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(Credit: Hernandez)


Hear Eric Clapton's isolated guitar for the Cream song 'Sunshine of Your Love'

Eric Clapton is a rock and roll pioneer who remains one of the most significant guitarists to have ever lived. He was a crucial figure in spreading the message of rock during the 1960s and he played in some of the biggest bands of the day before striking it out on his own as a solo artist.

In the swinging London of the ’60s, Clapton was London’s most prominent guitarist in a scene that was bursting with geniuses of the six-string. During this time, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, as well as playing in the legendary outfit John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, where he played alongside bassist John McVie, who would go on to become a founding member of Fleetwood Mac. 

Clapton is an interesting case in the sense that whilst he is one of rock’s most important figures, he is also one of its most controversial, who has made a number of highly questionable comments over the years. However, this should not overshadow the quality of his guitar-playing style. 

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He took cues from the American bluesmen of old, and augmented their work, turning up the volume, and increasing the tempo, helping to set the scene for the myriad of shredders we’ve had in the years following the ’60s. Without Clapton’s work, we could say goodbye to everyone from Kirk Hammett to Mike McCready, a stunning feat. 

Whilst there are many significant moments within Clapton’s career, one of the most pivotal has to be Cream’s 1967 masterpiece ‘Sunshine of Your Love’. Notably, the song combines parts of pop and hard rock with what was the flourishing psychedelia at the time, and it was written by Cream frontman and bassist Jack Bruce he wrote after watching a Jimi Hendrix show. After Bruce came up with the raw materials, Clapton, Ginger Baker, and lyricist Pete Brown added their parts to the song. 

Of the song’s origins, Clapton told Rolling Stone in 1988: “He [Hendrix] played this gig that was blinding. I don’t think Jack [Bruce] had really taken him in before … and when he did see it that night, after the gig he went home and came up with the riff. It was strictly a dedication to Jimi. And then we wrote a song on top of it.”

Whilst the song is one of the best collaborative efforts Cream ever made, it is most famous for the fact that it contains one of Eric Clapton’s most influential guitar solos, which saw him channel his inner Hendrix and get really far out. The song is regarded as a crucial moment in Clapton’s development, as it was when he established what would become known as his “woman tone”, thanks in part to his 1964 Gibson SG dubbed ‘The Fool’ and a Marshall amplifier. 

Luckily for us, Clapton’s isolated guitar track from ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ has been unearthed. Across it, we can hear Clapton’s brilliance, and the solo is just incredible, reminding you of just how refreshing it would have been to have listened to the song for the first time in 1967. It’s a testament to Clapton’s guitar work on the track that it remains so crucial to guitar-playing all these years later.

Listen to Eric Clapton’s isolated guitar track of ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ below.

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