Credit: Chris Hakkens

The one song Eric Clapton couldn’t live without

Eric Clapton, also known as Slowhand and, quite simply, God, is a rock and roll legend unlike any other. An instrumental figure in the world of music, the guitarist has been a part of some of the most influential bands of all time with Cream and Blind Faith, and even a little moment with The Beatles, as well as an equally lucrative solo career.

A British institution in his own right, Clapton took part in another British institution when he appeared on a 1989 episode of Desert Island Discs. As part of the BBC show, Slowhand picked eight pieces of music he’d take with him to the proverbial inescapable island but there was one that stood out above the rest, one song that he couldn’t live without.

Clapton picked a collection of songs as part of his appearance on the acclaimed show back in 1989. Desert Island Discs has been woven into the dense tapestry of British pop culture ever since it first aired featuring Roy Plomley in 1942. It’s a time-honoured tradition that has seen Prime Ministers and rock stars alike walk through its studio doors. The format is always the same, each week a guest is invited by the host to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island and pick out one song they deem to be the “castaway’s favourite”.

Naturally, asking a musician to pick just eight songs to listen to for the rest of their life is one thing but to narrow it down further to one i another. It means that often our guest’s selections are the creme de la creme of music. Clapton was no different when he picked his favourite track and essentially the song Clapton couldn’t live without—Prince’s ‘Purple Rain.’

During the conversation, a chat which included Clapton picking songs from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Muddy Waters and more, he selected the iconic 1983 song ‘Purple Rain’ as his favourite song, describing it as a “lifesaver.”

Clapton says he saw Purple Rain, Prince’s epic mauve movie, “at a time when I thought rock and roll was dead, then I went to see Purple Rain” he continues “this is someone who is a reincarnation of Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown in one. I thought that’s exactly what the world needed. Very controversial figure but I love him dearly and I think musically he’s a genius.” We’d struggle to argue with God, especially about a guitarist.

When asked to pick his favourite song out of the bunch selected in 1989, Clapton said of the track “though every one of them means a great deal to me for different reasons, that last one [‘Purple Rain’] embodies so many different things and emotionally it’s just so powerful. I think I’d choose ‘Purple Rain’.”

Slowhand has even covered the song on occasion, most notably as the encore for a run of shows in London last year, one of which you can see below. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then it’s clear that Clapton has a lot of love for ‘Purple Rain’ as this impassioned performance will show.

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