Clapton was raised by his grandparents after his mother abandoned him at an early age. He began playing the guitar in his teens and briefly studied at the Kingston College of Art. After playing lead guitar with two minor bands, in he joined the Yardbirds , a rhythm-and-blues group in which his blues -influenced playing and commanding technique began to attract attention. Clapton left the Yardbirds in when they pursued commercial success with a pop-oriented style. In Clapton left the Bluesbreakers to form a new band with two other virtuoso rock musicians, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. This group, Cream , achieved international popularity with its sophisticated, high-volume fusion of rock and blues that featured improvisatory solos.
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He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and of Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed the power trio Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce , in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and "arty, blues-based psychedelic pop". Clapton's solo career began in the s, where his work bore the influence of the mellow style of J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley's " I Shot the Sheriff " helped reggae reach a mass market. Following the death of his son Conor in , Clapton's grief was expressed in the song " Tears in Heaven ", which appeared on his Unplugged album. In his solo career, Clapton has sold more than million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Clapton grew up believing that his grandmother, Rose, and her second husband, Jack Clapp, Patricia's stepfather, were his parents, and that his mother was actually his older sister.
But Clapton is also facing forward, working on his next studio album. In fact, two weeks after this conversation, the guitarist announced a huge outdoor show on July 8th with special guests Santana, Steve Winwood and Gary Clark Jr. You saw the film again yesterday. What is it like to walk through your life like that? I was in an editing room. There was one scene that I was really uncertain about, which was the semi-racial thing that went down during my worst period. I made remarks onstage about foreigners [at a show in Birmingham, England in ]. Being the drunk that I was, I just went on a rant. Did you ask Lili to take it out? I just have to face the guy that I became when I was fueled on drugs and alcohol.