Oct 182007
 


I know some of you manly men, those of you who have never for a one moment sized up another man’s looks will cringe at this suggestion, but Eric Clapton is a fairly good-looking man. He always has been, and he has worked hard a developing and varying his sense of style, or Look, as we like to say.

Clapton Gets Experienced

A great thing about Clapton’s commitment to developing his Look, especially in his first decade, before he began to setting into his bearded gentleman addict/recovering addict Look, was his willingness to adopt guitars that best fit his current Look. Check out the matching ensemble he put together for this Yardbirds-period shot.

Teleclapton

Here’s a guitar/Look combo that I’d never seen before. This one blows me away. I wish I’d seen this picture when I was much younger; I would have had more tolerance for the many bad recordings EC has made over the years.

Awesome!

Even into the ’70s he was working a pretty cool Look. You know this one.

Cheesy but cool

If there’s one thing we know about Clapton it’s his deep love for da blooz! If there’s another thing, it’s the incredible pain he’s endured. No wonder the man is so deeply attuned to the hellhounds on his trail. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the original burden on Clapton, his original sin, so to speak, was his role as the only good-looking guy in just about any band he played in. I mean, face it…
…his bandmates in Cream were dog ugly!

Clapton on the set of Straw Dogs

Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker look like a couple of leering thugs straight out of Straw Dogs. Can you imagine how much engery Clapton had to expend trying to project a Look that would not frighten women and teenage boys away?

It wasn’t always this way. The other guys in The Yardbirds were decent looking.

EC does it

But feeling constrained by the band’s pop direction, Clapton struck out for the more authentic – and homely – John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

The blues burden sets in

It’s no suprise that woodshedding and eventual heroin addiction would follow. The move toward Bruce and Baker only increased the burden on Clapton. These guys were so ugly that “God” was encouraged to take some lead vocal turns away from the much better singer Bruce.

Blind Faith, with the addition of no-longer Stevie Winwood, provided little relief.

Clapton continues to carry the weight

Distraught and seeking alternate means to relieving the burden of being a relatively good-looking British blues musician, Clapton left his home country for the United States. Despite what you’ve read about him being turned onto Dylan and The Band, I’m pretty sure his real objective was to blend in with the generally heartier North American music scene. However, rather than hooking up with some American studs like Dennis Wilson and Gene Clarke, he fell in with some of our nation’s homeliest musicians.

So much for improved nutrition and dental care

Derek and the Dominos were the Look equivalent of reaching bottom. Thankfully, Clapton would soon gain comfort and support by his fellow good-looking British musician friends, George Harrison and Pete Townshend, who’d nurse him back toward a better Look. After a brief spell hanging out with Harrison and the good-looking Delaney and Bonnie, Clapton would find the right hair length, the right beard, and eventually the right specs. It was a slow climb back toward mediocrity, but freeing himself of dog-ugly bandmates was the first, crucial step toward recovery.

Share

  12 Responses to “Carry That Weight: Clapton’s Look Burden”

  1. The point is that Clapton’s look covers up for his lack of having anything interesting to say musically.

  2. Actually, I’ve always felt Jack Bruce was far and away the coolest looking member of Cream.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb_Uu0eTNWk

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    That was one seriously funny post, Moddie. Kudos! But you’ll have to spend at least a moment or two explaining how Pete Townshend is good looking.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Also: was Ginger a bad-ass drummer, or what? Drummers, comment!

  5. Dr. John is right on. I can’t stand anything Crapton as done and don’t understand his appeal…

    And yes, I agree with hrrundivbakshi that his is one of your best posts Mr. Mod! Also – Ginger is pretty good but I prefer Mitch Mitchell from that 60s-70s period.

    I have a friend who is a major Claptrap fan and out of friendship watched a “Classic Albums: Disraeli Gears” DVD. A sort of making of documentary with interviews of all involved. The funniest bits were of Ginger chain smoking and playing his kit at the same time. He looked so bad – like he was going to keel over at any moment.

  6. Very funny post! It used to be said of Clapton that he “never looked the same in any two pictures,” but maybe that was part of an insecure need to be the best looking in any bunch.

    Of course, I like his extremely spotty music better than most of y’all, but I’m okay with that.

  7. alexmagic

    I was going to question Townshend’s inclusion there, too.

    Clapton seems especially vexed over his predicament in the Derek & the Dominoes photo, and you can tell he put extra effort into styling his hair there to try to even things out. Meanwhile, Blind Faith looks like a group of Psychedelic Han Solo fans around hour 46 of an ill-fated three-day comic book convention weekend in that shot.

    I wonder if this post explains some of Clapton’s motivations behind teaming up with Babyface.

  8. I never realized that Eric and Jack traded vocals on this.

    Ginger may be a nasty drummer, but there are some badly played fills in the clip that would have drawn serious faces from Jim or myself if Ginger had been playing with us

  9. “I Feel Free” whould’ve been a heavy contender in our old Best Intros That Are Totally Wasted discussion. Or was that limited to guitar riffs?

    You think it’s going to be this awesome, swinging shuffle in the style of “Shake,” and then Baker flattens it into an 8/8. Always disappointed me.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Glad that Townspeople are getting a better understanding of Clapton’s burden. A few responses to comments so far.

    Dr. John wrote:

    The point is that Clapton’s look covers up for his lack of having anything interesting to say musically.

    That’s a huge part of any musician’s Look, isn’t it?

    Oats wrote:

    Actually, I’ve always felt Jack Bruce was far and away the coolest looking member of Cream.

    Quasimodo (sp?) is cool looking too, but I wouldn’t want to date him.

    Hrrundi wrote:

    But you’ll have to spend at least a moment or two explaining how Pete Townshend is good looking.

    He has really nice eyes and a generally empathetic yet dangerous Look. I’m sure plenty of guys and dolls dug Townshend in his prime. Even today I think he’s a fine-looking man.

    Hrrundi also wrote:

    Also: was Ginger a bad-ass drummer, or what? Drummers, comment!

    I’ve long struggled with the supposedly brilliant chops of Ginger Baker. Last year, en route to a gig, Sethro played me some tracks and pointed out how cool they were from a technical standpoint. I saw a glimmer of the light, but I still find myself thinking he plods through songs with little grace. Maybe it’s just the horrible sound of his drums on most Cream records. I need to do a full-fledged Is There a Drummer in the House focusing solely on a range of Baker performances.

    alexmagic wrote:

    I was going to question Townshend’s inclusion there, too.

    Mmmm. Perhaps you, too, lack a straight man’s appreciation for other men. Is there anyone in the house who’s actually attracted to men more than I am who might be able to provide a perspective on Townshend’s physical appeal? I’m not saying he’s a Greek God, but I wouldn’t mind having him in my band to help draw attention to the stage. Do you think anyone in the audience wanted to look at Ginger Baker other than to check out his chops or drive him off the stage with torches and sticks? Nice Blind Faith/Hans Solo crack, my man!

    A-Dogg, nor did I realize they traded verses. And GREAT point about the FACES Baker earns.

  11. BigSteve

    Today is mancrush day on RTH. Pete Townshend, you know what they say, big nose, big….

    I think Pete is even better looking now than he was. No plastic surgery, so the sad but kind eyes can show off the bags underneath. The almost bald/buzzed grey hair and perfectly shaped salty beard makes a splendid Look. The fact that I have a big nose and s&p beard and buzzed hair has no effect on my disinterested judgment in this matter.

    Pete had to grow into his Look, and that’s something I think probably a lot of us here understand.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    BigSteve wrote:

    Pete had to grow into his Look, and that’s something I think probably a lot of us here understand.

    Well put!

 
twitter facebook youtube