10 Great Eric Clapton Collaborations

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The debate rages as to whether Eric Clapton – who was tagged as the guitar deity in the mid-1960s in the U.K. – was best in his Cream and not long after Derek and the Dominos days of wine and roses (and, sadly, smack) or in the post-Crossroads era, when a cleaned-up E.C. hosted numerous classic rock icons at his ongoing benefit concert series for sobriety. It’s a fierce debate and no conclusions may be drawn. We leave it up to you to view and hear these classic cuts and decide for yourself. But one conclusion that can be made from these 10 stunning performances is that when he’s up onstage with his talented peers and heroes, Eric, born March 30, 1945, seizes the moment and shines.

10) Clapton & Pete Townshend: “Little Wing”

Pete Townshend and some of Eric’s concerned friends like Ronnie Wood, Jim Capaldi, Ric Grech and Steve Winwood got together to impose a rock ‘n’ roll intervention on Clapton by getting him to this concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre in 1973, and out of his heroin-induced stupor. The guitar god was in the habit of indulging his habit and getting lost in the void, so Townshend decided to be his savior. The music bears it out – Clapton was on the money on this night as they performed this Jimi Hendrix classic.

9) Clapton & Carlos Santana: “Eyesight To The Blind”/”Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?”

Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana got together for this 1975 jam recorded live at the L.A. Forum. No video exists, but a clean version is on Eric Clapton Crossroads 2, a four-CD set of unissued E.C., mostly unreleased live recordings from 1974 to 1978 (and five remixed tracks from E.C. Was Here). With their distinctive styles, it’s fairly easy to tell which is which, and the chemistry in the near 25 minute jam is pepper-packed salsa hot.

8) Eric Clapton with Elton John, Mark Knopfler & Phil Collins: “Crossroads”

This video is the entire 1988 Tokyo concert, but the lead-off is a righteous take on Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” and then it segues into “White Room,” with Nathan East crooning the falsetto. Clapton is ever the assured performer, meshing well with his guitar-wielding foil Knopfler, and backed by fellow superstars Elton John and Phil Collins. Chalk up one for the post-Cream crowd.

7) Blind Faith: “Can’t Find My Way Home” (1969)

There’s all kinds of things wrong or out place about this video. For one, the camera crew were in a stupor, apparently, but thank god they did capture a very rare and exuberant performance by Clapton (on a Telecaster with a Stratocaster neck) and his Faithmates – Winwood at the top of his game, Ric Grech and Ginger Baker in Hyde Park in 1969. Clapton thought the band’s playing was sub-par and that the adulation was undeserved and reminiscent of his Cream days when the crowds would applaud for nearly everything. The crowd in this debut performance of the supergroup lapped it up.

6) Clapton & Winwood: “Can’t Find My Way Home”  (2009)

Fast forward 40 years. Clapton and Winwood took on “Can’t Find My Way Home” again – with Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks for good measure – during the second Crossroads Guitar Festival held at the Toyota Park Center in Chicago, where the duo performed a number of Blind Faith songs as part of their set and again at three reunion concerts at Madison Square Garden that took place in February 2008. They did it again here in 2009, with a backing band similar to the one at Madison Square Garden, with Ian Thomas replaced by Abe Laboriel Jr. and backing vocalists Michelle John and Sharon White added. They really smoke in this clip with superior camera work and sound.

5) Clapton & Robert Cray: “Old Love”

Clapton wrote “Old Love” with American bluesman Robert Cray, a dynamic young bearer of the Clapton mantle. The two Stratmongers get down halfway through this cut, as Cray takes off on a flight that is answered by Clapton’s deft picking in the high register.

[In 2021, Cray revealed that he had ended his friendship with Clapton in part due to EC’s participation in Van Morrison’s anti-lockdown protest song, “Stand and Deliver,” and its reference to slavery.]

4) Clapton, Cray & Jimmie Vaughan with B.B. King: “The Thrill is Gone”

The three young guitar turks sit down at the feet of the master when they play on this Crossroads Guitar Festival from the concert at Toyota Park in Chicago in 2010. Off camera, Ronnie Wood sits watching in awe. And well he should. Every one of these guys is playing his heart out. Then, Wood, Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang and Johnny Winter come up on stage and cut loose.

Related: Eric Clapton Celebrates 50 Years, At MSG

3) Clapton with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins & Jeff Beck: “Rock Me Baby”

Clapton is absolutely inspired on this burn-up with Blackie, his steady Stratocaster. With his mentor B.B. on the famed and magical Apollo Theater stage, not only savage licks but playful ones come out. Beck, Collins and Guy join them on the second song, “Sweet Little Angel.” Collins is especially effective, but make no mistake, this is world-caliber, top-level bluesmanship. They round it out with “Let the Good Times Roll” and even more superstars grace the stage.

2) Clapton & Jeff Beck: “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”

Beck joins E.C. on the song, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” written by Stevie Wonder and given to Beck for his use on the instrumental album Blow By Blow. The song was dedicated by Beck to the late Roy Buchanan.

1) Clapton, John Lennon, Keith Richards & Mitch Mitchell: “Yer Blues”

Lennon, E.C., Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell – though, alas there is no Hendrix – formed the alfresco “Dirty Mac” group comically introduced by Lennon and Mick Jagger in this priceless bit of rock history from the legendary Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968. They wail out on Lennon’s “Yer Blues.” We get that he is lonely and wants to die.

Clapton is touring in 2023. Tickets are available here and here.

Noe Gold

15 Comments so far

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  1. SheFox 52
    #1 SheFox 52 9 July, 2016, 09:39

    How come you didn’t include any of his work with Duane Allman. What a joke your list is. His best work was with Allman and no one cannot deny that!!! Moron!!!

    Reply this comment
    • Jack
      Jack 15 October, 2017, 22:59

      If I had to guess, and this is just a guess, I’d say the reason there’s no material that included Allman, is because they couldn’t find any video to go along with the music. BCB usually know their stuff, to leave out any mention of Duane Allman when talking about Clapton collaborations, they would have to have a pretty good reason. But, as I stated above, that is just a guess.

      Reply this comment
  2. SheFox 52
    #2 SheFox 52 9 July, 2016, 09:41

    Why did you not include Duane Allman in your list? His BEST work was with Allman…You moron!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. Toni
    #3 Toni 29 January, 2017, 14:50

    What about he and Hubert Sumlin’s “I’m Ready?”

    Reply this comment
  4. Big Newfie
    #4 Big Newfie 4 March, 2017, 08:41

    SheFox is absolutely accurate. Clapton and Allman will stand 100’s of years from now.

    Reply this comment
  5. Spodlumtee
    #5 Spodlumtee 14 October, 2017, 16:30

    No “Sign Language” with Bob Dylan? Have your ears checked….

    Reply this comment
  6. Buck
    #6 Buck 15 October, 2017, 09:42

    No collabs with Harrison – his main guy!???! What about his work with the Band – better then half the crap listed here. ..And didn’t he do some great guitar work on the Beatles double album (While my guitar gently weeps)?????

    Reply this comment
  7. Clapton
    #7 Clapton 15 October, 2017, 16:05

    Clapton with Kravitz

    Reply this comment
  8. Mr Breeze
    #8 Mr Breeze 16 October, 2017, 12:35

    What? and No George Harrison & Clapton from their “Live In Japan” concerts? Pitiful selections here.

    Reply this comment
  9. Jeanpierre
    #9 Jeanpierre 30 March, 2021, 15:29

    ”Little red rooster ”with the Rolling Stones ( Steel weels tour ) and Flashpoint album…

    Reply this comment
  10. Joe
    #10 Joe 31 March, 2021, 07:11

    I think his crossroads days seem to be very clean and deep.

    Reply this comment
  11. Da Mick
    #11 Da Mick 1 April, 2021, 10:15

    You’ve got to be kidding, right? As both a guitar player who was basically weaned on Clapton, and a music fan, lover, collector for over 50 years, my biggest disappointment in music over that time, has been the the playing of Eric Clapton beyond his Cream and then Derek & the Dominoes days. He’s got some decent songs in the days since his heyday, and some pretty pathetically bad ones too. But the main issue is that he was once the master of beautifully articulated guitar narratives in his solos, in addition to being a master of tone. Since Derek, and even more so, since Cream, Clapton became a guitar noodler, basically playing in the same boxes on the neck, with the same riffs as pretty much any pretty competent blues-based guitar player. Gone are his once majestic solos that were like vocal parts which were, note for note, seared into your consciousness. Whether it was the aftermath result of booze or heroin, the guy just lost his unique approach to the instrument that once made him truly great.

    As a sidebar, there are very few guitarists that can live and die with playing a stratocaster as their primary guitar. It’s a difficult instrument to get a good sound out of in the first place, but those who’ve learned how are really special players. Strats also affect and change the way one plays. Clapton’s foray into playing a strat, initially on his first solo LP, and then with Derek & The Dominoes, was an interesting detour in sound and style, for who was, at that time, one of the premier guitarists in rock music. The Strat initially gave Clapton a new toy that stimulated him to sound and play somewhat differently, and as a fan, I initially enjoyed it. But he should have abandoned it and went back to primarily playing Gibson guitars after the experiment gave him a couple of good records. Playing a Strat ever since has done Clapton no favors, as he’s not able to get the kind of tones out it that the great ones do. With his newfound noodling approach to playing solos, Strats, in his hands, just sound thin, undirected, repetitive, and boring.

    Reply this comment
  12. Bock
    #12 Bock 31 March, 2022, 00:08

    Nothing with Freddie King? Geesh …

    Reply this comment
  13. ToeKneeF
    #13 ToeKneeF 1 May, 2022, 17:30

    What about Live Peace In Toronto? There were some pretty good musical moments there………..even with Yoko caterwauling in the background. His Prince’s Trust appearances also deserve honorable mention.

    Reply this comment
  14. Spike McGee
    #14 Spike McGee 2 April, 2023, 17:31

    Clapton’s collaborations with George Harrison were far more numerous than with any of these people, beginning in the 60’s and into the 90’s. They collaborated in live performances, including the Concert For Bangla Desh, on many records including recordings by the Beatles and by Cream, and songwriting. Leaving George out of this list is ridiculous to say the least. He should be right on top.

    Reply this comment

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