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Why Eric Clapton called The Beatles "odd"


Remarkably, Eric Clapton initially didn’t understand The Beatles despite their careers being intertwined. However, when he saw them live, suddenly, everything made sense, and the hype that surrounded them was a genuine environment of excitement. Yet, despite the group winning him over, Clapton still referred to the experience as “odd”.

Famously, Clapton grew close to the Fab Four towards the end of the decade and appeared on their track ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps‘ after his close friend, George Harrison, brought him into their inner circle. Additionally, after Harrison briefly walked out on the group, John Lennon even discussed the possibility of ‘Slowhand’ becoming a Beatle.

His first introduction to them came towards the end of 1964; The Yardbirds’ paths finally crossed with The Beatles for the first time, and seeing them in their natural habitat made Clapton change his perspective on the group.

Even though The Beatles were the most successful group around, Clapton wasn’t jealous of their success, and he didn’t desire their level of fame. In fact, when The Yardbirds decided to move into a commercial direction, the guitarist decided to move onto pastures new in light of this change.

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Clapton was one of the contributors to Martin Scorsese’s documentary on George Harrison, Living In The Material World, and in the film, he looked back upon the night at the Hammersmith Odeon when they first met.

“I saw The Beatles play at the Hammersmith Odeon when I was at the bottom of the bill in The Yardbirds,” Clapton recalled. “This band was like they were a single person. It was an odd phenomenon, in fact. They seemed to move together and think together. It was almost like a little family unit.”

The slickness of the group on-stage took Clapton aback, and he admitted that ever before seeing them live, he “was very, very suspicious about what they were up to.” However, Clapton had to admit he was the one in the wrong and reevaluated his opinion. He continued: “But when I saw them play, I was overwhelmed by their gift. Each one of them seemed to be very well endowed with their own musical capacity. But the sad part was that no one listened to them and their audience, which they had cultivated, I suppose. They were, you know, 12-year-old girls.”

Although the crowd was a source of irritation for Clapton because they were more interested in screaming the house down rather than absorbing their music, on the other hand, the guitarist had nothing but superlatives to say about The Beatles as people.

He added: “They were very generous to everybody. They took time to come and talk to everybody. I didn’t feel threatened at all because I had quite a lot of self-confidence going in my concept to myself as being, you know, this sort of blues missionary as it were. I wasn’t looking for any favours from anybody.”

Even though their level of success was incomparable at this period in time, Clapton wasn’t short of confidence and knew that he’d also one day end up lauded. This evening at the Hammersmith Odeon was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with Harrison, which blossomed in curious ways he could never have imagined.