PHOTO: Michael Putland | Getty Images
Eric Clapton, that guy who (among other things) played lead guitar on Ringo Starr's "Everybody's in a Hurry But Me" in 1983, turns 72 today.
Throughout the day, we'll be showcasing several lessons and features dedicated to his influential fretwork with the Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and beyond. And what better way is there to spotlight someone's playing than with an isolated guitar track from a classic song?
Below, enjoy a fascinating clip that brings Clapton's lead and rhythm guitar parts from Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" front and center.
The guitar solo (2:01) kicks off with the melody from Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" before shifting to something more expected—Clapton's blending of minor and major pentatonic scales as he follows the chord changes. Clapton's trademark "woman tone" is clear as day, as is the song's iconic riff and, well, every note Clapton played on the 1967 Disraeli Gears track.
When it comes to improvised phrasing, there is perhaps no better blues-rock guitarist than Clapton, especially when heard within the context of his studio and live work with Cream. He has the innate ability to move smoothly from one great, imminently melodic phrase into the next while also riding the groove and pushing it along.
Be sure to check out the track below. If you're inspired to adapt Clapton's Cream-era fretwork into your own playing, try this lesson on “10 Essential Licks to Nailing Eric Clapton’s Style” and “How to Combine the Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales.” You can also check out Clapton’s isolated guitar from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Layla.”