onstage in 2010
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Eric Clapton has released a poignant cover of Moon River that features Jeff Beck in one of the last recordings before he died. The single, which is now available on all streaming platforms, arrives ahead of a pair of star-studded tribute shows held in Beck’s memory at the Royal Albert Hall.

Getting Clapton and Beck on record together is always a treat. The two Yardbirds have a very different but distinctive way of addressing the electric guitar and the sounds they get out of the instrument.

Here, Beck’s Fender Stratocaster picks up the melody line first laid down by Audrey Hepburn in Blake Edward’s 1961 romcom Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer would collect an Academy Award that year for Best Original Song. It’s apt, then, that it would go on to be adapted by guitar’s most original player. 

It’s not the first time Clapton and Beck have performed a duet on the track, most notably it featured on their 2010 Together And Apart Tour, which was captured for posterity on an epic live DVD. And it is certainly not the first time they have traded licks onstage; watching them duke it out on Further On Up The Road in 1981 – Clapton on a Strat, Beck on a Telecaster – is pure fire. That footage from Ronnie Scott's is hard to beat, too

It might not have been by design that Clapton had this recording on file to release right now but it certainly seems appropriate. Moon River’s languid tempo clears space for reflection, a moment to remember Beck by. 

It’s also a great example of what make Beck such a unique player; his style radically augmented the technique playbook, with that fingerstyle-whammy bar dynamic as good as a thumbprint in identifying who is on the instrument.

Moon River is part of a double-A side and will be released on 7” vinyl on 14 July, joined by a brand new original Clapton track, How Could We Know, that features Judith Hill, Simon Climie, and Daniel Santiago.

By then, the Jeff Beck tribute shows at the Royal Albert Hall will still be fresh in the memory. Hosted on 22 and 23 May, the events will welcome a formidable lineup of top-tier guitar players to the stage. 

Clapton has enlisted the likes of Billy Gibbons, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Ronnie Wood, Doyle Bramhall II, John McLaughlin and Robert Randolph to take part.

Beck’s good friend and collaborator Johnny Depp will also be performing, with Joss Stone, Imelda May, Olivia Safe and the one and only Rod Stewart also on the bill. There are sure to be some surprises on the night. 

See the Royal Albert Hall for ticket details. Moon River is available to stream now and available to preorder on vinyl through Bushbranch/Surfdog Records.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.