Born to an un-wed, 16-year-old mother Patricia Clapton, Eric Clapton’s biological father was a 24-year-old Canadian soldier, named Edward Fryer who was stationed in England and had returned to Canada and his own wife and family before Clapton’s birth.
When Eric was born, his grandparents, Rose and Jack Clapton, took over in the parenting role and raised him as their own, gaining legal guardianship until 1963. Clapton therefore grew up thinking that his mother was his sister and his grandmother was his mother. The last name Clapton comes from his biological grandfather, Patricia’s father Reginald Cecil Clapton who died in 1933.
By 1958, Rock-N-Roll was all over the radio and Clapton asked for a guitar for his thirteenth birthday. He was given a German Hoyer guitar with steel strings. Finding it difficult to play, in 1962 he asked his grandparents (a.k.a., parents) for help purchasing an expensive electric double cutaway Kay guitar, a knock-off of the Gibson ES-335.
When Clapton turned 17, he joined his first band, The Roosters. The band didn’t do much and ended in 1963. Clapton then found himself working labour jobs to support himself. In late 1963, Clapton was asked to join The Yardbirds and recorded his first records, Five Live Yardbirds, Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds. Clapton quit the band in 1965 to follow his dream of playing the blues. In 1966, Clapton joined Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form Cream. During these days he would earn his place among the world’s top guitarists. The band would only last two years but would remain a highly distinguished figure in the music community to this day.
Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Clapton would continue to musically reinvent himself, touring and recording albums year after year. His next major success would come with the release of Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, featuring the song ‘Tears In Heaven’, written about the passing of his young son. In his 40 year career span, Clapton would receive a total of eighteen Grammy Awards (solo and shared). He has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo artist.
Clapton would supply his work on countless artists’ records over the decades. The most well known session occurred when he added guitar to George Harrison’s composition, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. He also contributed to albums by Aretha Franklin, Steven Stills, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Ringo Starr, Sting, and Roger Waters.
Eric Clapton is now happily married with three daughters and living a sober life.