Credit: Chris Hakkens

From Robert Johnson to John Lee Hooker: Eric Clapton picks his 15 favourite songs of all time

The enigmatic talent of Eric Clapton is a mark of pride for British music. The singer principally became known as the dynamic guitarist in Cream before a string of other projects which would quickly ascend Clapton to be known not as a guitar hero but a bonafide God.

Despite being born in the United Kingdom, Clapton’s influences come from the other side of the pond and it is there that he draws most of his collection of favourite songs. From Robert Johnson to John Lee Hook below we have a perfect playlist of Eric Clapton’s favourite songs.

When you’ve been in the music business as long as Eric Clapton has then the chances are you’ve been asked what your favourite song or album or musician is or was many times before. It means that no list is truly definitive and each list is likely consistently evolving. However, if you’re happy for a CD compilation to be made of the selections chances are you’d be willing to stand by them.

In 2005, Clapton was asked as part of an ongoing UNcut Magazine feature to provide 15 songs which he’d call his favourite. With indie music peaking the charts once more and a return to the garage rock of the sixties already being firmly adhered to, Clapton reminds the audience of exactly the inspiration behind all those bands that are now doing the inspiring.

If you look at pretty much any successful band of the sixties in the British music scene and chances are they have their roots over in the delta blues. Whether it’s John Lennon or Keith Richards, The Kinks or The Who, all of the bands at that time may have been leading the way in music but they were doing it off the back of the blues.

Clapton picks 15 songs that may not all be firmly labelled as blues but are certainly all imbued with a degree of soulfulness that highlights Clapton’s desired commitment to their craft. All of the musicians and genres represented are all performed with power and passion. Yet, Clapton’s heart is in the blues.

One of the only times on record Clapton has answered a similar question was his 1989 appearance on Desert Island Discs where he spoke a little about Robert Johnson and Freddie King. “I was into the blues form a very early age,” remembers the artist, “I went on a pilgrimage to record shops and bought every R&B record i could buy and I would study them at home and learn as much as I could by ear.”

“In fact,” Clapton remembers, “that’s been my method all my life. I decided that I was gonna be a blues player. It had the most profound effect on me the most dramatic effect of all the music I listened to. I felt in a way it was something I could pick up.” The universal nature of the blues meant that even a young Clpaton could connect with the source of hardship or woe.

In 2005, Clapton was keen to ensure the memory of the blues was fresh in everybody’s mind as they continued to cherry-pick pieces of the sixties subculture as their own. While the blues will never go away it is worth remembering that isn’t a single genre or style it is a state of mind, one that comes with letting your soul into your art.

Of all the wide range of music Eric Clapton has selected as his favourite songs, all of them have a soul. Below we’ve got the full playlist.

Eric Clapton’s favourite songs of all time

  • Freddy King – ‘I Love The Woman’
  • Robert Johnson – ‘Kindhearted Woman Blues’
  • John Lee Hooker – ‘Hobo Blues’
  • Bukka White – ‘Special StreamLine’
  • Elmore James – ‘Hand in Hand’
  • Wes Montgomery – ‘For Heaven’s Sake’
  • Blind Willie McTell – ‘Statesboro Blues’
  • Thelonious Monk – ‘Crepuscule With Nellie’
  • Leroy Carr – ‘Alabama Woman Blues’
  • Luciano Pavarotti – ‘Che Gelida Manina’
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson – ‘Chock House Blues’
  • Louis Armstrong & The Hot Five – ‘Struttin’ With Some Barbecue’
  • Chocur De L’Orchestre Symphonique De Montreal – ‘Pavane, op 50’
  • Pat Metheny Group – ‘Another Life’
  • Mississippi John Hurt – ‘Frankie & Albert’