Eric Clapton is a divisive figure in the world of rock. He may well be regarded as one of the finest guitar players this country has ever produced, but his views and opinions back in the 1970s and in more recent years, have left him without a foothold in modern society. Anti-vaccination stances are one thing, but the resurfacing of his incredibly damaging and disgusting rant about race from 1976 will always be hard to escape, even if he has apologised and revised his viewpoint latterly.
One thing is hard to take away from Clapton; however, his history within music is one that few people can disagree with. Not only has he established a solid solo career out on his own, but he was also a part of some of the best bands the swinging blues scene of London ever produced. Not only did he feature in Cream alongside Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, but he was also a member of the John Mayall Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith and The Yardbirds. It is the latter group we’re most concerned with today.
As you might expect, Clapton has never been afraid of his own views, and is even less afraid to share them. That’s not something he ever reserved for socio-political stances; he was also always more than happy to shed some light on the songs, bands and music that swirled around his career, even if they were tracks he’d been a part of.
Founded in 1963, The Yardbirds are one of the foundational stones of rock music as we know it today. Bringing over the sensibilities of the delta blues but through a British sphere, the band changed the entire scene, seemingly overnight. They also boast some of the best band members of all time, including Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page as ex-members. Clapton wasn’t a founding band member, replacing original axman Top Topham in the early stages of the group’s career.
Using Clapton’s unique guitar style, the group gained prominence and started to develop a devoted following. With The Beatles breaking America and an influx of British invasion groups welcomed on the shores of the New World, The Yardbirds readied a new record For Your Love featuring both Clapton and Jeff Beck. However, the title track, which was released as a single, was the one song the band produced that Clapton really hated.
In David Bowling’s book Eric Clapton FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About Slowhand, he notes that Clapton disliked the brand new style of pop music the band were producing. It was a huge departure from the blues that Clapton had signed on for. In fact, it’s reported that he disliked the song and the direction so much that he left the band when the single was released in February 1965.
Clapton would leave the group to join John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and complete another huge step in his significant career journey.